Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
January 1, 2003
Contributers: Michael Johnson Photos By: Michael Johnson

Anticipation ran high leading up to the second Northeast swing of the NMRA Ford Drag Racing series through Atco, New Jersey. Of course, racers always anticipate the next race, but the tradition of Saturday-night qualifying held the promise of record-setting performances. Racers were all revved up about seven-second nitrous Outlaws and nine-second Real Streeters before the race even started. As it turned out, there were some impressive performances on Saturday night, but not necessarily in the expected classes or from the aforementioned combinations.

As is typical these days, Super Street Outlaw stole the show. The only real surprise was that not one, but three nitrous Outlaw cars-those driven by Vic Williams, Gary Rohe, and Bryan Sorby-lit up the scoreboard with 7.9-second passes. Bryan firmly implanted himself in the Mustang record books by being the first nitrous small-block Outlaw in the 7s. Joining the nitrous boys in the 7.9s was the new dominant force in SSO, Mike Smith. But perhaps even more impressive than the 7.9 nitrous guys was Randy Haywood's turbocharged modular racer ripping off an 8.03 for the fifth spot. To say Outlaw was on fire is an understatement.

Though the cool night air was a boon to the Outlaw crowd, it didn't bring any Real Street guys into the 9s. However, the Factory Stock boys really liked the air. Justin "Hazards" Burcham blasted off an 11.70, while Uncle Robin Lawrence turned in an impressive 11.79 pass. Oddly, it seemed the naturally aspirated cars fared better in the cool air, as Gene Hindman also tore things up in Pure Street with a 10.75 pass that might have set the record in that class-until he ran two 10.72s in eliminations.

So, it was hot during the day, cool through the night, and one lane appeared stickier than the other, but that's racin'. Check the caps and snaps for all the details on the NMRA's trip to the veritable birthplace of 5.0 drag racing.

Real StreetWherever there is racing that allows a diverse set of combinations, there's a bit of controversy between racers running those combinations. The blower guys are worried about the nitrous guys, and in this case, the blower guys are worried about the other blower guys. At Atco, each of the top four qualifiers ran different power adders. Of course, the nitrous and Paxton cars were a bit ahead of the pack at the top of the ladder, but when it came down to the end, it was the number-six qualifier versus the number-two qualifier, so it's still anyone's ballgame.

Oh, by the way, every Real Street racer we spoke with thinks he can run nines, so we just can't wait until Bowling Green to see all these guys run it out the back door in hopes of having the first nine-second Real Street racer. Hopefully, the vendors at Bowling Green will bring plenty of pistons and head gaskets.