Michael Galimi
August 3, 2007
Photos By: Steve Baur

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The NMRA Drag Racing series and Show Car Spectacular fired up its seven-event season in sunny Florida at Bradenton Motorsports Park in early March. There was great expectation in the heads-up ranks, and fans packed the stands to watch heavy competition in everything from Pro 5.0 to the mid-11-second Factory Stockers. In total, there were over 80 heads-up cars and many more in the Open Comp, Mod Motor, and truck classes. This led to excitement in qualifying and tight racing action, with many races being won on holeshots. This was also the first event for the MM&FF/Hedman Hedders True Street, and nearly 70 cars competed.

When the crowd wasn't watching the tight racing action, they were cruising the manufacturer's midway as 72 vendors offered the latest in go-fast goodies, collectibles, and Ford- and Mustang-related merchandise. The car show also offered event attendees a chance to see nearly 300 sparkling Ford machines. The show grounds were filled with Fords of all models and years-especially late-model Mustangs

The highlight of the weekend's racing was in the Pro 5.0 category, where Vortech Superchargers hosted a Big Bucks Invitational Shootout on Saturday that ran concurrently with qualifying rounds. The top eight racers from 2006 were invited to partici-pate. They were put on an elimination ladder based on points from last year. After each round, the winner advanced and the runner-up was eliminated. Vortech awarded Michael Hauf, defending category champion, $5,000 for his Shootout win. The company's Race and Media Relations Manager, Ricky Best, threw a challenge to Hauf and said if he doubled up by winning the event on Sunday, Vortech would pay him a $10,000 bonus.

The drama ran high as Hauf accepted the challenge. His mountain motor-powered Mustang ran consistently in the 6.60s thanks to the efforts of his crew. Hauf did his job as a driver by winning the second-round matchup on a holeshot against noted engine builder and racer Tony Bischoff. The B.E.S. head honcho ran a 6.62 to Hauf's 6.68-it was Hauf's 0.004 reaction time versus Bischoff's 0.089 light that was the deciding factor. The trip back to Iowa was easier as the Hauf crew left $20,000 richer in prize money and with another $5,000 or so in contingency sponsor winnings.

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The Vortech Shootout was thrilling, but it was only a small portion of the on-track excitement. As NMRA's quickest naturally aspirated class, Hot Street looked more like an NHRA Pro Stock field than a street-legal class. In qualifying, the 8.80s were being slapped up on the board, but then Charlie Booze Jr. went to the top with an 8.79, which was the first 8.7-anything in Hot Street. The com-petition was extremely tight, so much so that the top two qualifiers (Charlie Booze Jr. and Andy Schmidt) lost in the first round. Several competitors ran deep into the 8.80s without the use of a power adder and running on real 10.5-inch slicks.

Super Street Outlaw, aka the 10.5-Inch-Tire Freak Show, had mid-7-second performances from the nitrous, turbo, and supercharger camps. It was a 190-mph slugfest that defending series champion John Urist won over Manny Buginga.

Going fast on legit street tires is the name of the game in Drag Radial. Competitors are practically forced to run solely on BFGoodrich Drag Radial tires, and that keeps the competition close and the times in the eight-second zone. Two racers in particular pushed the class to eight-oh performances. John Kolivas ('06 class champion) and Chris Tuten ('05 class champion) were the talk of the category as they punished the competition with their turbo cars. Other heads-up category winners included Tim Matherly in Real Street, Brad Meadows in Pure Street, and newcomer Tommy Godfrey in Factory Stock.

The NMRA offers three open-comp-style categories that do a great job of catching cars that don't fit into the specific heads-up classes. This format uses a Pro-Tree starting light, and racers qualify based on reaction time instead of e.t. performance. The rules allow for a 1/10 of a second breakout rule (using your qualifying time as an index). Open Comp is open to any Ford vehicle using a Ford powerplant. The Modular Muscle eliminator restricts competitors to Ford vehicles powered by modular engines only. The final category-Truck and Lightning-is self-explanatory.

Roush Performance-sponsored Don Bowles took his yellow '05 Roush Stang to victory in Open Comp. His quick Roush Stage III runs deep in the 9s with a 5.4 Ford GT engine that's backed by a G-Force five-speed. The king of the Modular Muscle shootout was Derek Kernodle with his 12-second '96 Cobra. Jim Roberts in his '03 Lightning claimed the heavy-hauler big prize with low-12-second performances.

The Bradenton opener was a great way to kick off racing, the car shows, True Street, and overall Mustang mania. Now let the fun begin.

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Winners of NMRA {{{Ford}}} Spring Nationals presented by Nitto Tire
Class Name Performance
DiabloSport Pro 5.0 Michael Hauf 6.68 at 210 mph
MSD Ignition Super Street Outlaw John Urist 7.{{{62}}} at 183 mph
BF Goodrich Drag Radial John Kolivas 8.02 at 175 mph
ProCharger EFI-Renegade Bart Tobener 9.76 at 110 mph
Edelbrock Hot Street Robert Blankenship 8.79 at 149 mph
Real Street Tim Matherly 9.87 at 130 mph
TTC Tremec Pure Street Brad Meadows 10.31 at 129 mph
K&N Filters Factory Stock Tommy Godfrey 11.62 at 116 mph
Crane Cams Open Comp Don Bowles 9.30 at 140 mph
Roush Performance Modular Muscle Derek Kernodle 12.20 at 111 mph
Detroit Locker {{{Truck}}} & Lightning Jim Roberts 12.71 at 99 mph