Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsEvents
NMRA & NMCA Collide in a Shootout Unlike Anything Else in Drag Racing
It is often called “the big one,” but to most racers it is the Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, and it goes down every summer at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. This was the 11th time the two sanctioning bodies combined on the same weekend to crown event champions and have Team NMRA face Team NMCA in a unique shootout. The team pairings is a no-holds-barred match race that has cash prizes and the chance to walk away with a Nitto Tire Diamond Tree championship ring. It drew out nearly 900 entries between drag racing and the car show for one of the biggest events of the year.
For those unfamiliar, the teams comprise the event winners from each category, and some 23 class champions are crowned through the two sanctioning bodies. Team NMRA was represented by Aaron Bates (Edelbrock Renegade), Jeff Polivka (ProCharger Coyote Modified), Tim Matherly (Race Pages Coyote Stock), Ron Cullember (G-Force Racing Transmissions Pure Street), James Meredith (American Racing Headers Factory Stock), Mike Olencheck (Flex-a-lite Open Comp), Don Jones Jr. (Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle), Jim Roberts (Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning), Brent White (Roush Performance Super Stang), Danny Towe (Race Pages Ford Muscle), and Kevin McCotter (QA1 True Street).
Each one of those racers stood on top of his respective class, and NMRA officials added two more racers to give the shootout total an odd number and to match the size of Team NMCA. Two VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw racers who went the furthest in eliminations from the NMRA side of the combined class were added to the team. That put Charles Hull and Phil Hines on the team; one is a championship contender and the other is the defending class champion and great choices to represent the brand.
The race officials paired the racers as close as possible to an NMCA class. The team with the most match-race wins is declared the winner of the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing. Since the rules are different for all of the racing categories, the starting line tree is a staggered start based on the individual’s best run in qualifying or eliminations. There is a no breakout rule, including index eliminators, and it made for some interesting competition.
For the third straight year the deciding factor came down to the final pairing—us against them. It is with regret that we inform you, the loyal MM&FF readers, that Team NMRA was not victorious. Those wily NMCA racers managed to get over on our team thanks to some turbo swapping. Though technically not illegal for the shootout, let’s just say that some of the quicker heads-up cars on their side swapped from the legal boost-maker size to one that is not quite so legal. We aren’t crying foul. Shenanigans like that have helped Team NMRA in the past, and in the big picture your favorite Ford-only series dominates the competition with eight team victories to NMCA’s paltry three over its 11-year history.
The race weekend was more than just the team challenge on Sunday night after class eliminations. It was four days of competition with some of the wildest Mustangs and muscle cars that the market has to offer, with everything from Pro Mods to three-second radial-tire cars and all of your favorite NMRA categories. The UPR Products Car Show might have had a mix of Ford and Brand X rides, but with a little over 450 cars on the property, it had something for everyone.
The season is winding down. The Route 66 Raceway stop was the fifth race of the year, and all roads now lead to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the Nitto Tire NMRA World Finals—the biggest and boldest Mustang and Ford race of the year.