Huw Evans
October 1, 2006
Photos By: Francis Butler

16th Annual Buckeye State NationalsNorwalk Raceway Park, Norwalk, OH
July 7 - 9, 2006
After escaping the rain showers in Virginia, the Fun Ford clan headed north and west to Norwalk, OH to take residence at one of the finest dragstrip facilities in the US of A. And luckily for us, by July 7th, the wet weather had decided to move off, leaving us with a forecast that was hot and sunny, but also thanks to the close proximity of Lake Erie, a serious amount of humidity. Cars, especially ones that go very fast in a straight line, don't generally like heat and humidity very much, but still, our contingent of hardy racers did their very best despite the conditions.

Starting off with the quickest and arguably the loudest cars, we got down to the deeds with the Probe Industries Pro class. Two drivers really came to mind at the Buckeye Nats this year - David Schorr and Erica Ortiz. Schorr continues his assault on the class championship this year and at Norwalk, he further asserted his presence. He put down a 6.688 in qualifying to nail the number one spot, then on race day, made steady progression to the final round. Ortiz meanwhile, had been putting up a fight of her own and in the process, set a few records in Ohio. She became the first female driver to complete a full round of racing and then became the first to ever make it to a final. Here the old-school Fox T-bird-based car gave Schorr and his mountain motor ZX2 machine a serious challenge. Erica gave it all it was worth, launching the big T-bird and powering down the track to a best-ever 6.88. However, Schorr was just that little big quicker, crossing the line in 6.77 seconds. Still it was a fantastic performance from Ortiz.

Dan the 'Desert Eagle' Millen made the trip around Lake Erie for some quartermile thrashing at Norwalk. Cale Aronson was also in action, returning to Street Outlaw with a carburetted setup on his Kaase powered S197 'Boss 698.' In qualifying, Millen set the best time, with a 6.989 at 207.15 mph! Hot on his tail was Tim Lynch, behind the wheel of Shane Barber's striking yellow New Edge car, with Aronson landing the number 3 spot. Out of the gate in Eliminations, Millen took out fourth place qualifier Brian Keller, when he blasted out a 7.105 to the '81 Fairmont driver's 7.94. On the other side, the twin-turbo terror Lynch got by Aronson, so that meant it was a final round grudge match between Dan and Tim. Lynch as usual, wasn't taking any prisoners and got the one up on Millen coming out of the hole, with a .044 light against Dan's .128. He started pulling away, but by the 300 foot mark, Millen had closed the gap and then began to pull ahead. Dan crossed the line in 6.989 seconds, Lynch in 7.150. A nail-biter, right to the end.

In Drag Radial there was only one car and it belonged to Chris Little. With a new turbocharged combination, Little only made one pass and it was an impressive 7.76.

Moving on to Street Renegade, points leader Ronnie Wilson decided to take time off. Oh he was at the event, but driving his black GT was Gina Wilson, which caused our photographer and I'm sure many others to do a double take. It took Gina a little while to get the hang of the Renegade car, but she got better with each run. Minnesotan Dan Schoneck appeared to be the main contender in the class and indeed bagged the pole with a very quick 7.784. However once Wilson got the hang of Ronnie's car - she started making serious progress, taking her to the final against the hard-charging Schoneck. Here, Dan's orange beast started having problems and got slower and slower, leaving Gina to cruise on by to victory lane with a 8.712.

The Daniel Bott versus Matt Jones class, otherwise known as Street Bandit, witnessed some interesting developments. Jones qualified first, with Bott right behind him. Jay Henkleman, behind the wheel of a Bandit-prepped Fairmont, was third. Bott seems to be getting quicker and piling ever more pressure on Jones and at Norwalk, it showed. The final round saw both drivers bang out almost identical lights on the tree. Bott appeared first out of the hole, and started pulling ahead, but then Matt found a boost of extra power and stamina, just managing to edge past Daniel to grab the win - it was very close. Jones ran a 8.823, Bott an 8.838.

In Street Warrior, Jeremy Martorella, the 2004 class champ, decided that now was the time to jump back into the ring after taking some time off to be with his family. Commandeering Rob Mollet's Mustang, he gave John Scaro a real run for his money. In what amounted to one heck of a final round, both drivers went at it tooth and nail. They were side by side, pretty much all the way down the track, but when the results came in, Scaro was just slightly ahead, 9.639 versus 9.667. A fantastic bit of racing!

The Superchips Street Stang class had a local driver, Tammy Chambers, set the best time in qualifying, but in this class, one should never underestimate regular Mark Anderson. Mark wasted no time and got the power down, piling through the ranks to beat second place qualifier John Heid to the finish with a 12.68 versus John's 12.80 in the final round.

As for vehicles with beds out back, JDM Tough Truck regular Don Justus, in his white gen 2 Lightning, came out ready to do battle. Justus qualified the big pickup in the top spot with 10.771 and demonstrated his smoothness and consistency right to the end. In the final, Justus kept his head and still won out, with a consistent 10.771 on his 10.67 dial-in, against Robert Chuhran who motored ahead of Don, but was way, way out with a 10.789 on an 11.61 index.

The RPM Outlet Ultra Stang class is proving ever more popular, as it gives drivers with both faster and slower S197s a chance to shine. Speaking of fast cars, Jim D'Amore grabbed the top spot in qualifying, with an 11.04, but in this class it's about consistency, so you'll get a 13 second driver racing an 11-second driver for the class win and that is exactly what happened when S.D. Wheeler ended up facing D'Amore in the final. Wheeler has already won three rounds in this class and tried to make it a fourth, but he redlit on the tree and it was over before it began. D'Amore was therefore declared the victor in this one.

We had some very interesting cars and combinations show up in Mod Comp - how about a 3.8 SVO engine powered steed and a 5.4 powered 2006 Mustang - neither of them common setups, but they sure did work. Jimmy Ronzello was behind the wheel of the six-banger, Paul Svinicki at the helm of the '06. Both drivers lasted long enough to make the last round and both were consistent and closely matched, right to the end. Ronzello and Svinicki both cut almost identical lights, but Paul saw a gap when Jimmy lost a bit of momentum and went for it. Final result, a 10.305 for Svinicki, an 11.499 for Ronzello.

It was Mustang versus Focus in the four-six Frenzy class. Scott Baumgarner was behind the wheel of the pony car in question, while Josh Wells was piloting the little front-driver. The Mustang was far quicker, but here it's down to indexes. A 15.85 dial-in versus an 11.57 put Wells put in front for the final round, allowing him to leave well ahead.The waiting was just too much for Scott and he jumped the light, automatically handing Josh the class win.

Norwalk is traditionally one of the biggest gatherings for True Street cars and 100 of them showed up this year. You'll see a bit more about these cars in an upcoming feature in MM, regarding the Quick-8 shootout that took place on Saturday, but the fastest overall, much to your Editor's delight was set by a 1986 Mustang GT, and one built in the home garage at that. Bill Klein completed the tough 30-mile cruise, came back and drove three consistent eight-second passes, giving him an average of 8.804 and the fastest overall time. Greg Lapoint was next, garnering the runner up spot with an impressive 8.974. Marty Meillet was the Top 9-second driver, Matt Parker the quickest overall in the 10s, with Mike Biggs and Vince Lemmon the fastest 11- and 12-second drivers respectively.

The UPR car show was very impressive at Norwalk and members of the Greater Toronto Area Mustang club came down in droves, bringing some very nice cars with them. Norwalk was a great event this year, with some very close racing and interesting antics, both on and off the track. It's always a hit with participants and spectators alike. As we went to press, the FFW party was getting set to head to Tennessee to take residence at the infamous Bristol Speedway. Let's hope the weather held!

FFW Official Results
Probe Pro
Winner: David Schorr 6.772 @ 209.33

Procharger Super Street Outlaw
Winner: Dan Millen 6.989 @ 207.15

BF Goodrich Drag Radial
Winner: Chris Little 7.76 @ 183.29

Precision Turbo Street Renegade
Winner: Gina Wilson 8.712 @ 151.26

CFE Street Bandit
Winner: Matt Jones 8.823 @ 153.23

Borla Street Warrior
Winner: John Scaro 9.639 @ 139.26

Superchips Street Stang
Winner: Mark Anderson 12.689 @ 96.42

SHM Mod Comp
Winner: Paul Svinicki 10.305 @ 109.18

JDM Tough Truck
Winner: Don Justus 10.771 @ 122.34

Bama Chips Four-Six Frenzy
Winner: Josh Wells 16.236 @ 82.50

Ford Racing/Rpm Outlet Ultra Stang
Winner: Jim D'Amore 11.004 @ 119.61

Fast Ford
Winner: John Gregory (Saturday) 10.579 @ 124.80
Winner: Chris Garceau (Sunday) 8.025 @ 166.79

Quick Ford
Winner: Brian Kuta (Saturday) 10.741 @ 123.49
Winner: Andy Horne (Sunday) 8.668 @ 156.05

Street Ford
Winner: AJ Buchanan (Saturday) 15.124 @ 83.57
Winner: Carolyn Adams (Sunday) 14.128 @ 88.21

True Street
Winner: Bill Klein 8.804 (avg)

UPR Car Show
People's Choice
Jeff Langdon, 1992 Mustang LX

Track Choice
Scott and Angela Winger, 2001 Mustang Cobra

UPR Choice
Brian Bush, 1997 Mustang

Riley's Nostalgia
David and Mark Robinson, 1963 Galaxie

Manufacturer's Choice
Charlie and Monica Grandll, 1995 Mustang GT

Promoter's Choice
Shawn Bigwin, 1989 Mustang