Paul Rosner
March 9, 2015
Photos By: Henry De Los Santos

Put up those snow shovels, ice scrapers, and k-melt. It’s time to stow away the sleds, saucers, ice skates, skis, and even your snowmobiles. Get those car covers off and move the stuff that has collected around your steed throughout the winter months because it’s time to get your steed put back together, fired up, and ready to go. Time to double-check your suspension for damage from last years’ flogging. Check all the fluids. Get those upgrades finished, and see if Santa’s presents equaled up to the horsepower and e.t. gains you were expecting.

Another year of quarter-mile pavement pounding, gear slamming, tire smoking fun is ready to begin, scheduled to appear at a dragstrip extravaganza near you, compliments of the blue-bloods at ProMedia putting on the NMRA Keystone Automotive Ford Nationals, presented by Ford Racing Performance Parts.

Competition will be intense, with a full menu of heads-up, 10-inch tire classes, headlined by the outrageous 6-second, 200-plus-mph, 10-inch-radial-wearing behemoths of the fastest streetcar world. They’ll be followed by the unrivaled, no-wheelie-bar, 7-second Renegades, a pair of Coyote power-only classes featuring mild-mannered low 8-second power-adder ponies and a budget-minded, factory tune crate engine class that’s gaining more popularity than the latest iPhone, where races are being won by millionths of a second! Next, small-block engine builders will treat you to amazing 9,000-plus-rpm echoes from the big end in the 9-second, bumper dragging, Pure Street stallions and lots of class loyal 10-second Factory Stock steeds. Local racers will want to taste bracket racing with a hint of heads-up/index racing in one of the Open Comp style classes, all Modular Motor, Truck, or a mixed Open Comp.

If racing on the Semi-Pro level in one of the above classes isn’t in your budget, make sure to come join our own Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords True Street class, where hundreds of mild to wild Mustangs and Fords will both cruise the local streets and tear up the pavement on the quarter-mile in the same weekend.

While all this is part of the regular NMRA racing program, special shootouts will be squeezed into nearly every event for your viewing pleasure.

All drag racing participants will face off against the hottest racers from coast to coast, for their share of the largest all-cash contingency program and rights to the incredible one-of-a-kind Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Champions’ ring. If you can conquer all in attendance and capture a spot in the Aerospace Components Winners’ Circle in the NMRA, rest assured that you’ve beat the best in the country. And MM&FF will be there to bring the finest coverage!

In addition to the all the sick action on the track, there will be an unsurpassed glare from the UPR Products all-Ford Car Show, which commonly showcases over 400 of the most rare and gorgeous Mustangs and fabulous Fords in the country of both new and old.

The tire melting maniacs in the burnout contest are always a crowd favorite, especially those crazy cats with bellows of colored tire smoke, in addition to a smoke and fire show from the 300-plus-mph exhibition jet car runs.

It will be a bargain shopper’s paradise, as each event assembles a large manufacturers midways where hot “show only” deals are common and tech support is plentiful from manufacturers, shop operators, and racers alike. You’ll find oodles of swappers ready to negotiate hot deals on both hard-to-find items and lots of other great deals on an extensive array of Blue Oval new and used parts.

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All action will begin with the season opener, the 21st Annual Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Break Shootout presented by Muscle Mustangs amongst the palm trees in Bradenton, Florida, which will be bulging at the seams with special events. The fun will begin with a pony stable showcase displaying a taste of the weekend’s competitors and those tire-smoking rebels at the always-wild and uproarious Friday night Hooters party!

Contestants will have to decide to show their cards and capture top honors in Saturday’s True Street competition or save their poker hand to qualify in the top 16 for the popular Muscle Mustangs Spring Break Shootout Class presented by Blow-By Racing to follow on Sunday. Last year’s competition hosted a handful of 7-second competitors battling to become the historical first—a battle that turned out to be a yearlong war, ending at the season finale in Bowling Green where Cal Hayward was crowned.

All the NHRA superstars of the Stock and Super Stock classes will be dialing in their combos in the Ford Racing Cobra Jet Showdown presented by Watson Racing, to prepare for their regular season racing gig. Last year saw one of the first 7-second runs from a Coyote 5.0L sporting a little Ford Racing 2.9L, via Watson Racing. More than half of the field last year was qualified in the 8-second range.

In addition, this year Bradenton will host the first of three VMP Superchargers Terminator vs. GT500 Shootouts, where the undaunted factory supercharged hot rods will battle it out in a heads-up format.

The 7th annual Borla Exhaust NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by Miller Welders in Commerce, Georgia, will follow. The NMRA will share the racetrack with the all brand racing NMCA series regulars, each with their independent class racing. You will be treated to the outrageous 5-second ProMods of the NMCA/NHRA outlaw door slammers.

The east coast swing continues with the 15th Annual NMRA Ford Nationals in Budds Creek, Maryland, just south of our nation’s capital. Special additions to the regular racing program will include the VMP Superchargers Terminator vs. GT500 Shootout series, which will continue in their second of three venues. Keeping in the theme of Ford’s long-running Special Vehicles Operations performance package models, SVTPerformance.com presents the 3rd Annual SVT Shootout, where competitors can enter a special SVT-only True Street class, presented by Muscle Mustangs, or the SVT car show open to all cars and trucks.

Follow the petrified blue treks to the next stop in historical Norwalk, Ohio, the birthplace of the 100-plus entry True Street, more than 20 years ago, where we’ll celebrate our rich history with three special events. All those guys out there with turbo blue running in their veins knows there’s nothing hotter that a girl in a driver’s suit behind the wheel of her (or for that matter, your) mean pony! Along with the traditional True Street event that everyone can compete in, we’re also bringing in an entire all-female True Street parade. To top it off, we’ll then send the top eight qualifiers to the 3rd Annual Muscle Mustangs All-Female Shootout Presented by Royal Purple for dessert. Many think that real race cars have three pedals. To give a little something back to those of you who refuse to give up the slapstick, all stick cars in attendance will get their own True Street class and then the top eight will qualify for the 2nd Annual McLeod Racing Killer Clutch Shootout. During the awards ceremony on Saturday, the folks from the NMRA have offered a special True Street party with lots of product and gift certificate giveaways from your favorite pony performance outlet distributers and manufacturers.

Miami and New Orleans might be the undisputed homes of the most NFL Super Bowls, but there’s only one undisputed home of the 10th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, and that is the drag racing stadium named Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. Both series will run independent racing programs concurrently, then when all the tire smoke, nitrous purges, and wastegate shutters subside, the winners of each will be paired up for a Super Bowl matchup where individual race winners will receive an additional purse and a tally in the win column for the NMRA or NMCA team, respectively. The winning team will receive the coveted one-of-a-kind Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Super Bowl ring.

The crown jewel is unmistakably, the unrivaled, epic 17th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA All-Ford World Finals. Here championships are won or lost, expectations skyrocket or tumble. Thrills of victory. Agonies of defeat. Dreams made and broken round by round. Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, sets records year after year in spectator attendance, racer and car show participation, manufacturers midway vendors, and swap meet peddlers.

For those who don’t have a venue close enough to your town, can’t get enough track time with your steed or just like beating up on the brand-Xers, feel free to come and crash the party at any or all of ProMedia’s six NMCA Flowmaster Muscle Car Nationals or four NMCA West VP Racing Fuels California events.

Gather your family and friends, and come and experience the hottest spectacle in motorsports. Whether you’re one of the thousands of fans or one of the hundreds of racers, you’ll behold the most magnificent array of Blue Oval hot rods both old and new, on and off the track. Here’s an overview of some of the cars and stars of the biggest and most popular all-Ford drag racing festivals in the country.

RACE CLASSES

VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw

The wildest and most unpredictable of the single power-adder Mustang heads-up racing community will battle in the Street Outlaw class, where all cars utilize OEM body shelled cars. A stock frame from engine motor plate to rear wheel tubs is required, no back-halved cars allowed. All headlights and taillights must be functional. This results in the ultimate display of chassis builders’ handiwork with complete safety cages built into the structure of the body, especially under the hood and driver’s compartment.

The blaring shriek of the typical 440ci supercharged combos top the engine decibel charts. In contrast, the nearly inaudible sounds of the common 400ci Windsor or 284ci Modular turbocharged cars in the water box always end with a tantalizing asthmatic wheezing as the excess boost is exhausted from the wastegate. A heavenly recipe of tantalizing sights and sounds for all, sick side-by-sideways action!

What makes these cars so amazingly wild to watch is that they are attempting to hook over 2,500 hp on the required 28x10.6 slick or 275 drag radial! You’ll see lots of seemingly slow launches, but watch out! These guys have a tendency to put it on the bumper at about the 330-foot markers as the frightening amounts of power kicks in, making for some breathtaking action all the way to the stripe.

Street Outlaw Class Champion:
John Urist

2014 Class Quickest & Fastest:
E.T.: John Urist, 6.95 sec
MPH: John Urist, 204.66 mph

Edelbrock Renegade

The performance of this class will leave you astonished. All competitors have historically chosen supercharged combos under 335 ci to break into the magic 7-second zone. They have a very strict list of acceptable heads and intakes that must breath through a single 90mm max throttle body with a mere 0.550-inch lift camshaft or 0.520-inch lift on 4V modular engines. Don’t be surprised to see a rogue NOS competitor making use of the many cube to weight options, where they can run up to 415 ci and take advantage of the unlimited camshaft specs with a dominator carb for this year. For the first time in 15 years, competitors can utilize a single 76mm turbocharger with 311-cube combos and the centrifugal supercharger players will get to oust the old belt-drive units in lieu of a more flexible and efficient gear-drive system, which should eliminate longtime crankshaft and bearing from belt tensioning. All bodies will remain stock, with no external holes in the bumpers or grille to feed superchargers or turbos, and 28x10.6 slick or 275 drag radial is required.

Make sure you’ve got your spot in the stands when the Renegades arrive. No wheelie bars are allowed in the class, and at this power level a 20-degree change in track temp can unexpectedly send an entire round of racers skyward and a dumpster full of bumper covers!

Renegade Class Champion:
Bart Tobener

2014 Class Quickest & Fastest:
E.T.: Bart Tobener, 7.94 sec
MPH: Bart Tobener, 173.74 mph

ProCharger Coyote Modified

Coyote 5.0 four-valve technology is unbridled, as few rules other than power added to weight exist. A 305ci maximum engine size is required, as is a 90mm or smaller throttle body, but otherwise, engine modifications are unlimited. Nitrous and street-type 2.3L roots blower combos are the lightweights at 2,800 pounds; 3.57 inside-diameter centrifugal, 2.3L Roots, 2.9L twin screw and 68mm T4 turbocharger step up to 3,250 pounds. And in 2015, twin screw 3.6L combos are the heavyweights at 3,450. Any Ford body is allowed, although there are some specific K-member requirements. All must run on stock-type suspension and 28x10.6 slicks.

Don’t be surprised to see the class break into the 7-second zone at the season opener with lots of new faces bidding for the Champions’ Nitto Tire Championship Diamond Tree Ring.

Coyote Modified Class Champion:
Frank Varela

2014 Class Quickest & Fastest
E.T.: Frank Varela, 8.30 seconds
MPH: Frank Varela, 165.19 mph

ACT Pure Street

If it’s all-motor, small-cube action you crave, this class is for you. No big mechanical camshafts or monster cubic-inch powerplants are allowed here. Small-block 302Ws are limited to 313 cubes, while 4.6L engines get 291 cubes, and both are limited to a second string list of permissible heads to mildly massage without outrageously oversized or titanium valves. Only hydraulic camshafts with 0.500-inch maximum lift fitted Windsors and 0.550-inch or 0.480-inch lift two-, three-, and four-valve mod-motors are allowed. It will take despicable amounts of duration to extend rpm ranges to upwards of 9,000 and beyond revs per minute. Air must flow through a 750-cfm carb or 80mm mass air, and stock EEC-IV or EEC-V must be retained, but there is a short list of approved “chipped” or handheld tuners one can use. All the 1979 and newer Fox- and Mustang-bodied cars will brush the bumper on every launch with a Tremec manual of beefed-up factory automatic transmission.

Pure Street Class Champion:
Teddy Weaver

2014 Class Quickest & Fastest:
E.T.: Teddy Weaver, 9.67 seconds
MPH: Teddy Weaver, 134.84 mph

Strange Engineering Coyote Stock

Two years ago the NMRA embraced the need for a budget-minded heads-up racing class for grassroots racers coast to coast. Following the introduction of the bulletproof four-valve 5.0 engine, the NMRA started what has become one of the most contested classes ever introduced. As they say, “What wins on Sunday sells on Monday.” The new 5.0 is definitely selling!

Class rules require a Ford Racing “sealed” crate engine with an 80mm throttle body, stock injectors (65 psi limited), and an OEM six-rib serpentine belt system. No tuning is allowed. Computers are frequently reflashed stock by NMRA tech between rounds to keep the competition clean. About the only mods allowable are 1.75-inch primary headers with 3-inch exhaust, and any 107mm nax mass air with unaltered sample tube and elements. No fancy long-style or adjustable pressure plates. Only Tremec and C4 transmissions are allowed.

This is a driver/chassis tuner class, where you will see everything from Mustangs and Mavericks to Fairmonts and everything in between on the bumper, then crossing the stripe together within millionths of second. Exciting!

Coyote Stock Class Champion:
Shane Stymiest

2014 Class Quickest & Fastest:
E.T.: Joe Charles, 10.29 seconds
MPH: Joe Charles, 130.27 mph

Factory Stock

This entry-level class started out as a beginners’ bolt-on only class for fuel-injected cars but has evolved into one of the most contested classes in the NMRA. You will need to study the rulebook well because the class has become as complex as the NHRA stock ranks, where go-fast secrets are closely guarded and onlookers have a hard time understanding how such outrageous performance levels can be attained form a “stock” setup. Combatants must choose from approved 275 radials from BFG, Nitto Tire, and Mickey Thompson.

Factory Stock Class Champion:
Matt Armine

2014 Class Quickest & Fastest:
E.T.: Matt Armine, 10.72 seconds
MPH: Matthew Williams, 124.25 mph

Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle

For the bored modular-motor-powered bracketeers and test-n-tune junkies tired of handicap starts, this all-run class offers pro-tree handicap-style racing, where you must qualify for your e.t. with a 0.10 breakout allowance on race day. Modular Motor is center stage for showcasing the performance potential of the overhead camshaft modular engines. Don’t look for an easy go of it here. The fields are big and racing intense. The quickest qualifying e.t. permitted in this class is 8.60; the slowest is 15.70. No electronics allowed. All racing leaves on a handicap 0.500 pro tree! The 2015 Champion will receive a Nitto Tire Championship Diamond Tree Ring.

Modular Muscle Class Champion:
Susan McClenaghan

Flex-a-lite Open Comp

The Flex-a-lite Open Comp class is for all racers who want to race in a big-time racing series for a Nitto Tire Championship Diamond Tree Ring. All Ford-bodied and -powered race or streetcars can compete in this all-run 0.500 pro-tree, qualifying style version of heads-up format known as “open comp.” All competitors will automatically be dialed one-tenth quicker than their quickest qualifying time. Only e.t.’s between 8.60 and 15.70 will be allowed to compete. Most of the competitors will be bracket racers looking for something a bit different. The fields will be full and racing intense. No electronics allowed! There is the most competitive class in the NMRA, with both rounds and championships won by thousandths packages!

Open Comp Class Champion:
Bill Jones

Super Stang

The Super Stang class will showcase performance capabilities of all 2005 and newer (S197) Mustangs with OEM type 4.6L, 5.0L, 5.4L (three-valve or four-valve), or V-6 engines only, in 0.500 pro-tree, dial-in style racing. All must run quicker than 14.50 and launch on a footbrake only. Sit back and be amazed at the level of competition, with no trans brakes, two steps, or electronics allowed! No dial-ins can be changed after eliminations begins. You, too, could win your own one-of-a-kind Nitto Tire Championship Diamond Tree Ring.

Super Stang Class Champion:
Kent Nine

Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning

The Truck & Lightning class is for all you truck racers looking to prove that your truck is the toughest. This class has the one of the highest contested classes in the organization. You could win a Nitto Tire Championship Diamond Tree Ring. All Ford-bodied and -powered trucks are allowed to compete in this all-run 0.500 pro-tree qualifying style version of heads-up format known as “open comp.” All competitors will automatically be dialed one-tenth quicker than their quickest qualifying time. Only e.t.’s between 8.80 and 15.70 will be allowed to compete. No electronics allowed!

Truck & Lightning Class Champion:
Nina Gusler

HP Tuners True Street Presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords

There is no better cure for the blue-collar hustle and bustle then sliding into the seat of your favorite hot rod, filling your soul with the sound of a radical piston-pumping combustion engine, and headin’ down a winding road where the turns come faster than the cars in front or behind you. A road that eventually opens up to a straightaway that ends on the horizon, just after a traffic signal. That’s right! And of course the light is red and your friend has just caught up with you. Guess you see where this one’s going.

This, my friends, is what the HP Tuners True Street Class is all about. Cruisin’ with your friends and family, maybe an inadvertent meeting at a dragstrip—three times in a row, of course! It’s about cruising with a hundred other blue-blooded motorheads and seeing how many passes you can get down the quarter-mile in one action-packed weekend of fun.

The competition comes in all levels: 9s, 10s, 11s, 12s, 13s, 14s, 15s, and of course those extremists wanting to prove they can be the King of the Street. But all are treated equal. All will receive the same opportunity to make passes and achieve their personal best in the company of a hundred others. Nobody will face elimination, just e.t. slips. What a concept!

The folks from the NMRA are keeping the HP Tuners True Street class alive and more exciting than ever with a quick 16 shootout for the hot shots in the Muscle Mustangs Spring Break Shootout Class Presented by Blow-By Racing, and an all-SVT field in conjunction with the 3rd Annual SVT Shootout Presented by SVTPerformance.com. An all-female field with the 3rd Annual Muscle Mustangs All-Female Shootout Class Presented by Royal Purple follows. An all-female field with the 3rd annual Muscle Mustangs All-Female Shootout Class Presented by Royal Purple follows the stick-shift slugfest NMRA calls the McLeod Racing Killer Clutch Shootout.

At a raffle party in Norwalk, Ohio, we will host a special True Street Racer Appreciation Party. Thousands of dollars in products and gift certificates from your favorite pony performance outlet distributers and manufacturers will be given away, and hundreds of dollars in prize money will be awarded in up to nine incremental indexes: King of the Street, runner-up, 9s, 10s, 11s, 12s, 13s, 14s, and 15s.

If you like to race, this class is for you. Entrants arriving on Friday will be given two or more time runs, time permitting. Historically the class has gotten a time run on Saturday morning, participation in the required 30-mile cruise with your buddies, three back-to-back passes, and a free ride into the bracket III class on Sunday.

All you have to do to take part is make sure your pony or fast Ford is certified for the street with operational headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, horn, mufflers, and license plates, and that it is wearing D.O.T. tires on the front and rear. D.O.T. slick type tires must be less than 10.75 inches wide, and radials are limited to 325 mm. You must of course possess a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, and both front seats so that your friends and family can join you on the cruise.

We shouldn’t have to mention that your car needs to meet all the NHRA requirements for the e.t. your hot rod is capable of. Safety is always first and foremost, or as my wife says, “You can’t pass, you can’t play!” In addition, they tell us that in order to rent a world-class NHRA racetrack, you must have insurance, which requires adherence to their rulebook for acceptance, especially Competition Licenses for those quicker than 9.99.

There will be a mandatory 30-mile supervised cruise followed by a 15- to 45-minute closed-hood cooling down period—no external cooling, adding fuel, changing tires, or charging batteries. They do allow competitors (driver only) to add NOS bottles, to add ice to the intercooler, and to remove or add air from the tires. Next you will get three consecutive passes down the 1320. The average of your three passes will be your spot on the qualifying ladder. Elapsed times closest to 9.0, 10.0, 11.0, 12.0, 13.0, 14.0, 15.0, and runner-up are awarded money and a plaque, while the quickest is cape-n-crowned King of the Street and receives money and a 6-foot trophy!

All winners are then treated to a once-in-a-lifetime winners circle experience with the big dogs of the National Mustang Racers Association. All races will be covered by NMRAdigital.com, Race Pages, and Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords.

Bracket Showdown

Rules will usually follow suit with host track regular racing format for Bracket I, II, and III. Usual classes for electronics. No electronics or E.T. requirements will apply except with NMRA Winners’ Circle celebrations.


2015 NMRA Ford Nationals Event Schedule

Mar. 5-8: 21st Annual Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Break Shootout Presented by MM&FF; Bradenton Motorsports Park, Bradenton, Fla.

Apr. 9-12: 7th annual Borla Exhaust NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by Miller Welders; Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga.

May 1-3: 15th Annual NMRA Ford Nationals featuring the 3rd Annual SVT Shootout Presented by SVTPerformance.com; Maryland Int’l Raceway, Budds Creek, Md.

June 11-14: 12th Annual McLeod Racing NMRA Ford Super Nationals, featuring the MM&FF All-Female Shootout Presented by Royal Purple; Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio.

July 30–Aug. 2: 10th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing. See team NMRA take on team NMCA for Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Rings! Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Ill.

Oct. 1-4: 17th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA All-Ford World Finals, featuring the 5th Annual VMP Superchargers Terminator/GT500 Shootout; Beech Bend Raceway, Bowling Green, KY