Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
May 29, 2015
Photos By: REVan Media Inc.

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.

Adam Kuffel (far lane) and Gary Clempa squared off for the 2015 SBS title. Kuffel took the win in his nitrous-injected 1985 Mustang GT.
With an average of 8.311, Mike Jovanis of Wall, New Jersey, scored his sixth True Street championship and his first at the SBS.

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.

A defective rear antiroll bar caused massive tire spin for TS winner Mike Jovanis.
Tony Whetstone had his 1988 Mustang GT flying. He qualified Fourth with a stout 8.93 but fell in the first round to Bret Stabler.

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.”

Dan Caissie of Thompson, Connecticut, nabbed the 15-second crown driving this 2015 Mustang convertible.
Anthony Heard brought out his gear-jammin’ 1990 coupe and averaged 9.49! Heard qualified for the shootout but lost to Mike Jovanis in the opening frame. All was not lost, as Heard won the Tremec Stick Shift Shootout and the amazing prize of any Tremec transmission he wanted.

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.

There was an early Pony or two in competition. This 1965 belonged to Bill Dudley and scored a nice 10.27 average.
Drivers assemble for a quick meeting before the action.

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.

Gary Clempa hails from Punta Gorta, Florida, and his 1989 LX rounded off the 16-car SBS field with a 9.97 average. Clempa fought hard all afternoon and made it to the SBS final—unfortunately he didn’t have enough for Adam Kuffel.

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.

Adam Kuffel was humble in victory, saying that he was happy just to make the 16-car SBS field. He finished Third in True Street with an 8.821 average before going on to win the SBS.

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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.”

Dan Kelly of Naples, Florida, was the 11-second winner with an 11.05 average.
With a 12.01 average, Brent Nelson was the 12-second class winner.

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.


Click HERE for the True Street results


Joseph DeCeria scored a 9.90 average with his wildly modded 2014 GT500.
The quickest 2015 Mustang in HP Tuners True Street belonged to Sam Lippencott. The Tampa runner went as quick as 12.07 and averaged 12.09.
This former MM&FF project car was driven by Josias Reyes and made the SBS show with a 9.35 average.

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