Rod Short
April 1, 2009

Step By Step

Mdmp_0904_01_z New_england_ffw_nationals Procharge
Defending champ Travis Franklin regained the points lead in the Street Renegade championship points race at Epping with a first-round win over Charlie Guilbault. Franklin's ProCharger powered small-block won earlier in the year at Richmond.
Mdmp_0904_02_z New_england_ffw_nationals Mustang_hatch
In heads-up index action, local racer Bob Dugan ran closer to the 10.60 Street Bandit index with a 10.623, but was beaten to the finish line by Nick Bonang, thanks in large part to a 0.047-second holeshot.
Mdmp_0904_03_z New_england_ffw_nationals Small_block_procharger
Mike Trimandilis made his first Fun Ford appearance worthwhile as he took his small-block ProCharger-powered car to the Street Renegade finals at New England Dragway. Trimandilis ran a career best 195 mph on a true 10.5 tire in qualifying Second before losing to Don Burton in the finals.
Mdmp_0904_04_z New_england_ffw_nationals Twin_turbo_street_car
S.D. Wheeler made his sixth final round of the year in RPM Outlet Ultra Stang and put another nail in the coffin lid as he locked up the '08 season championship in his twin-turbo street car.

Winning an event on the Fun Ford tour is something special. Winning more than once in a year can be called extraordinary. Winning more than once in the same weekend is simply phenomenal. Fans saw drivers in all three categories during Fun Ford's 14th annual visit to New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.

Headlining this event was the tight points battle in ProCharger Street Renegade. Six different drivers have won in the seven races leading up to this event, with Angel Padilla emerging as the point's leader at the last race. Padilla's lead proved to be short lived, however, as he destroyed his car in a single car crash in the previous race at Bristol. While every assurance was made that he would find a way to make it to New England in time with his backup car, Padilla and crew were no where to be seen when tech opened Friday. This left the door wide open for defending champ Travis Franklin to reassert himself in the championship race.

Yet, by placing Fourth in the field with a 7.950 at 183.42 mph, Franklin would have his hands full if he was going to gain any headway in the championship battle. Sitting ahead of him were two-time event winner Don Burton with a 7.515, newcomer Mike Trimandilis with a 7.664, and four-time NSCA Limited Street champ Mike Modeste with a 7.761 at 187.68 mph. Rounding out the field of eight cars were Steve Hall, former NMCA Street Race champ Tim Meagher, Nick Bouneau, and Charlie Guilbault, who was running in a '93 Lightning pickup truck.

Franklin picked up the points lead once again in the first round when he defeated Guilbault in the opening round while Burton made quick business of getting by Steve Hall with a 7.548. Trimandilis then overcame Meagher's 0.010 holeshot to win 7.749 to 7.839. In a huge upset, Bouneau then got around Modeste after the latter broke. With just one points event to go, that loss effectively ended Modeste's chances for his first Fun Ford season title.

In the semifinals, Franklin took a shot at the tree when he faced off against Trimandilis and nailed a 0.008 reaction time only to get nipped at the finish line with a 7.778 to 7.721 loss. Burton then took an easy win to advance to his fourth final in a row as Bouneau took an even bigger gamble and lost on a red light.

With Burton facing Trimandilis, the finals were filled with intrigue. Burton's nitrous car has been all but unstoppable in his four appearances this year, with only one loss. That one defeat, however, was to a ProCharger engine combination, which is exactly what Trimandilis had used to post his fastest-ever speed at 195 mph earlier at this event. Trimandilis grabbed a 0.041 advantage at the start, but Burton's 7.626 e.t. was enough to overcome his lead and grab the win light over his 7.753 at 190.81. It was Burton's second victory in a row, but more important was the fact that it came with a $10,000 paycheck.

Borla Street Bandit had its share of drama at this event as well. With just a 41-point lead, three-time event winner Mac Sibley elected not to make the long trip up from Texas, which left him vulnerable in his quest to successfully defend last year's championship. Tom Conrad Jr., enjoying his well-earned title as the hardest working man in drag racing, was there with the opportunity to close the gap and even surpass Sibley with just one more points event to go. It wasn't meant to be though, as Norwalk runner-up Bob Cottone ended Conrad Jr.'s day in the first round. Cottone's 0.100 holeshot forced Conrad Jr. into a 10.512 breakout on the 10.60 class index in a vain attempt to catch up.

Step By Step

Mdmp_0904_05_z New_england_ffw_nationals Engine_showMdmp_0904_06_z New_england_ffw_nationals Broken_inlet_tube
A broken inlet tube ended Mustang Mike Modeste's weekend early as well as his chances for the season championship in ProCharger Street Renegade in his Manhattan Ford-sponsored car. Modeste is rumored to be experimenting with a twin blower combination for next year.
Mdmp_0904_07_z New_england_ffw_nationals Shleby_gt500
After finishing a 30-mile cruise, Kevin Volk finished Third in True Street qualifying with a 10.672 average and then won the True Street Quick 8 program on Saturday with this venomous looking Shelby GT500.
Mdmp_0904_08_z New_england_ffw_nationals Orange_mustangs

Conrad Jr.'s loss opened the door for series regular Joe Marini to jump back into contention for the class championship, who came into this event sitting Third in points. Marini did his part as he got by a sleeping Demih Sahila with a huge 2-plus-second holeshot. In other first round action, every other winner used a holeshot as well to win as Nick Bonang defeated Chip Meally, Marc Holten got by Jeff Pulaski, and Bob Dugan whipped Glen Misturado.

Marini saw the door of opportunity slam in his face in the next round, however, as Bob Dugan forced Marini into a breakout with a solid 0.059 starting line advantage. Nick Bonang then defeated a red-lighting Cottone, while Marc Holten advanced on a bye. After Holten was eliminated in the semifinals, the event championship got down to two New Englanders with Bonang and Dugan. Bonang launched first with a 0.019 light and ran a 10.646 at 135.32 mph, which was good for the win as Dugan's better 10.623 was negated by his slower reaction at the start. While the finals had no effect on the series title chase, it no doubt left Mac Sibley breathing a little easier when he saw that Conrad Jr. nor Marini made it to the finals.

In Fun Ford's other heads-up index class, Tom Conrad Jr. had his way again, as he has with his competition all year. Conrad Jr. qualified Second and got by Ken Durphily and arch nemesis Jim D'Amore III to make it to another final against Manny Saafta. Conrad's 0.329 holeshot meant the end of the line for Saafta and another victory for Conrad Jr., who entered this event with the class championship already locked up.

With five victories in seven events, Harland Sharp Mod Comp has been dominated this year by the Jon Pickering father/son team and Shane Williams. Each takes a different approach as points leader Jon M. Pickering uses a low-9-second Mustang II, father Jon N. Pickering runs a slower 11-second Maverick, and Shane Williams uses a mid 12-second late-model Mustang. The quicker Pickering qualified first in the field of 17 cars and then met up with Williams in the third round of what would be an important battle in terms of the class championship. Pickering's red light saved Williams from going home after he broke out with a 12.091 on a 12.14 dial-in. On the other side of the frame, Jacob Conant beat Mike Kuhl with a holeshot even though Kuhl ran closer to his dial-in. In the finals, Williams nailed a 0.006 light and used a 12.276 on a 12.14 dial to win it all over Conant's 10.991 on a 10.80 dial-in.

RPM Outlet Ultra Stang, which is a class devoted exclusively to '05-and-later Mustangs, has been a battleground all year between S.D. Wheeler and Paul Gamino. Wheeler, the '06 class champ, had four victories, while Gamino had one with JDM Engineering's incredible 10-second 25th Anniversary Saleen, which represents a $100,000 investment in stock form. Gamino qualified first with the Saleen Speedlab powered car by running a 10.318 at 136.70 mph. Sean Mackin was second with a 10.731 with Bill Jaynes, Wheeler and Nathan Meserve, Jr. rounding out the top five qualifiers.

During eliminations, Jaynes got by a red-lighting Dave Saunders while Meserve Jr. pulled a mild upset in beating Mackin with a holeshot. Wheeler advanced past James Brown while Gamino enjoyed a single bye run. In the semifinals, Meserve red-lighted against Wheeler, and Gamino used a holeshot to send Jaynes back up north to Maine. In another classic Gamino-versus-Wheeler duel, Wheeler's hopes for another win were dashed by a starting line miscue that gave Gamino his second win of the year. Wheeler still has his second championship in just three years locked up, however, on the strength of his previous wins this year.

Robert Chuhran has found JDM Engineering Tough Truck to be more than a little tough on him this year as he left New England Dragway bitterly disappointed. Chuhran, who has won twice earlier this year, came into Epping in Second Place just a mere seven points behind leader Paul Gamino. Chuhran desperately needed to outpace Gamino at this event if he was going to make the trip from his Michigan home down to the season finale in Ennis, Texas. It didn't happen, however, as Chuhran had a -0.007 red light against Gerry Van Veen who stumbled out of the gate with a 0.229 reaction time of his own. Van Veen would go on to the finals where he met and lost to Gamino to grab a stranglehold lead in the season championship points race. Depending on whose shoes you were standing in, it was either a tough loss or a great win that day.

Step By Step

Mdmp_0904_09_s New_england_ffw_nationals Blue_mustang
Shane Williams made some money over the weekend at Epping, as he won in Harland Sharp Mod Comp as well as in Saturday's Fast Ford. It was Shane's third win for the year, which is tops for the category.
Mdmp_0904_10_z New_england_ffw_nationals Single_turbo_mustang
Former NMCA Street Race champ Tim Meagher came to Epping with a brand-new single-turbo combination on drag radials to contend for the $10,000 prize in Street Renegade, but lost a close race to Mike Trimandilis in the opening round.
Mdmp_0904_11_z New_england_ffw_nationals Tom_conrad_mustang
Tom Conrad Jr.'s dream season continued at Epping as he wrapped up the Street Stang season championship with a win at Epping. Conrad Jr. also won Street Ford on both days to make his weekend even sweeter.
Mdmp_0904_12_z New_england_ffw_nationals Tom_burton_mustang
With three wins in four FFW appearances and a new national record, Don Burton has established himself as one of the top true 10.5 nitrous racers this year. Burton won the $10,000 top prize in ProCharger Street Renegade at New England Dragway.
14TH Annual New England FFW Nationals Results
Heads-Up No Breakout Classes
Procharger Street Renegade
Winner: Don Burton7.{{{626}}} @ 195.42
Runner-up: Mike Trimandilis7.753 @ 190.81
True Street Quick 8
Winner: Kevin Volk10.217 @ 143.54
Runner-up: Artie Darling10.474 @ 136.33
Heads-Up Index Classes
Borla Performance Street Bandit
Winner: Nick Bonang10.646 @ 135.32
Runner-up: Bob Dugan10.623 @ N/A
Saleen Speedlab Street Stang
Winner: Tom Conrad Jr.12.261 @ 84.72
Runner-up: Manny Saafta12.434 @ N/A
Showdown Bracket Classes
Harland Sharp Mod Comp
Winner: Shane Williams12.276 @ 101.74
Runner-up: Jacob Conant10.991 @ N/A
Rpm Outlet Ultra Stang
Winner: Paul Gamino11.441 @ 88.78
Runner-up: S.D. WheelerNO TIME
JDM Engineering Tough {{{Truck}}}
Winner: Paul Gamino13.738 @ 88.60
Runner-up: Gerry {{{Van}}} Veen14.557 @ N/A
True Street
Winner: David Bramhall13.334 @ 101.87
Runner-up: Rob Hathaway11.985 @ 124.20
ET Bracket Classes
Fast {{{Ford}}}SaturdaySunday
Winner:Shane WilliamsVincent LaRossa
Runner-up:Carl RavesiCarl Ravesi
Quick FordSaturdaySunday
Winner:Jim ReidGil Merolli
Runner-up:Lance NormanChuck Tersolo
Street FordSaturdaySunday
Winner:Tom Conrad Jr.Tom Conrad Jr.
Runner-up:Paul AndersonDan Cassie
True Street Results-winner by Avg. Time
NameAvg. Time
Phil Potvin10.241
Matt Peery11.422
Tom Joyce12.007