Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
2008 NMRA Keystone Ford Nationals at Milan Dragway - Homecoming Mayhem
Ford Racers Head To Fomoco's Home State Of Michigan To Duke It Out At Milan Dragway.
It was mid-June when the NMRA opened the gates at Milan Dragway (Milan, Michigan) for the third race in the seven-event Keystone Ford Nationals racing and car-show series. The racers headed to Ford Motor Company's home state as championship hopes were starting to take shape. While the rest of the nation has certainly been effected by the enormous price jump in gasoline and diesel, the NMRA racers showed up in large numbers, as prestige and bragging rights were still on the line for anyone to grab.
NMRA officials packed the Milan stop on the tour (which was sponsored by Aeromotive Fuel Systems) with extra classes and features for racers and fans. In addition to the normal line up of bracket racing, index racing, heads-up competition, a manufacturers' midway, and the car show, the organization debuted its latest class-JDM Engineering Super Stang. It's a bracket racing category that attracted 21 competitors during the kick-off event. Milan was the first stop on a four-race schedule for JDM Super Stang, and it was a wild shootout between 10-second, $100,000 Saleen race cars to bolt-on V-6 cars and everything in between. Larry Russell Jr. took the inaugural win over JDM's Paul Gamino driving the shop's new race car.
Power-Adder Heads-Up Classes
Conrad Scarry drove Ken Seeger's '02 Mustang GT to its third-straight NMRA victory in the Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 ranks. The Florida-based racing team was paired against local favorite Dan Millen of Livernois Motorsports. Both racers rely on turbochargers-Millen prefers to run a single 106mm unit while Scarry has two 88mm turbochargers- and both utilize small-block Ford engines. Millen went red, in what was suspected to be a problem with the starting-line lights. Scarry blasted to the win with a 6.96 to Millen's 7.03. Both racers screamed to the finish line at a terminal speed of 207 mph.
The ProCharger Super Street Outlaw ranks saw extremely tight competition as racers jockeyed for the top qualifying position. Don Burton was crowned at the top of the ladder with a 7.49 but lost in the third round of competition. That left the door wide open, and AJ Powell rushed through it with an impressive display of consistency. Powell drove his ProCharger-powered ride to the winner's circle with a string of 7.50 runs. He took out local favorite John MacDonald in the final round with a 7.58 at 185 mph.
It was a wild weekend in BFGoodrich Drag Radial action, with John Kolivas firing off a 7.99 run during test and tune. Kolivas didn't come close the rest of the weekend, largely due to the heat and track conditions. He also had to repair his engine Saturday night when the Four-Valve modular engine dropped a valve. The shining light in Drag Radial belonged to the other modular-powered Stang, driven by Joey Bridge and owned by Sonny Biggs. The Mississippi racers blasted to a win over Kolivas, 8.17 to an 8.20.
Former True-Street-standout-turned-heads-up racer Joel Howard was credited with the DiabloSport EFI Renegade win. Howard's sanitary '86 Mustang GT is one of the most popular cars in the class due to its street looks and mid 8-second performances. In addition to Howard's nitrous victory, Bruce Hemminger scored another class victory for the giggle-gas crowd, as he took home the Real Street title with a commanding final-round performance. Hemminger beat defending series champion Tim Matherly, 9.74 to Matherly's 9.77.
Naturally Aspirated Heads-Up Classes
The top-ranking naturally aspirated class, Edelbrock Hot Street, is the NMRA's version of NHRA Pro Stock. The high-winding, free-breathing entries were stacked up against each other in the high-eight-second zone. It was anyone's battle, and the championship is wide open.
The packed house watched Robbie Blakenship run the tables. The Roush-powered '03 Cobra clone blasted to victory with consistent 8.80s. He took out Mike DeMayo for the final act when the black LX went red. Blakenship unleashed an 8.83 on the freebie.
TTC Tremec Pure Street rivals Hot Street in terms of tight competition; the competitors run mid-10s and the top performers dipped into the 10.30s this outing. The Pure Street rules restrict racers to off-the-shelf parts that are mostly street-oriented components, such as 0.500-inch hydraulic roller camshafts, long-runner intake manifolds, five-speed transmissions, and 311ci limitations. Ryan Hecox went home with the bonus shootout money on Saturday and doubled up with the class win on Sunday. The JPC Racing-sponsored entry outran a modular-powered racer, Brandon Alsept, in the finals, 10.37 to a 10.39.
ACT Factory Stock, the most affordable heads-up racing category in all of drag racing, was the talk of the weekend. Tommy Godfrey and the JPC Racing crew showed up with a brand-new '89 Mustang LX coupe and a Rich Groh Racing bullet under the hood. Godfrey ran 11.33 (low e.t. of the weekend) in Round 1 of eliminations, but spun in the semis and lost. It left the door wide open for point's leader Steve Gifford to head to the finals, where he met up with John Leslie Jr. for a Two-Valve modular (Gifford) versus a GT-40 headed pushrod engine showdown. Leslie had the quicker of the two cars in the finals, but Gifford won based on reaction time. Gifford ran a slower, but winning, 11.51 to Leslie's 11.48.
Open Comp Index Categories
Perhaps one of the more noticeable absences from the competition was Johnny Lightning's wild twin-turbocharged Gen 2 Lightning. The JLP gang showed up with a new truck, which according to Johnny is a more consistent ride and something that is easier to chase the championship with. The orange Gen 2 truck is essentially a rolling catalog for the shop's services and products. It ran mid-11s all weekend, and headed to the final round of Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning, where Johnny met up with the always-tough Mike Motycka. Both racers broke out of their indexes, but Motycka broke out less and won with a 12.10 on a 12.11. Johnny ran 11.53 on an 11.57 index.
Roush Performance Modular Muscle is reserved for just that, modular-powered Ford vehicles. We saw everything from defending-champion Roxanne Shepard's mid-9-second Vortech-blown, Livernois-sponsored ride to a lifted F-350 Super Duty truck in the class. Shepard couldn't make the first-round lane call due to a broken transmission. With fan favorite Susan McClenaghan (daughter of Jack Roush) losing in the first round, Donnie Bowles Jr. carried the Roush banner to the finals with his patriot-painted S197 Mustang GT. The car serves as a testbed for Roush engines and supercharger systems, and its high-9-second performances proves that the shop knows what it's doing. Bowles beat Tom Motycka with a 9.94 on a 9.90 index. Motycka nailed a great 0.028 reaction time but broke out with a 12.51 on a 12.52 index.
The final index category is Steeda Open Comp, which is open to all Ford vehicles powered by Blue Oval engines. This class is always the largest category at NMRA events, and this time 25 competitors came to battle it out. Randy Conway fought his way to the finals as he defends his championship title in 2008. The mid-11-second SN-95 was stopped by old-school iron in the finals, though, as both Conway and opponent Dale McClenagham broke out of their indexes. McClenaghan drove one of Jack Roush's former race cars to victory, 8.95 on the 8.96 index. The champ ran 11.62 on his 11.72 index.