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

After seeing Dan Millen work over a Chevelle for sister publication Hot Rod, we thought the Ford world had lost another to the dark side. However, Dan assured us that is not the case, and he was back at the wheel of his Pro Outlaw 10.5W 'Stang at Columbus. Taking advantage of the sticky track surface, Dan and his Livernois Motorsports' crew, who had fought traction issues from time to time, had no such worries here. With just three cars in Pro Outlaw, Dan came in at the second qualified spot behind Conrad Scarry. The key for Dan was that his car kept getting quicker as the weekend wore on. After qualifying with a 7-flat, Dan ran a 6.97 in Round 1; then a 6.84 to get his first NMRA victory of 2008.

Conrad Scarry had a good run going at the beginning of the NMRA season, but the Scarry crew has struggled the last few races. The times have been consistent, but others in the class have recently caught up and surpassed Conrad's times. Conrad was wicked-consistent at Columbus, which proved a double-edged sword. Being consistent is good, but when the competition steps it up, the consistent racer is occasionally on the losing end. That's what happened at Columbus: Conrad locked in a groove, but Dan Millen kept getting quicker to whisk away the victory.

John Urist might as well have been the NMRA support trailer at Columbus. We heard several people had to call on John's talents for assorted performance equipment repairs throughout the weekend. John and the crew welded on several racers' headers and intercooler tubing, but John didn't have any of those issues himself. John, along with his crew, Nate Phillips, and Mike Rousch, kept an eye on the air/fuel ratio by reading spark plugs and making the necessary adjustments. AJ Powell was actually the number one qualifier in Super Street Outlaw. Both AJ and John ran 7.40s in Round 1, but John made it past Perry Santini in the finals to get the win.

If you were to hold a vote for the cleanest square-light Fox in the NMRA, Perry Santini's '86 GT would score near the top of the heap. With a single-turbo Four-Valve under the hood, it's also one of the quickest square-light cars in the NMRA. Perry had a pair of free passes during eliminations when Round 1 opponent Chris Tuten was unable to make the call thanks to a window'd block, and AJ Powell ran into problems and got way out of shape in Round 2. However, Perry's luck ran out in the final against John Urist, a competitor who often trailers his rivals.

One racer ready to enjoy some rest and relaxation is Drag Radial superstar John Kolivas. After several seasons roaming the top of the Drag Radial ranks, John is burned out. And who can blame him? John and crew have worked harder this year to keep their car competitive compared to the last few seasons. After hurting their Four-Valve modular at Joliet, they regrouped and gave the combination another chance. However, just before Columbus, the revamped Four-Valve combination ran into more problems, so John and the guys dropped in the old-standby Bennett Racing-built 357ci pushrod combination. John was starting from scratch on the setup, and with the track not coming to the Drag Radial cars, that added to every racer's plate. However, the track started working better during eliminations and times started to fall accordingly. John used his talent at the Tree, and he got lucky when Tony Akins went slightly red in the semifinals. In the finals against Jason Lee, John had just enough to get out front and stay there to get the win.

Jason Lee had the track and his tune-up figured out during eliminations at Columbus. Like the other Drag Radial racers, Jason didn't have it quite right during qualifying, but back-to-back 8-teens in Rounds 1 and 2 sent the message loud and clear: Jason found something. However, an off-pace 8.34 against John Kolivas in the final wasn't enough to seal the deal at Columbus.

The Renegade ranks were robust at Columbus. With 15 cars in attendance, every round was destined to be a street fight. Dan Rawls was out front when qualifying ended, but Bob Cook was lingering in the shadows in third. Bob was able to run the Sutton High Performance Mustang in the 8.60 range, which if you follow NMRA EFI Renegade, is pretty stout when done consistently. Bob was doin' it, and doin' it well. Bob came back to beat number-one qualifier Dan Rawls in the semis and Alton Clements in the final to get the win.