Frank H. Cicerale
December 1, 2008
Photos By: Team MM&FF
Steve Saleen, the Grand Marshal of the Atco NMRA event, led the 30-mile True Street cruise in his 25th Anniversary, 720 hp SMS Mustang. Check out an upcoming issue of MM&FF as we take a closer look at the new Pony Saleen concocted.

As the time rolled around for MM&FF to celebrate it's 20th Anniversary, Editor Smith and the NMRA's Steve Wolcott decided on holding a party for racers, fans, and MM&FF's awesome readership. The gala spectacle went down not far from MM&FF World Headquarters at Atco Raceway (Atco, New Jersey) during the popular NMRA Ford Nationals event.

The event was attended by some of the pioneers of heads-up Mustang racing, including Steve Saleen, who served as Grand Marshal of the event, as well as MM&FF staffers of past and present, and other Ford dignitaries. Nitto Tires also did an amazing job of helping us host the party, and Ford Racing Performance Parts and many other manufacturers kicked in with some extraordinary giveaway items-the granddaddy being a new racing block. Even FRPP's new head honcho, Brian Wolfe, made the trek to Jersey.

Thanks to the Saleen Owner's Club, the car show was populated not only with old iron and new Fords, but with a bevy of Saleen Mustangs of all body styles.

It was unbelievable seeing so many heads-up Mustang racing legends like Mike Ragusa, Gene Deputy, Nitrous Pete, "Big Daddy" Dwayne Gutridge, Lee Rutter, the Briante family, Joe DaSilva, Jimmy LaRocca, Craig Radovich, the Golicks, and a host of others. In a sense, you can liken it to a high school reunion for high-octane, nitrous snorting, forced induction shooting, Mustang junkies.

Surrounding the party was the main event, the most recent NMRA race on the schedule. Friday showcased some blistering laps in heads-up qualifying. Saturday was even better with our big party, more heads-up qualifying, and the MM&FF True Street competition. Over 60 cars entered the True Street field and embarked on the 30-mile cruise that was led by legendary car builder Steve Saleen, who wheeled his 25th Anniversary SMS Mustang. Not only did Saleen lead the True Street cruise, but he also spent the weekend signing autographs for legions of Mustang fans who took the ride to Atco Raceway. Amazingly, the weekend marked the 10th Anniversary for the NMRA, the 20th for MM&FF and the 25th for Steve Saleen.

When the True Street troopers returned from the South Jersey foray, 56 remained ready to do battle. Like last year's event, which showcased a number of lightning-quick Mustangs, the field once again showcased the best that the Northeast had to offer. To break into the top five, you needed to average quicker than a 10.02. When the coast was clear, the New Edge Cobra of Mike DiBiagio ended up at the top of the heap. Then again, an 8.99-second average will pretty much lock up most True Street wins. Who would have thought that runner-up Brian Zaid's 9.37-second average would only be good enough for second best? Overall, 47 cars made the required three runs.

As for the party, well that was a rip-roaring good time. There were plenty of cold beverages, and the stories were flowing throughout the night. Each and every one of the VIPs were given the spotlight and introduced to the crowd, while fans and readers alike could mingle with them and take a few shots on the practice Tree, where a perfect light won you a T-shirt. The evening closed with a VIP Practice Tree race, where all of our VIPs squared off in a no-holds barred competition. In the end, it was Barry Shepard taking the best-of-seven final round against Don Walsh Jr. Looks like Barry found the fountain of youth!

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans when it came to Sunday's program, as heavy rains and thunderstorms caused NMRA officials to halt racing in the midst of first-round action. While the rain may have caused the NMRA to cancel the event outright, the end result was one killer party coupled with a stellar True Street event. Throw in some of the MM&FF project cars that were on display all weekend (such as the Fridge, Icebox, Project Stocker, and Pro-Tree Mustang), and you couldn't ask for more.