Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
2008 NMRA Ford Keystone Drag Racing Columbus, Ohio - The Swing State
NMRA Racers Seek Championships And Glory In Columbus, Ohio.
Like our political race for President of the United States, the state of Ohio is a major swing state that can make or break a championship NMRA season. It is the second to the last stop on the NMRA Ford Keystone Drag Racing tour and pressure begins to mount for the point's leaders of the eight heads-up and three open comp championship categories.
Time is running short as racers are grabbing as many round wins as possible to properly mold and shape a championship. A great performance in Columbus can remove some pressure from the World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, one month later. The Columbus stop is also a unique one, in that the bracket racing classes are huge and there are special nostalgia Ford drag and show classes coupled with the normal late-model Mustang madness. NMRA officials reported slightly over 400 race vehicles and over 200 show cars in the Saleen Speedlab Nationals.
Sitting atop of the heads-up food chain are the Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 racers, and the two big guns were Dan Millen of Livernois Motorsports and Conrad Scarry (driving for car owner Ken Seeger). Each Mustang features turbocharged small-block Ford engines and the drivers are entrenched in a tight battle for the championship, Scarry has a stronghold on the top position right now. Both racers had run the quickest side-by-side pairing in Pro Outlaw 10.5 history one race earlier in Atco, New Jersey. Scarry ran 6.78 to Millen's 6.80. This time, Millen got the best of Scarry by knocking off a 6.84 at 207 mph in the finals for the class victory.
Racing action was tight in ProCharger Super Street Outlaw with a myriad of mid-7-second small-tire freaks. Perennial front-runner, John Urist of Hellion Power Systems, ran his Nitto Tire-backed coupe all the way into the winner's circle. The defending series champion crossed paths with sophomore SSO racer, Perry Santini in the finals. Urist dispatched him with a 7.52 to Santini's traciton-limited low 8-second run. Urist and AJ Powell are battling it out for the title, Urist gains an edge in Columbus as Powell goes out in the semifinals. The championship will be decided at the World Finals and several key players can play spoiler to Urist and Powell.
BFGoodrich Drag Radial was wide open as the two top runners, John Kolivas and Joey Bridge, struggled with tricky track conditions. Bridge qualified number one with an 8.28, off from his regular 8.00 performances. Qualifying struggles and engine problems made it appear as if Kolivas was vulnerable, however, once eliminations began the white SN-95 Cobra ran flawlessly and Kolivas walked away with a class victory and sealed up his third straight NMRA title. Jason Lee ran his ProCharger-powered '85 GT to the lowest e.t. of the event with an 8.12, but spun in the finals and lost to Kolivas. DiabloSport EFI Renegade was equally exciting as a full field of rules-limited power-adder cars took to the strip. The term "limited" doesn't mean these cars are slow, as mid-8s takes top honors in this category. The Sutton High Performance crew moved one step closer to attaining the title with Bob Cook as its driver. A Four-Valve engine, pumped up with a Vortech YSi-trim blower, powered the '05 Stang to mid-8-second runs and the team's second victory of the season. The final power adder category is Real Street where Bruce Hemminger continued to dominate with another class win. It is his third straight event victory, and he did it with a best run of 9.68 at 138 mph. Defending series champ, Tim Matherly, is not backing down one bit as he fired off an amazing 143 mph run, far higher than the class 141 mph record.
There are three naturally aspirated categories in NMRA action, Edelbrock Hot Street, TTC Tremec Pure Street, and ACT Clutches Factory Stock. Each is unique and the racers rely on what the earth's atmosphere provides them with to make power. The quickest class is Hot Street with mid-to-high 8-second performances from these stroked Windsors with inline valve heads and 750 cfm carburetors. Roush's Ben Mens was back in competition with his Lucas Oil-backed LX, and he qualified on top of the field with an 8.84. He went to the finals but lost to Robbie Blankenship who had gone 8.81 to Mens' 8.83.
Pure Street features wheelstanding, gear-banging, small-cube engines (up to 310 ci), 0.500-inch lift cams, and street-oriented heads and intake packages. Despite the restrictions, racers have forced their way into the low 10-second zone on smallish 26x10.5-inch slicks. Ryan Hecox qualified Number One (10.28 at 133 mph) and took the class win on Sunday over Mark Anderson, driving his dad's (Ron Anderson) famed silver coupe.
Factory Stock is NMRA's version of Stock Eliminator but with more driveline restrictions and less limits in the engine bay. The cars run traditional five-speed street transmissions with H-pattern shifters. These Stangs also roll on BFGoodrich 275/50 drag radials. The tires are small and require lots of finesse. Tommy Godfrey ran the tables with his copper coupe as he took the top qualifying honors with an 11.26 at 119 mph. The JPC Racing-sponsored racer took the win with a new class record of 11.22.
Index And Dial-In Classes
This was the third installment for the JDM Engineering Super Stang class. It is designed exclusively for '05-and-up Mustangs, and restricts them to street-type vehicles only. The class is unique in that Saturday is spent making time trial runs as there is no qualifying for the class. You establish a baseline on Saturday and pick your own index on Sunday. The index is fixed and you cannot adjust it as the day progresses. Think of it as a cross between bracket racing and open comp-style competition. Larry Russell of Jeg's took home his second win in three events with his Mustang V-6. Russell faced Paul Gamino in the final round for the second time this year. Gamino was driving JDM's Saleen 25th Anniversary edition Mustang. Both drivers broke out, Russell was closer to his dial-in with a 14.98 on a 14.99 index. Gamino's supercharged Stang picked up in the cooler weather and ran 10.24 on his 10.29 index.
Gamino was unsuccessful in Super Stang, but he scored the big win in Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning. He drove JDM's modified Saleen S331 truck to the winner's circle by beating James Steamer. The difference was at the Tree where Gamino knocked down a 0.043 to Steamer's sleepy 0.142. Gamino held on for the win, his first ever NMRA victory.
Roush Modular Muscle almost saw Jack Roush's daughter, Susan McClenaghan, take the win as she went to the final with her 10-second supercharged Roush Mustang. Blocking her from the winner's circle was Tom Motycka in his SN-95 Stang. McClenaghan was the Number One qualifier with a stellar 0.001 reaction time while Motycka was second in qualifying. In the final, like Gamino in Super Stang-the cooler weather had a positive effect on her supercharged combination and she blew through her index of 10.92 with a losing 10.88 run. Motycka won with a 12.57 on his 12.55 index.
Steeda Open Comp qualifying was flatout sick. The NMRA qualifies the cars using reaction time rather than times because it is an index class. The OC field saw two perfect lights. Saul Walker II and Randy Conway both knocked down 0.000 reaction times during qualifying. Walker received the top qualifier due to doing it first. Wesley Dalrymple was the third qualifier with a 0.001 reaction time and it dropped off from there to a still very impressive 0.006 (Jason Boyer) and 0.008 (Sam Dyer). Open Comp and the other index classes (Mod Muscle and Truck and Lightning) run off 0.500 pro-Tree lights. The 27-car field was whittled down to just Johnny Wellen and David Watson. This outing, Wellen took the win with an 11.16 on an 11.06 index. Watson ran very well with his Mustang running 9.67 on a 9.59 index. The difference was in the reaction times when Wellen knocked off a 0.012 to Watson's 0.059.