Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
June 9, 2014
Photos By: Marc Christ

The NMRA got out of the gate in spectacular fashion with the ’14 opener at Bradenton Motorsports Park. With new and returning classes, racers and fans alike responded with a huge crowd and great show to start the year off right. Two weeks after the NMRA took over Bradenton, its sister sanctioning body, the NMCA, stormed into town. As has become tradition, the second stop on each traveling drag racing show is like 5,250 rpm on a dyno run—they both intersect at Atlanta Dragway in April. That’s right, both the NMRA and NMCA make up the Nitto Tire All Star Nationals, with 2014 being the sixth running of the annual clash.

Generally, the Atlanta race is when a large number of competitors make their yearly debut. Many of the northern racers are unable to make the Bradenton races, so they converge on Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, looking to make up lost ground. Those that had a good start to the year at Bradenton are looking to carry that momentum and jump out to a points lead.

Check out our photos and captions to see who earned the points lead and who was making their ’14 debut.

In the NMRA’s top class, Street Outlaw, the equalizing factor is the tire. Racers are allowed either a true 10.5-inch slick or a 275 drag radial. Trying to hook up over 1,500 horsepower on that small of a tire is sometimes a challenge. Usually, Street Outlaw competitor Phil Hines is on a string, but in the final against Tony Alm, he lost traction out of the gate, handing the win to Tony.
We’re used to seeing Matt Fint in tight pink shirts, but at Atlanta, he was actually at the wheel of his ’98 Cobra. After enduring some trailer issues on the drive to the race, Matt finally made it to Commerce and qualified his Bright Atlantic Blue Cobra in Modular Muscle with a 12.24 index. Matt’s Cobra was put on a diet to arrive at 2,950 with driver, and features a stock long block, a ported short runner intake, a JLT Performance cold air intake, and a BBK Performance throttle body. Coyote Stock racer Jacob Lamb braced the 8.8, and added upper and lower control arms. Matt made it past the first round when Brian Dickinson redlit, but eventual winner Donnie Bowles took him out in Round 2 when Matt broke out with a 12.229 against his 12.24 index. “I should’ve put 10 pounds in the car,” Matt said.
Making a return to NMRA action is Michael Washington. Michael has raced Factory Stock and Real Street, but this year he revamped his ’93 Cobra into a Coyote Stock car. The car made its debut in Bradenton, but after testing and showing improvement, he came into Atlanta looking to go rounds. He did exactly that, making it past Keith Calitri in Round 1, and then Darin Hendricks in Round 2. In the semis, Michael squared off against Brandon Alsept, and he was able to get the round win with the slightest of margins. Unfortunately, in the final against Shane Stymiest, Michael tried hard to hang with one of the best but broke Second gear in the process, ending a succesful weekend.
For those wishing we had more car show photos in the magazine, here ya go. The Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals always has a well-attended car show. The Atlanta area is a hotbed for Mustangs, and this show reflects it.

Street Outlaw

They grow up so fast. Just a couple years ago, Tony Alm was competing in our King of the Street competition, and winning it with his former compound-boosted Shelby GT500. He sold that car to help fund his Street Outlaw ride. He’s spent quite some time testing and running various events to ready the car for NMRA and NMCA action. Tony won the NMCA opener at Bradenton, so make it two in a row for the Lake Worth, Florida, resident. His wife and crew chief Patti is always there to keep him in line, and the ATF crew helps keep Tony going straight. At Commerce, Tony actually had to borrow a converter from John Urist to stay in the race. When Tony and John had to race in the semifinal round, John redlit to send Tony to the final round, where Phil Hines lost traction off the line to make the win a little easier for Tony, who ran a 7.13 at 198 mph to make it back-to-back wins.

Renegade

The Renegade class was tossed upside down at the 6th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals. Bart Tobener came out firing with an 8.05 pass, but then he scattered an engine, ran into his own oil, and put his car in the wall. Brian Mitchell added an intercooler to his car during the downtime between Bradenton and the Georgia event. However, Brian fell asleep at the tree against Curtis Catalon in Round 1. Valerie Clements also hurt an engine, but her crew went back home and put in the back-up bullet to keep her in competition. Despite the mechanical heroics, Valerie redlit in the semis against Curtis Catalon, who went on to race Scott Grove’s nitrous-shot ‘Stang in the final. When it was over, Scott was able to spray his way to the win.

Coyote Modified

Frank Varela has been the story in the new Coyote Modified class. We expected more racers in this class, but as of Atlanta, that hasn’t come to fruition. Frank and Hellion Power Systems’ B-team put the car together in a few weeks, and they’re having a really good year so far. Coyote Modified was only four cars strong at Atlanta Dragway, and Frank did his usual work, getting past Joe Cram in Round 1, and then Richard Lelsz in the final.

Pure Street

Like Coyote Modified, Pure Street was a little low on cars with just four racers in attendance. We know several cars are still being finished up for competition, which should increase the competitors as the season goes along. Teddy Weaver once again showed everyone the fast way down the track, with consistent high 9s in qualifying and eliminations. Jimmy Wilson, who was a little down on his car after Bradenton, was again in the final, but the result was the same as it was in Bradenton, with Teddy taking the win.

Coyote Stock

The Coyote Stock class is hot right now. At Commerce, there were 14 cars in competition. Joe Charles looked to be making headway on his setup, but then Shiftin’ Shane Stymiest, who broke a transmission, rebounded in time to take the number 1 qualifying spot. Joe fell off enough in Round 2 to enable Brandon Alsept to take the win, but Shane kept going rounds. In the final, it was Shane against Michael Washington. Even though Michael won the reaction time, it was over by the time they passed the Tree, as Michael broke Second gear, making it easy for Shane to get the win.