Huw Evans
February 1, 2009
Contributers: Keith Keplinger, Huw Evans Photos By: Keith Keplinger
18th Annual Buckeye State Fun Ford NationalsDavid Schorr, FFW's '08 Pro Class champ, was looking to solidify his position at Norwalk, but a hard-charging Dale Brinsfield got in the way this time.

By reading this article you're witnessing a part of history. No, Summit Motorsports Park isn't going away, and neither is American Autosports Productions, but this is the last time you'll see an all-Ford contingent racing under the FFW banner. In 2009 the series is expanding to include GM, Chrysler, and AMC vehicles. At a facility that's recognized as one of the best prepped on the circuit, it would be fair to say the last running of the Fun Ford Weekend Buckeye State Nationals went out with a bang.

As always, the heavy hitters drew a lot of attention. Considering we were well on our way through the season, every point would count toward the championship. The Pro boys were out and ready to play, with Dale Brinsfield grabbing the top spot in qualifying, ahead of Chuck DeMory. Incumbent class champion David Schorr would start off in Third.

It's wheels-up for this '64 Galaxie, as the weight transfers rearward and the beefy slicks grab as much traction as they can. Even with a lightened front bumper and teardrop hood, these cars are no bantams. This gives you some idea of the power in that engine bay.

On race day, Brinsfield got a bye in the opening round, as did Second-Place qualifier DeMory when rival Tony Desiderato couldn't get his car to the starting line. Other drivers who advanced to the second round of eliminations included Fifth-Place qualifier Steve Brinegar, who was through when rival Jimmy Keen fouled at the tree. The same also happened with Cale Aronson, who was running against David Schorr. This was a shame as Aronson's run was one of the best in recent memory.

The next round saw an interesting turn when DeMory and Schorr both popped the red light at the start of their race. In the end, one driver had to go through, and due to his smaller foul margin, it was David who made it.

In the other semi-round match-up, Brinsfield and Brinegar were pitted against each other. Steve's somewhat sluggish launch would ultimately prove his undoing, though he did the best he could to catch Brinsfield.

With one more round left, it was the return of the incumbent champ against the hot contender. It proved a close race, but Dale had the edge in speed, blasting through the traps in 6.40 seconds versus 6.52 for Schorr and advancing his chances of a shot at the big prize by the end of the season.

On Saturday afternoon, Neal Alder launches his Fox GT on the way to finishing 10th overall in True Street. Neal's car is not only immaculately turned out, but also a reliable, solid 10-second street driver.

In the Street Outlaw ranks, there was plenty of action, too. All eyes were on '06 class champion Conrad Scarry as he rolled the blue beast off the trailer and burned rubber down the track. He was the fastest in qualifying and proved a force to be reckoned with as eliminations got under way. Like Brinsfield in Pro, Scarry lucked out, getting a bye in the first round while his would-be challenger Zack Posey dispatched Ray Orbas. The other driver to make it through Round 1, Brian Keller, then paired up against Scarry for the semifinals while Posey went solo. In the former heat, it was Scarry all the way as he pushed the pedal to deliver a storming 7.12 against Keller's mid-8-second pass. That left Posey and Scarry paired up for the final. It was a very close run, but Scarry had the edge on traction. Despite a slower trap speed, he bagged a lower e.t. (7.08 versus 7.40) and his second class win of the year.

Wide open
The ProCharger Street Renegade has witnessed a kind of musical chair scenario, with a different victor in each of the first five races of the year. We've seen Travis Franklin, Don Burton, and Ronnie Wilson win, along with Angel Padilla and Joe Morgan taking final-round victories.

Never one to call it quits, Tom Conrad and his trusty Mustang LX coupe (foreground) were at it again in Norwalk, running in Street Bandit and Street Stang. In the latter class he was more successful, making it to the final against Larry Massiola.

At Norwalk it was anybody's guess who would be the last one standing. From the onset it seemed as if it might be Burton once again, who qualified top of the heap. But one thing was apparent-with Travis Franklin a no-show, somebody else might just take the championship lead. As had been seen before, we had another surprise-Mike Modeste, a former NSCA Limited Street class winner. Modeste was paired up against Burton and his silver Fox for the first round of eliminations and drove around Burton to secure his place in the final against Houston winner Angel Padilla. However, Padilla's car broke on launch, leaving Modeste to motor on down to Victory Lane. With this result, it was clear that the Renegade championship was still far from decided.

Mac Sibley has been having a good deal of success since the new Street Bandit 10.60 class was instigated. By Norwalk, Sibley and the Fairmont were still leading the chase, though Maryland's Tom Conrad Jr. was playing catch-up. In this race, the two archrivals were honor bound to meet each other in the semifinals, thanks to their consistent, canny driving. Sibley had been on form since the beginning, putting Josh Bruce on the trailer and then bagging a solo run to face Conrad, who was itching for his first class win of the year. It wasn't to be as Sibley was first out of the gate and ran an amazing 10.60-second e.t.-bang on the class index. With Conrad out, Bob Cottone was the only driver standing between him and victory. Running yet another 10.60 against Bob's 10.70, Mac's win was sweet, to say the least.

For as long as we can remember, Mac Sibley has been running his Fairmont in FFW events and with a great deal of success, too. In the Street Bandit class, he was on form once again, taking out Bob Cottone in the final and solidifying his class championship lead.

Never one to give up, Tom Conrad figured that if he couldn't win in Street Bandit, he'd give it a try in Street Stang. Sure enough, he made it to the final, where he faced Larry Massiola. However, Larry's 11.90 class was almost right on the class index, and Tom, although faster, broke out of the 11.90 running an 11.86. So there was more frustration for the Maryland driver at Norwalk. Well, at least he was still leading the championship.

Double Breakout
Over in Ultra Stang, it probably wasn't surprising to see S.D. Wheeler making waves. In Round 1 he was paired up against Paul Gamino. Despite both drivers breaking out of their index (11.33), Wheeler was the lesser offender. This left him to go against Pete Espeut in the final. Though Espeut was clearly on the charge, he got ahead of himself, breaking out of his dial while trying to make up for a somewhat sluggish start. That meant that the win was Wheeler's for the taking, solidifying his position as class championship leader.

In the Tremec-sponsored True Street class, around 90 cars showed up to run best out of three. Pennsylvania's Derek Bellotti was the top 11-second winner, thanks to a pair of 10.6s in his second and third rounds. Longtime readers on the Modified side will recognize this '86 GT as a former feature car.

In the Mod Comp class, a sizeable field of cars and drivers showed up for their best shot at the title. The two who pushed the hardest were Shane Williams and Geb Pizzo. By the semis only these two and Mike Kahl were still in the running, with Williams running against him and Pizzo catching a bye. Unfortunately for Kahl, his eagerness caused him to red-light at the tree, putting him out of contention and leaving Williams to motor away to his final showdown against Pizzo. Here, once again, Lady Luck smiled on Williams as Pizzo jumped the bulb, not only giving Shane the win, but also tying him for the lead in the points chase, alongside Jon Pickering.

The Tough Truck class saw regular contender Paul Gamino stand his ground against a challenge from Bob Dill, who qualified first and then proceeded to systematically take out the rest of the field. In the final, these two lined up, ready to give it their best. Paul was fastest out of the gate and from there didn't look back, running a 13.68 to secure the win-this despite the fact that both drivers broke out. Like S.D. Wheeler in Ultra Stang, Gamino claimed his third class win of the season.

Like past years in Norwalk, True Street saw a huge turnout-over 85 cars. The quickest of the lot was Marty Merillat, who scored an outstanding 8.70 average. His best run of the day was an 8.62 in Round 2.

With Norwalk wrapped, the FFW series heads for Bristol, Tennessee, where just about anything can happen.

Fun {{{Ford}}} Weekend 18th Annual Buckeye State Nationals
Official Results
{{{Probe}}} Industries Pro 5.0
Winner: Dale Brinsfield6.40 @ 222.11 mph
Runner up: David Schorr6.52 @ 216.17 mph
Performance 2way Street Outlaw
Winner: Conrad Scarry7.08 @ 193.32 mph
Runner up: Zack Posey7.40 @ 199.46 mph
Procharger Street Renegade
Winner: Mike Modeste7.79 @ 186.59 mph
Runner up: Angel Padilla Broke 
Borla Street Bandit
Winner: Mac Sibley10.60 @ 118.59 mph
Runner up: Bob Cottone10.70 @ 124.14 mph
Harland Sharp Mod Comp
Winner: Shane Williams12.31 @ 107.{{{80}}} mph
Runner up: Geb Pizzo10.35 @ 131.95 mph
RPM Outlet Ultra Stang
Winner: S.D. Wheeler11.38 @ 123.19 mph
Runner up: Pete Espeut11.60 @ 104.31 mph
Saleen Speedlab Street Stang
Winner: Larry Massiola11.{{{90}}} @ 117.09 mph
Runner up: Tom Conrad Jr.11.86 @ 110.37 mph
JDM Tough {{{Truck}}}
Winner: Paul Gamino13.68 @ {{{100}}}.67 mph
Runner up: Bob Dill10.96 @ 125.65 mph
True Street
Winner: Marty Merillat8.70 avg.
Runner up: Tim Casto9.36 avg.