Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Ford Mustang Motor City Mayhem
NMRA Has A Quarter-Mile Assault In Ford's Backyard At Milan Dragway.
Mustang and Ford fans are some of the most loyal in the automotive hobby. We flat-out love the Blue Oval and all that surrounds it, so when the NMRA announced it was bringing its traveling Keystone Ford Drag Racing and Show Car series to Ford's backyard, it got our juices flowing. The weekend was painted blue at Milan Dragway-just 45 minutes from Dearborn-as all sorts of Ford fanatics and companies came to celebrate on the 1,320 and the show grounds. Roush Performance had a strong presence along with Ford Racing Performance Parts, Saleen, and dozens of vendors selling everything from T-shirts to cylinder heads.
On-track excitement featured the rain-delayed finals from NMRA's previous event held at Silver Dollar Raceway (Reynolds, Georgia). Elimination run-offs occurred during qualifying, not requiring any extra runs by the competitors and delay the Milan program. NMRA also had a bonus eliminator for the Pure Street category as the top eight points earners from 2006 competed in the B&M/Hurst/McLeod Shootout. That action was in addition to the nine heads-up classes, three Open Comp-style categories, and the True Street Challenge, presented by your favorite Mustang magazine-MM&FF.
The racers were coming off a month-long break, and many of them took the time to optimize their combinations. Combine that with great track conditions at Milan Dragway and it equaled quick performances. The program was also enhanced with Vortech Outlaw 10.5, a class that runs part-time on the NMRA schedule. Eight wild 10.5W style cars hit the track, and many of them clicked off runs in the low-7-second zone at over 200 mph in street-legal trim. Perennial Outlaw 10.5 racer Brian Carpenter took down local favorite Greg Blevins in a turbocharged battle. Carpenter won with his twin-turbocharged monster running a 7.17 at 206 mph. [Ed. Note: Ford Racing also had an invitational race for magazine editors, in which Mike Galimi did quite well, making it to the semifinals.]
DiabloSport Pro 5.0 dazzled the crowd with side-by-side mid-6-second runs. Defending series champion Michael Hauf held on tightly as his mountain-motor Mustang skated down the track. He won the final round with a 6.69 over the Motive Gear entry of Joe Morgan. As usual, the MSD Ignition Super Street Outlaw category was the crowd favorite as 17 racers duked it out in the mid-7s while approaching 190 mph. The 28x10.5 tire limitation and virtually unrestricted engine combinations provided tight racing and daredevil-like antics. Kentucky's Sam Vincent proved to be the big dog of the weekend by running sub-7.50s and taking the win against Don Burton in the final round.
Edelbrock Hot Street has matured into a class that mimics NHRA Pro Stock with naturally aspirated combinations and extremely tight competition. Of the 15 cars in the field, 11 of them were in the 8-second zone and the top five were separated by only three hundredths of a second. The weekend belonged to Ben Mens, who was the number-one qualifier and took home the top prize by defeating Robert Blankenship, 8.85 to 8.89 in the final.
ProCharger EFI Renegade forces the racers to rely on equipment that's more common on the streets than in a dedicated racing class. Competitors are restricted to OEM-style hydraulic roller camshafts with a maximum lift of 0.550 inch, C4 transmissions, street-type cylinder heads, long-runner intakes, and single-stage nitrous systems or small blowers (with eight-rib belt setups). Over the years, racers have been able to push their cars into the 8s with ease. The extreme heat kept the quickest Mustangs in the 8.70s. Joel Howard visited the winner's circle with his flawless '86 Mustang GT, using consistent 8.75 runs. Deadly lights and consistency gave him the event win over the 17-car field.
Drag Radial was put in a tailspin at the first race of the year in Bradenton when a couple of turbocharged racers blew away the competition. One of the leading turbo cars in the category belongs to Chris Tuten, and he showed the field his taillights in Milan. He took out Kevin Fiscus in the final round with an 8.21 to a tire-smoking 8.82 by Fiscus. If people thought Renegade was strict with rules, then the Real Street class is even more so. The stick shift-only class is reserved for high 9-second and 10-second cars. The nitrous-versus-blower final round featured Bruce Hemminger and Tim Matherly. Hemminger wrung out his nitrous-powered coupe to the tune of 9.92 and grabbed the win.
The final two eliminators are naturally aspirated classes: Pure Street and Factory Stock. The Pure Street contingent was quite busy as they had three eliminators to complete in one event weekend-the rained-out Georgia finals, the B&M/Hurst/McLeod Shootout, and the regular class eliminations. Brad Meadows doubled up as he took home both the Shootout victory and a class win for the Milan event. The Kuntz & Co.-powered Cobra was the second quickest car in class with a 10.36 in qualifying. The near-stock Factory Stock class was won by Brian Marr in his modular-powered Mustang as his competitor, points leader Tommy Godfrey, lit the red light in the money round.
Some of the wildest news of the weekend came from the Open Comp class where Don Bowles unveiled an experimental Ford V-8 engine that he was testing for Ford. The Roush Racing crew was working side-by-side with the Ford engineers all weekend to push the limits of the new "X" engine. The team and Ford officials were tight-lipped about the specifics, and our speculation is that Bowles was running a very large cubic-inch modular engine with Two-Valve heads. It sang to the tune of low-nines all weekend long without the benefit of a blower, turbo, or nitrous. Other news in the hotly contested index category was that three competitors nailed down perfect reaction times during qualifying. NMRA bases qualifying position on reaction time, and with a three-way tie, race director Lynwood Dupee made the decision to award the number-one spot to Andy Blackmon for having turned the first perfect light in the class. Despite perfect lights and experimental engines, the winner was Shane Williams with his mid-12-second '99 Mustang GT.
The other two index classes, Truck and Lightning and Modular Muscle, might have featured less drama, but race-day action was just as tight. Chris Colitas survived five rounds, including a final match against the always-tough Tommy Motycka. Family member Mike Motycka took out Johnny Lightning in the finals of Truck and Lightning. Johnny broke out of his 9.00 index by only 0.079, handing the automatic win to Motycka in his '79 F-100.
Ford Racing Invitational
It all started a few months ago when Jesse Kershaw of Ford Racing Performance Parts brought up an idea for the NMRA-Milan event. He sketched up a scheme that would pit journalists against each other in a no-holds-barred bracket race. FRPP invited 17 journalists from various publications, and each randomly chose a vehicle by picking a slip out of a helmet. Each car was equipped with an array of FRPP upgrades, and it was a chance for the journalists to slug it out on the track for bragging rights and fun.
Editor Evan Smith represented MM&FF, while yours truly stood in as the Ford Performance Trucks magazine entry. I pulled a Hertz GT-H (complete with a bracket-race friendly automatic transmission), while Smitty got stuck with a 500-horse Mustang GT with a stick shift transmission. The FRPP supercharged GT was an awesome car but one of the more difficult to race-especially on street tires. Smitty did an admirable job of qualifying third (based on reaction time), and I qualified fifth.
The First-Annual Ford Racing Invitational trophy went to a fellow Primedia employee, John Gallagher, the publisher of Car Craft and a former drag racer. Gallagher wheeled a 14-second F-150 and beat out a Road & Track staffer for the trophy.
Smitty fell victim to the 500hp/radial tire/stick-shift combination as he broke out in Round 1. The car had been running 12.50s for two days, but Smitty pushed it a bit in eliminations and went 12.36.
I was fortunate enough to have made it to the final four cars before losing on a -0.008-second red light. Special thanks goes to FRPP for two days of fun.
|MM&FF/Hedman Hedders True Street Results |
|Overall Winner:||Chris Escobar||9.72 Average|
|Runner-Up:||Stephen Posenau||10.15 Average|
|11-second Winner||Kathy Powell||11.27 Average|
|12-second Winner||Darrin Matousek||12.37 Average|
|13-second Winner||Anthony Elmes||13.07 Average|
|14-second Winner||Lyndon Greeley||14.09 Average|
|15-second Winner||Joseph Nowakowski||15.05 Average|