Huw Evans
September 1, 2006
Photos By: Francis Butler

Gateway International Raceway, Madison, IL May 18-21, 2006
It was our first time going to this event, but getting there proved to be one of the toughest parts. Your trusty editor was due to fly down to St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, but storms came across the Ohio Valley and I ended up stranded in Cincinnati overnight with no bags and almost until the last minute, nowhere to sleep. Things looked up on Friday as normal progress resumed, yours truly was reunited with said bags and eventually got to the grounds of Gateway International Raceway sometime before noon. In the meantime, ace photographer Francis Butler had already collected the rental car, set up camp and got a few shots in - including a test and tune run by a Camaro, yeah, at a Ford event, but the guys who ran that car can do things like that. So with the whole Modified Mustangs team now present and correct at WFC 9, it was time to get down to business.

The thing about this event is that it draws people and cars from all over the place. The pits are an absolute hive of activity. One of our first ports of call was the Team Aruba pit area. We caught up with Van, Burt and the crew as they got the Mountain motor ZX2 bodied machine read for qualifying. Now being from the island of Aruba, it's not easy to come to this race, nor any others. While many of the North America based teams have their chance to test between races, the Aruba guys are usually back home on the island for a few weeks, while the car and support equipment remains in the US. Anyhow, Burt and his crew chief were optimistic. "We'll see how it goes out there," Kelkboom said with a smile.

Not far away, everybody was falling over Robert Patrick's new car. Sporting an '07 Shelby GT 500 body it was quite the beast and impeccably clean. A brand new machine often requires a bit of time and patience before really coming into its own, but the Patrick crew were up for the challenge.

As the temperature started heating up, and the sun beat down between the clouds, the entire GIR grounds reverberated to the sounds of horsepower, as drivers got out there to test their cars and get ready for a chance at making it through qualifying. With so many entries (try over 30 for Pro alone) it wasn't going to be easy. However, when push came to shove, it seemed that cubes mattered. The number one spot in Pro was grabbed by Frank Gugliotta, in his mountain motor Escort bodied dragster, with 820 inches of Kasse power, he was packing more cubes than anybody else in class, save Robert Patrick who got the number 5 spot. Behind Frank was John Nobile, Jeff Dobins, last year's winner Tony Gillig, of course Patrick and then Richard Penland, Elijah Morton and Larry Larson, followed by some familiar faces - Mike Hauf, Chuck Samuel and Don Walsh Jr. Team Aruba started off Eliminations in 14th place.