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2008 NMRA Ford Nationals - Winds Of Change - NMRA Joliet, Illinois '08
The NMCA Crew Turned The Tables On The Nmra Racers Outside The Windy City
NMRA staffer Greg "Donut" Acosta agreed to let the first racer who cut a perfect light in the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing shave his head bald. The lucky shaver was none other than Super Street Outlaw racer John "Fireball" Urist. Thank goodness, too, because the Donut was rather hairy.
We've always been excited to attend the NMRA Ford Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, but the past couple years have been especially well worth the price of admission. Recently the event has been billed the Motive Gear Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, presented by Nitto Tire. The event features both the NMRA and NMCA racers at one event, and the winners of respective categories from both sanctioning bodies must race each other for an even more distinctive victory. Plus, winners of the Super Bowl Shootout, as it is billed, receive Nitto championship rings, similar to the ones given to class champions at the end of the year. Last year, NMRA racers put it on the NMCA racers; this time around, the roles were reversed. The NMCA racers took the NMRA guys behind the woodshed for a good beating, but "Just wait till next year." We'll be there, will you?
As qualifying started and one of our favorite classes, Drag Radial, came to the lanes, one racer was conspicuous in his absence. We knew Chris Tuten was on the property, but maybe he decided to sit out the round-we didn't know. Imagine our surprise during Super Street Outlaw qualifying when we saw Chris' ride coming to the water box. What was going on? Did he forget to run with Drag Radial, so the NMRA gave him a pass with the Outlaw guys? Nope, Chris' car wore Mickey Thompson E/T Drags instead of his usual drag radials. And the car once again had a turbo under the hood. Chris lasted one round and he drew Kentucky Sam Vincent, so he knew he had to push the tree. He pushed it a little too hard with a heartbreaking 0.399 redlight. By the way, Chris ran a 7.64 on one of the few passes he's been able to make with the new setup, so we expect the Team Z Motorsports chassis to show big dividends the rest of the year. We think Chris may be going for his third championship in as many NMRA classes. It may not happen in '08, but watch out come '09.
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Ryan Hecox's race weekend started out with a bang, but it wouldn't be classified as good. It was more like the clang of lifter parts rolling around in the Rich Groh Racing-built mill. With wife Shannon out chasing parts, Ryan and fellow JPC Racing stablemate Gary Windsor tore into the engine to get it back into racing shape. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on who you ask, yours truly even got his JLT Performance T-shirt dirty by getting into the mix. All told, Ryan had to add new lifters, a new oil pump, and thoroughly clean the rest of the engine to rid it of lifter parts and pieces. All this happened on Thursday, leading a few passersby to question the sanity of doing so much work that early into the event. Ryan wanted to make sure the engine was good to go that night, and it was. We fired it up around midnight over Steak 'n' Shake burgers and fries. To make the work worth it, Ryan made it all the way to the final against Brandon Alsept, just to redlight. Oh well, at least the car made it that far after I worked on it.