Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
Over 100 Racers Make the Quest for Glory in HP Tuners True Street at the 21st Annual NMRA Spring Break Shootout
Spring Break Shakedown at NMRA Spring Break Shootout 2015
For over two decades, the season-opening Spring Break Shootout has had Ford enthusiasts pounding the pavement at Bradenton Motorsports Part in wheels-up, boost-rippin’, nitrous-gulping action. One of the biggest draws is the ever-popular HP Tuners True Street and MM&FF Spring Break Shootout classes. With a combined purse of almost $5,000 in cash and prizes, True Street is designed for anyone to come out and race, and the SBS is a specialty event that lets True Street racers go all out in a no-holds-barred, heads-up shootout. The popularity is growing, thanks to a great events and the awesome coverage here in MM&FF and on our network site, Mustang-360.com.
True Street was created by the MM&FF team over two decades ago. The format gives owners of street-legal Mustangs and Fords the ultimate venue for racing their cars. Participating is simple—just endure a 30-mile cruise and then make three back-to-back-to-back quarter-mile passes. That’s it. Even 20-plus years later, True Street consistently attracts over 100 participants and remains the largest heads-up racing class in America.
Once the racing is competed, the runs are averaged to determine the winner(s). You can red light, cut a great light, or even be late on the tree—only your elapsed time matters. The catch is that you can’t raise your hood, swap tires, or refuel. So, essentially, your car remains in street trim when it goes down the track. That’s the spirit, or premise, of the category. Anyone with a Lincoln, Ford, or Mercury can compete too—and you can take a carload of family and friends along for the cruise.
In 2015, the True Street field in Florida consisted of racers from Florida, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ontario, Canada. While most of the racers are gunning for their quickest elapsed times, you don’t have to be the fastest to be a winner. HP Tuners True Street rewards racers closest to his or her e.t. bracket (15 seconds and quicker).
As a bonus, you’ll find the Spring Break Shootout class in Florida. The SBS consists of the quickest 16 racers from TS, who return on Sunday (TS is run on Saturday) for the Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords Spring Break Shootout, an exciting heads-up eliminator. So, the True Street elite not only get to run for more prizes, but they run in the big show right alongside the Street Outlaw and Renegade superstars.
After making the cruise and blasting to an 8.21, 8.38, and 8.33 e.t., Mike Jovanis, driving his familiar blue 1989 LX hatch, scored a big win and became the top seed for the SBS. His average of 8.311 topped Alex Corella’s runner-up 8.74 average. But they weren’t the only 8-second runners. Adam Ruffel finished Third with an 8.82 average, and Tony Whetstone was on his heels, averaging 8.89. Amazingly, Whetstone has competed at every Spring Break Shootout! The top of the field was packed with 9-second Mustangs, and after all three passes the bump spot for the quick 16 was set by Gary Clempa at 9.972.
“I’ve been to the Spring Break Shootout six times, so it was a real accomplishment to win it,” said Jovanis, who walked away with the winner’s cash and the 6-foot trophy. “Coming from the northeast, it’s tough just to get there. We had to battle ice and snow and didn’t do any testing, so I was pretty happy to run a personal best of 8.25 and then 8.19 at 172 right off the trailer.”
Jovanis ran the 30-mile tour with no drama and laid down consistent runs to take his sixth HP Tuners True Street crown and his first at the SBS. “It felt so good and it was exciting,” Jovanis stated. “Last year we struggled, so it was nice to unload the car and run so well.”
His LX is packed with a DiSomma Racing Engines turbocharged 347ci that uses a Haltech Engine Management Systems EFI and a single T4 88m turbo from Forced Inductions that is backed by a Hughes ’glide and an 8.8.
Saturday’s True Street set the stage for an exciting eliminator, which saw wild runs and a slew of upsets. Most of the hitters blasted through Round 1, including Jovanis, who had a late light and then spun hard off the line. Jovanis skirted disaster again in Round 2 when he faced Christian Worley. Jovanis got the jump but blew the tires off his clean LX. Worley drove to a 9.75, but the Jersey runner was able to hold him off with a 9.61. In other matchups, Adam Kuffel of Orlando ran 8.97/152 to beat Mark Nazarro’s 9.18/144 effort, Gary Clempa came out of the 16th qualified position and knocked off Bret Stabler and Alex Corella.
The battle was getting hot in the semifinals. Clempa left way ahead of Corella (0.198 to 0.570) and held on for a holeshot win (9.98 to 9.84). On the other side of the ladder, Kuffel made a quicker move off the line and stopped Jovanis, who was clearly struggling due to a broken antiroll bar. Despite running rock-solid in True Street, Jovanis smoked the tires and he couldn’t make up the gap. Kuffel ran 9.15 at 149 to hold off the Jersey runner, who charged to a 9.57 at a whopping 169 mph. This set up the Kuffel versus Clempa final.
Both drivers came back for Round 4, laid down burnouts, and staged carefully. Clempa moved first on green, but Kuffel’s 1985 Mustang GT was too strong. Kuffel ran a blazing 8.97 at 148 to top Clempa’s strong 9.97 at 134. Adam Kuffel’s 1985 ride showed that a classic nitrous combination can still get it done.
“I was excited and didn’t even know what to do,” said Kuffel. “It was my first win and I was pinching myself. It was like a dream. I just didn’t expect it.” For his effort, Kuffel was awarded $800 in cash and a $300 certificate from Blow-By Racing.
The engine consists of a pump-gas 363ci small-block that uses a Ford Racing Boss block with JE pistons, AFR 205 heads, and a Wilson nitrous plate. The 363ci is backed with a Lentech AOD and 3.90 gears. Kuffel’s best pass in True Street was 8.816, and he ran as quick as 8.816 (he also ran 8.819 and 8.827).
He said, “I have it set up for tracks like we get in True Street. I really drive this car on the street, I don’t even own a trailer. I just put the engine back in the car, didn’t do a lot of testing. I just went there to have some fun and to get in the top 16.”
He added, “To be a winner is unreal, I was ecstatic.”
Once again the SBS show was amazing. It’s awesome to see the work and dedication of so many Mustang owners—and how many fast Stangs can run street legally and then compete on track. The variety of combinations makes it ultra-interesting, and the participants are always friendly and willing to talk about what makes their cars so special. So if you’re looking for a fun place to take your Ford, be it a Lightning, Mustang, Capri, or other fast Ford, check out a True Street Shootout at an NMRA event near you.