KJ Jones
October 27, 2011
Photos By: KJ Jones

They say some of the biggest (and best) things in life come from small, humble beginnings, and you'll find there's a lot of truth in that notion when applied to modern Mustang drag racing. ProMedia Publishing's NMRA Ford Drag Racing evolved from being a simple dream (of founders James Lawrence and Steve Wolcott) for a Mustang race series. It's now recognized as the official sanctioning body for Ford and Mustang enthusiasts to showcase their cars and compete in heads-up, Open Comp-format, and bracket drag racing on a national level.

There's something about the term national, however, as it gives the impression all of the primary U.S. regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West) are included in the fun. That may have been the intent back in 1998, but the reality is that NMRA has flourished since 2001 without having a Western event on its schedule. Yes, while many of you probably don't know this, attempts to hold West Coast NMRA races were made in 1999, Y2K, and 2001, and your author is a veteran of all three efforts.

Those early West Coast events were held at dragstrips in Phoenix, Arizona. While the races brought NMRA superstars of that period to the West (racers such as Jon "Krazy" Yates, Mike Murillo, Chip Havemann, John "Fireball" Urist, and Carlo Catatalonatto), unfortunately the events aren't talked about much (if at all) because none of them were actually completed. That's right. Each race was done-in by a severe storm (which includes a freak, full-on, mini-tornado in 1999) before eliminations could be completed, or in some cases, run at all. The fury of Mother Nature, along with "so-so" participation by the West Coast rank-and-file, ultimately led to the suspension of NMRA racing in the West.

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Over the course of 13 years, we've watched the NMRA grow from a three-race series in 1999 to five events in 2000, and into the nine-event extravaganza it is today. These days it plays out on some of the NHRA's marquee quarter-miles such as Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, and Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. Thankfully for California, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and other West-based 'Stangbangers, the NMRA has finally made a resurgence in their neck of the woods. Along with its sister sanction, the NMCA, it appears all-Ford racing is also off to what ProMedia officials believe is a great start in new territory!

In July 2011, the sanctions met at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California, where racers and fans turned out in force for the inaugural NMRA/NMCA West Coast Shootout-an event that definitely can be considered the rebirth of big-league, all-Ford drag racing in the West.

Of course, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords was on hand covering all the action, in addition to the drag racing, which is run using PSCA's class and rules structure. Other fun included a huge Ford-only (NMRA) and an all-makes (NMCA) car show, and also featured a few new performance-driving events such as an Autocross, a Speed-Stop Challenge, and the Racers Against Street Racing True Street Challenge-which gave competitors the opportunity to win the first-ever NHRA Wally awarded in a True Street-style event.

Unfortunately, Brand-X entries dominated these classes at the inaugural race, but we hope to see the West's quickest Ponies running for heads-up glory at the 2012 event. We elaborate more on all the exciting action at Fontana through the following photos and captions. Yes, the NMRA is back in West, and based on the success of this small, humble re-start, we're pretty sure future events in the region will be bigger and better in the years to come.

Horse Sense: In the past, Western-based Mustang racers hoping to actually participate in or see an NMRA show in person have had to made the huge commitment of traveling to various points in the East-a gargantuan effort based on travel costs, especially fuel for those towing their cars, and the time that it takes to get to and from an event. To date, Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Super Street Outlaw mega-champion John Urist, Hellion's "B-Team" leader; Dwayne James; and Hot Street's Mike Abdalla are the leaders in what basically amounts to cross-country attendance at the NMRA races, logging approximately 500,000 miles collectively since 1999.

RASR's Edge

It's kind of ironic how on one hand the mission to achieve more-and-more "street" performance from our Mustangs never ends. Yet, the street, without question, is the absolute worst place to display a hot 'Stang's horsepower, handling, and overall performance prowess.

Obviously, we're not advocates of street racing, but we do realize such illegal activity does happen once the sun sets-in desolate industrial areas, on deserted country back roads, and even on major public highways from coast to coast. While we're definitely staunch advocates of running Mustangs at their full potential, we understand the danger and problems that are inherent with street racing, and implore all of you to take it to the track whenever you really want to cut a Pony loose.

The Racers Against Street Racing Media vs. Manufacturers Challenge is a special True Street program-an eliminator-within-the-eliminator if you will-that's designed to take racing off the streets and put it on the track. RASR True Street showcased cars and trucks built by more than 20 magazines and aftermarket performance companies, which cruised and raced along with cars owned by enthusiasts and readers of such magazines as 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords, Hot Rod, Car Craft, and more, for something we believe is a great cause-showing street racers the virtue of racing fast street cars at the track.

Your Tech Editor participated in the RASR program using Mrs. Crystal Jones' '02 Mustang GT-a street-driven, supercharged, 650hp Pony. Unfortunately, 5.0&SF didn't win any of the e.t. categories (awards and prizes were presented to the RASR 15-second, 14-second, 13-second, 12-second, and 11-second winners, and overall winner and runner-up). But, being part of this deal was a great opportunity for us to experience how challenging True Street really is for car and driver (temperature at the Auto Club Speedway facility was more than 100 degrees during the competition), as well as have a good time with everyone who participated.

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