Frank H. Cicerale
September 1, 2008
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Wanting a more central location from which to run its space missions, in 1961 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) moved Mission Control from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the newly constructed Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. While launch operations are still handled at the Florida location, as soon as any of the Gemini, Apollo, or Space Shuttle launches clear the tower, control of the mission is handed over to Houston until the flight is completed.

In nearby Baytown, Texas, the business of handling the Houston Raceway Park quarter-mile was taken care of by the combatants in the Fun Ford Weekend's heads-up and bracket classes at the 17th Annual Texas Thunder FFW Nationals. Originally scheduled to be the third event of the '08 racing season, the Texas event became the second when track repairs at Atlanta Dragway forced FFW officials to move that event to June. In addition, Houston marked the first of FFW's three planned Battle of the Brands events, meaning the Blue Oval nation would be pitted against those of the Bow Tie Brigade and the Pentastar Posse in a battle of bragging rights.

It took close to three months, but someone was finally able to beat Conrad Scarry. Unstoppable since the opening event in Orlando, and scoring wins at both NMRA races this year, Scarry was gunned down by the '05 Mustang of Grant McCrary in the final round of Street Outlaw. McCrary didn't leave anything to question, as he qualified in the No. 1 spot with an eye-opening 6.74 at 214 mph. After ripping off an even quicker 6.70/216-mph moon shot in an opening-round win over Brendon Dominy, the Keller, Texas, native threw up a 6.88 in the final to beat Scarry's troubled 8.83. McCrary moved into Second Place in points with the win, but he's still a ways back from Scarry, who leads the standings based on his win and runner-up at both FFW events.

Angel Padilla took advantage of his opponent's mistakes to take home the prize in Street Renegade. Padilla, who qualified in the bottom half of the field with an 8.18-second effort out of his Mustang, snuck past No. 2 qualifier Kenjo Kelly when Kelly broke after taking the Tree. Padilla then moved on to the final round when defending class champion Travis Franklin turned the red light on by a mere 0.009 second in Round 2. Waiting for Padilla in the final would be No. 1 qualifier Richard Lelsz. Lelsz, who had bettered his 7.72-second qualifying effort with a 7.71 winning effort in the semifinals, slipped up on the Tree in the final round, giving Padilla a huge holeshot. At the stripe, Padilla's 8.10/179-mph blast was enough to hold off Lelsz's 10.95 for the victory. Even though Franklin lost in the opening round of competition in Orlando and in the second round in Houston, he was able to hang onto the points lead over Second-Place Ronnie Wilson.

In the 10.60-second index class that is Street Bandit, Brian Warwas handled the task of Gary Miller in the trophy round. Both Warwas and Miller were the category's top two qualifiers, as Miller hit the index dead-on with a 10.600, with Warwas just a tick behind with his 10.605. When the Tree fell in the final, it was Warwas who scored the starting-line advantage and never looked back, as his holeshot-aided 10.67 was just enough against Miller's closer but losing 10.62-second effort. The win moved Warwas into Second Place in the points standings behind Tom Conrad.