Michael Johnson Associate Editor
October 1, 2006
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Horse Sense: In the Real Street final,Robin Lawrence double-bulbed Tim Matherly by accident. "Double-bulbed" means that a racer turns on both the Pre-Stage and Staged lights beforethe other racer has turned on the Pre-Staged lights. Under courtesystaging rules, the first racer into the Pre-Stage lights with his or herfront tires is supposed to wait until the other racer Pre-Stages the carbefore Staging. At many tracks, such as Bradenton Motorsports Park,courtesy staging is enforced, but at Maple Grove it wasn't and the racewas run without backing the discourteous racers out of the lights.

We're guaranteed two things when the NMRA Motorsport Nationals come toMaple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania. First, the car show isgoing to be off the chain. Second, the weather is anyone's guess. Justcheck weather.com to get an overview of what may be possible, but don'tput any weight to the forecast because when it comes to Maple Grove,it's beyond random. It will either be blistering hot or the sun will behiding behind thick clouds dropping copious rain into the region, whichtends to hurt 60-foot times.

If we're bringing you this story with photos, you know it was blisteringhot. With temps in the mid-90s and track temps above 120 degrees, thechallenge for racers was to keep themselves and their Mustangs cool andmaster a blistering hot track, which made starting-line traction lessthan ideal. Still, the NMRA racers made it worth a weekend of deodorantdurability testing to bring you the action.

We think this is the nicest we've ever seen Chris Little's Drag Radialcoupe, but seeing it wasn't the only surprise. Gone is the nitrous, andin its place an Innovative 88mm single turbo for NMRA competition. MapleGrove was the car's first race back, and Chris had a Bennett Racing8.7-deck, 302-based 358 under the hood and a Woolford Brothers ChassisShop 25.5C cage and suspension setup. As usual, Chris utilizes aPerformance Automatic Powerglide with a TCT converter and a FASTengine-management system. Pete Weaver is responsible for the car'srejuvenated appearance, and that's a Sanja bumper cover up front. Chrisqualified in the 12th spot with an 8.60, but at a blistering 174 mph,which spoke volumes of the onboard power. In round one, however, MauroVitale ended Chris weekend with an 8.33 to an 8.68.

Joe Morgan's drinking team has a racing problem, and they hope to causetheir fellow Pro 5.0 racers more problems with a 638ci big-block underthe hood, remaining under the nitrous assistance of Edelbrock's SteveJohnson. Even though this car appears to be Joe's usual Pro 5.0 mountwith a new rear wing, its chassis was purchased from Mike Herring justbefore the Maple Grove race, and it appears to be paying big dividends.Speaking of which, Joe qualified sixth in Pro 5.0 with a 6.96 at 199mph, but he didn't quite have enough to make it past Michael Hauf inround one.

Alex Vrettos has been around the Drag Radial ranks for a few years now,but this '95 Cobra is a relatively new car for him and follows in thefootsteps of his former brightly colored rides. Alex was having a goodweekend until his turbocharger let loose at the top end duringeliminations, sending turbo parts and smoke everywhere. Parts of theturbo even went through the windshield. Prior to that, Alex made runs inthe 8.40s in Maple Grove's heat, so he'll surely be another Drag Radialracer to deal with in one of the NMRA's toughest classes.

Bill Tumas had his '96 Cobra at Maple Grove running in Wild Street. Evenwith a stock Four-Valve ready to sneeze its guts out, Bill ran 12.60s at104 mph, but with his last pass he sandbagged to try to win the 13.0Wild Street bracket. He was close, with a 12.996 average, and he waseven awarded the trophy and winnings for the 13-second bracket--but aswe all know, it's the closest to 13.0 that should be the winner. Bill isemployed at CJ Pony Parts [www.cjponyparts.com] as itslate-model-sales/tech guru. So if you need any late-model Mustangadvice, check with CJ Pony Parts--it's not all about early Mustangsanymore.

This shot of Randy Henry's Hot Street coupe riding out a wheelie isenough to make Dr. Jamie Meyer's eyes pop out of his head. Thewheelstanding was courtesy of Bennett Racing power and Outlaw Chassisand Performance. The former Truck and Lightning racer has yet to win inHot Street, but that doesn't mean his car lacks the power, as you cansee here. Randy was having zero traction problems on this launch, exceptperhaps for too much traction. He relies on a 399ci powerplant to run9.0s in Hot Street, which was good enough for the fifth qualifying spotat Maple Grove. He didn't quite enough, though, to thwart the efforts ofCharlie Booze in the first round of eliminations.

Pro 5.0

Chuck DeMory qualified in the top spot with a devilishly quick 6.66 at211 mph. Then the Holbrook Racing Engines-built 818ci-powered Escortripped off consistent 6.70s against David Hance (more on him later) andBert Kelkboom. Chuck had an issue on one of his qualifying passes,causing him to take out a reflector block, but the crew took care of theproblem and DeMory took the win when Don Walsh Jr. was unable to makethe call in the final.

Don Walsh Jr. qualified right on the heels of Chuck DeMory's 6.66 withhis own 6.69 at 206 mph. With a nickname like "Mr. 0.400," everyoneknows you have to get out of the gate against Don, but on Sunday both ofhis first- and second-round opponents, Chris Saddler and Michael Hauf,respectively, lit the red bulb. Unfortunately, against Michael, Don'scar went into a brutal case of tire shake, breaking the transmission andleaving his car broken at half-track. Furthermore, Don and his crew wereunable to repair the car in time for the final against Chuck DeMory.

Super Street Outlaw

Leading up to the Maple Grove race, Sam Vincent had won the first tworaces of the year, but with John Urist on the cusp of victory all year,you knew he would break through at some point. Maple Grove was thatpoint. Even with the heat favoring the nitrous'd Super Street Outlawracers Kentucky Sam, Donny "Burndown" Burton, and the Sorby Brothers, toname a few, the blower and turbo guys didn't seem to have a chance.John, however, who traveled all the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico,made the trip well worth it, keeping Sam from running away with thechampionship. John did his job by qualifying number one with a 7.56 at189 mph. John's times hovered around the 7.60 mark, with round wins overthe aforementioned Sam Vincent and Donnie Burndown, and Manny Buginga inthe final.

This year has not been good for Manny Buginga. First, the defendingSuper Street Outlaw champ has yet to notch a victory in 2006, but notfor lack of trying. Manny hurt a turbo at Maple Grove, which left theteam scurrying. Fortunately, help wasn't hard to come by with TeamAruba, Henry from Toyo Tires, Harold from Dynamic Racing, Marty fromNeal Chance, John Kolivas, Jay Meagher, crew member Pat Speer, andManny's wife, Jennifer, who was way pregnant at the time to get theModern Auto Body car back on track. With Job Spetter from Turbo Peopleon the tune-up, Manny was able to go rounds on Sunday and get past ChrisKetler, A.J. Powell, and Phil Hines. Manny was unable to beat TheFireball to the stripe in the final.

Outlaw 10.5

David Hance is a busy man, and we couldn't be any more jealous of hispredicament. David has both a Pro 5.0 car and a 10.5W car. So when theNMRA has the Outlaw 10.5W class, he pulls double-duty by racing bothcars, which makes for a busy weekend. He qualifies the 10.5W car, thenhustles up to get into the Pro 5.0 for another hit. At Maple Grove, hedidn't have too much luck in the Pro 5.0 car, but the 10.5W car was ontop of its game, even though he didn't qualify well. David ran a 7.53 inround one to get past Jim Monson, then a leisurely 8.19 against ChuckBartholme to get into the final. David saved his quickest time of theweekend for the final with a 7.52 to take the win over Tim Essick.

Tim Essick runs twin Turbonetics turbochargers to help his 417cismall-block stay competitive in the Outlaw 10.5W class. Tim says theonly way he's able to come out and play in the class is by performingall his own mechanical work on the car. Tim manages Dave's Auto Body inWaldorf, Maryland, by day, but at night you'll most likely find himwrenching on this 10.5W ride. Tim is still working on perfecting hiscar's performance, and the first 200 feet are his focus right now. Thisis his first full year back in racing since a racing accident in 2004left him recovering for most of 2005. His car has run a best of 7.40 at204 mph, but he'd like to get it into the 6.90s, which will make the carmore than capable of knocking off the big dogs in this class. Tim foughttraction issues at Maple Grove because of track temperature. Anytime hetried to put power in the tune-up, the car shook the tires. He put atune in the car to make sure it got down the track and hoped David wouldblow the tires off. As you can see, David had the traction necessary tobeat Tim to the stripe.

Drag Radial

Chad Doyle put together the race of his life at Maple Grove. Chad puthis ProCharger-motivated hatch at the top spot with an unreal 8.13 at172 mph. During Sunday's eliminations, he ran his race and tookadvantage of a few racers' bad luck as well. With 20 racers taking partat Maple Grove and 17 qualified in the 8s, it wasn't an easy road tovictory. Chad cruised in the first couple rounds with a bye run andSteve Thompson running into problems. Round three, however, brought '05Drag Radial champ Chris Tuten, and we all know of his capabilities. Asusual, Chris got the jump, but Chad closed the gap and took the win.Next up was Alex Vrettos, but his turbocharger issues kept him frommounting a proper challenge. In the final, Dave Hopper also hadproblems, but each round Chad ran consistently fast, which is the key tovictory in every class. Ron Sharp from Advanced Airflow Engineering isdoing his Trick Flow High-Ports and a Dynamic Racing Transmissions'Glide in the tunnel, along with the ProCharger F-1R under the hood.

Dave Hopper is always a threat to win Drag Radial in his little EmeraldGreen coupe. At Maple Grove, it was readily apparent Dave's back was upagainst the wall. He qualified with a solid fifth, but compared withnumber-one qualifier Chad Doyle's 8.13, Dave's own 8.39 would be hard tomake up for at the tree. That was the case for every Drag Radial racerlined up against Chad. Dave's always up for a drag race, but round onemeant a bye run when Eric LeFerriere was unable to make the call. He ranan 8.35 to get past Chris Evans in round two, then an 8.36 to beat MauroVitale, which meant he would get a bye into the final. Dave was unableto replicate his previous times against Chad in the final.

EFI Renegade

George Seeger has been on the cusp of EFI Renegade greatness for about ayear now, but Maple Grove was his first NMRA victory. George qualifiedthird behind Zoop Zellonis and Aaron Stapleton with an 8.82 at 156 mph,but his consistent times allowed him to take the victory in the heat.George utilizes a Steve Publoski-built 308 with machining by FitEngineering. The 308 benefits from Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads and aHolley SysteMAX II intake, both of which received the full treatment byTotal Engine Airflow. Providing the boost is a Vortech YSi-Trimsupercharger with Kauffman Motorsports' Dave Guy on the keyboard to workthe ACCEL Gen VII DFI tune-up. George and his crew fought throughtraction issues all weekend. They couldn't get the car to 60-foot, sothey pulled out a little power down low to get the car to leave right.The consistent times were enough to get George and the team through tovictory.

EFI Renegade was another of the popular classes at Maple Grove, butthat's usually the case at every race. This class has continued to growin popularity and these days it's anyone's guess who will come out ontop at each race. Though he tried his best, Aaron Stapleton came up atad short in his quest for his first EFI Renegade victory. He qualifiedright on the heels of top-qualifier Zoop Zellonis with an 8.724 toZoop's 8.720. Aaron had a relatively easy time on his side of the ladderwith other EFI Renegade racers having equipment problems. He was runningconsistently until his final round match-up with George Seeger, where hewas unable to keep the Pennsylvanian from capitalizing on somehome-track advantage.

Hot Street

Booze Brothers Racing continues to put the hot in Hot Street withCharlie Booze's Fire Engine Red Mustang GT. Charlie had the Kuntz 399ci(The Orphan) engine in the car at Maple Grove, which was a tough racebecause Charlie wasn't as available as he usually is on a race weekend.He showed up half an hour before qualifying and ran an 8.96 to qualifynumber one. For the final, Charlie ran the lane he wanted, and the crewput the tune-up in the car to let it all hang out. He says he had a lotof help that weekend from Crew Chief Matt Wirt and a lot of friends,including Bill "Perky" Perkins. Charlie feels thankful to get the win.His wife, Kate, is his lucky charm, but she was unable to attend therace. Charlie called her before every pass and even for the final round.When she answered he set the phone in the passenger seat so she couldride along for the victory.

The Schmidt brothers, the tallest racing brothers in the NMRA, qualifiedin the second spot at Maple Grove. In the first round, driver Andybarely escaped a first-round match-up with Mike Curcio, but MichaelDeMayo was unable to make the call in round two, which gave Andy a byeinto the final. He had the slightest of lane choices for the final, butthe BES-powered '85 Mustang GT didn't quite have enough to take the HotStreet victory.

Real Street

It's been so long since Uncle Robin Lawrence won a race, so he calledcall us to make sure we still knew how to spell his name. Truth is, wemake fun of the old man so much that a refresher course in spelling hisname wasn't necessary. From his first pass of the weekend, we knew UncleRobin's car was getting good traction off the line. He's been workinghard to get his '05 Mustang's three-link suspension to work and, judgingby the way the car launched, we could see he figured out some stuff.Robin could run 10.teens in the heat on Saturday, which told us he had achance to win, but only if he could shed the Uncle Redlight nickname. Inthe final against Tim Matherly, Robin was headed right toward RedlightLane by double-bulbing Tim, but he was able to maintain composure andcut a decent light. At the top end, Robin closed the gap and passed Timfor the win. Guess it's time for a new nickname, huh?

Tim Matherly continues to blow up his junk trying to keep up with thepushrod contingent in Real Street. After third-round qualifying, whichleft him in the fourth spot, Tim, Jim Breese, and Mike Goza (thank you,sir) had to swap in another bullet to make sure Tim could race onSunday. Unfortunately, Tim was lined up against Brian Meyer in roundone, which usually means you might as well load the car on the trailerand not worry about racing. But that's why you race; Brian ran intotransmission problems that pass as Tim escaped round one. And with asix-car field, making it past round one also meant Tim had a bye runinto the final where Uncle Robin awaited. Tim is usually money on thetree, but he was a little slow on the uptake against the old man, eventhough he still got the jump. Tim's 0.476 light compared to Robin's0.516 reaction time wasn't enough to keep the '04 Real Street championout front.

Jim Breese is from Transfer, Pennsylvania, so he didn't have to travelfar to race at Maple Grove. That isn't usually the case for him, and allin the family was in the building to root for him. Jim did well byqualifying third, and he didn't have to work on the car much. Jim madeit past Jim Coger in round one, but Robin Lawrence had the power to takehim out in round two.

Bruce Hemminger is still working out the bugs on Justin Burcham's RealStreet car. Ever the diligent nitrous racer, Bruce is sneaking up on thetune in the car to reach the fine line between fast times and hangingthe rods outside the block. As you can see, the team's work in gettingthe car to leave has paid big dividends, but at Maple Grove theperformance still wasn't among Real Street's quickest.

Brian "Hollywood" Meyer has seemingly been able to run just fast enoughto keep him in front of his fellow Real Street racers. If he needed a9-second pass, his team made it happen. The relatively low number ofbreakages in 2006 have kept him out front, but at Maple Grove attritioncame back to haunt him in the first round against Tim Matherly in theform of a broken transmission, which ended his weekend.

One Real Street racer unable to make every race is Jim Coger, whobasically races to have fun. He's a privateer racer, meaning he doesn'thave the sponsors some Real Street racers have that make it easier toattend every race. Jim races out of the Dez Racing camp and mostlyattends the NMRA races in the Northeast, which include Maple Grove andAtco. Though he's not as fast as the top Real Street guys, he plans tochange that as he continues to fine-tune his new ProCharged SteveLaPointe 306 combination.

Pure Street

Look who finally got into the winner's circle. With a Rich GrohRacing-built 310ci engine under the hood, Ryan Hecox has become a forceto be reckoned with in Pure Street. Using the same '99 Cobra he raced inFactory Stock, the Four-Valve is long gone, as are the drag radials. NowRyan's Cobra is pushrod powered, and it wears Mickey Thompson E/T Dragslicks out back. Ryan qualified third in the 16-car field behind RonAnderson and Brad Meadows at Maple Grove with a solid 10.47 at 128 mph,and on Sunday his times weren't quite at the level of Ron and Brad. Ryanbeat Ron in the semifinal round when Ron ran into problems. In the finalagainst Brad Meadows, Ryan cut down the tree with a 0.417 light, and hecarried it all the way to the finish line to get the victory.

Bad Brad Meadows was one of several racers given an appointment to spendsome quality time with the NMRA's tech department. It was a blessing indisguise, since the teardown revealed a broken lifter guide, whichcould've spelled disaster for his engine. Thankfully, that didn'thappen. Brad got the engine back together and, maybe more importantly,was found legal and ready to race. Brad took care of Shawn Hansen, JimmyWilson, and Teddy Weaver to earn a spot in the finals where Ryan Hecoxbeat Brad, thanks to a holeshot.

Factory Stock

Shawn Johnson thought his team would have a better handle on thenew-for-2006 mandated rear gear. Even with the long gap between Reynoldsand Maple Grove, Shawn spent most of that time repairing damaged partsfrom the Reynolds race. He was able to get in one test session betweenthe two races, but that resulted in more damaged parts so he came intoMaple Grove without a firm grip on his clutch setup. Because of theever-increasing track temperature over the weekend, Shawn and his crewnoticed the track got more slick as the weekend went along, so they putmore slip into the clutch setup. Rewarded with his best pass of theyear, an 11.58, Shawn landed the top qualifying spot, but he didn't knowwhat impact that run had on the clutch. He took it easy when he couldduring eliminations and was able to make it to the final against JeffreySchmell. Shawn found out exactly how much damage was done to the clutch,but Jeff redlit, handing him the win.

So far this year, Jeffrey Schmell has been unable to take out ShawnJohnson in NMRA competition. Jeff's times have been in Shawn'sneighborhood, and at Maple Grove Jeff might have had the upper hand dueto Johnson's clutch issues, even though he was roughly a tenth behindduring qualifying with an 11.70 compared to Shawn's 11.58. Jeff ranfaster than Shawn during eliminations. In the final, Shawn was there forthe taking, but Jeff redlit.

Wild Street

Brian Zaid says his coupe looks like only a 13-second car. He proved itway wrong at Maple Grove by winning the Wild Street class with a 9.98average over his three consecutive passes. Brian runs a 402ci Windsorwith an expensive set of Probe pistons. The engine's been together forover six years now, and he says it's held up well (knock on wood). Brianruns an Isky cam, Trick Flow R heads, a Coast High Performance EFISpyder intake, and a ProCharger F2 supercharger. He also has a LentechAOD in the car. At Maple Grove, his coupe was wearing Mickey ThompsonE/T Drag radials. In better air, the car has run as quick as 9.60s, but9.90s was as good as he got in the heat of Maple Grove.

Modular Muscle

It wouldn't be Modular Muscle without Robert Hindman in the mix. AtMaple Grove, he added yet another victory to his houseful of trophiesback home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Robert's Fox GT benefits from aFour-Valve Cobra engine, and 11.70s are a walk in the park. Withconsistent times combined with his usual work at the tree, it's nowonder Robert took another victory. His worst light was an 0.546 snoozer(0.500 is perfect in Modular Muscle) in the final against Michael Bowen.

Open Comp

Robert Motycka uses a 460 big-block to run high-9s in his '88 GT. TheLawton, Michigan resident, just as the other Motycka racers, are alwaysa threat to win. Robert was the Motycka family member to take home avictory in Open Comp with a stout display of power in eliminations and afinal-round win against Gary Beyer Jr.

Truck and Lightning

In this photo you can see Captain Keith Kohlmann redlight, but he wasthe recipient of a redlight start in round one against Bob Walker, whichhelped the Captain go on to face Joe Jones in round two. Jones brokeout, handing Keith the win, but in the final he had a free pass for thevictory.