Huw Evans
September 1, 2008
Contributers: Keith Keplinger, Huw Evans Photos By: Keith Keplinger
True Streeters came out in droves in Houston, with a total of 77 entries counted. The two quickest guys were William Calcote and Jason Roberts, who ended up duking it out in the Quick 8 final.

With a few date changes required due to conflicting schedules, the traditional second race on the FFW calendar, the Peach State Nationals, was pushed back to June. So the second race of the season occurred at Houston Raceway Park, as the FFW gang rolled into town for the Texas Thunder Nationals the first weekend in May.

There was a lot of excitement in the air as the stands, pits, midway, and show field started filling up with fans, cars, drivers, race crews, and vendors. In Houston, the heavy hitters could be found in the Street Outlaw class. To make things even more interesting, this race saw a full-on battle of the brands. So besides Fords, there were a number of Chevys on the grounds and, sure enough, a full Blue Oval-versus-Bowtie grudge match got under way. However, the quickest two cars in qualifying were both Ford-based machines, driven by Grant McCrary and Conrad Scarry, respectively.

Let The Battle Begin
When the eliminations got under way, Round One saw a number of casualties: Mark Luton was dispatched by Kevin Hargett, while Tim Rivette-driving a Camaro-based car, of all things-won over Orlando Mendoza. Both Scarry and McCrary, the two fastest qualifiers, made it through the first round, with McCrary putting his challenger, Brandon Dominy, on the trailer whilst Scarry caught a bye. The other driver to make it through was another Camaro man, Dennis Suervu, who managed to drive around Jason White.

In Round Two, the Ford guys really started piling on the pressure. Scarry, facing off against Rivette, sent the Chevy driver packing while Suervu, in the other Camaro, was outgunned by a good run from Hargett. That meant that going into the semis, we had an all-Ford field in Street Outlaw. And it was here that McCrary really wowed the crowd with arguably his best run of the weekend-a superb 0.019 light meant that Hargett didn't stand a chance. With Scarry catching yet another bye, the stage was set. In the finals, it appeared that Scarry had the advantage with an out-of-the-hole sling shot, but then McCrary turned up the boost, motoring past the '06 champ to seal the victory-a 6.882, while Scarry, struggling to maintain a good level of speed, trailed with an 8.8831.

Over in Street Renegade, it was great to see Ronnie Wilson back in action. The former class champion managed to put his car in Third Place during qualifying, behind Richard Lelsz and Kenjo Kelly. With the fastest cars running well into the 7-second range, there was plenty of excitement in this heads-up class. For Wilson, however, things went a bit pear shaped in the first round on Sunday, as he was out, along with Kelly and Mike Modesto. Lelsz, meanwhile, was having a great weekend despite some slow reaction times, making up for them with some excellent speed by mid-track, picking away until the last challenger left standing was Angel Padilla. These two met in the final, but Lelsz's sluggish off-the-line driving continued. As a result, Padilla walked away with this one, putting his gorgeous '70 Mustang SportsRoof firmly in the winner's circle.

Canny Driving
The 10.60 Street Bandit boys also got down to some fine racing with a packed field of cars, which was very nice to see, along with some old favorites and new contenders. The final round saw Gary Miller and his amazing '53 Ford pickup square off against Brian Warwas. It appeared that, as the race got under way, Miller had it in the bag, running a closer e.t. to the class index (a 10.62 against Warwas' 10.67), but it's often at the tree where it counts and this time Brian cut a quicker light and, in doing so, won.

Street 'Stang regular James Meredith and his Mach 1 were in very good form. In fact, the only thing stopping the march of the Meredith Machine was Cliff Nelson. Still, ol' Nelson had his work cut out for him in the final and couldn't quite match the pace of Meredith and the Mach, who went straight to victory lane with a 12.16 e.t. versus a 12.34 for Nelson.

True Street is always a big deal down in Texas, and well over 70 '79-and-newer Mustangs and Ford vehicles showed up to compete. The fastest of them all on Saturday belonged to William Calcote, who took the win in the Modified Mustangs & Fords True Street Quick 8.

In the Ultra 'Stang ranks, S.D. Wheeler was back in action and put in a superb weekend performance by winning the class when he took out Lloyd Mikeska. Texan Lupe Davilla and his hot SN95 Mustang were the winners out on the sizeable Mod Comp field, while in JDM Tough Truck, regulars Paul Gamino and Jim Roberts battled it out-with Gamino ultimately securing the victory.

Besides the hot on-track action, the vendor's midway was a good one, with plenty of great deals. The swap meet also drew plenty of attention. Despite current economic conditions, it was great to see a good turn-out of fans and car-show participants. When all was said and done, the '08 Texas Thunder Nationals was proof that no matter how things may be at home, there's always time to enjoy cars and go racin.'

FFW Houston '08 Official Results
Performance Two-Way Street Outlaw
Winner: Grant McCrary, 6.882 at 21.66
Runner Up: Conrad Scarry, 8.831 at 119.50

Procharger Renegade
Winner: Angel Padilla, 8.100 at 179.09
Runner Up: Richard Lelsz, 10.955 at 88.32

Borla Street Bandit
Winner: Brian Warwas, 10.671 at 122.42
Runner Up: Gary Miller, 10.628 at 125.53

Harland Sharp Mod Comp
Winner: Lupe Davila, 12.263 at 93.78
Runner Up: Michael Sulzbach, 14.068 at 99.28

RPM Outlet Ultra 'Stang
Winner: S.D. Wheeler 11.310 at 124.91
Runner Up: Lloyd Mikeska 13.190 at 101.14

Saleen Speedlab Street 'Stang
Winner: James Meredith, 12.16 at 105.01
Runner Up: Cliff Nelson, 12.36 at 116.00

JDM Tough Truck
Winner: Paul Gamino, 13.477 at 89.48
Runner Up: Jim Roberts, 16.439 at 86.18

Modified Mustangs & Fords True Street Quick 8
Winner: William Calcote, 10.345 at 131.48
Runner Up: Jason Roberts, 10.631 at 128.52

Bracket Classes
Fast Ford
Winner (Saturday): Chris Josey
Winner (Sunday): Daryl Patton

Quick Ford
Winner (Saturday): Carl Bieber
Winner (Sunday): Lawrence Lohr

Street Ford
Winner (Saturday): Joseph Chadwick
Winner (Sunday): James Green