5.0 Mustang & Super FordsEvents
2008 NMRA Ford Nationals Joliet, Illinois - Winds Of Change
The NMCA Crew Turned The Tables On The NMRA Racers Outside The Windy City
Horse Sense 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?
The only man to pilot Editor Turner's Project Real Street down the track, Mark Anderson was at the wheel of dad Ron Anderson's usual Pure Street whip at Joliet. Thursday night when Ron saw Ryan Hecox's engine troubles, he offered the car to Ryan if his car wasn't repaired in time. That wasn't needed, and Mark qualified the coupe in the fourth spot with a 10.48. Mark made it past Shawn Johnson in Round 1, but eventual winner Brandon Alsept came calling in Round 2, and Mark was unable to make the connection to get the win.
We must thank NMRA sponsor Keystone Auto Parts for the good eats at Route 66 Raceway. It was rather hot outside, and the thought of gathering under its tent to enjoy a burger, a refreshing Mountain Dew, and some chocolate chip cookies was too much to overcome. Don't worry-we worked them off in the hot Joliet sun. We asked if the food tent could meet us at the remaining '08 NMRA events, but the roar of laughter told us the answer to that one.
Aeromotive's Steve Matusek built his new car just in time for the NMRA to drop the Pro 5.0 class in favor of a 10.5W class. He had few choices, so he turned to the NMCA's Pro Street class to race against all makes and models. With the Super Bowl format combining both the NMRA and NMCA sanctioning bodies, we were able to once again see Steve in action. In his first round of eliminations, Steve showed a little too much action by getting way out of shape. From the starting line, we saw both doors and some two-wheeling as well. Miraculously, Steve was able to keep the car off the wall and safely back on all fours. Where's Dr. Jamie Meyer and his patented phrase, "Could we get a fresh pair of underwear to the top end, please" when we need it. Steve sure needed it after that run.
Elsewhere in this issue you can see a little more of Jazmin Newton and her '03 Cobra. Not that you'll see her Cobra, but trust us, it's there. Jazmin showed up for a feature shoot on her 10th Anniversary Cobra and to serve as Bassani Babe for Bassani Xhaust. You can find out more info on Jazmin, our BOTM, in Finish Line. She also owns a Shelby GT500. Let's hope Jazmin's not a Mustang Melvin like Editor Turner.
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.
Pro Outlaw 10.5
The long anticipated arrival of the Garrett Turbochargers 10.5W Mustang driven by Ron Lummus finally ended when the West Coast racers showed up at Joliet. The Ron and Garrett crew had trouble making a clean pass and looked to be on the fast track to an early exit. That was before Ron's second qualifying pass when he ran a 6.86 at 208 mph. The Garrett Mustang doesn't really scream race car from the exterior, but the car screamed down the track the rest of the weekend until a transmission line let go in the final, sending fluid under the rear tires and the car into a series of back-and-forth spins, reminiscent of Steve Matusek's wild ride. However, Ron was still able to get the win over Conrad Scarry. In the Super Bowl Shootout, Ron was unable to match Mark Micke's Pro Street Camaro.
Conrad Scarry and Scarry Crew's 10.5W Mustang has been hard to beat in 2008, and it looked to be more of the same at Joliet. The only other 10.5W racer in the 6s during qualifying, Conrad was the only racer in the 6s during eliminations, and that consistency is what has won races for the Scarry Crew. However, with Conrad under the weather for the finals against Ron Lummus, he was in no shape to pilot the car to a full pass, so he eased the car down the track to an 11.32 at 114 mph. Conrad's lazy pass was probably a blessing in disguise: it could've been ugly had Conrad been right next to Ron and the Garrett car's problems.
Super Street Outlaw
This year's Joliet race was a lot different than the '07 event for John Urist. Last year, John had all kind of problems. It was never a dull moment in the Hellion Power Systems pits. This year, the Fireball had a chance to chill out on occasion. Unlike last year, he didn't need a teammate to take one for the home team or extra time because of a transmission issue. John's new coupe ran flawlessly, and John even did his best work at the Tree with a perfect light in the semis. John qualified in the fourth spot with a 7.49 at 186 mph. Yes, you read that right; the fourth spot with a 7.49-crazy stuff, we know. However, making a case to be the NMRA's new Mr. 0.400, Johnny-boy systematically cut his way through eliminations with consistency both at the Tree and downtrack with 7.40-7.50s to win the event. John was one of very few NMRA racers able to also win the NMRA/NMCA Shootout over Corvette racer Anthony Nesbitt.
There was a Kentucky Sam Vincent sighting at Joliet, which was Sam's first NMRA race of 2008. Still running a small-block, Sam's coupe suffered catastrophic engine damage last year, but he redid the bottom end, returning with a 422ci combination and his usual top-end setup. Sam was either taking it easy or playing possum during qualifying, because he didn't show his hand until he christened Chris Tuten into Super Street Outlaw with a welcoming 7.51 at 185 mph. He then took out fellow nitrous-racer Don Burton with a 7.46; then Richard Lelsz with a 7.51. Ultimately, Kentucky Sam couldn't run the table and take out John Urist in the final.