Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
March 1, 2002
Steeda Autosports once again held its Steeda Stampede from the company's headquarters in Pompano Beach, Florida, to Moroso Motorsports Park. Once at Moroso, Steeda showed off its latest performance vehicles including its No. 20 race car, the new Steeda Focus, and several Steeda Mustangs for potential customers to drool over, along with a few new Ford vehicles from Bev Smith Ford. Steeda's Stampede included more than 150 Mustangs, forming a two-mile-long stretch of Mustangs en route from Steeda to Moroso.

Horse Sense: Due to inclement weather, attendance was a little off at the '01 Ford Power Festival at Moroso. Roughly 12,000 spectators came through the gates. Compare that number to the almost 18,000 that attended the event in the past and you can see how much impact the weather has on a racing event. Even though the spectator count was down, we thought the race-car count was as good as-if not better than-it has been at previous Ford Power Festivals.

South Florida Mustang racers are a different breed. Though their Mustangs are as fast as those in other parts of the nation, most are not built for a specific class. Furthermore, save for many of the Outlaw cars, the majority of the faster Mustangs in South Florida spend a fair amount of time on the street (probably only really late at night on a two-lane road in the middle of nowhere, but that's another story).

Because of this dual-purpose attitude, the cars are well-built with functionality and comfort in mind, and most use nitrous in their pursuit of maximum speed. Most run in the nines, but many of them would also do well in the show field-detailed to the max with perfect paint and not a spec of dust littering the interior. Many of these cars were at Moroso Motorsports Park for the Ford Power Festival.

At past Ford Power Festivals there have only been a couple heads-up classes for Mustangs that usually run in the NMRA and Fun Ford events. However, this time there were three heads-up classes up for grabs. Initially set up according to NMRA rules, the three classes consisted of Super Street Outlaw, EFI Renegade, and Pure Street. To fill the classes, the rules for Renegade and Pure Street were blurred, and cars that usually wouldn't fit into those categories were allowed to compete. Though many of the owners of purpose-built Renegade and Pure Street cars were upset, the racing was still fierce.

Unfortunately, so was the rain. The originally scheduled race weekend was an ugly scene-no sun, just off-and-on rain showers both days. After the first round of eliminations on Sunday, it was decided to call the race. The Renegade racers that were left decided to take their money and run. But the Street Outlaw and Pure Street racers decided to come back the next weekend to battle for the top cash prize.

The car to beat in Street Outlaw was the '90 GT of Martin DeWinter from Hollywood, Florida. Packin' a turbocharged Windsor with a Powerglide, Martin qualified in the top spot with a 7.99. Before the rains came on the original day of eliminations, he laid down an 8.15 at 175 mph in a first-round bye run. The next weekend he returned to his usual form by defeating Javier Gottardi in what might have been the race of the weekend with an 8.11 at 173 mph to Javier's 8.26 at 161 mph. Martin took out Jim Blair and then had to line up against Jason Gatlin in the final. Jason had already run a 7.94 in his second-round bye, but he redlit against Martin to hand the GT the victory.

Jason Gatlin proved he was more than capable of 7-second times in the second round of eliminations by ripping off a 7.94 at 176 mph, and that was on a bye run. In round three, he came back with an 8.28 at 177 mph against Darrell Peterson. What might have been a killer race in the final turned out to be anticlimactic when Jason redlit.

Darrell Peterson out of the Reith Motorsports stable packs a turbocharged Windsor in his little coupe. Though finding traction has been a problem, Darrell made it to the third round. There, Jason Gatlin's freight train delivered an 8.28 pass, while Darrell had problems and had to shut it down.

Jim Blair has been a regular on the Ford racing tour competing both at the '01 World Ford Challenge and several NMRA events during the year. Since Moroso is in his backyard, he came out to do battle with his '95 GT packing an ATI-ProCharged Windsor with a Powerglide. Though Jim was a regular visitor to the low eights in eliminations, he was unable to duplicate those numbers against Martin DeWinter in round three.

EFI Renegade racers voted to take the money and run after the originally scheduled race was rained out. Though Craig Zurman appeared to have the advantage, there were plenty of players ready to do battle. Justin Nelson of J&J Performance in Cape Coral, Florida, drove Michael Saponara's GT to the low 10s all weekend. The GT sees everyday street duty with a 347, a C4, and an ATI ProCharger. To prove the car's streetability, Michael and Justin went out on the Saturday night of the original race weekend looking for some street action. They put 83 miles on the GT in their futile attempts to find a race. We don't imagine there would be too many takers to line up against this beast on the street.

Another of the Windsor-fortified Pure Street cars is owned by James Poaque from Coral Springs, Florida. James qualified in the top spot with a 10.50, but he also had an easy time of it in eliminations after he had to run against Jamie Holten. James then had a bye run into the final against John Sommerfield, but he ran into problems and was forced to shut it down.

This car should look familiar to Mustang fans. It's the Turbo Goddess Christina Eldert's old coupe. Though no longer hers, it still packs twin turbos in the form of an Incon kit. The car's present owner, Scott Hodges, has run in the eights on slicks and the low nines on BFG Drag Radials.

With Windsors allowed in the Pure Street class, Pure Street regulars didn't stand much of a chance. Even so, John Sommerfield had an easy time through eliminations with bye runs in both the first and second rounds. Though he has easily a 10-second car with a carb'd Windsor and a C4, John coasted through the final when he ran a 14.6 at 85 mph to beat the equally clean coupe owned by James Poaque.

Jeremy Martorella brought his '95 GT to Moroso still riding high from winning Fun Ford's Trophy Stock class championship for 2001. This is the view most Trophy Stock racers see in Fun Ford competition, but Jeremy was wielding a knife at a gunfight at Moroso. Yes, his plate says it all.

Although she lasted only one round, Erica Ortiz-Lugo (yes, the bride of Dennis Lugo) came out to play in EFI Renegade with a new combination. Driving her black '91 coupe, Erica ran in the low 10s all weekend, with a 306, a Novi 2000 supercharger, Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads, a box intake, and a Sundancer Performance AOD. Still exploring her options, Erica will more than likely be running in the NMRA Drag Radial class and Fun Ford's True Street in 2002.

Another Fun Ford regular who tried his hand at the Ford Power Festival was Jamie Holten of Scottsmoor, Florida. Working with a relatively new combination, Jamie's low 11s wouldn't hang with the Windsor-powered Pure Street cars. Jamie plans on doing battle again in the Trophy Stock ranks for 2002.