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NMRA SVT Shootout in Maryland - Crab Cakes and Mustangs
Record-breaking performances and side-by-side action highlight the Maryland stop on the NMRA tour.
Some might say that Maryland is best known for crab cakes and football, but those same people probably have never been to Maryland International Raceway (MIR). The family-owned facility is a premiere drag racing track nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. It is conveniently located an hour or so from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., making it a great draw from both markets. The NMRA has marked MIR as its third stop on the traveling tour, an event that the racers look forward to hitting due to the stellar track conditions and favorable weather. The unofficial name of the event is the Record Breaker Nationals, but the NMRA officials prefer it to be called the SCT NMRA Nationals, presented by Downs Ford Motorsport.
The Maryland event is unique because it includes a special SVT Shootout that consists of a variety of SVT-specific categories, including a heads-up shootout, a True Street challenge, and a car show. Naturally the VMP Superchargers Terminator vs. Shelby GT500 Shootout sparks the most attention given its wide range of entries, everything from 10-second daily drivers to all-out 8-second combatants. The theme is all the same in the shootout no matter which model or level modifications—the SVT enthusiasts are there to have fun and collect an assortment of prizes (including a McLeod $750 stick-shift grudge race bonus prize) as well as the normal purse structures of the category. The SVT Shootout has become an annual ritual for the Terminator and Shelby GT500 crowd.
For the regularly scheduled NMRA program, the two biggest news items out of the wild show was the first 6-second hit in ATF Street Outlaw, a class designed for the wildest small-block Ford engines with big-boost makers. Dwayne Barbaree and Russell Stone are credited for the barrier-breaking performance thanks to a 6.98 at 199 mph during the opening round of qualifying. Bad Bart Tobener knocked off the first 7-second run in Edelbrock Renegade history thanks to his 7.94 at 172 mph performance during eliminations. Every national record was reset in every category, save for the mph record in Nitto Tire Factory Stock. Like we said, the unofficial nickname is the Record Breaker Nationals.
The quickest and fastest cars on the property are the ATF Street Outlaws and these racers are packing the nastiest small-block Ford engines. Every single racer relies on some sort of boost maker, be it a 94mm turbocharger or a massive centrifugal supercharger. The final round saw a heavyweight battle between veterans Phil Hines and John Urist. Both take a unique approach to their 200-mph setups: Hines packs a ProCharger F-1X-12R blower while Urist relies on a Precision 94mm turbocharger. Both engines feature similar displacements, in excess of 400 ci, and both wear Edelbrock SC-1 heads and intake manifolds. The finals saw Hines beat Urist in a tight 7.10 at 200 mph to a 7.17 at 200 mph matchup.
Stepping down one category, Edelbrock Renegade features engine packages that are very similar to a serious street machine, albeit a tad more powerful. The supercharger manufacturer wars are in full effect as ProCharger, Kenne Bell, and Vortech battle it out for supremacy. The class has rocketed into the bottom-eight/high-seven with all three companies pushing their team racers harder every passing race. This outing the ProCharger-pumped Mod Motor of Tobener set the standard in Renegade and took out Johnny "Lightning" Wiker and his 2014 Cobra Jet, which is powered by a Coyote 5.0L with a Kenne Bell 4.0L supercharger. Tobener unleashed an 8.02 at 173 mph to Wiker's 8.62 at 160 mph.
The newest class to hit the NMRA scene is DiabloSport Coyote Modified, which is kind of self-explanatory. It is designed for Coyote 5.0L engines with an emphasis on street-sized power adders. Take whatever you think is possible from these combos and deduct a half a second, which is where the Coyote Modified racer have pushed technology. On top of the class is Frank Varela, who operates out of Hellion Racing. He set the record in Maryland with an 8.43 at 163 mph with a Precision 68mm turbo pumping up a MMR Coyote engine. In the finals, however, it was the Vortech-powered S197 of Terry "Beefcake" Reeves that took the victory. Reeves ran consistent 8.80s all weekend long and posted an 8.81 at 155 mph to end Varela's winning streak. Varela had run 8.90 at 147 mph.
Teddy Weaver slammed the gears in his G-Force 101A stick-shift transmission on his way to victory in the ACT Pure Street class. He was flying high with Roush power and 9.60 performances. The unique Strange Engineering Coyote Stock saw an absolute bare-knuckle brawl as the field of sealed, stock Ford Racing Coyote 5.0L engines were strung out between the 10.40s to the 10.90 range. The new-car-turned-racecar of Joe Marini sat on top of the field by eliminating Darrin Hendricks in the finals, 10.64 at 124 mph to Hendricks quicker (but losing) 10.56 at 127 mph.
The final heads-up category is the Nitto Tire Factory Stock eliminator that has evolved into a Stock Eliminator concept but with a street car twist. Matt Amrine and his 4.6L Two-Valve Mod Motor continues to be the dominant force; this time he beat Jay Dold in the finals. The SOHC SN95 racecar laid down a 10.77 at 124 mph to outrun Dold's 10.84 at 123 mph effort.
The special VMP Superchargers Terminator vs. Shelby GT500 brought out an eclectic mix of entries. A select group is certainly pushing the boundary of the performance while others are there to have fun and gun for their quickest time thanks to the awesome track conditions. Scott Waters, the runner-up at this year's Spring Break Shootout event, ran the table by qualifying on top with an 8.25 at 169 mph and winning the race. The twin turbocharged Shelby GT500 would go on to win over Evolution Performance's Nelson Whitlock. Waters motored down track with an 8.35 at 168 mph performance as Whitlock blew the tires and pedaled his mid-eight-second machine into the runner-up position.
The four index categories include three that use a unique Pro-tree/one-tenth breakout format while the fourth is based on a "choose your own index" rule. Roush Super Stang is reserved for 2005 and newer Mustangs, and racers don't qualify like the other categories. The contestants make run after run to dial in their cars and select a race-day index that is locked in for all of eliminations. Brenspeed's Miles Wagoner eliminated BMR's Rockin' Al Miller in a 10-second battle for the supercharged Coyote cars. First-time winner Nina Gusler of BG Racing drove her 2003 SVT Lightning past Randy Conway and his race-bred Ranger in the Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning category.
Susan McClenaghan out of the Roush Development team was once again victorious in the Exedy Modular Muscle category. Her propane-powered Roush Mustang eliminated her teammate, Donnie Bowles, in the final round. The final nationally contested NMRA category is the wildly popular Flex-a-lite Open Comp. Dennis Corn, a Roush engineer, wheeled his superclean 1988 Thunderbird into the mid-nines and beat Milton Grow and his 1978 Fairmont for the Open Comp title.
Chris Escobar continued his winning ways in Maryland, and he came so close to securing the first seven-second average in NMRA history. The twin-turbocharged 1984 Mustang SVO was on its way to glory by posting two runs in the 7.90s, but the third consecutive hit prove to be the deciding factor. The 275/60-15 drag radials broke loose, causing him to pedal the car and run in the 8.40s for the final pass. That pushed his average to an oh-so-close 8.02, but as Escobar puts it, he is there for fun and he enjoyed True Street with 67 other street car enthusiasts. Anthony Leone of New Jersey secured the Overall Runner-Up spot thanks to an 8.90 average. He, too, had problems keeping his copper-hued Mustang GT glued to the track; his times varied between 8.49 and 9.15. On the SVT side of the world, Randy Thomas and his 2010 Shelby GT500 took the Overall Winner spot with a 9.78 average.