Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
October 13, 2016

In addition to amazing barbeque, team Mustang-360.com took in the sights and smells of hot Ford drag racing along with burning rubber at the 2016 stop on the Ford vs. Mopar Series tour at Memphis International Raceway this past October 8th.

The IRG Ford vs. Mopar Series travels to four different tracks including Cordova Dragway in western Illinois; Memphis International Raceway; Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida; and finally Maryland International Raceway, where the Ford and Mopar races are split into two separate weekends. Each Ford vs. Mopar event is promoted and run individually (by each track), so they feature unique formats and different specialty classes, so if you plan on attending, we recommend checking each track’s website to see the exact classes and weekend schedule.

Ford vs. Mopar action in Memphis consisted of Bracket classes combined with Nostalgia Super Stock, Nostalgia Pro Stock, and a Dixie Doorslammers series race, but no Ford or Mopar racers entered. Every Ford vs. Mopar Series event also includes a car/truck show, with some amazing awards handed out in a plethora of categories.

Patrick Richardson had his 1984 T-Bird flying high all day.
Mike Cicciarelli of Brownsburg, Indiana was rewarded with all the spoils after his Nostalgia Super Stock win. His 1966 427 Fairlane ran a best of 8.61 in the final.

The Nostalgia Super Stockers were first to hit the track. The category was filled with Max Wedge and Hemi Mopars of the 1960s, plus a pair of burly Big-Block 427 Fords—a 1964 427 T-Bolt and a 1966 427 Fairlane—both with manual transmissions! And when these guys staged, revved their engines and dropped the clutch, everyone took notice. The pair of Fords, along with the wild Hemi and Max Wedge Mopars put on a wheel-standing extravaganza that thrilled the crowd.

In Bracket competition each brand battled within their own make until the semi-finals, where it became a true Ford vs. Mopar competition. First up was the Tuff Truck final between Gerals “Bubba” Nevens in a Stock Eliminator Ranger and Mike Epperson in his Ram. Sadly, Bubba went red handing the win to the Mopar driver.

In B3, a class for street tires, there were five Mopars, plus the lone 2015 Ford Mustang of Justin Swanson. This was Swanson’s first time in competition, but he was getting rock-solid advise from his NMCA championship-winning father, Jeff Swanson. Swanson made a ton of runs during the Friday night test and tune, and even busted off a 13.97 with his V6 Mustang.

In his first time competing, Justin Swanson, near lane made it to the final in Bracket 3. Swanson had the better light, but the Dodge got to the stripe first taking the win.
Swanson got a nice Ford vs. Mopar plaque and $100 for his runner-up effort.

Swanson made it to the semi-finals where he defeated Charles Harris with a .053 light (Harris was a bit tardy), and with both racers breaking out. Bogdan Gilewski, driving a 2012 Charger, was on the mark with a .001 light and a 12.18 on a 12.16 dial to take out Mike Epperson in his 2004 Dodge so set up the final. In the money round, Swanson nailed a .017 light to Gilewski’s 0.040 reaction, but his Mustang couldn’t run the stiff 14.05 dial in. Gilewski got around the Ford (which ran 14.11), once again running 12.18 on a 12.16 for the win.

Bracket 2, was the home for quick footbrake racers and it was the largest category at the event. B2 (along with B1) was contested on the eighth-mile. Unfortunately, all the Fords were out of competition by the semi-finals, with Russ Kauerz taking the win in his 1969 Dart.

Bracket 1 was packed with all types of drag cars including roadsters, trucks, dragsters and door cars. And like B3, the final came down to a Ford vs. Mopar pairing. The race for the gold was between Gene Smalley wheeling his low-slung 1986 Thunderbird and Jim Griffith and his 1999 Avenger.

MM&FF fan Tim Kuhlman ran in Bracket 1 with his quick 1993 LX coupe. Kuhlman lasted until the fourth round with his 351-powered Stang, which has run a best of 6.38 in the eighth-mile and 10.05 in the quarter.

Griffith saw the tree first due to his slower dial, and the Mopar racer launched with a 0.013 light. Moments later, the T-Bird was on the move, unfortunately, Smalley left the red light glaring, handing the win to the Mopar racer. The Nostalgia Pro Stocks were very cool, though the lone Ford, a Bob Glidden Fairmont that normally runs 8.60s, broke and couldn’t compete.

Nostalgia Super Stock brought the most excitement, with a variety of cool Big-Block thumpers from an era gone by. The quickest Mopar of the wild bunch was the 1965 Coronet of John Grinwald, which packed an injected Hemi and ran 8.780 at 153.23 mph, but it was no match for the pair of Ford, which ultimately made the final. In order to present the best possible show, all the Nostalgia Super Stockers run four rounds of racing in matched pairs, with the two quickest returning for the final. In Memphis, Jeff Wick, driving John Grinwald’s 1964 Thunderbolt battled for the title with the 1966 Fairlane of Mike Cicciarelli.

Cicciarelli staged first and he brought up the rpm on his 427, meanwhile, Wick moved in slow and controlled. On green, the pair tore from the line, with almost a tenth advantage going to the ’66. Both driver grabbed gears, while they poured the coals to those fire-breathing 427 monster mills. Cicciarelli’s ride had just a bit more, as he defeated Wick 8.61 at 153 to 9.21 at 130. Wick had run 8.61 the run prior, so we were expecting a closer race, but it wasn’t meant to be. Cicciarelli ran his best ever pass to take the crown in Memphis.

Car Show Winners
MCA Best Mustang Rick Duncan 1973 Mustang
Best Engine Gregg Holley 1989 Mustang
Best Interior Charlie Boydstum 1965 Mustang
Top Track Pick Jim Ward 1958 Ford
Best of Show Charles Keller 1950 Ford
Mustang 1964-65 Charlie Boydstrum 1965 Mustang
Mustang 1966-68 Ron Blum 1966 Mustang
Mustang 1969-73 Rick Duncan 1973 Mustang
Mustang 1974-90 Greg Holley 1989 Mustang
Mustang 1990-93 Wally Britton 1993 Mustang
Mustang 2005-2009 Sandi Jordan 2009 GT
Mustang 2010-present Butch Campbell 2012 Mustang
Shelby 2006-2010 Dwayne Triskill 2010 GT500
Shelby 2010-present Sean Jordan 2016 GT350
Roush Gerald Sepich 2014 Roush
Shelby Cobra Mel Bain 1965 Cobra
Fairlane/Torino/Galaxie Jim Ward 1958 Fairlane
Fairlane/Torino/Galaxie Mike Sheppod 1967 Fairlane
T-Bird Richard Larry 1956 T-Bird
Full-size truck Trey Turman 2009 F-150
Race Car Ronald Brown Sr. 2006 Mustang
Pro Street Billy Clay 1993 Mustang
Pro Engineered Charles Keller 1950 Ford
Special Interest Gary Taylor 1925 T-Bucket

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