Rod Short
March 1, 2009
Photos By: Keith Keplinger
What would a drag race event be without the popular nighttime jet car exhibition run? Young or old, people race to the stands when they hear that jet turbine start up.

Fun Ford's annual stopover in Bristol, Tennessee, has always been one of the best stops on the tour. Bristol Dragway ranks among the top 10 tracks in the country while the location also offers an easy drive for racers and fans coming from many directions. It also represents the spiritual home for many door-slammer fanatics as this was the same area where bootleggers gained fame as they ran from the law in their souped-up hot rods.

However, there was a lot more than just hot rods at this 17th annual FFW Thunder Valley Nationals. A great swap meet, manufacturer's midway, car corral, live musical entertainment, two-day car show and, oh yes, a race all took place at once. Best yet, this event represented an annual get-together for a lot of racers and fans that don't see each other during any other time of the year. Several new faces were competing this year as Seth Johnson and Mike Bellew made their debuts. Todd Amandus made another appearance in his camouflage-colored Mustang with Dennis Lugo making the tuning calls.

In the opening round of eliminations, Johnson took out Amandus 7.165 to 7.623 to pick up his first career win in eliminations while Schorr battered Bellew 6.581 to 8.680. Brinsfield singled with a 6.450. Round two saw Johnson slow to an 8.162 against Brinsfield's 6.492 while Schorr got the bye to set up another final round between the pair. Schorr, who's been in every final this season, launched hard against Brinsfield, but had to shut off when the car went sideways as Brinsfield sped to a 6.450 at 219.65 mph to grab his second win of the year.

Performance 2-Way Communications saw Frank Mewshaw grab his first career pole and his first final round in this eighth-mile Battle of the Brands, but a victory was just not meant to be as he was unable to make it to the line. John Choate, making his second appearance of the year in Terry Taylor's nitrous Mustang, ran a solid 4.728 at 155.96, but fell to a foul start as points leader Conrad Scarry ran a 4.579 at 160.65. With Mewshaw unable to make the call, Scarry dodged a bullet as a broken camshaft kept him from making a competitive run. Even so, it was another victory as Scarry appears to have clinched the season championship with just one more race to go.

In ProCharger Street Renegade, it was a showdown between the six different true 10.5 winners as all six of the previous winners were represented in the nine-car field. Sam Vincent was the low qualifier with a 7.569 at 181.81. In eliminations, Joe Morgan upset defending class champ Travis Franklin while Angel Padilla and Mike Modeste defeated John Worley and Steve Angell respectively. Don Burton then took out former champ Ronnie Wilson as Vincent got the bye into the next round.

Disaster struck in round two as Padilla, who had just assumed the points lead from Franklin, crashed hard against Vincent and destroyed his new car, which had just made its debut at this race. That round actually took two cars out of eliminations as Vincent hurt his engine on that pass and had to retire from further competition. Former NSCA Limited Street champ Modeste then took out Joe Morgan while Burton got a single. In the end Modeste made his second final round in a row after winning at Norwalk, but it was Burton in the winner's circle as he became the first driver to pick up his second event win of the year in Renegade.

Other heads-up Showdown winners included Mac Sibley taking a big win over Tom Conrad Jr. in Borla Street Bandit. In grabbing his second consecutive event win of the year at Bristol, Sibley was able to leave Bristol with a 39-point lead over Conrad despite missing the first event of the year. Conrad, on the other hand, was the winner in Saleen Speedlab Street Stang as the "hardest working man in motorsports" padded the points lead in that class.

Step By Step

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Mdmp_0903_13_z Ffw_thunder_valley_nationals Procharger
Former NSCA Limited Street champ Mike Modeste seems to have found a new home in Fun Ford as he made his second consecutive final round in Renegade. The Brooklyn, New York-based team uses a ProCharger blown small-block combination for power.
Mdmp_0903_14_z Ffw_thunder_valley_nationals Strret_renegade
Don Burton has led a small contingent of nitrous cars over from NMRA to ProCharger Street Renegade this season with great success as he became the first driver to win his second event of the year at Bristol.

In the Showdown bracket classes, local driver Van Greer was the winner in Mod Comp versus veteran Shane Williams while S.D. Wheeler grabbed his fourth win in seven events in RPM Outlet Ultra Stang competition. JDM Engineering Tough Truck saw hired gun Paul Gamino not only take the win over defending champ Don Justus, but also assume a narrow points lead in the championship points race as well.

With the Battle of the Brands being contested in nearly every class, it was an even better event this year as Ford drivers took on all comers and still won every class.

17th Thunder Valley FFW Nationals Official Results

Heads-Up No Breakout Classes
Probe Pro
Winner: Dale Brinsfield6.450 @ 219.65
Runner up: David Schorr13.708 @ 77.98
Performance 2-Way Street Outlaw (1/8 Mile)
Winner: Conrad Scarry8.260 @ 72.43
Runner up: Frank MewshawBroke
Procharger Street Renegade
Winner: Don Burton7.664 @ 187.03
Runner up: Mike Modeste8.466 @ 179.73
True Street Quick 8
Winner: Tracy SilverNo Info
Runner up: No InfoN/A

Heads-Up Index Classes
Borla Performance Street Bandit
Winner: Mac Sibley10.568 @ 125.37
Runner up: Tom Conrad Jr.10.{{{760}}} @ 122.76
Saleen Speedlab Street Stang
Winner: Tom Conrad Jr.12.007 @ 115.02
Runner up: Jim D'Amore11.925 @ 111.77
Showdown Bracket Classes
Harland Sharp Mod Comp
Winner: Van Greer10.811 @ 123.73
Runner up: Shane Williams12.604 @ 104.95
RPM Outlet Ultra Stang
Winner: S.D. Wheeler11.552 @ 119.81
Runner up: Paul Gamino10.488 @ 130.53
JDM Engineering Tough Truck
Winner: Paul Gamino13.876 @ 99.20
Runner up: Don Justus10.830 @ 110.33
Champion Fiberglass $5K Challenge
Winner: Dale SandersN/A
Runner up: David HigginsN/A
True Street Results - Winner by Average Time
NameAvg. Times
Tracy Silver9.293
Jonathan Williams10.899
Darryl Buckner11.984
Jim Statzak12.084
Chris Vining13.031
Jason Ryan14.084