Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
November 1, 2009
Photos By: Paul Rosner

The NMRA, for those of you that aren't aware, also owns the NMCA (National Muscle Car Association). The NMCA offers heads up and bracket-style racing, along with a car show, just like the NMRA, but it's open to all makes and models. For the fourth year now the NMRA Keystone Automotive Nationals and NMCA Edelbrock Hot Rod & Muscle Car Nationals have joined forces to offer the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, sponsored by Nitto Tires in Joliet, Illinois, at the infamous Route 66 Raceway. This combined event not only offers a refreshing view from the burnout box, but there are actually two separate car shows going on at the same event offering plenty of eye candy to look at. Let's not forget the huge burnout contest and staggering manufacturer's mid-way and swap meet areas, this is one of the few events on the NMRA schedule you really don't want to miss.

As usual, Modified Mustangs & Fords was there to check out the action, capture some of the best cars on film, and award our Editor's Choice award that we present at each NMRA event. We also wandered over to the starting line for a little track action too (hey, we like our race cars as much as our show cars around here) and pro lensman Paul Rosner did his usual killer job for us. So check out the photos and imagine them on the front of a "wish you were here" postcard and hopefully we'll see you there next year!

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Modified Mustangs & Fords Editor's Choice
John LAMB'S '56 Thunderbird
John Lamb's story might sound familiar to many of us. As a youth in 1956 he had a paper route and he'd pedal past one of his customers every morning who had a brand-new '56 T-Bird in the driveway. He thought to himself "I'll own one of those someday." Unfortunately that day didn't come until 1995 and even then the '56 he purchased was far from looking like new. No, the little 'Bird had been hit hard in the front, destroying the sheetmetal and frame horns and the previous owner had even started parting the car out, already selling off the drivetrain. John's labor of love didn't really start until 2000, when he unfortunately was going through a rather tough divorce. The next four years working on the T-Bird with his son, Jeff, were, in some ways, therapy for him. Again, something I think we can all relate to in one form or another.

John and his son spent quality time in the garage putting the 'Bird back together with such niceties as a Fatman Fabrication front frame clip with Mustang II suspension and Air Ride. Out back a 3.50-geared 9-inch in a four-link setup, also on Air Ride, was used for great cruising, and to give the T-Bird's ride height an instant change of stance when John felt like it. It's not all looks for this 'Bird either, as Jeff built his dad a nice small-block from a '94 5.0L roller block and topped it with a Kenne Bell Flowzilla blower, SCT 90mm mass-air meter, Brodix aluminum heads, and 42-lb/hr Ford Racing injectors for a dyno-tested 412 hp at 5,800 rpm. Master Power four-wheel disc brakes slow the 'Bird's flight down safely. The exterior features custom hood louvers, Titanium PPG base/clear applied by XCaliber Auto Restorations and polished Torque Thrust IIs.

While John's T-Bird has "show car" written all over it, don't for a second think this 'Bird is babied. John drive's the car as much as he can, often deep into the fall months with the added hardtop, and his daughter Jeriann has been known to borrow dad's toy to pickup his grandson at school on special occasions. He tells us he's about to start working on a '61 Unibody Ford pickup and has plans for a modular V-10 with twin turbos, again with the help of his son Jeff. We can't wait to see that one, and just like John's T-Bird, which took a First Place in the Thunderbird class at Joliet (besides our Editor's Choice), we're sure the Unibody will be an award winning ride as well.