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World Ford Challenge - Racing To The Power Of X
10 Years Of World Ford Challenge Lunacy Has Led To Big Bucks And Prestige At O'Reilly Raceway Park In Indianapolis.
A decade of decadence has passed as World Ford Challenge celebrated the 10th running of the annual Ford event, sponsored by Mobil 1. Super-promoter George Gonzales switched venues for 2007 and brought his wild show to the mecca of motorsports known simply as Indy. The O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis is host to the most prestigious drag race in the world-the NHRA U.S. Nationals-and now it's the home of World Ford Challenge. The switch in racing facilities has allowed racers the chance to do battle on what is considered the hallowed ground of drag racing.
Since day one, Gonzales has always dazzled the racers and fans with outstanding payouts, and this year was no exception. WFC officials guaranteed big bucks in Pro Mod 5.0 where the winner walked away with $40,000 in stone-cold cash. The Edelbrock Street Outlaw and Vortech Pro Outlaw categories awarded each king of the hill with a $10,000 payday, while the Outlaw Drag Radial champion pocketed $5,000. Nitto Wild Street rewarded the winner of the open road with a cool $3,000. In addition to those heads-up classes, the pits were packed with a variety of Open Comp-style categories, truck-specific racing classes, and the usual assortment of bracket showdown eliminators.
Pro Mod 5.0 is the headliner at WFC, and we have watched this class progress from the 7.90 range in 1998 (WFC 1) down to the 6.30s turned in by this year's champion, Chuck Samuel. Evolution has helped push the competitors from basic back-half cars to full-on Pro Stock and Pro Modified-style efforts in less than 10 years. Variety is apparent in the pits as racers utilize twin-turbocharged and supercharged small-blocks, IHRA Pro Stock engines, and big-block Fords on nitrous to push their Ford entries deep into the 6-second zone with blistering speeds as high as 224 mph. The Pro Mod 5.0 field represents the ultimate in doorslammer racing as the Mustangs battled with Escorts, Cougars, and other Ford-bodied cars. In the end, Samuel came out on top of the field packed with IHRA Pro Stocks, Pro Mod rides, and Pro 5.0 racers. He fired off a 6.36 at 224 mph in the final to nail down his second WFC class title for team owner Kevin Marsh.
Vortech Pro Outlaw is every bit as wild as Pro Mod 5.0 and allows virtually any Ford powerplant under the hood. The handicap comes in the form of chassis and tire restrictions along with higher minimum weights. Pro Outlaw mimics the wildly popular Outlaw 10.5 scene-the upper echelon of the street-legal drag racing segment that is so popular across the United States and Canada. Competitors run back-half chassis combinations and roll on 33x10.5W slicks.
The talk of Pro Outlaw was Billy Glidden and his newly revamped Mustang. He was the lone nitrous car in a field full of turbocharged entries. Glidden pocketed the cash as he rolled to a stellar 6.90 at 202 mph, winning over Ed Rice.
Edelbrock was back in 2007 to sponsor the Street Outlaw racers who competed on tiny 28x10.5-inch slicks. No "W" tires are allowed, and the 28x10.5 size is as measured-but don't let the size trick you. The top runners were in the 7.40s at speeds well over 190 mph. Sam Vincent dominated the field of nitrous, blown, and turbocharged competitors. His lightweight notchback Mustang was flawless, and he took out Travis Franklin in the final round with a 7.47.
Outlaw Drag Radial racing is not for the faint of heart as racers stuff 2,000hp engines under the hood and run on DOT-legal drag radial tires and stock suspensions. ProCharger posted the big bucks for these radical radial runners.
The Outlaw Drag Radial ranks grew when Ryan Martin had problems on the Wild Street cruise. He quickly entered this eliminator, qualified fourth, and ran as quick as 7.81 in eliminations-which is moving for a street car. His Cinderella story ended in the semifinals when his '92 GT smoked the tires. Newcomer Nick Owens of Lafayette, Louisiana, took home the big prize of $5,000 by defeating Corey Berry and his '03 Cobra-7.96 to a traction-limited 9.61.
WFC officials took the popular MM&FF True Street Challenge and added a little twist. The group performed the 30-mile cruise and the industry standard of three consecutive passes without the benefit of a cooldown. The average e.t. of those performances is used to qualify the racers, which are then run off in eliminations on Sunday. It has been affectionately nicknamed Wild Street, and Nitto Tire stands behind this category. The participants compete heads up and go for the glory in no-breakout elimination rounds. Some competitors have actually run in the mid-sevens in years past, but this year's group of racers was solidly in the eight-second zone. The last man standing was New Mexico's Frank Varela and his turbocharged '91 Mustang GT. He knocked down low-nine-second runs as he fought to keep his DOT-tire-equipped ride hooked up on the tricky track surface.
While the heads-up action was blazing hot, WFC also features a large bracket showdown category, sponsored by Performance Automatic, with a variety of classes to suit all types of racecars. The Open Comp eliminator rewarded the winner with a hefty $3,000 check. Paxton Modular Street followed the Open Comp-style format and pitted modular-powered Mustangs against each other. Our very own Ford Performance Trucks magazine sponsored three truck categories: Street Lightning, Pro Lightning, and Diesel Challenge.
If racing isn't your thing, then the massive show grounds is sure to have a group of Fords that interest you. WFC also offers a huge manufacturers' midway that was packed with sweet deals and a chance to meet face-to-face with manufacturer and speed shop representatives.
World Ford Challenge continues to carry the torch as the annual bash that brings together both NMRA and FFW racers to see who's king of the strip in the Ford world.