KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
November 1, 2008
Photos By: Dale Amy, Paul Rosner, KJ Jones, Courtesy Of Mike Grosso, Outlaw Photo
It was a banner weekend at Milan for Ford Racing Performance Parts' all-new 5.4 Aluminator engine. Not only did Turbo-assisted Aluminators carry John Kolivas (right) and Joey Bridge to the final round in Drag Radial, but on Saturday, the light-but-durable powerplant also took John's '95 Cobra into the 7-second zone.

Horse Sense: Several thousand Fordnatics were in attendance at Milan Dragway as special guests of the NMRA. The sanction held its first-annual Ford/Roush Employee Appreciation Day on Sunday (Father's Day), giving personnel from both companies and their guests free spectator admission (when they showed valid employee ID cards) to the high-speed, high-flying Aeromotive NMRA Ford Nationals.

One of the things that hypes us up when covering NMRA events is that every race usually has at least one totally fter the final rounds are run and champions crowned. Most of the shocking moments usually involve jaw-dropping low e.t.'s or high speeds that at one time were considered unachievable for 'Stangs competing in a particular class. Other times, it's giant wheelstands, major upsets, pitside thrashes, and more that leave us with not much else to say other than "Wow!" after we witness them.

Many events like this took place (on and off the dragstrip) at Milan Dragway when drag racers and folks who love all-Ford racing converged on the track located just outside the Motor City for the 5th Annual Aeromotive NMRA Ford Nationals.

Leading the rundown of hits made at Milan is no doubt the 7.99/178-mph blast that Drag Radial dominator John Kolivas laid down during the brief test session held on Saturday before qualifying-rain prevented many competitors from getting a chance to make shakedown passes during Friday's open-track period. Unfortunately, the landmark run isn't official since it didn't happen in qualifying or eliminations for the event. The mere fact that John's turbocharged, modular-powered Mustang covered the quarter so quickly on DOT-approved radial tires had everyone on the property hoping the feat could be repeated; then the $5,000 "First in the 7s" bonus from BFGoodrich could be awarded before the event was over.

Traction at Milan couldn't be disputed, as it took Renegade racer Larry Hourcle on this spectacular ride in a first-round duel with Chris Van Guilder.

There were several other notable occurrences at Milan, including Bruce Hemminger's triumphant return to our own Real Street rank-and-file, as well as the number of redlight losses in the two premiere heads-up categories (with a few in the first round and Dan Millen's -0.112 in the Pro Outlaw 10.5 final). There was also the debut of JDM Engineering's Super 'Stangs, an all-new class for S197 Mustangs, and Larry Russell Jr. winning with a V-6-powered '06 Pony. Our friend Mark Houlahan dissected, round-by-round, a field of nine fellow magazine and Web editors in the Ford Racing Invitational; see Editor Steve Turner's sidebar online for a synopsis on how he made out in this event. Finally, there were some first-time visits to the winners' circle for a few NMRA 'Stangbangers who have been trying for a long, long time.

Yes, all the Mustangs and hopped-up Fords definitely made sweet, high-speed music at Milan. Here's a look at some of the sights that went along with the sounds.

Editor Steve Turner and nine peers from other auto mags and Web sites squared off in the second annual Ford Racing Invitational, a bracket race for bragging rights and a cool champion's plaque that's held between Saturday's NMRA qualifying sessions. This year, Big Steve competed in a slick Type 65 coupe from Factory Five Racing. The car is seriously cool, quick, and totally street legal. Steve details how the Invitational played out for Team 5.0 in a sidebar that's included later in the article.