Michael Johnson Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 10, 2012
Photos By: Steve Turner

As with anything, after you've done it a few times, you know what to expect. Sure, there will be a few surprises, but as a whole, you know how things are going to go down. With our annual King of the Street competition, we'd say the competition is a well-oiled machine. Announcements are in the magazine, the 5.0&SF website, and Facebook page well in advance. Cars are picked around the end of August/early September so competitors have time to make travel plans. Stickers are ordered, instructions are sent out... oh man, we were on such a roll!

This year, after pointing a few wayward competitors to Beech Bend Park, not Beech Bend Raceway, we were ready to roll. Beech Bend Park and Beech Bend Raceway are located on the same rolling landscape in Bowling Green, Kentucky. However, each has its own entrance. We start the competition bright and early the Thursday morning of the NMRA's World Finals, which this time around happened to be September 29. The day gets started at 9 a.m. with photography handled by Editor Steve Turner. Once Steve is done making each competitor famous, he passes them to Web Producer Greg Clark for a video interview, which you can check out on our website and YouTube channel.

Here's where my "work" begins. Once Greg has interviewed a competitor, it's my turn to drive each KOTS for the all-important Ride & Drive portion of the competition. That's not my only KOTS responsibility. KOTS is, as Editor Steve says, my baby. I get all the questions: "Where do I go?" "What time do I have to be there?" "What if I'm late?" "Am I allowed to tune my car on the dyno?" During the KOTS competition, I am one part associate editor and one part car herder. I make sure everyone is where they're need to be and ready for each part of the competition.

Yes, it can be hard work telling grown men where they need to be, but as part of the Ride & Drive, I have the chance to relieve some stress while driving their cars, so I take it in stride. That's right--I get to drive the cars, with the owner in the passenger seat. For most competitors, it'll be the first and only time someone else is driving their Mustangs. Yes, membership has its privileges. This is the only time anyone is jealous of me. Who can blame them, though? I get to drive several Mustangs that aren't mine, many of them making upward of 700 hp at the tire, and they're some of the nicest Mustangs in the country. Not a bad gig.

Friday morning everyone meets at 9 a.m. at Holley Performance Products (www.holley.com) in Bowling Green for the dyno segment of the competition. We used Holley's Dynojet for the inaugural KOTS 10 years ago, and we've been back the last two years. It's been the perfect pairing so far, and things have gone swimmingly while using Holley's headquarters. We throw numbers in a hat and each competitor draws one to decide the dyno order. Each competitor gets two dyno runs with 5 minutes in between the two passes if need be. No tuning is allowed while on the dyno. Each competitor must have their Mustang tuned and ready to go before getting on the dyno at Holley.

On the Holley property, Editor Turner looks over the KOTS cars with a critical eye to judge the Fit & Finish segment of the competition. Since the dyno room at Holley is inside and we're there most of the day, this gives El Presidente time to look over the cars in comfortable surroundings. Editor Turner combs over each to arrive at a judged score, and I don't think he's ever awarded a perfect 10. He can be a tough critic, but then again, he's been there, done that, and got the T-shirt when it comes to Mustangs.

Speaking of being there and doing that, we had to pull a rabbit out of our hat when it came to a judge for the Engineering category. That portion is usually judged by our tech editor, your favorite bucket-hatted 5.0&SF staffer, KJ Jones. However, he had more pressing matters on the homefront and had to sit out this one. Therefore, we had to find a replacement for our version of "The Hat."

Chris Cruz is your 2011 King of the Street. He was one of the favorites coming into the competition, and his '11 Mustang GT/California Special didn't disappoint. The Evolution Performance-built, Whipple-supercharged GT/CS scored near the top in every category but the Popular Vote, which we still can't figure out. However, even though he didn't get the Popular Vote, he did well enough in the other categories, especially the heavily weighted Horsepower and Ride & Drive categories, to get the win.

Steve and I put our heads together, and thankfully, we didn't have to look far to find an able and well-qualified KJ stand-in. We asked veteran Mustang builder and recent Holley hire Rick Anderson. That name should be familiar to every Mustang fan. Rick was the main man at Anderson Ford Motorsport for years before moving over to Holley as technical sales representative. Rick's also one of those guys that have built this, raced that, and been a part of 5.0&SF as contributor for several years now. He graciously stepped in to judge the Engineering segment in KJ's absence. He also had plenty of time to go over the KOTS cars during our time at Holley, scouring each car to arrive at a judged score in the Engineering segment. We thank Rick for sharing his time and expertise.

Our dyno portion lasted until early afternoon on Friday, after which we headed to Beech Bend Raceway to schedule the Drag Race segment of the KOTS competition. Our dragstrip passes are squeezed in as part of the NMRA's first qualifying session on Friday afternoon. Basically, we give the NMRA an estimated time for when we'll be ready to tackle the 1,320 before its event. Thankfully, this time around the planets aligned and we were able to get both passes done during the first round of NMRA qualifying. The Drag Race segment went off without a hitch, and we're thankful to the NMRA for letting us share its asphalt.

After the dragstrip passes are made, we make sure the KOTS competitors are OK before leaving to eat some dead cow at Montana Grille and discuss the event up to that point. A quick walkthrough across the street at the Hobby Lobby and we pass out back at the hotel for the night.

After Friday, the hard work's been done for the KOTS part of the weekend. We have our photography, made our notes, and scored several segments already--all that's left is to corral the KOTS in one spot at Beech Bend Raceway and let the Popular Vote commence.

The Popular Vote allows those in attendance at the race to vote for their favorite KOTS car. Even though there isn't much work on our part for this segment, the weekend's work is far from over. Once we get the KOTS cars in place for the Popular Vote segment, we still have to shift gears and cover the NMRA race.

Now that you know how things go, you probably want to know who won, don't you? I'm sure you know by now. The winner's picture is right here, son!

Horse Sense: We are considering a "redemption" theme for the next King of the Street. We might invite back some past competitors to mix it up with some new challengers. Hit us up on our Facebook page and let us know what you think.