Paul Rosner
February 25, 2011
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Your heart pumps like a bass drum, the hair on the back of your neck tingles, and goosebumps invade every inch of your forearms as the roar of the first pair of 2,000hp Ponies blaze the tires.

Racing season is back, and the baddest Ford race cars are on tour at a dragstrip near you.

The all-Ford racing spectacle known as the NMRA Keystone Automotive Ford Nationals will be sweeping the nation with additional venues, new classes, and more excitement than ever! Nothing creates the kind of electricity of passing through the gates and entering the scintillating world of the Blue Oval group.

Whether you're a hard-core racer trying to prove you are among the best in the nation, or just a guy or gal whose need-for-speed brings you to play in an Open Comp or True Street style class, there should be an event close enough to offer all the racing excitement and spectacle that you crave.

The NMRA Keystone Automotive Ford Nationals' traveling Blue Oval circus invites all to participate under the UPR Products big tent, where some of the biggest auto show fields will be displayed, and side shows will include bellows of rubber smoke of all colors as tire fryers melt away the tread for cash and prizes.

Entrepreneur auctioneers will have lots of attractively priced and hard-to-find used goodies for your 'Stang in the swap meet. And don't forget to come out and browse some of the largest manufacturers' midways, where hot, show-only deals are common and tech support is plentiful.

Plan your trip now, and experience some of the many thrills on display at one of nine of the largest sources of live family entertainment in the country. Seven events will exclusively feature Blue Oval contestants, while an additional pair of venues will invite any brand-Xers who dare to accept the challenge to come play in our arena.

It should be a fun season, so check out the straight dope on the classes. Some are familiar, some are new, but all will be on display for Ford fans across the country.

Pro Outlaw 10.5

Attracting the fastest and quickest Ford-powered 10.5W Mustang and Ford-bodied Outlaw streetcars from around the country, Pro Outlaw 10.5 is the NMRA's top class. Combatants will annihilate the 10.5Wx33-inch drag slicks past the eighth-mile cones to get them hot and sticky before attempting to hook the nearly 3,000 hp for at least 1,320 feet in just over 6 seconds. Rolling into battle with turbocharged, nitrous-oxide-injected, or supercharged combos, racers will run head to head at five events throughout the season-three NMRA races and two NMRA/NMCA events. The NMRA events in Florida, New Jersey, and Kentucky will host the big dogs, while they will also run in NMCA Super Street in Georgia and Illinois, and collect NMRA points for their trouble.

2010 Class Records
E.T.: Conrad Scarry, 6.57 seconds
MPH: Conrad Scarry, 215.96

Super Street Outlaw

The deafening thunder of nearly 2,000 hp forced out of each individual header tube with over 35 pounds of boost. The eerie hiss of the blow-off valve from a docile turbocharged car. The tell-tale, frosty, skyward purge of a triple-stage-nitrous-injected power plant, just before stabbing the throttle to introduce the engine to a taste of the NOS meal it's about to consume in the next 7 seconds. All are sights and sounds of the wildest, most unpredictable class of Ford racing-the 10-inch-Tire Freak Show!

These freaks are full-bodied street cars, and with the narrowly adequate 28.6x10.6-inch mandated rear slick, you will be guaranteed side-by-side tire-spinning action from start to stripe. So grab at least the edge of your seat, and prepare to witness some of the wildest low-7-second rides you'll ever see in the quarter-mile.

2010 Class Record
ET: Samuel Vincent, 7.33 seconds
MPH: John MacDonald, 196.54

Watch List
John Urist and the Hellion crew have made the NMRA and their premiere showcase class since inception 11 years ago. In 2010, they made five finals, winning a pair en route to a fifth-consecutive championship of six total. Team Hellion is used to life with the No. 1 target on the window! Hot on John's heels is the Motorcity Motorsports-sponsored, graphics-covered Pony gunned by Johnny MacDonald, who won two of three finals. He was top qualifier three times and lost the title by a mere 10 points! Nitrous wizard Sammy Vincent put the fear in both of the top ProCharger powered pilots with a split on a pair of finals, three number-one qualifiers, and total destruction of the record books in his green coupe's quest. Phil Hines' copper Colt is back, and veteran Chip Havemann is getting quite comfortable in his new ride, so it could be up for grabs in 2011!

Xtreme Drag Radial

The boys from the NMRA threw out about half the rulebook from the old Drag Radial class, and let the horses run wild and unbridled by introducing the all-new Xtreme Drag Radial class. Now all you have to do is pass the required tire measurement after your pass for a trip to the next round!

There is something about drag-radial racing that is captivating to racers across the nation, probably because the tire has become the weak link. It's a world where horsepower does not guarantee you a trip to the winner's circle. It's a class where a properly prepared average Joe can take out the titans of the sport on any given afternoon.

You'll see lots of seemingly slow launches, but watch out as these guys have a tendency to put it on the bumper at about the 330-foot markers as the frightening power kicks in.

Watch List
Jason Lee's '86 'Stang barged his way to every final, winning all but a pair, resetting the records on several occasions to repeat as champion. Jason has only missed one trip to the final dance in two years. He will be the man with the biggest target on his back. Lyons Motorsports helped put Canadian Enzo Pecchini's ProCharged '88 coupe in three final rounds-competitors commonly called the class The Jason & Enzo Show-and that was pretty much the story. This year, however, it's a whole new ball game.

EFI Renegade

It will be standing room only, 'cause no wheelie bars are allowed in the class. At this power level, don't even think about hitting burger row if there's a cool breeze after the sun goes down. Cold air means big horsepower boosts, and at least one or two of the players usually ends up dragging off the bumper cover. EFI Renegade is reserved for fuel-injected, automatic-transmission-only cars. If you want to win in this class, you will have to choose from the approved list of non-intercooled street oriented blowers and one or more stages of nitrous oxide.

2010 Class Record
ET: Dan Rawls, 8.31 seconds
MPH: Dan Rawls, 164.83

Watch List
Chris Van Gilder's Second Street Speed Shop-built supercharged 'Stang was the most consistent in the class, even though he only collected one trophy from his four trips to the finals. Consistency won the team its first championship. Multiple class-championship winner Brian Mitchell's wizard car was back in the chase, finishing second with a win in the season finale. Bob Cook's '93 Cobra is always a strong contender with a pair of wins in 2010, and Bart Tobener's Vortech-blown, Four-Valve 5.4-powered silver '93 coupe found its way to the win in his two appearances.

Hot Street

No spraying bottles, whining blowers, or hissing turbochargers are allowed in Hot Street. Only old school, all-motor horsepower is allowed. You will adore the sweet sounds of 360-440ci small-blocks wound up to 10,000 rpm echoing down track as man and machine surpass 160 mph in just over 9 seconds. All the top engine builders in the country come to showcase their talents in the NMRA's version of Pro Stock, small-block Ford-style.

2010 Class Record
ET: Charlie Booze Jr., 8.38 seconds
MPH: Charlie Booze Jr., 160.85

Watch List
Kuntz & Company powerplant poster-child Charlie Booze Jr. has won championships in both the NMRA and NMCA on multiple occasions. Charlie is one of the only racers' to brag of a perfect season. He started the season and ended the season resetting both ends of the record books, visited five finals, and took home the top prize three times. Reigning champ Don Bowles' Roush-powered '70 Maverick and '08 champ Robby Blankenship's gorgeous '04 Cobra both collected two wins. We may have to flip a coin between these three titans. Downs Ford Motorsports' Rick Riccardi's could also surprise a lot of folks with his Hell Bent Racecars Capri.

Real Street

Powerplants in this class are limited to minimum bore push-rod 302 and 4.6-liter Two- and Three-Valve engines, topped with ported stock heads or carefully chosen from a short list of unported aftermarket heads, stock-lift camshafts, and limited street-type power adders. No tricked-out torque converters or automatic transmissions are allowed-this is a driver's class, allowing Tremec transmissions only and offering lots of side-by-side bumper-draggin' action! Real Street is at the power-to-weight ratio, where a perfect pass always includes a four-foot wheelie and a good Second gear can finish off the bumper cover!

2010 Class Record
ET: Bruce Hemminger, 9.23 seconds
MPH: Bruce Hemminger, 144.88

Watch List
Four-time Real Street champ Tim Matherly had a busy season. He never quite got the handle on the new Three-Valve in his fresh new '10 racecar, so he swapped back to the proven Two-Valve combo after Bradenton. Meanwhile, Bruce Hemminger started his season in his JPC-sponsored white coupe at the third event, set the record, and won the event. He went on to reset the record repeatedly and beat Tim in the next three finals in a row. Tim needed something drastic to break the three-year string of losses, so he broke out the old '01 Cobra championship car for the World Final showdown. Bruce again reset the record before meeting Tim in the semis. It took a perfect Hail Mary pass to end the streak and earn MV Performance its fifth championship! Former mod-motor champ Jim Breese's Cobra is ready for the next step after knocking down his first win since moving up to the Real Street class. Vortech racing superstar Craig Baldwin has reignited his passion for competition with a new burgundy coupe and worked out most of the bugs just in time to make a final round appearance at the season finale.

Pure Street

If it's all-motor, small-cube action you crave, then Pure Street is your class. The 302 small-blocks are limited to 313 cubes, while 4.6-liter engines get 291 cubes and a second string list of permissible heads to massage. No big camshafts or monster-displacement powerplants allowed in Pure Street. Cams are limited to 0.500-inch for push-rod combos, and 0.550 or 0.480 lift for mod motors. All the '79-and-newer Mustang-bodied cars will brush the bumper on every launch with a Tremec manual or beefed-up factory automatic transmission.

2010 Class Record
ET: Jim St. Charles, 9.99 seconds
MPH: Jim St. Charles, 134.40

Watch List
Newcomer Jim St. Charles rattled some cages in the '09 Factory Stock war with his new '03 Cobra, then he moved up to the Pure Street ranks with an unorthodox carbureted mod-motor combo. He knocked down wins in his first two appearances, which included the first 9-second pass of the class! Next, Pure Street hot-shoe Shawn Johnson took the reigns and galloped on to collect the trophy in the last three events in his St. Charles' Pro Tree Racecars Cobra. Shawn collected his first championship since moving up from his Factory Stock. Steve Gifford's black Modular Depot-sponsored '98 Cobra had a great season, frequenting the final round twice, but overshadowed by the phenomenal year of the Pro Tree Racecars entries. Brandon Alsept's wild Wrap Warehouse '98 Mustang will be out to play for keeps in 2011. He went to the final dance in four of the five events he attended, taking home the gold once and missing the runner-up spot in the championship chase by a mere 20 points.

Factory Stock

This entry-level class is the bolt-on-only class for fuel-injected cars, yet it's one of the most contested in the NMRA. It also serves as a stepping stone to quicker classes.

However, the class has evolved into a class as complex as the NHRA stock ranks, where go-fast secrets are closely guarded. Combatants must run BFG Comp/G-force TA or Nitto NT555R street drag radials.

2010 Class Record:
ET: Tommy Godfrey, 10.89 seconds
MPH: Tommy Godfrey, 122.59

Watch List
Tommy Godfrey solidified his dominance in the class by becoming the first Factory Stock racer to break into the 10-second zone with a 10.89! His winning streak continued with five trips to the finals and three wins en route to his fourth consecutive championship. Carlos Sobrino surprised all in his former patrol car by finding the winner's circle for the first time in his NMRA racing career. He's been inching away at the field for several years; now he appears to be a serious threat to all. Jay Dold's MV Performance-sponsored '03 Mach 1 grabbed the gold at Atco against the all-conquering Tommy Godfrey. Matt Amrine went two for three in final-round dances, once with a GT-40 small-block and once with a modular Four-Valve. Look out when he stays with one combo. Alan Cain's hatch, John Leslie Jr.'s coupe, and Rick Walsh's coupe are the next two contenders patiently waiting for the kings to falter.

Modular Muscle

For bored modular-powered bracketeers and test 'n' tune junkies tired of handicap starts, this class offers Pro-Tree, handicap-style racing. You must qualify with your elapsed time and are allowed a 0.10 breakout on race day. Modulars are center stage to showcase the performance potential of the overhead-camshaft engines. Don't look for an easy go of it here-the fields are big and the racing is intense.

Watch List
Modular-racing veteran Gary Parker lays down some of the best performances we have ever seen in handicap racing, with sickening 60-foot times in the teens to oh-20s. Rarely is he more than 0.03 second off his qualifying time. Gary won the first four of five events and captured to title with a runner-up in the season finale. Donnie Bowles Jr.'s '05 star-spangled, 9-second 'Stang and Susan Roush McClenaghan's She-Devil Motorsports '10 natural gasser both went one for two in final-round appearances. Canadian Randy Mounce's '05 Mustang, reigning-champ Reggie Burnette Jr.'s '00 'Stang, and Joseph Marini's stroker '05 will be on the hunt for the Roush big guns.

Open Comp

Open Comp racing is a staple at dragstrips around the country. You must qualify for your e.t. with a 0.10-breakout allowance and on a 0.500 handicap Pro-Tree on race day. Most of the competitors will be bracket racers looking for something a bit different; the fields will be full and racing intense. Electronics are not allowed!

Watch List
A steady contender, Brent Blacker won both the Atco and Milan events. He narrowly missed a trip to the finals at Bowling Green to solidify his first championship in his 10-second, big-block. Saul Walker II's '93 Fox, Jon M. Pickering's '74 Mustang II, Brent Carver's '73 Pinto, and Larry Geddes' Fox hatch were hot on his heels. Reigning champ Wesley Dalrymple's drop-top Fox, Jon H. Pickering's '70 Maverick, and Chuck Hockenberry's Fox hatch will charge toward the front of the field.

Truck & Lightning

This battle for truck and Lightning supremacy pits all-Ford bodied and powered trucks against one another. Don't look for an easy go of it in this Open Comp-style class, as the competition is fierce. Electronics are not allowed!

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Super 'Stang

In Super 'Stang, the performance capabilities of all '05-'12 Mustangs are put to the test in Pro-Tree-, dial-in-style racing. Power-adder steeds must weigh 3,400 pounds, while naturally aspirated Ponies must clock in at 3,200 pounds. All competitors must run quicker than 14.50 and launch on a footbrake only. No transbrakes, two-steps, or electronics are allowed.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery