Kristian Grimsland
Associate Editor, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
February 12, 2014
Photos By: Evan J. Smith

Egos and championships were on the line this past October, when NMRA racers faced off at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The NMRA Keystone Drag Racing Series ended its last seasonal race with a fourth day of competition, due to a washout on Sunday. Continuing into Monday, a cold front made its way into Bowling Green and brought excellent weather conditions. Unfortunately, some of the heavy-hitters packed up and headed home, leaving only a select few to finish out the competition.

In Afco Street Outlaw, big-dog racers John Urist and Phil Hines faced off with the championship on the line. Urist was second in the point rankings and determined to win his ninth NMRA title. To do so, he needed to win the race. Hines carried the first-place ranking all season and wasn't ready to give it up. In Round 2 of eliminations, the two lined up for an all-or-nothing shootout. Hines blasted down the track with a 7.13 at 195 mph, while Urist spun off the line and lifted, securing the world championship for Hines.

In the finals, Hines went up against Chris Grove and his ProCharged Fox-body. Hines spun off the line and was no match for Grove, who posted a 7.28 at 193 mph.

Brian Mitchell has proven to be one of the biggest contenders all season in Edelbrock Renegade, going undefeated at every race except Georgia, which he didn't attend. On Monday, Mitchell and his Vortech-powered '03 Cobra clone went head to head with Alton Clements for the event win. Launching hard, Mitchell laid down an impressive 8.29 at 161 mph, securing both the championship and event win.

Nitto Factory Stock was nothing short of impressive, as Matt Amrine and his 289ci-powered '98 Mustang faced off against John Leslie Jr. and his '89 Fox-body for the championship. In the final round, Amrine secured the win with a 10.77 at 123 mph, while Leslie laid down an 11.28 at 121 mph.

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In Strange Engineering Coyote Stock, top two qualifiers Jacob Lamb and defending champion HiPo Joe Charles went face to face with one another. In the final round, Charles left the line with an incredible wheelstand, but he unfortunately shut the car down shortly after. Lamb hauled his Coyote-powered '86 Stang to the finish line, lighting up the scoreboard with a 10.58 for the win.

Exedy's Modular Muscle class proved to be interesting as Gary Parker returned after suffering a broken back this past summer. Determined to finish out the season, Parker squared off against Susan McClenaghan in the final round. Parker, who nailed a near-perfect reaction time of 0.007, ended the race with a victorious 11.05 at 120 mph, while McClenaghan went red. McClenaghan, however, took home the gold as the season's class champion.

In Roush Super Stang, Pete Espeut took the win at Bowling Green in his '10 Shelby GT500 with a 10.75 at 127 mph against season champion Dave Liechty and his Vortech-powered '06 Mustang GT.

Randy Conway took the seasonal win in the Flex-a-lite Open Comp class. Conway tried his hardest to secure the win in Bowling Green, going against Donald Carver in the final round. However, Carver wheeled his '76 Mustang II to victory against Conway, leaving the starting line with a perfect 0.000 reaction time and finishing with a 10.35 at 122 mph.

The Detroit Truck and Lightning class has always been a tightly knit group, consisting mostly of Generation 2 Lightning trucks. This year M.J. "Ranchero" Smith shook things up a bit with his 9-second-capable '62 Ranchero. Smith went toe to toe with Robert Chuhran and his red Lightning. Smith took the win against the Lighting in the final round, with a 9.87 at 135 mph, but it was Chuhran who captured his first-ever NMRA championship.

This year at Bowling Green, VMP Superchargers sponsored a special Terminator-versus-GT500 shootout. Tallying in with 21 cars, the SVT vehicles and their owners brought all they had to the table. Dom Didonato came out victorious with his '08 GT500, scoring an 8.89 at 159 mph.

True Street

Tremec True Street was record-breaking this year, as 108 racers took part in the 30-mile cruise around scenic Bowling Green. Your author experienced it firsthand, riding with True Street racer Chris Gish of Robands, Kentucky, in his twin-turbo, 7-second-capable Fox.

Gish has been after a 7-second average all season. He's known for taking his sick convertible street Mustang and converting it into a coupe. He offered us a shotgun seat for the cruise and we slipped in the tight cage. He had gone a best of 7.83 at 182 mph in time trials, so we couldn't say no. We strapped ourselves into the gold-painted Fox-body and headed off. Surprisingly, it was a comfortable and smooth ride. Gish explained to us where his racing roots stemmed from and how he got involved in competing in the class. It was a casual conversation that took place most of the 45-minute drive.

Taking home the 9-second TS win was Michael Newton with a 9.016 average.

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