Frank H. Cicerale
April 1, 2008
The lone ranger from the Mustang camp in Pro Outlaw was the IHRA-legal, mountain-motor, Pro Stock '07 GT of John Nobile. Nobile stood tall, though, and after qualifying Fifth with a 6.35, he spent the rest of the day routing the field with some stellar runs. Nobile's 820ci monster gunned down the nitrous-assisted Corvette of Jim Kane in the final with a 6.278 moon shot.

Some would argue that the birth of heads-up Mustang racing was created just 50 miles south of New York City in a small hamlet called Englishtown. Back in the early '90s, the Mustang Showdown Series was created by the folks at Raceway Park (also known as E-Town), pitting the baddest supercharged, turbo, and nitrous-gulping Mustangs in a three-event showdown that grew to become a rather big deal. It grew into the famous Mustang vs. Buick Showdown that garnered national attention and turned many Mustang racers into heroes.

E-Town did it again recently with the Shakedown, an Outlaw extravaganza that has become the sickest one-day, heads-up drag race in the country. The event is the brainchild of Pro 5.0/Outlaw 10.5 racer Dave Hance, who hails from the city that never sleeps. Wanting to pit the best of the best in a no-holds-barred, heads-up race at a killer venue, he sat down with the RP brass and spearheaded the inception of the event known today as the Shakedown at E-Town. It's five years later and Hance not only makes sure the event is held each year, but that it thrives and grows. With four classes being contested and enough cars to fill a full 32-car field in each, the hitters come out to play with both barrels blazing-and there's no shoe polish in sight.

This year's Shakedown grand marshal was none other than NHRA star Mike Ashley. The New York native, who formerly campaigned a couple of Mustang-bodied Pro Mods, now pilots a horse of a different breed, namely a nitromethane-snorting NHRA Funny Car.

The Shakedown drew monster hitters, such as Tim Lynch, Brad Brand, John Nobile, and many others, who put on a fantastic show with two qualifying sessions and four elimina-tion rounds. Things grew tense, though, as the day drew to a close, and the 7:30 p.m. curfew imposed on Raceway Park rapidly approached. "Before the event, we were ready to split the pot among all the racers," Hance says. "Thankfully, we were able to get the show in. We had no one go into the wall or wipe out any of the center cones. Things ran as smooth as could be."

When the track lights were flipped off at the end of the night, we saw a Mustang take home the victory in three out of the four classes. We also witnessed the quickest and fastest runs ever by both an IHRA Pro Stock car and a 10.5W car. Not bad for a day's work!

The top-tier category was Pro Outlaw, which consisted of Pro-Mod and Pro-Stock style cars. There was no minimum weight for the cars in this class, and it was pretty much a double-barreled gunfight. Scott Filkins in a GM product was the number-one qualifier. The only reason we even mention this is because Filkins' ripped off an astounding 5.98 to grab the top spot. That run was stout, but when the final round rolled into the burnout box, the '07 Mustang GT of John Nobile set up to do battle against the nitrous-snorting '63 Vette of Jim Kane. Kane left on Nobile, but at the stripe, it was all Nobile, as the IHRA-legal mountain-motored Pro Stock Ford Mustang ripped off an amazing 6.27 at a thundering 223 mph for the win.

In the Outlaw 10.5 category, it was none other than Tim Lynch and his crew of wife Kelly and builder/tuner Steve Petty. The category was devised to accommodate stock-style, front-suspension cars running 10.5W tires out back. Lynch and his twin-turbocharged Mustang qualified on top of the stout field with a 6.79, and then turned the wick up for eliminations. Lynch's slowest run of eliminations came in Round 1 when he clocked a 6.61. He then proceeded to run a string of low 6.50s on his way to downing the nitrous-aided Camaro of Chuck Ulsch in the final with an unheard-of 6.53. As a side note, Lynch made a pass the day earlier during the test and tune where he blistered the track to a mid-6 at 231 mph!

"We changed only a couple of things from last year," Lynch said after the event. "We put on a pair of new Precision turbos that have a billet wheel, and we switched to VP fuel. We also worked on the chassis, but that is usual for every event we go to."