Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
December 1, 2007
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Horse Sense: Many of the car haulers owned by NMRA racers feature what's called "landing gear." Landing gear allows the trailer owner to jack up the front of the trailer so it can be disconnected from the truck. Some racers, Tony Orts for one, have an electric landing gear, but our boy Mike Zamboni's is manual. Since Mike was under the weather when we arrived at Joliet, yours truly had to manually lower the landing gear using the hand-crank mechanism.

The storyline for the Inaugural Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing was previously dominated by the event's intense heat. Thankfully, that wasn't the case for the '07 Super Bowl. If you didn't know, the Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing is the meeting of the NMRA and the NMCA racing sanctioning bodies at the same event. Instead of seeing a sea of Mustangs at Joliet, there were all kinds of makes-from an eight-second Jeep to hordes of Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, and some Mopars and other GM iron thrown in the mix. One thing we found out is those NMCA racers have some nice cars, and they're fast, too.

The Super Bowl keeps the NMRA and NMCA separate, but the brand-versus-brand excitement ramps up when NMRA class winners square off against NMCA class winners to decide the Super Bowl Shootout. Class winners are paired against each other using a staggered Tree according to each racer's elapsed time. Since we're used to only seeing Mustangs race other Mustangs, it was good to see them beating up on other makes for a change. You'll be happy to know Mustangs won the overall Super Bowl Shootout last year, and this year the NMRA again took the overall victory by winning 7 of 11 championship classes.

Besides the Super Bowl angle, what stole the show was the level of carnage. Sure, NMRA racers were letting it all hang out while running for championship points. Joliet is usually a track that delivers records, helping in the points chase. Furthermore, the prestige of being a Super Bowl Shootout champion had racers reaching for an extra tenth.

As such, guys were blowing up their junk all weekend. Fireball John Urist and his camp were working on his car constantly. The Pro 5.0 class went from five to three racers because of terminal mechanical damage. Jarrett Halfacre flattened the side of his car after going through the traps at 190 mph. Real Street racer Michael Washington broke a driveshaft right off the line. Factory Stock racer John Leslie's red coupe was on jackstands most of the weekend. Shawn Johnson was one of many racers doing the clutch swap boogie at the track. Pure Street racer Ryan Hecox went from a carburetor back to EFI on his car. There was never a dull moment at Joliet.

FYI
To reiterate the fact that Joliet is only a stone's throw from Chicago, Thursday's test and tune session featured some strong crosswinds. Racers reported that everything was OK until they cleared the stands, and then it was a game of "hold on." Super Street Outlaw racer Jarrett Halfacre couldn't quite hold on to his Fox GT after going through the traps with a 7.51/190-mph pass. The wind grabbed the chute and pulled the Roscoe, Illinois, racer right into the wall, pancaking the passenger side of the car. Thursday evening the car was sent to a local body shop to check all the angles and measurements and get the chassis back to square. The repairs worked because Jarrett came back to qualify in the top spot with a 7.45/195-mph smack in the face. He made it to the semis, but eventual winner John Urist whipped out a 0.404 light and made it stick all the way to the stripe for the win.

When we took this photo, we knew Brian Tuten was on a pass. The car leapt out of the hole and completely caught us off guard. Good thing we were shooting from the stands and not down at the line, or we would have a nice, blurry photo of Brian's quarter-panel. What he did was blast an 8.65 at 152 mph to land in the top-qualifying spot of EFI Renegade. Nitrous has recently shown real promise in EFI Renegade, thanks to Joel Howard, Brian, and his BMF Racing stablemate Brent Weston. Brent's combo has yet to be sorted out, but at Joliet, Brian's showed promise with the 8.65. That pass hurt some parts, but thanks to his first-round competition suffering severe damage and a second-round bye, Brian was still able to go a couple of rounds Saturday night and Sunday. Bob Cook ran just fine and was able to end Brian's weekend for good in round three.

How would you like to drive more than 20 hours only to blow up your junk? Just ask South Florida's David Beyer. He was able to get his '05 Mustang GT running again before the Joliet race, and he was going to the race, no matter what. With a single 76mm turbocharger stuffing air into a built Three-Valve engine, a charging system malfunction resulted in blown head gaskets, burnt pistons, and a torched head. Not wanting to give up, a call was made to Justin Burcham for an aluminum Cobra short-block, which David thought wouldn't hold up to the power. When Real Street racer Tim Matherly torched a head, the short-block out of his race car instead took residence under David's existing-and repaired-top end. When it came time to get the car running, it was discovered the charging system malfunction also took out the Big Stuff 3 engine management system, leaving David with no more options but to begin the long trek home.

Seeking more excitement for our trip to Joliet, we chose to ride with Zamboni Speed and Custom's Mike and Angela Zamboni. Their Riverview, Florida, location is mere minutes from our Tampa office, and when we found out they were racing both their Mustangs at the Super Bowl, we decided to hit the road. On the way to Joliet, we found out Mike shouldn't eat McDonald's fast food while taking ginseng energy pills and pain medication for his knee. He was better by race day, which helped him go rounds and finish runner-up in Modular Muscle in his ProCharger-blown '05 Mustang GT (shown). Meanwhile, Angela raced her own '05 Mustang GT, also featuring a ProCharger underhood in the form of a P-1SC. She was going for the 12.0 index in the True Street class, but finished with a 12.174 average, which was a few spots down from the index winner.