Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
October 13, 2016
Photos By: John Raphel

Fifty years of Mustang winning heritage continued last weekend at Maple Grove Raceway when Anthony Bongiovanni and Bobby Fazio claimed victory at the NHRA Pennsylvania Dutch Classic in a pair of Ford Mustangs. What was special about these wins was that Fazio was driving a 1964 ½ Mustang, representing the first year of production, and Bongiovanni was driving the latest 2016 Cobra Jet.

Held each October, the Dutch Classic is a favorite with racers and fans who flock to Maple Grove in search of crisp weather and record performances. In addition to Comp Eliminator, 8.90, 9.90, and 10.90 index classes, and Stock and Super Stock Eliminators, “The Dutch” features heads-up Stock and Super Stock Class run-offs, the Hemi Shootout, a Balls-to-the-Wall Stock and Super Stock class, where racers compete with no breakout—and the Factory Stock Showdown for Drag Pack Dodge Challengers, Chevy COPO Camaros and Ford Cobra Jet Mustangs.

The high-flying and four-speed shifting Bobby Fazio took home the title in Super Stock.
Chris Holbrook came to The Dutch with one mission—run 7s. He came away a bit short, but still ran an impressive 8.12 at 167 mph.

Maple Grove is located near Reading, PA and is a great place for competing or watching in the stands. The event got off to a great start with record runs on Thursday. Cobra Jet standout Chris Holbrook was gunning for the 7s, but produced a best of 8.12 at 167 mph. Unfortunately, foul weather killed Friday and Saturday racing, but the action resumed on Sunday. Due to the rain, winners in the BTTW, Class run-offs and Factory Stock Showdown were determined by qualifying. Don Carson, in his 2014 5.0 FS/F CJ ran 9.71 (1.48-under the index), to win the BTTW race, and Anthony Bongiovanni qualified second behind David Barton’s COPO Camaro in FSS to take a runner-up finish.

Sunday’s elimination fields were packed with loads of cars, including many Fords in Stock and Super Stock. Few were hangin’ the hoops as high as Bobby Fazio, the Mustang runner from nearby Norristown. Fazio races a ’64 ½ Mustang that his father purchased in 1987. Bobby took over the shifting duties in the SS/L Stang in 2009. Power comes from a 210 horsepower 289 that’s backed by a Jerico 4-speed.

Ryan Horensky went rounds with his 428FE-powered 1968 Shelby.
Don Carson ran his all-motor CJ deep into the 9s.

Fazio also made his quickest pass ever at the event, a 10.48 at 124.76 mph, but that wasn’t his only thrill. The local outlasted the field, going seven rounds to win the Super Stock crown. “I have to say I was kind of lucky,” Fazio stated, who hails from nearby Norristown. “I started out [at the event] not being able to stay green, so I had to make a bunch of changes to the suspension. Then it rained, so I went into first round blind. I ended up winning a double-break out first round and then got some red lights. I was .007 against Bunk Miller’s Mopar in round 4, he was .001 and I survived. While I was lucky, I was good when I had to be,” he added. “Then I had a bye in the semis, and in the final I raced John Armstrong. He was dialed honest at 8.71 with his big-block Corvette, and I dialed honest too, at 10.49. I was .048 on the tree to his .053 and I ran a dead-on 10.497. He went 8.701 and broke out. When my win light came on it felt awesome, there was lots of fist pumping in the shutdown area,” he added.

Mustang winning continued in Stock Eliminator, when after seven rounds, Anthony Bongiovanni hooked the Plymouth Barracuda of Larry Hill. Hill left first with his A/SA Plymouth, but was tardy on the tree. Bongiovanni mashed the throttle on his Cobra Jet and was able to catch Hill and run dead on his predicted 8.32 dial-in for the win.

“Yo” Ken Meile traded his old CJ for a new CJ, and now runs this 2008 model with a blower.
One of the quickest 5.4L Mustangs in the country belongs to Don Fezell. The 2008 CJ has been in the 8.30s!

“We’ve won shootout races and NHRA Class eliminations a bunch of times,” said Bongiovanni, “but this is our first time going seven rounds against so many cars and closing the deal. I’m really excited to put a Ford Cobra Jet Mustang in the winner’s circle, especially against such tough competition,” Bongiovanni added. “I really have to thank Optima Batteries, NEC Leasing, Ford Performance, Micro Strategies, Resource1, B&B Race Cars, Select Transmissions, Tom Martino Race Engines, Numidia Raceway, Gold Rush Trailers for sponsoring the event and my crew chief Ricky Hertzog. We only have 20 runs on this new Tom Martino-built Cobra Jet motor, so we’re still learning and it appears there’s a lot left in it.”

“It’s great to see Ford in the winner’s circle with a new 2016 Cobra Jet in Stock and vintage Mustang power in Super Stock,” said Jesse Kershaw of Ford Performance. “The Bongiovanni and Fazio families have both been huge advocates for our brand and we appreciate their support and success.”

Carl Milano owns this beautiful 2+2 that runs in Super Stock with a 289.

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