Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
April 1, 2008
Winner
Ray Johnson (Elgin, Illinois) faced some tough competition in Pro Lightning with Ross Lentin, Frank Likert, and Paul Duckett all capable of running high-9s or better. Johnson, who had picked up half of a second over the summer thanks to a new set of TEA-ported cylinder heads, posted the fastest qualifying time at 9.59 seconds, which took him to the final. Likert crashed out in the semis, prompting the LightningFest staff to run the remaining Pro eliminations as singles. Johnson went to the final, where he squared off against Jeff Jaeger, who had a minor collision with Frank Likert in a previous round. Johnson opted to turn up the wick, but the truck started to blow out the spark, and he pedaled his '94 'bolt to a 10.70 at 134. Jaeger had problems of his own and crossed the finish with an 11.04 effort.

The Fifth Annual LightningFest visited Kansas City International Raceway last September 21-22, and Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords was on hand to catch all of the action. Five years after the first event, LightningFest, which is put on by the National Lightning Owners Club, is as strong as ever-and probably faster, too. Top contenders in the Pro Lightning category duked it out against turbochargers, superchargers, and the little bottle of laughing gas in a 9-second e.t. showdown. The racing portion of the event concluded on Saturday, and Sunday offered a show-and-shine at the local Hooters.

While the Pro Lightning guys had their setups on kill and the competition was tight, only six of them squared off in eliminations. If you wanted to go rounds and test your driving skills, then Lightning Force Performance Street Lightning, with 33 entries, and NLOC Pro Street, with 28 contenders, were the hot classes to be in.

The JLP Performance True Street class also sported more than 30 entries, and the winner had to be a masterful bracket racer. LightningFest True Street diverges from MM&FF's traditional rules in that your three runs are averaged. Then you make a fourth run, and whoever is closest to the dial-in average, wins. Here it pays to be a great bracket racer rather than having the fastest rig.

If big clouds of black smoke are your thing, then the NHTOC Diesel Truck class was your bag-and contribution to global warming. Some used their tow vehicles, while others brought the diesel-belching behemoths just for the class.

In addition to impromptu grudge matches during the evening test-and-tune sessions, a golf-cart race, and a burnout contest on Saturday, LightningFest also featured a rental-car match race featuring Johnny "Lightning" Wiker; Andre Wagenknecht, of Hannover, Germany; and your author. All of the contenders had rented V-6 Mustangs simply by accident, and while we had come to spectate, the inner competitor in us wanted to be part of the racing action.

The ladder was based on qualifying times, and the first-round bye went to the JLP entry. Yours truly managed to uphold the American flag to get past our German visitor in the remaining matchup. Knowing that we were going up against Johnny "Lightning" Wiker, who has been cutting lights and winning events in the NMRA's Truck class all year, we knew we had to prep the rental for optimum elapsed time. Unfortunately, that didn't matter, as your author left a hair too early, triggering the red light in the final. The sad thing is, we had him covered by 0.2 second, thanks to our parking of the V-6 rental Stang in the woods to keep it cool, along with airing up of the front hides. All we can say is deep stage or leave off the second bulb, but don't do both.

If you're into fast and fine Ford trucks, LightningFest is the event for you. If you missed it, don't worry because we've got the scoop. Just check out the pictures and stop by www.nloc.com for more information.