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6th Annual NITTO NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals - Hotlanta
The 6th Annual Nitto NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals brought the heat to Atlanta Dragway.
Every year in April, ProMedia (the parent company of both NMRA and NMCA) packs up all of its gear for both series and heads to Atlanta Dragway in the rural Atlanta outlier of Commerce, Georgia.
The NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals has been, since its inception nearly a half-decade ago, one of the most exciting Ford events in the country. This year was no exception, and we were there to catch it all. From a new world record in Street Outlaw to a surprise finish in Renegade, this year was as exciting as any from the moment we entered the gate.
Friday was a normal opening day, as the manufacturer's midway filled with rigs from companies like Nitto Tire, COMP Cams, Strange, Mickey Thompson, and Miller Electric. Miller was on-site, providing hands-on demos of its welders and plasma cutters, and Nitto Tire even had a band in its display. The swap meet was filled with just about enough parts to build an entire race car right there at the track.
By that evening, after track officials had fought off the relentless pollen, qualifying was well underway. During a qualifier in Street Outlaw, the ProCharger/ATF coupe driven by Sean Ashe lost control at the top of the track, resulting in Ashe taking the ride of his life. The Fox did at least two full spins (we lost count) at over 170 mph, without hitting the wall or the other racer, and he kept the shiny side up. The ATF crew repaired the minor damage, and Ashe was on the starting line for Round 1 of eliminations.
Saturday brought out the crowds, show cars, and True Streeters. Since both NMRA and NMCA were sharing the track, the side-by-side action did not slow down all weekend. Tons of bracket racers showed up, including plenty of dragsters, if that's your thing. And by Sunday, the ladders were locked in, and eliminations had begun.
Street Outlaw was blended for this event, so both NMRA and NMCA racers were vying for the trophy, making the competition even stiffer than usual. Number 11 qualifier and reigning champion Phil Hines faced Lake Worth, Florida's Tony Alm in the finals. Hines got out first with a 0.045 light to Alm's 0.178, but handed Alm the victory after smoking the tires off the line.
Edelbrock Renegade has become a class to watch since many former Real Street racers made the switch. Veterans like upteen-time champ Brian Mitchell, Tim Matherly, Bart Tobener, and Alton Clements battled with the rest of the full field for the top spot. By the end, though, qualifiers 11 and 13 were left standing. Number 11 qualifier Scott Grove took out Curtis Catalon in the finals with an 8.48 to Catalon's 8.63.
The NMRA's newest addition, Coyote Modified, is slowly growing, and Frank Varela took his second win in a row with a victory over Richard Lelsz. Varela hails from the Hellion crew in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In Pure Street, fastest qualifier Teddy Weaver defeated Jimmy Wilson in the Final Round with a 9.79 over Wilson's 9.94.
Coyote Stock, now a full field, just keeps getting quicker. Still, reigning champ Shane Stymeist continues to dominate the class. He qualified Number 1 before knocking down Mike Bowen and Drew Lyons on his way to another win in the final against Michael Washington.
|True Street Winners and Top 25|
|Randy Thomas||9.679||9-Second Winner|
|Wayne Norris||10.582||10-Second Winner|
|Mervyn Duckworth||11||11-Second Winner|
|Bryan Lester||12.03||12-Second Winner|
|Joseph Gramling||13.044||13-Second Winner|
|Bradley Stimson||14.345||14-Second Winner|
|David Robinson Jr.||15.256||15-Second Winner|
In years previous, True Street was held on Sunday during the event at Atlanta Dragway. This year, though, it was moved to Saturday to be in line with other NMRA events. CEO Steve Wolcott challenged his team to make it happen, and did they ever. They even split up NMRA and NMCA True Street, essentially doubling the total payout in TS for the event.
In NMRA True Street, Pensacola, Florida's Chris Escobar locked down his 13th True Street trophy with an 8.400 average, beating his closest competitor by over a second. Sure, he's been threatening to be the first with a 7-second average, but it wasn't worth pushing it this time. He took home the crown and 6-foot trophy, as well as the $250 check. His Lamotta Performance '86 Mustang SVO features a built Coyote, Powerglide, and a couple of Garrett turbos. The SVO has been 7s, but Escobar dialed it back and still took the win.
Runner-up went to Kurt Welfel of Springfield, Tennessee. His single-turbo '65 Mustang coupe is completely homebuilt by Welfel, and he averaged 9.475. Look for a full feature on Kurt's coupe on Mustang-360.com.
The 9-second plaque went to Randy Thomas of Paducah, Kentucky, with a 9.679 average. The 10-second winner was Wayne Norris of Kissimmee, Florida, with a 10.582 average. Norris' '06 GT was also built by Lamotta Performance, and features a built GT500 drivetrain.
The 11-second victory went to Mervyn Duckworth of New Orleans, Louisiana. We first met Duckworth in Houston running True Street a few years back when his '12 GT was brand new. It now features a centrifugal supercharger and averaged a perfect 11.000. Bryan Lester took the 12-second win with a 12.030 average.
Matt Amrine was a man on a mission in Nitto Tire Factory Stock, qualifying Number 1. He was the only competitor in the class to break into the 10s all weekend, and went 10.98 in the finals over Alan Cann's 11.14.
It was the Donnie Bowles show in Modular Muscle, as he whittled away at the field, round by round. He faced Gary Parker in the Final, where Parker broke out by 0.002 seconds, handing the victory to Bowles.
In Super Stang, the win went to Chad Wendel and his '07 GT over Lloyd Mikeska. And James Steamer took home the big check in Truck and Lightning with a win over Nina Gusler in the final, where Gusler went red.
It was an exciting event as always, and certainly one to mark on your calendar for next year.