Michael Johnson Associate Editor
January 1, 2009
Photos By: Paul Rosner, Michael "The Weatherman" Johnson

We all know it's better to be lucky than good. Alton Clements was a combination of both at Columbus. His Round 1 win was solid, but good luck came his way when Bart Tobener ran into problems in Round 2. Then Brian Tuten went red in the semis, but making Alton see red in the finals was the Sutton High Performance Mustang driven by Bob Cook.

Just like every other Hot Street racer, Robbie Blankenship is constantly working on his ride. From carburetors to torque converters to chassis setup, Robbie has been there and tuned that on his Steve Matukas-built New Edge car. Robbie was right on the heels of the top qualifying spot with an 8.87, but he did great work at the Tree during eliminations, which is the name of the game nowadays in Hot Street. He was able to get out on Ben Mens in the final to take the win.

Ben Mens used Roush power to get the top qualifying spot. The Roush engine builder is always in the hunt, but a crash in testing slowed him down a bit at midseason. He brushed that off his shoulder, but he couldn't take out Robbie Blankenship in the final. At Columbus, Ben's problem was keeping the front end down, so the team kept moving weight around to arrive at a happy medium between putting it on the bumper and spinning the tires. The crew figured it out, getting Ben to the final against Robbie Blankenship. Ben's usually good for cat-like reaction times, but he was a little late in the final with a 0.509 light compared to a not-much-quicker 0.479 reaction time from winner Robbie Blankenship. Robbie was able to keep his New Edge out in front on this day.

Throwing a wrench into the Real Street class, Bruce Hemminger didn't join the fray until the battle was underway, but as is his style, Bruce has been doing well ever since. Bruce starts every race weekend with test passes to see where his nitrous tune is at and what adjustments are needed, if any. He also reads 60-foot and 330-foot times to gauge clutch wear and whether a new unit is necessary. At Columbus, his weekend was pretty smooth until he broke a transmission during eliminations. Of course, most NMRA racers can change out a tranny in 30 minutes, and Bruce is one of those guys. He made it to the final round, where he met up with familiar rival Tim Matherly, but Tim didn't have enough to overcome Bruce's 9.59.

Tim Matherly is one of those racers that, thanks to his mechanical knowledge, is able to extract a little more power from his combination. When the NMRA added weight, he changed to a more aggressive gear ratio; at Columbus, he had a Trick Flow intake on the car. Those two changes definitely helped in the e.t. department, but in the final against Bruce Hemminger, Tim blew the inlet tube off his ProCharger supercharger, which kept him from putting up a fight.

The other JPC Racing Real Street entrant, Michael Washington, qualified at the other end of the spectrum from his teammate Bruce Hemminger. As is the case with the nature of the Real Street beast, Michael broke a transmission during qualifying, but a spare transmission is the NMRA racer's American Express card-you don't leave home without it. Michael was able to get the car back together and get past Jim Coger in Round 1 when Jim ran into his own problems. However, Michael's weekend ended at the gear shift of Tim Matherly's ride in Round 2. No matter, JPC teammate Bruce Hemminger exacted revenge in the final.

The other MV Performance racer Jim Breese also boasted a Trick Flow intake on his Two-Valve at Columbus. That didn't keep Jim from hurting his primary engine, but he was able to get the backup engine in the car and keep going. Jim qualified third with a 9.78 at 138 mph, and he used a 9.88 to get past Shawn Johnson in Round 1. In Round 2, Jim knew he had to push the Tree to get past Bruce Hemminger, but he pushed a tad too hard and saw red.