Mike Galimi
September 19, 2014
Photos By: Michael Galimi, Evan J. Smith, Courtesy Of The NMRA

For the second year, the NMRA Keystone Drag Racing Series stopped at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, for the McLeod Super Nationals. The schedule was packed with a full complement of excitement, including a regular lineup of heads-up and index racing categories. We saw the return of the Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords All-Female Shootout, presented by Royal Purple Ladies, plus the addition of the King Ford bracket showdown. To top it off, the we recorded the largest True Street gathering in NMRA history.

Included in the 122-car True Street field was the special All-Female Shootout, where female racers first competed on Saturday in True Street and the top eight battled for the All-Female title. The second annual shootout saw Brandi Cisco rise to the top of the eight-car field as she wheeled a supercharged '14 Mustang GT to consistent high-10-second runs. She faced Nikki Frost in the finals as both Vortech supercharged machines marched to speeds over 120 mph with Cisco coming out on top, 10.75 at 129 mph to Frost's 11.79 at 125 mph.

While the female racing was hot, the quickest cars on the property are in the ATF Street Outlaw category, where the racers tickle the six-second zone and 200-mph barrier regularly—on 275 radials or true 10.5-inch slicks. Andy Manson was the one to beat on Sunday with his ProCharger-pumped SN95 Mustang. The Virginia racer rocked the clocks with a 7.34 at 194 mph to beat a tire-smoked Phil Hines, who ran 7.56 at just 176 mph.

Moving down the ladder on the heads-up side of the world is Edelbrock Renegade. MV Performance's Bart Tobener took the win with a class-leading 7.96 at 174 mph to top Alton Clements who posted an 8.09 at 168 mph in the finals. The DiabloSport Coyote Modified class is where Coyote engines with street-sized power adders live. Frank Varela and Hellion Racing continued their dominating season with a record 8.52 at 163 mph to beat Craig Baldwin in the finals, who had run 8.89 at only 143 when he pushed out the head gaskets.

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Brandy Cisco drove the Beefcake Racing/Finish Line Performance ’14 Mustang GT into the winner’s circle for the All-Female Shootout, presented by Royal Purple Ladies. Her Vortech-supercharged machine ran high 10s and didn’t skip a beat.

The quickest naturally aspirated category in NMRA competition is ACT Pure Street and Teddy Weaver continued his domination as he overtook class rival Tommy Godfrey, 9.78 at 138 mph to a 9.94 at 136 mph.

While not the quickest cars in NMRA, Strange Engineering Coyote Stock is clearly one of the most popular, as it requires a sealed Ford Racing Coyote 5.0L engine, so in essence every racer has the same horsepower level (and the same engine tune). Winning comes down to chassis setup, vehicle preparation and driver skill. “HiPo Joe” Charles scored the win in Norwalk on a holeshot as his slower, but winning, 10.43 at 130 mph beat defending champion Shane Stymiest and his 10.38 at 125 mph.

It wasn’t a good weekend for Edelbrock Renegade racer Curtis Catalon. He stood his ’03 SVT Cobra on the bumper as he chased the low 8s at 165 mph. Upon arrival back to terra firma a tie-rod snapped, sending him on a wild ride into the wall.

Stepping over to Nitto Factory Stock, it was first-time winner James Meredith and his '03 Mach 1 Mustang on top of the stockers. The Coyote-swapped Mach 1 ran 11.01 at 122 mph to beat defending champion Matt Amrine who turned an 11.03 at 123 mph.

The Index categories were no less exciting with Gary “Hollywood” Parker taking home his first Exedy Modular Muscle win of 2014 as he dispatched class rival Donnie Bowles in the money round. The big and bad trucks live in Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning. Randy Conway drove the Northfield Trucking/Lampton Brothers Ranger to victory over the defending series champion Robert Chuhran and his '99 SVT Lightning. Woody Pack rose to the top of the Flex-a-lite Open Comp eliminator with his vintage Mustang beating Mike Buczynski in a near heads-up battle with Pack running in the 9.40s and Buczynski in the 9.30s.

Bart Tobener unleashed the fury of a ProCharger F-1C-10.5 into his MV Performance 5.8L mod motor and the results were bottom 8s and some runs that dipped into the 7s with speeds around 170 mph. He won the Edelbrock Renegade class in a dominating fashion. A
James Meredith (far lane) took home Nitto Trophy Stock honors with his ’03 Mach 1, which has a Coyote 5.0L swap courtesy of Triangle Speed Shop. He took the class win in a narrow race, 11.01 at 122 mph to Matt Amrine’s 11.03 at 123 mph effort. B
Strange Engineering Coyote Stock requires a specially sealed Ford Racing Coyote crate engine. The concept is to lock down the power output and bring driving and car preparation back into the equation. Drew Lyons shows his prowess in tuning his diaphragm-style clutch and his ability to power-shift his Tremec transmission. C

The late-model Mustang specialty category is Roush Super Stang as it sheds some of the more racy components of the other index. Street machines are the theme in Super Stang, and Kent Nine broke his winning drought with a final-round victory over Texas' Lloyd Mikeska in this dial-in category.

A bonus feature for the enormous bracket program is the King Ford showdown, which arranges all class winners from Saturday and Sunday in a battle royal. The winner of the king of the hill bracket race is declared King Ford and is carried to the winner's circle in a throne and given a crown, an enormous trophy, a generous cash bonus, and bragging rights until next year's running. John Gregory was flawless on Sunday by first winning Fast Ford (Bracket 1) and then taking the King Ford honors, for the third time in his racing career.

The NMRA program in Ohio was a blast with its usual lineup of nationally contested categories, huge True Street field, All-Female Shootout, King Ford, and as much Buck-a-Pound ice cream as you can eat. See ya next year, Ohio!

Several Ford Racing Cobra Jets have found a home in NMRA with John Kauderer being the latest racer to bring one. He races in DiabloSport Coyote Modified with his ’14 factory racecar going high 8s. A
Johnnie Kinter slammed the gears in his Tremec transmission to win a bonus McLeod Clutches Killer Clutch Shootout grudge race that pitted the two quickest stick-shift cars in True Street against each other. His Ohio-based ’88 Mustang GT runs 10.70s with a naturally aspirated combination. B
What do you do with a legit ’08 GT500 KR? You throw on sticky rear tires and skinny front-runners, load a custom tune in the ECU, and bolt-in an 4R100 automatic transmission, and you let it ride to 10.40s at 130 mph on the quarter-mile. That is what Earnie Sandidge did with his collectible GT500KR in the Roush Super Stang class. C
HiPo Joe Charles takes a ribbing about his reaction times from fellow racers, but he came up huge in the finals with a hole shot win in the Strange Engineering Coyote Stock class. His Terminator-clone runs a legitimately stock Coyote 5.0L and goes 10.40s at 130 mph at a 3,000 pound race weight. A
Frank Varela (near lane) is the big dog of the DiabloSport Coyote Modified class. He runs consistent 8.40s at 160-plus mph thanks to a MMR 5.0L engine and a custom Hellion turbo kit with a Precision 67mm turbocharger. B
Hang ’em if you got ’em. Lidio Iacobelli of Alternative Auto grabs some air with 20-inch wheels at all four corners. Not a bad little street sleeper that goes 9.70s this trim. C
Tremec True Street broke the all-time NMRA attendance record with 122 entries. The parade was a long one on the 30-mile cruise through scenic Norwalk, Ohio. The staging lanes were filled to capacity once all the vehicles rolled in.
The overall winner and most successful True Street racer in history, Chris Escobar, nabbed another TS win in Ohio. His twin-turbo Coyote-pumped SVO delivered an 8.05 average. Escobar is on mission to run the first-ever 7-second average, which we expect to occur at the NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green in a few months. A
Andrea Woolard was back in the All-Female Shootout once again in her nitrous-injected ’91 Mustang GT. She ran high 12s and went a few rounds in the All-Female Shootout. B
Craig Baldwin added a Coyote 5.0L to his Fox-body Mustang this year. With a ProCharger F-1A blower he ran a career best of 8.78 at 161 mph while scoring a runner-up finish in Coyote Modified. C
Donnie Bowles Jr. noticed his Roush 5.4L engine had low oil pressure, forcing the team to swap over its backup engine. His finished in the runner-up spot in the Exedy Modular Muscle category. D
John Gregory took home the King Ford title and was carried off to receive his winnings in royal fashion. E

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