Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
November 29, 2010
Photos By: Paul Rosner

We get our fill of Brand X rides at the All-Star Nationals at zMAX Dragway just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, as it hosts both sides of the ProMedia drag racing fence-the NMRA and the NMCA-therefore, we get our quota in one weekend. However, the All-Star Nationals differs from the Joliet NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing as NMRA and NMCA winners don't face-off against its class counterparts. There's still plenty to see at the All-Star Nationals.

Simply entering the zMAX Dragway is a spectacle. Its sheer magnitude dwarfs this event, even with both NMRA and NMCA racers on the grounds, a car show featuring all makes, and a large number of vendors. Moreover, with the NMCA racers in attendance, fans get a chance to see several NMCA Mustang racers face-off against other makes, which is always fun, especially on a four-wide dragstrip.

Naturally, the temps in early August were on the boil, but our cameras didn't melt, so check out the captions for all the details.

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Pro Outlaw 10.5

With the weekend's intense heat, even the Pro Outlaw 10.5 guys were struggling with traction. Mike Murillo spun on a couple occasions, but he was able to get it together long enough to take the win over Dwayne James in the final with a 6.98 at 219 mph.

Dwayne James and his ProCharger-equipped Pro Outlaw 10.5 Mustang has the front half of the track figured out. The B-Team's trouble is with the back half and the lack of speed that has plagued the car for most of the year. It seems the car has been losing boost as it goes down the track. However, Dwayne and the B-Teamers have been testing back home in ABQ and they think they have it figured out. If that's the case, watch for Dwayne to make the Pro Outlaw show more than a two-man class. In other Pro Outlaw 10.5 news from zMAX, Conrad Scarry's Mustang suffered weekend-ending engine damage, rendering them helpless in the championship points battle.

Super Street Outlaw

In Super Street Outlaw, Johnny MacDonald was supposed to meet Filthy Phil Hines in Round 1, but Phil was a no-show due to mechanical damage so Johnny basically had a bye run. Interestingly, every first-round race was a bye as John Urist was supposed to be matched-up against Andrew Demarco, but Andrew had his own problems to deal with. No matter for Johnny Mac, as he had a competition bye into the final, where he would meet John Urist. However, Johnny U. went red to end the race before it started and hand J-Mac the win.

It's safe to say this hasn't been John Urist's year as he's had assorted issues throughout 2010. However, John and A-Team have soldiered on. Besides the mechanical woes, one area he has uncharacteristically struggled with is his reaction times. They've been inconsistent, and he's redlit his way back to the trailer a few times this year, including in the final against Johnny Mac. We know he loves the heavy metal bellowing from his hauler. Maybe that's got him too hyped when he goes up to the line. He might be in a hurry to get back to the trailer to listen to his favorite headbangin' hits...we dunno. John still sits within shouting distance of first place in points, but he needs a strong finish to repeat as six-time champion.

Drag Radial

True to form, the slick-tire cars were unable to make clean passes, so the drag radial guys were flyin'. Jason Lee certainly had his wings on. He answered the qualifying bell with a 7.98 at 175 mph. Jason had a bye run for the first round, and then Sean Lyon redlit Jason's way into the final. Even in Sunday's heat, Jason was able to run an 8.11 to take the win over a resurgent Chad Doyle.

Chad Doyle came back with a vengeance this year. He's steadily made strides at each event, sneaking up on the tune-up and best taking advantage of his Roush Competition Engines powerplant. Like Jason Lee, Chad runs a direct-drive ProCharger up front. As such, Chad is quickly making his fellow drag-radial racers wish he were still on the sidelines. Chad had the highest mph in qualifying, and he was able to better Brian Tuten's best pass so far in drag-radial trim to get to Jason Lee in the finals. However, Chad had a bit too much power for the pavement as he went up in smoke just enough for Jason Lee to get the victory.

EFI Renegade

Chris Van Gilder found some mid-season power and qualified third in EFI Renegade with an 8.58 at 158 mph, a tenth off Dan Rawls 8.46 top qualifying effort. Chris didn't have to work too hard to make it to the finals-he had a first-round bye, and Dan Rawls ran into mechanical ills in Round 2. In the final against Bart Tobener, Chris' 7-Up car got the holeshot but momentarily lost traction, which was all Bart needed to take the win.

At zMAX, Bart Tobener took advantage of his fellow EFI Renegade racers misfortunes. Plus, he allowed his car's Goodyear drag radials to do the work while his slick'd competition struggled to find starting-line grip. Bart was having belt-slip issues and working on front half numbers. He was happy with the way the car was running out the back door, but the front door wasn't opening like he wanted. However, Brian Mitchell went a heartbreaking -0.391 red against Bart (0.400 is perfect), for an easy pass into the final. With Chris Van Gilder as his opponent, Chris got the jump, but Bart was able to get the win using Vortech-supercharged, Four-Valve 5.4 power.

Hot Street

There are two things we love about the Hot Street class: sky-high rpm and chin-hair-close competition. Don Bowles stood atop the qualifying ladder with an 8.63 at 158 mph. With seven cars in attendance, just two tenths separated Don Bowles from number-seven qualifier Rob Valden. In naturally aspirated competition, that might as well be a mile. Don survived eliminations and took on Charlie Booze Jr. in the final, where he was able to eek out a victory by 0.004 second.

Charlie Booze still runs a Kuntz and Company 400ci combination in his Hot Street car. Others in the class have moved up to 420ci combinations, but Charlie is sticking with his 400 cubes-and who could blame him. Charlie's red rocker is still in the hunt at every event, and zMAX was no different. He qualified fourth with an 8.69 at 155 mph, and then advanced thanks to redlight starts by both Rob Valden in Round 1 and Rick Riccardi in Round 2 (a heartbreaking -0.397 light). In the final against Don Bowles, Charlie got the holeshot, but he was unable to make it stick.

Real Street

With a supercharged, small-cube combination, Tim Matherly had the unenviable task of figuring out how to equal Bruce Hemminger's performance in Real Street. With the heat, a non-intercooled, supercharged combination is just blowing hot air into an engine that wishes it was engulfing cool air. As such, Tim tried a different rear gear to get the rpm up so the blower would spin faster, as well. Tim ran a 9.45 in time trials, but as the weekend got warmer, his times got slower. What's worse is that during his semifinal-round bye run, one of Tim's front wheels was damaged on the return road, ending his weekend.

Since he brings his own atmosphere to the track thanks to his nitrous combination, Bruce Hemminger seemed to have time to goof around with fellow Real Street racer Tim Matherly. That's because he ran a 9.43 to qualify at the top of the ladder. Jim Breese hit Craig Baldwin over the head with the Tree in Round 1, but Bruce was able to get past Jim in Round 2 with a 9.46 to a 9.63. In the final, Bruce was unopposed, which was a good thing since his car wasn't in the greatest shape at that point.

Pure Street

Shawn Johnson wheeled Jim St. Charles New Edge Pure Street car at zMAX. If you remember, Jim's car is the first Pure Street car to run 9s. That happened at Atco. At zMAX, with Shawn in the driver's seat, the car continued its ways with a 10.12 to grab the top spot. With a carbureted Two-Valve under the hood, and a Lentech AOD in the tunnel, the car would never leave the 10.teens at zMAX, but that's not a bad thing. Shawn had a round-one bye, and beat Teddy Weaver in round two. In the final against Brandon Alsept, Shawn got the jump, and never looked back with a 10.16 to Brandon's 10.24.

Brandon Alsept also runs a carbureted Two-Valve in his stick-shift Pure Street car, but at zMAX his combo was still in flux. He discovered a fuel leak at the carburetor, which is never a good thing. He fixed that, and mounted new slicks on the car as well. Brandon runs an Edelbrock intake, but one set up for EFI. The intake even wears injectors and rails, but obviously, with the carb in place, they're not functional at the moment. BES Racing did the machining on this latest engine, but Brandon and his friend Kenny Bennett put it together. Even with all this, Brandon was unable to get past Shawn Johnson in the final.

Modular Muscle

To say Hollywood Gary Parker is hot is an understatement. He's quite possible the most dominant NMRA racer right now. Racing in the Modular Muscle category, Gary is hitting his stride, and taking it to his fellow competitors. At zMAX, Gary was once again on his game with lightning-quick reaction times and running right on his 11.03 dial.

Pure Street
Shawn Johnson wheeled Jim St. Charles New Edge Pure Street car at zMAX. If you remember, Jim's car is the first Pure Street car to run 9s. That happened at Atco. At zMAX, with Shawn in the driver's seat, the car continued its ways with a 10.12 to grab the top spot. With a carbureted Two-Valve under the hood, and a Lentech AOD in the tunnel, the car would never leave the 10.teens at zMAX, but that's not a bad thing. Shawn had a round-one bye, and beat Teddy Weaver in round two. In the final against Brandon Alsept, Shawn got the jump, and never looked back with a 10.16 to Brandon's 10.24.

Brandon Alsept also runs a carbureted Two-Valve in his stick-shift Pure Street car, but at zMAX his combo was still in flux. He discovered a fuel leak at the carburetor, which is never a good thing. He fixed that, and mounted new slicks on the car as well. Brandon runs an Edelbrock intake, but one set up for EFI. The intake even wears injectors and rails, but obviously, with the carb in place, they're not functional at the moment. BES Racing did the machining on this latest engine, but Brandon and his friend Kenny Bennett put it together. Even with all this, Brandon was unable to get past Shawn Johnson in the final.