Paul Rosner
January 29, 2016
Photos By: Paul Rosner, Mike Galimi

The activities menu of the 17th Annual Nitto NMRA All Ford World Finals read like an entire season of activities for any normal racetrack or sanctioned drag racing event series, a feat only the race-crazed staff put together by the Promedia gang could even dream of pulling off in a single action-packed weekend. The event has continuously reset the event participation and spectator count nearly every year without all the added activities slated for those who attended Beech Bend Raceway Park on Mustang Madness weekend.

With the overwhelming list of activities on the weekend’s agenda, coupled with the outrageous outpouring of inquiries, the NMRA opened the racetrack on Thursday for test and tune for the first time in 17 years, making it a four-day festival of fast fun.

Special events included the return of the VMP Performance GT500 vs. Terminator Shootout, where the fastest factory-supercharged machines faced off. Also on the agenda was an all-Ford version of NMCA’s N/A 10.5 class, where high winding small-blocks would dance side-by-side near the 7-second zone.

A nationwide call was made for all turbocharged Coyote-powered ponies for the Turbo Coyote Shootout presented by Henchman Racing with additional payouts for fastest 6R80 auto, fastest stick, and lowest e.t. in both qualifying and eliminations.

Year after year, HP Tuners True Street class participation grows, and what better way to commemorate the class than to bring the Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaw superstar Chris “Boosted GT” Hamilton and MAVTV’s House of Grudge host Mike Murillo? They signed autographs and make test hits on the first ever Grudge’ Night, which was slated to be held afterhours Saturday night.

The fun continued with a special EcoBoost Shootout Battle in Bowling Green, sponsored by Livernois Motorsports and SVTPerformance.com, to crown the baddest EcoBoost-powered Ford on the planet, with additional bonuses for fastest Mustang, F-Series truck/SUV, Focus, and Taurus.

They didn’t forget the local bracketeers, with separate races on Saturday and Sunday. All in attendance were treated to the biggest Manufacturers Midway of the season.

Many competitors made the lanes for test hits on Thursday. However, Mother Nature did not cooperate. Both Friday and Saturday activities were a wash. That didn’t stop the suds from pouring and pizza from being served via the annual Nitto Tire Racer Appreciation Party on Friday night.

In all our years of event coverage, never have we seen a more dedicated group of racers, car show contestants, and fans. Spirits never faltered as the raindrops fell. The arena was jam-packed throughout the four-day festival.

Nearly all of the classes went into competition with one time-run, and the event was successfully completed after four days of intense fast-paced competition Sunday and Monday.


The VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw class had 12 entries on the property, leaving one side of the ladder full and showing a free pass in the semis on the lighter side for the top qualifier or whoever could run him down. Phil Hines made a clear statement that he was there to lock up the championship by setting both ends of the record books with a 4.45 pass at 168.7 mph in his one qualifying pass, earning the lesser side of the ladder. It was a supercharger supremacy war as Vortech-powered Chris Groves took to the track first 0.027 to 0.054, but as the stripe neared it was the ProCharger-powered machine of Dwayne Barbaree inching away and finishing 4.51 to 4.57 to advance to the showdown with the Team Hellion boys. The hills echoed as both ProCharger-powered machines boosted up on the brake; Urist took the advantage at the tree 0.033 to 0.075 and stretched it to nearly a fender as the two raced to the finish and 4.49 to 4.55 flashed on the boards. The final turned out to be a pedalfest as Phil Hines’ ProCharger-powered pony took the win 6.10 to 6.60 and the VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw Championship title belt.

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Edelbrock Renegade had a full 16-car field of contenders, with nearly half of them in the 7-second zone. After only one shot at the feat, Hellion Turbo Systems–backed Frank Varela was back on pace after a couple of difficult events, topping the qualifying ladder with a 7.78, but with winner of the last two events and ProCharger-powered Alton Clements hot on his heels in the No. 2 spot at 7.79. Brian Devilbiss and his Evolution Performance–built, wheelstanding GT500 trailered Shawn King in the first, and then made quick work of Curtis Catalon, who had problems after running his personal best 7.88 in qualifying via switching to a turbocharged setup. This setup a semifinal showdown with Varela, who outran Bob Cook and Charlie Cooper’s identical 8.17s, putting a 7.84 and 7.77 consecutively on the clocks. Lady luck was on Devilbiss’ side as his 8.13 on the boards got the win light while a distraught Varela coasted to a 15.64. On the other side of the ladder, a red-hot Clements bested Bart Tobener, hot shoeing in Tim Matherly’s old car now owned by Bill Anderson, 7.88 to 8.07. Next, he trailered Adam Arndt, who couldn’t back up his stout 7.70 pass from round one, with a 7.79 to 8.61 thrashing and then mauled Dominic DiDonato’s turbo GT500 7.72 to 8.43. Alton Clements took the trip to the Aerospace Components Winners Circle when Devilbiss bumped though the starting beams, laying down another stout 7.74 pass, making it three wins in a row. Frank Varela won the first three events, resetting the record books at each, en route to earning the Edelbrock Renegade Championship.

JLP Performance SCT tuner Johnny Lightning and Hellion Power Systems shop car pilot Haley James had been entangled in a ProCharger Coyote Modified war all season. They have met in the final round at four of five events, with Haley winning all bouts since the season opener. Haley destroyed Rebecca Starkey with a best of event 8.37, and then laid down an even better 8.31 test hit as John Kauderer couldn’t make the call after his holeshot victory over fellow Cobra Jet pilot David Witt 8.53 to 8.48. The opposite saw Johnny “Lightning” Wiker send Joe Guertin packing followed by a close brawl with newcomer Jeff Polivka’s JPC-built 2013 Boss 302, 8.30 to 8.39 on route to the last dance. Haley hazed the tires as Wiker streaked to another run in the mid-8.30s, winning the ProCharger Coyote Modified season finale but losing the championship war to the rookie sensation Haley James.

The ACT (Advanced Clutch Technologies) Pure Street Class has been the Jimmy Wilson and Teddy Weaver show all season. Wilson has come to regard Weaver the same way the rest of the field has regarded him for the past two undefeated seasons. Weaver took the season opener, continuing his two-year winning streak, but it has been all Wilson since then. It’s not as if it hasn’t been close. The two have been door-to-door at every event, and Bowling Green was no different. Weaver’s gorgeous 2001 Mystic Cobra put up the top e.t. with a 9.68, and Wilson followed with a 9.69. The two again met in the final, Wilson besting Weaver again 9.68 to 9.73, making it five in a row and earning both a trip to the Aerospace Components Winners Circle and the ACT Pure Street Class championship.

In the Strange Engineering Coyote Stock class, the 2013 and 2014 class champion Shane Stymiest rolled out of the water box and bumped into the beams with Steve ”Farmer” Gifford patiently waiting. Gifford broke the beams first 0.071 to 0.100, which turned out to be the winning edge he needed as Stymiest would put up a better 10.49 to 10.51 elapsed time. Gifford took the holeshot win light by a 0.01 margin, a trip to the Aerospace Components Winners Circle, and another runner-up finish in a third class championship as nervous spectator Drew Lyons held on by a mere 75 points to capture his first Strange Engineering Coyote Stock class championship.

Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaw superstar Chris “Boosted GT” Hamilton made a surprise appearance at the event. Rain or shine, the autographs line never shortened. Boosted GT also made test hits for the first Grudge Night held at Bowling Green.

In American Racing Headers Factory Stock class, James Meredith was hot off his Joliet win, ousting JJ Jones’ new 1982 Fairmont hot rod, then Gary Parker in round two for a rematch from the Joliet final with Armine, who had a no-show in round one and a bye in the second. Both drivers left the gates exactly even, and then it was all Meredith, running his best-of-the-weekend 10.81. The broken shifter handle jinx continued for Armine coasting to a 12.36, and Meredith headed for his second final in a row. For the finals, he outran Sondra Leslie on the big end 10.899 to 11.096 to capture his second American Racing Headers Factory Stock win in a row and finished out the season strong.

Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle features the toughest Open Comp style racing in the country, utilizing any of the venerable overhead cammed Modular engines. All competitors are dialed in a tenth quicker than their qualifying time and race on a 0.500 pro tree. Shane Williams’ 1999 silver-with-blue-graphics Mustang qualified No. 1 and flew through the field of the nation’s best Modular racers with fighter jet precision, putting a 0.011 11.54 on a 11.53 package together on his first round earned bye. In the finals, Williams was up against Jason Steamer’s 2008 Mustang, but Williams was a man on a mission and quickly ended Steamer’s chances putting a tight 0.035 bulb with a nearly dead-on 11.538 on his 11.53 package to claim the Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle big check.

Roush Performance Super Stang class is a foot-brakers paradise, but only if your hot rod is a 2005 and newer Mustang. Contestants must finesse either a clutch/gas or a brake/gas combo for the perfect launch—no two-steps or trans brakes to assist. There were 23 competitors on hand to contest the Bowling Green crown. Reigning class champion Kent Nine has competed in the class since its conception in 2008 and has stayed in the top 5 all season with a win Maryland. In the all–Three-Valve final round, we saw John Mummery take a 0.065 to 0.086 holeshot advantage, but he spun hard on the launch, significantly slowing him from his number 11.56 on an 11.00 and allowing Nine’s Edelbrock E-Force Supercharged pony to peddle to an easy 10.57 on his 10.09 e.t. en route to another trip to the Aerospace Components Winners Circle.

Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning had 26 hay haulers on the property, ready to do battle, but JLP tuner Johnny “Lightning” Wiker had already won the war, locking up the championship by rolling his 8-second Lightning through tech. Jim Roberts’ Team JMS Chip & Performance–tuned 2003 Lightning got a solo in round one, caught fellow Floridian Bob Steamer nappin’ in the second, and won in a bizarre battle with Wiker in round three. Roberts accidently double-bulbed, so he quickly backed up to reenter and when he put it back in gear it spit the driveshaft following a 1.358, breaking the beams. Wiker thought he redlit, so he assumed it was a freebie and ran it out the backdoor, breaking out 8.74 to 8.82, giving Roberts the win since he broke the beams. Team JMS joined forces to replace the driveshaft and checked Keith Chobirko’s gorgeous normally aspirated Ranger out of the competition via a 0.024 to 0.152 starting line advantage for his second trip to the final round in 2015. On the opposing side, Robert Chuhran’s low 10-second Gen II Lightning sent Joe Holt home early in round one then dodged a bullet in round two when Jimmy Cantrell’s low 9-second normally aspirated small-block Ranger caught Chuhran dozing 0.259 to 0.101 at the tree but couldn’t run his 9.18 dial, putting a 9.37 on the boards as Chuhran’s win light displayed a 10.54 on his 10.53. In round three, Chuhran’s JLP-tuned Gen II took the win via Amanda Saad’s breakout and booted rookie Ryan Jones in the semis, spoiling the all-Roberts/Jones reunion in the final round. Jim Roberts must have been pretty hot as he wanted to face his nephew Ryan Jones, hotshoeing his other Team JMS truck. He redlit minus-0.014 and surrendered the Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning title to Robert Chuhran.

The Flex-a-lite Open Comp field was the largest field on the property with 43 hungry big- and small-block Fords vying for the season finale title, which would take six excruciating rounds of racing. Longtime Open Comp racer Brent Blacker’s normally aspirated 420-cube small-block made its way through the field, meeting up with John H. Pickering and his big 557ci Maverick in the final round. It was the battle of the NMRA veterans. Blacker took both the 0.025 to 0.053 holeshot and ran a closer 10.13 on a 10.09 dial than Pickering’s 9.15 on 9.08 for his first trip to the Aerospace Components Winners Circle.

The VMP Superchargers GT500 vs. Terminator Shootout final was one for the underdogs and a big win for the GT500 gang. Randy Thomas laid down another consistent 9.44 at 140 mph as the Black Betty, the World’s Quickest 2003 Cobra of Frank Yee, blew the tires off and his chances to uphold his championship title from last year as he idled to a 12.27 at 72 mph.

The Livernois Motorsports EcoBoost Shootout, presented by SVTPerformance.com, was a call for tuners across the nation to test the limitations of the venerable EcoBoost mighty mouse powerplant in all its production forms. There were seven Mustangs, an F-150, and a very impressive 2014 Explorer running in the 14s. Bill Putnam’s yellow 2015 Mustang ran a 12.48 to knock out Brandi Phoenix’s Explorer in the first. After sizing up the rest of the field, Putnam decided to drop the exhaust in search of a couple extra precise tenths. The strategy worked. Putnam squeaked by BJ McCarthy’s 2012 Mustang, going an even quicker 12.06 to 12.40 and giving himself a bye to the final round. The opposite side of the ladder saw Brad Gusler’s SCT-tuned, Watson Racing–built 2015 Stang run an 11.77 in his single as Jason Stumfy Justi’s stock appearing sleeper white 2015 Mustang sent Dasan Hallaway’s 13-second 2015 Mustang back to the trailer to load up with an 11.92. Stumfy did lay down another 11-second pass on his bye run in preparation of his semifinal bout with Gusler but slowed to a 12.18, lacking the muscle to run with Gusler’s quickest of the event 11.42 at nearly 122 mph in the semis. Gusler’s record-setting pace came to an end in the final when issues slowed him to a 12.65 while Bill Putnam’s 2015 Stang ran his best 12.04 to win the inaugural EcoBoost Shootout at the NMRA World Finals.

The Henchman Racing Turbo Coyote Shootout was a huge success in 2014 at Beech Bend Raceway, where 15 of the quickest turbocharged 5.0L S197 Mustangs in the country showed up in 2015 to repeat the spectacle to an unsuspecting crowd. Top qualifiers peppered the low 8-second zone, with only one qualifying pass to set the ladder. It was Jeremiah Mussey of Modular Performance Solutions who topped the qualifying ladder with an 8.02 at over 179 mph in his twin-turbocharged 2011 Mustang, which landed him on the lighter side of the competition ladder because many of the competitors couldn’t stay for the rain-delayed competition on Monday. Odessa, Texas, native Kenny Rice of Henchman Racing also benefitted from the rain-delayed ladder layout, which pitted the No. 1 and No. 3 qualifiers side-by-side in the semis with the final round in clear view. Rice’s beautiful blue twin-turbocharged 2011 Mustang grabbed the track first with a 0.077 to 0.207 starting line jump then held off a quicker Mussey, running a slower 8.26 to 8.17 but bagging the holeshot victory. The other side of the ladder was full tilt as No. 2 qualifier Tony Hobson’s RGR Motorsports–built 2014 Mustang took out Albuquerque native Chris Groves’ 10-oh 2015 Mustang in round one, then outran Mellissa Urist’s Hellion Power Systems 2015 Mustang with a much quicker 8.39 to 9.82 in the second round. Hobson made another consistent 8.35 pass on his bye run before suiting up to face Henchman Racing’s hotshoe Kenny Rice in the final. Rice got the holeshot 0.074 to 0.101 and never looked back. He inched away from Hobson’s JLP Racing–prepped machine 8.24 to 8.35 to take the Henchman Racing Turbo Coyote Shootout trophy back to Henchman Racing headquarters in Odessa.

The Bowling Green Mustangs Car Club hosted the event and kept everyone in high spirits despite the gloomy wet weekend. Both days of the event displayed packed fields of the hottest, quickest, and most beautiful fast Fords. UPR Products’ big-rig was in attendance and made sure there were lots of goodie bags, attendance awards, and good-looking trophies for all contestants first in their class—Best Engine, Best Interior, Best Paint—and of course Best in Show.

One thing’s for sure. Ford fans are true to their racing and car fun. There wasn’t a rain shower Mother Nature could serve up that would dampen the spirits of this crowd! Whether you’re after souvenir apparel, tires, hoods, headers, heads, or some hardcore tech from manufacturers and racer vendors dedicated to your needs, you’ll be glad to be there.

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The HP Tuners class, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, set another attendance record with 145 cars on the property to participate in the parade of power and 1320 marathon medley. Unfortunately there was only enough time on the shortened Sunday race schedule to make two back-to-back passes instead of the customary three. Nobody in attendance seemed to mind after waiting out the raindrops both Friday and Saturday. A total of 10 sick Mustangs in the field made 8-second passes, but only three made it their average. In genuine True Street style, a great time was had by all no matter where they ended up in the 145 car field.

Jeramiah McGreevy’s docile-looking 1989 GT was the top of the class, the “King of True Street” at the Super Bowl of HP Tuners’ True Street drag racing, outclassing nearly 150 cars, with 10 of them in the 8-second zone. His killer combo starts with a solid 354ci platform and a set of TFS heads built by BES Racing Engines with a BorgWarner 88mm turbocharger. Enough power was transferred to the wheels for an 8.53 average.

JKS Performance owner Joshua Savering has won the crown on many occasions through the years with his 347-stroker–powered 1993 coupe. However, on this weekend he narrowly missed. His Precision 88mm turbocharger made all the power necessary but came up just a tad short, with a runner-up average of 8.57.

Watson Engineering founder Charles Watson has built one of the largest and most respected designing, building, and manufacturing shops in the world, and we are very fortunate he has chosen Ford as his home. He has had a hand in the 2015 S550, Cobra Jet, and Boss 302 Mustang programs. His combo is a Watson Racing catalog special Coyote 5.0L with a 2.7L Ford Racing supercharger with a Tremec Magnum six-speed trans and Centerforce clutch. He stole top honors in the 9-second category with a 9.01 average.

Kevin Leese’s 2003 Cobra utilizes the stock 4.6L 4V powerplant with a bit of TLC from Mike Taylor Machine in Somerset, Kentucky. His F&B Performance–built AOD laid down just enough power to the wheel to finish in the 10-oh spot with a 10.02 average.

Gary Johnson’s 1989 black LX had one of the toughest categories, with Jim Keown’s 1991 averaging 10.986 and Mike Niehaus laying down a close 10.899. And we have to mention the heartbroken Tim Pitman in his bad 1993 Mark 8 luxury cruiser at 11.019. Johnson took the 11-oh cash and the plaque back to Reinz Mississippi with his 11.014 average.

Jordan Grubb of Russellville, Kentucky, made no bones that Bowling Green was his home track and he was going to win the 12-oh category in front of his family and friends. His 12.04 was good for the win, but he had Floridian Alan Hill’s 1987 Stang and Lucas Clark from Brownburg, Indiana, hot on his heels, both running an identical 11.996 average!

Jason Epstien’s 1998 Mustang’s 4.6L 2V has a handful of bolt-ons and laid down a nearly unbeatable 13.01 to take the HP Tuners 13-oh crown.

Mike Baker’s all-stock 162k 1991 Mustang made the trip from Maryland to get his third 14-oh class plaque in a row; his 14.08 was good for the win.

Belinda Moore has captured the hearts of Mustang lovers from coast to coast with her spirit and everlasting smile. She captured her 14th class win with an unbeatable 15.000. That’s dead-on!