Michael Johnson Associate Editor
February 17, 2008
Contributers: Paul Rosner Photos By: Paul Rosner

Horse Sense: One of the things NMRA racers like about the Columbus race is the close proximity of speed shops, including Jegs and Summit Racing. There are several Jegs stores in the Columbus area, and Summit Racing's Tallmadge, Ohio, location isn't that far, either. In the past, we've even loaned our driving "talents" (and our rental car) to pick up parts for Justin Burcham in Michigan.

As the '07 NMRA season wound down to a close, racers utilized every last ounce of usable horsepower to set the table at Columbus for a strong finish at Bowling Green, the last race of the year. For many, earning points was at the top of the list, so everything was going in the tune to keep performance up. Many racers planned to review their combinations before Bowling Green's finale, so most were willing to push them to the limit for an extra tenth or so. At Columbus, several heads-up classes were still up for grabs, and many won't be settled until the final round at Bowling Green.

Brian and Chris Tuten stayed busy at the Columbus race. EFI Renegade racer Brian obliterated a piston during his second-round bye run, but the guys had him back together in time for round three. Brian redlit, handing the round win to eventual class winner Brian Mitchell. In drag radial, Chris burned up his Powerglide transmission. "I'm mad," he says. It's a good thing he had a stock 'Glide in the trailer, but when he took out the burnt tranny, the crew discovered the torque converter was toast as well, which Chris didn't have. Good thing he and fellow Drag Radial racer John Kolivas are friends. John loaned Chris his spare converter so the South Carolina racer could stay in the game. They met in the semis with John taking round win.

We had our cameras ready, we were on the right side of the track, and we had even told turbocharged four-cylinder racer extraordinaire Jon Huber to get in the right lane so we could capture wheels-up action. Unfortunately, this was all Jon gave us. We can't be that mad at him, though. His '79 Turbo 4 wasn't ridin' on slicks at Columbus in True Street, but that didn't stop him from taking the top spot with a 9.90. After the Columbus NMRA race event, Jon and his dad Papa Jon Huber took the '79 on Hot Rod magazine's Drag Week for the second year in a row. The Hubers had issues all week, and on the final day blew a spark plug out of the cylinder head, leaving a dented hood and zero threads in the head. Cool stuff, for sure.

Leading up to the Columbus race, Bob Kurgan was involved in a racing accident during testing. It was thought his signature '86 GT was a total loss, but Humpty Dumpty was put back together again for more quarter-mile battles. "It was basically rebuilt from scratch," Bob says. Lonnie's Autobody outfitted the '86 GT with a new hatch, new doors, new fenders, a quarter-panel, the passenger-side rocker panel, and new front and rear bumper covers. "The body was pulled in about four spots to get the car to come back straight," Bob adds. With the new body panels in place, the car received its base color before heading over to Sticker Dude Designs to finish with a custom wrap. At Columbus, Bob replaced the driver-side A-arm and performed an in-the-pit alignment, but the car didn't work well for him the whole race. After Columbus, he returned to Byron Dragway, where he wrecked the car and ran a season best 8.14 at 171 mph-in the same lane. "If you can imagine, I ran a single," Bob says.

Modular Muscle racer Stacy Estel is usually a mild-mannered guy when we see him around the pits, but when he broke a couple lower control arm bolts in eliminations...well, we'll just say we felt sorry for the center console and his right hand. Stacy's car used to be owned by current Real Street racer Jim Breese, and it's the car Jim won Modular Muscle with in the early 2000s. Stacy was trying to move up in the points, but not making it past the first round nixed that goal.

In Super Street Outlaw, Perry Santini's insanely clean '86 GT runs a single turbocharged Four-Valve under the stock hood. Unfortunately, his GT almost became a guardrail ornament during qualifying after appearing to get way sideways at top end. Fortunatey, the car suffered only a mere scuff, allowing Perry to compete on Sunday. He has been sneaking up on the tune-up all year and has run low 8s in competition. At Columbus, he made it past the first round, but John Urist took him out in round two. Perry's GT launched hard, but John powered through with the round win.