Paul Rosner
August 24, 2015
Photos By: Paul Rosner

About an hour south of the capital city, nestled deep in the Maryland woodlands near the Wicomico River, the trendy Maryland International Raceway (MIR) is where the 15th annual SCT NMRA Ford Nationals, presented by, was held. MIR has been in business since the 1960s and has always had a bit of a pop culture feeling—not afraid to try anything once or twice if it has entertainment value, as evidenced by the track’s giving 4-wide a shot in the early 1980s. It has been a longtime favorite of east coast racers’ with a hometown small track feel, but with big track performance results. It’s known for the sick conditions of 80-feet-above-sea-level atmospheric conditions and an amazingly prepped racetrack surface.

The weekend showcased an all Blue Oval NMRA main course and a tantalizing list of SVT appetizers via the 3rd annual SVT Shootout Presented by, which included some of the quickest Lightnings, Cobras, and GT500s in the country, a special All SVT True Street Class, and the Trojans of the VMP Superchargers Terminator versus GT500 Shootout Class.

The weather cooperated with optimum temps—lows in the 50s and sunny 70s during the day all weekend long. Things kicked off with an SVT Racers’ Appreciation Party on Friday night where there was music, free drinks and notably over 50 go-fast goodies raffled off from the industry’s most prominent players. The party was followed by an MIR/NMRA sponsored surprise Mayweather versus Pacquiao Fight Night event Saturday night on the outdoor big screen, where free pizza and cold beverages were enjoyed by all.

VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw

In VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, it was Phil Hines’ ProCharged copper 2001 stealing the Aerospace Components Top Qualifier cash with a 6.80 and over 208 mph, a record he backed up in Round 1 with a 6.83, but he couldn’t make the call to the semis. The supercharger-turbocharger war continued as Hellion Turbo icon John Urist faced Andy Manson’s ProCharger F1-X-12–powered 1996 pony. Manson’s crew chief, Chris Acors, told us they finally got the new Disomma 440-cube, Edelbrock SC-1–topped powerplant in and PCP tuner Jason Lee has her on kill. John “Fireball” Urist got out of the gates first, 0.063 to 0.108, but then it was all Manson cruising to a 6.84-to-6.90 victory!
Frank Varela in the Hellion Power Systems 76mm Precision Turbo–turbocharged 1989 coupe destroyed his own record as the MIR track claimed another one for the record books, 7.59 at over 184 mph, putting the field nearly two-tenths in his dust. There were some bright spots in the weekend’s performances, as Adam Arndt laid down a stout 7.68 at 177 in Round 2. Alton Clements got a gift when Ardnt blew the tires off in the semis, for a trip to the final round. Varela spanked the field, putting over three-tenths on each of his victims with runs in the low 7.60s to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle. He got out first on Clements and never looked back, 7.62 to 7.85.
Adam Arndt (near) and Alton Clements have been trying to catch the Varela Hellion energized bunny in Edelbrock Renegade. Arndt’s 1993 GT runs an Edelbrock Victor Jr.–topped, MCRP-built, 342-cube engine with a ProCharger F-1A-10.5 supercharger. Clements’ 1989 coupe uses an AFR 225cc–topped 360 that he and his dad assembled, along with a ProCharger F-1C-10.5 power combo.
Rookie sensation Haley James earned a bye in Round 1 by putting the Hellion Turbo Systems coupe in the number one spot with a stellar 8.18, followed by an 8.22, then an 8.21 for a spot in the ProCharger Coyote Modified last dance. But it was the underdog story of Ronnie Reynolds that stole the show. A tuner/tech at Revolution Automotive, he just upgraded to a Vortech JT-B supercharger in his stock 6R80 transmission motivated street car. While 9.20-9.30s is stout, it’s more than a second behind the class’s top contenders. Nevertheless, Reynolds went two rounds and advanced to the final, where he got the best of Haley in a staging war, winning the class and the “Underdog of the Event Award” with a 9.20 at 146 mph.
Joe Guertin has been making serious waves in the ProCharger Coyote Modified class with his CRE Performance–built, Coyote-powered 1985 coupe. His 8.21 earned him the No. 2 spot on the grid with ProCharger F-1A power and lots of go-motion goodies from ATF Speed.
Teddy Weaver (near) and Jimmy Wilson have waged (and will apparently continue to wage) war all season for the top spot in the normally aspirated, high-winding 310ci ACT Advanced Clutch Technology Pure Street class. Weaver reset the record books in the killer air-density conditions with a 9.50, earning him a bye in Round 1, then outmuscling Ron Cullember in Round 2 with a 9.59 to 9.87. On the other side of the ladder, Wilson ousted Billy Gimble with a 9.56 followed by a solo 9.53 for a shot at Weaver in the final. Both racers matched their semifinal e.t.’s, 9.53 to 9.59, giving Wilson the best of 2-for-3 this season over Weaver.
It took Drew Lyons four rounds of heads-up competition to get to the Strange Engineering Coyote Stock final round. Competition was fierce as five racers won Round 1 with a 10.42. Cale Arnson from Ace Clutches and his crew chief, Bruce Hemminger, had the 1988 coupe hookin’, and Drew Lyons was a machine. He reset the record with a 10.257 and ran consecutive passes in the 10.20s to Steve Gifford’s 10.38 for his spot in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
Strange Engineering Coyote Stock is the hottest heads-up class in the NMRA. Simply let Ford build you a stock 5.0L Coyote crate engine, choose a Tremec five-speed or C4, and add 1 3/4-inch headers and 3-inch exhaust with mufflers. You don’t have to worry about tuning—the NMRA tech boys will flash a “spec” tune in all cars, and let’s race. There were a record 18 cars in the “all-run” field.
American Racing Headers Factory Stock has been an NMRA class since the beginning 15 years ago. Through the years the battle between pushrods and mod-motors has been stirring, but now it appears to have taken a turn. Mod-motor is a commonplace; it’s just a question of 2V or 4V. Here Matt Amrine’s (near) BES-built 2V hooks hard with his ACT clutch against Justin Fogelsonger’s C4-shifted, Woodbine Motorsports–tuned, 5.0L Coyote–powered coupe in the Maryland final. Amrine outpowered Fogelsonger 10.67 to 10.83 for the win.
Reaction times in the teens are commonplace in Flex-a-lite Open Comp. Milton Grow was wired to the tree with 0.016, 0.023, 0.017 consecutive bulbs coupled with consistent 9.40s. Grow made it to the final last year but missed the champagne bath; this year he tree’d Larry Geddes 0.046 to 0.125, coupled with a 9.56 on a 9.44 package to claim the Flex-a-lite Open Comp title.
Bob Dill (far) scored a perfect light in the Eaton Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning qualifying; his 2001 Lightning houses a Precision 76mm, JPC-built 5.0L Coyote with a Boss 302 intake. While Jimmy Cantrell’s 1994 Ranger utilizes 377 ci of Sam Vincent normally aspirated horsepower, made from a Ford Racing R302 block, topped with TEA prepped TFS High Ports, an Edelbrock Super Victor, and a Pro Systems 4150 carb. Cantrell matched good bulbs with deadly consistent e.t.’s to send ’em packing one at a time, to get to the final. He never ran more than 0.05 off his 9.03 dial. However, he did dodge a bullet in the final when Ryan Jones caught him napping by a tenth on the tree but broke out 13.18 on a 13.24. Cantrell laid down another consistent 9.05 on a 9.03.
The Roush Performance Super Stang class is reserved for S197 and newer-bodied Mustangs, good ol’ foot brake style. Brenspeed’s Kent Nine didn’t get the No. 1 on his window as easily as his trip to the class final round. His Edelbrock E-Force–boosted 3-valve drop-top ousted Brad Gusler in Round 1, 10.67 on a 10.60 to 11.92 on an 11.85 thanks to a holeshot advantage. In Round 2 Shelby Wendel broke, then Diallo Walcott redlit as Nine ran a pair of 10.49s on his 10.60 dial. He regained his composure for the final, putting down a nearly perfect 0.006 bulb with a 10.62 on 10.60 to Miles Wagoner’s 0.115, 10.52 on 10.50 package.

Fluid Turbo Concepts Turbo Coyote Stock

JPC owner Justin Burcham’s (near) 2011 Mustang boasts a new 25.5 chassis from DMC racing and an 85mm Precision Turbo–boosted, RGR Engines–built Coyote. He was three-quarters of a second quicker than No. 2 qualifier Brent Roberson and easily outpowered him in the final, 7.78 at 185 mph to Roberson’s 8.39 at 167.
New York Fireman Al Davis’s 2011 GT (far) features an RGR-built Coyote with a JPC Turbo kit and a beautiful tribute wrap to his fallen September 11 comrades. The scene starts with the Twin Towers on one side, a photo of Burcham and fellow firefighters on the rear, and the new One World Trade Center Memorial on the opposite side.
The VMP Superchargers GT500 versus Terminator Shootout was a showcase of the quickest and fastest SVT hot rods in the country. Shane Halleman’s twin turbo 2003 Cobra, which features a Paul Knippen’s Muscle Motors 4.6L 4V with an air-to-air intercooler, has been dancing around the 7-second zone and had run 8.0 on several occasions, qualifying No. 1 at MIR with an 8.007. In the ends, Halleman’s Chicagoland Blackout Racing Team cruised to a 7.94 in Round 1, the team’s first 7-second pass and an easy victory 8.14 to Canadian Wajdy Khalil’s slowing 10.43.
The UPR Products Car Show is always a spectacle of sight and sound, the rarest and most exquisite Ford muscle cars ever made. There were over 100 awards available with special SVT awards to add to the SVT theme of the event. All car show participants were invited in the All SVT True Street Competition to show off their Ford muscle. The folks from the Southern Maryland Mustang Club hosted the event and greeted all with the hospitality we’ve learned to expect at NMRA productions.

HP Tuners True Street, Presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords

HP Tuners True Street, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, doubled the size of the Winner’s Circle with the addition of the All SVT classes in conjunction with
Anthony Lane’s 88mm turbocharged, Moore Racecraft–built, 408-cube beast has won HP Tuners True Street on a couple of occasions— at Bradenton last year and at MIR in 2013—so he is no stranger to fast passes down the 1,320. Mike Korn from Air-Fuel Turbofire helped tune with the user-friendly Holley Dominator Engine Management software. Lane stated that the car is very streetable with the E85 tune, winning top honors again in HP Tuners True Street, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, with an 8.61 average, running as quick as 8.55.
Michael Jovanis had the quickest car in the True Street class on the property and is no stranger to the HP Tuners’ Winner’s Circle, taking top honors on many occasions in the last century. His current underhood combo includes a DiSomma Racing Engines 347 topped with a free-flowing set of Fox Lake Stage 3 TFS High Ports and a Trick Flow Box-R-Series intake, powered by an 88mm turbocharger setup form Forced Inductions. Jovanis claimed the Runner-Up honors with a close 8.64 average. He blew the tires off on his second pass of 9.11, softening his two quickest 8.35 and 8.51 passes of the event to an 8.64 average.
Brian Zaid's docile looking ’89 coupe is the pinnacle of fast “True” street cars. We featured his car more than 8 years ago when we found him at Maple Grove Raceway in the NMRA True Street winner’s circle. Zaid had the quickest “stock appearing” car in competition; he sports a gear driven ProCharger F2 boosted 427 with a Lentech AOD transmission. The car is always driven to races; it was a quick ride to MIR where he captured the 9.0 class trophy and cash!
Michael Hardson illustrates how capable today’s Mustang muscle is with a minimum amount of modifications. His 5.0L 4V Coyote-powered 2011 pony is completely stock aside of the Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger, a 2,200-stall converter, and Weld RT wheels with a set of Mickey Thompson drag radials. Hardson slowed down from his 9.63 first pass to grab the 10.0 award with a 10.02 average.
The Upole family eats, sleeps, and drinks drag racing. Leslie Upole entered both bracket and True Street with car No. 1320, and we think the “1320FUN” plates are a giveaway too! Mike Upole built a Dart-topped, big 418-cube powerplant for wife Leslie’s 1971 Maverick and an equally healthy 302 for daughter Courtney’s 1971 Maverick. Leslie, the 11.0 class winner for the second year in a row, claimed the 12.0 class win before that. In the past couple years the family Mavericks have doubled up with wins in both the brackets and True Street classes.
Timothy Rodeheaver is breaking in his new 2015 GT the way most Mustang owners do, at the dragstrip! He owns Rodeheaver’s Hot Rod Shop, where they installed a set of Kooks headers and exhaust. The automatic transmission car averaged a 12.19, close enough to take the 12.0 category.
Michael Dean’s 1987 GT has been a project in the works for the last 13 years, and he has made a lot of progress. It currently sports a 347 stroker with Dynatech long tubes and 2 3/4-inch exhaust with Flowmasters. He rowed his ProMotion T5 to a 13.03 average, slowing a couple 12-second passes for the 13.0 plaque and cash.
Mike Baker finally pried the 1991 coupe from his pop’s clutches. The car was a ton of fun 15 years ago when it had 82K, and now with 162K showing on the odometer it looks like the second generation fun has just begun. Baker grabbed the 14.0 award with the bone-stock coupe, factory air box and all, with a 14.02 average. Bet it won’t be stock next year!
Aaron Tingle and his buddy Adam Johnson don’t believe in just being fans—it’s all about the ride. They ran in the 14s, then slowed up to capture the 15.0, cash and plaque.

SVT True Street

Rick Kaknes took the $250 in cash and the 6-foot trophy in the All SVT True Street class with a 10.40 average. His 2003 Cobra drop-top also made it to the semis in the GT500 versus Terminator shootout running as quick as 9.75 when not in marathon trim. Kaknes runs a stock 4.6L 4V with a modest TVS 2.3 VMP Supercharger on E85 and of course a VMP Justin Starky tune, rowing through a stock T56 with a McLeod RXT twin disc clutch.
Last year John Grutza rolled in with his then-new 2013 GT500 Shelby, unboxed a Ford Racing cold air with an aftermarket tuner calibrator from the truck, and busted in the 10s on a set of M/T drag radials. Unfortunately he limped home on a glazed stock clutch before he could complete the competition. This year he stepped it up with a JLT intake, Ford Racing 65mm TB, SCT4 tuner, and of course a McLeod RXT twin disc clutch. After a couple passes in the 10s, he slowed up for the 11.0 award, but to his surprise his name was called for the HP Tuners SVT True Street Runner-Up award!
Sylvin Brunette and his son Mat took top honors rowing though the Liberty-built T56 Magnum XL and McLeod 1400 clutch. The car was unmatched in the McLeod Clutches SVT Stick Shift Shootout, running as quick as 8.84 at over 160 mph while wowing the crowd with 3-foot wheelies between gear changes.
Joseph Bohensky’s 2003 Cobra has a few bolt-ons, including a Kenne Bell 2.8H, American Racing headers, MagnaFlow exhaust, and a few great suspension pieces from UPR Products. He told us it was his first time racing his stock trans and IRS-equipped Cobra after six years of ownership. He won the HP Tuners SVT True Street 11.0 category with an 11.21 average.
Marlon Smith’s stock-looking 2014 Shelby GT500 ran a stout 11.81, then bettered to an 11.40 before smoking the stock tires in his third pass, landing him solidly in the Aerospace Winner’s Circle in the 12.0 spot.
Josh Verdieck brought his 2012 Raptor to join in the fun, again! It was his third 15.0 class win in a row thanks to a cold-air intake and mild SCT4 tune.
The NMRA teamed up with Maryland International Raceway and topped off the weekend’s festivities with a surprise Fight Night party for all in attendance, featuring the “fight of the century,” Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao, on the big screen.