Patrick Hill Associate Editor
August 1, 2008
Contributers: Steve Turner, Michael Johnson, KJ Jones Photos By: Paul Rosner, The 5.0&SF Staff

Brian Mitchell won the EFI Renegade championship again in 2007 for maybe the 12th time in a row. OK-that's a slight exaggeration, but it feels as though he's won it that many times. Proving he's not one to rest on his laurels, Brian debuted this new car at Bradenton, and with a few passes under his blower belt, he ran in the 8.40s. Demon Race Cars built the car for Brian, and he still has the Vortech YSi-Trim combined with a Cleveland Performance 310ci. Matt Wirt Race Fab helped tune the suspension before and during the race to line things up. Showing Matt knows a thing or two about setting up a car, Brian ran an 8.47 on the car's fourth pass, but it got loose about 200 feet in the semifinal round against Chris Van Gilder, so Brian got out to save the car for another day. Brian and Matt aren't sure why that happened, but Brian says a lot of it is because he's not yet totally comfortable in the new car. Once he's comfortable and the loose condition is rectified, this thing is really going to haul the mail.

NMRA newcomer Conrad Scarry wasted no time making his presence known at the Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Nationals. Thanks to great help from the Auwarter brothers, the Fun Ford Weekend convert got the attention of the entire Pro Outlaw 10.5 field with a 6.96/202-mph blast during the test 'n' tune session on Thursday. He continued to impress those who aren't familiar with his Kenny Seeger Motorsports '04 Mustang GT by taking out Mike Brown, Mike Murillo (broken), and Dan Millen on race day and earning top honors in the season opener for the NMRA's newest elite class.

Although Dan Millen's return to NMRA competition got off to a shaky start thanks to chassis and clutch issues that were never fully resolved by race time, the Livernois Motorsports crew used a few old-fashioned racer tricks and the insights of Billy Glidden (on the property) and Skinny Kid (on the phone) to get Dan's '02 'Stang to the final round. "We were really fortunate," Dan says. "A mistake in the first round against Ed Rice cost us a head gasket. It's amazing we made it this far, but I'm really glad we did." His trip to the last round included an upset semifinal win over low-qualifier Brian Carpenter, who until then appeared to be well on his way to being the season's first winner in Pro Outlaw 10.5.

Leave it to the frenetic John "The Fireball" Urist to shelve a championship car and secretly build a completely new race car to take on the '08 season. John believes the Fox body has an on-track advantage over the New Edge he previously campaigned. He kept this thing under wraps for the big reveal at Bradenton, going so far as to leave the engine hanging over the old car while he worked on the new one. Though the new-car blues found John in an unfamiliar fifth qualifying spot due to a 7.70/190-mph pass, he silenced the critics by climbing the ladder like a champ. His first real test came in round three against Jarrett Halfacre, but John put half a second on the turbo Fox. When he squared off against Richard Lelsz's '04 Cobra in the finals, John got the jump and the race was over as soon as it began.

We met Richard Lelsz when he was running his '03 Cobra with streetable but insane power. These days he has the car on true 10.5s with a turbo 385ci motor underhood and it's flat-out flying. He nestled into the fourth qualifiying spot with a 7.59/189-mph blast and found his first challenge in round two against Don "Burndown" Burton. Richard left first and got to the stripe first. After A.J. Powell had problems in the third, Richard lined up with John "The Fireball" Urist in the final, and his hopes for a storybook ending were dashed.

When we saw the head-scratching in John Kolivas' camp during test 'n' tune and heard John's father, Vern, mutter, "It's going to be a long weekend," we wondered what was up. Then we saw John's Cobra in the pits with the hood up, and we found the source of the head-scratching: Over the winter, John switched to a Bennett Racing-built 5.4 with a Precision single-turbo still out front. During test 'n' tune and much of qualifying, the car was off-pace and up on jackstands in the pits. However, once eliminations rolled around, John and crew had it figured out, and 8.0s were once again the norm. In the final, John started the race with a holeshot, and when Bob Kurgan lost grip, John coasted to victory.

Bob Kurgan tested at Gainesville, Florida, just prior to Bradenton and ran 8.12. He was hoping for at least 8.15s at Bradenton, but it again ran 8.12. Bob thought about trying for the 7-second record and $5,000 during the first round, but he didn't want to take the risk of blowing up his stuff and killing his chances of winning the event. Bob still runs a Vortech X-Trim utilizing a D.S.S. Racing Engines powerplant with Trick Flow High-Ports, a TCI Powerglide and converter, and an AEM engine management system. Bob ran as quick as 8.10 during eliminations, but he lost grip in the final against John Kolivas, allowing John to take the win.