Frank Cicerale
February 1, 2009
Photos By: Michael Galimi, Frank H. Cicerale

As Edelbrock Hot Street competitor Charlie Booze fired up his Kuntz and Co.-powered '92 Mustang GT and rolled into the waterbox, you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. There were three cars left in the class at the final event of the year at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Being less than 100 markers behind points leader Robbie Blankenship, Booze needed to get around Ben Mens to have a winner-take-all (for the championship) final round with Blankenship, who had the bye.

The sun was up, the stands were packed, and Booze and Mens heated the slicks and carefully rolled up to the starting line. Mens, the outgoing Hot Street champion, and Booze, a former class champion, inched their way into the stage beam, hit the transbrake buttons, and decked the throttle, bringing both high-revving Fords up on the rev limiter. The Tree fell, and both were away green, Booze with a clutch 0.015 reaction time. As the pair went to the 60-foot clock, Mens settled the front end down, meanwhile, Booze put the BBR Mustang on the bumper. Never lifting, he kept his foot pinned, and the car eventually came down past the 330-foot clock. As the two streaked through the lights, the win light illuminated in Mens' lane. While the fans cheered and everyone on the property applauded Booze's driving prowess, his over-the-top wheelstand sealed the deal for Blankenship. The fan-standing, bumper-dragging wheelstand that resulted in the round loss relegated Booze to Second Place in the standings, albeit it with hero status.

Booze's wheelstand and the drama that surrounded it was just one of the many exciting moments at the final NMRA Keystone Ford Nationals Series event of 2008. The three-day event showcased record-breaking performances, championship-caliber races, and a track that had more teeth to it than a Great White shark.

Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 saw Conrad Scarry wrap up the title when Dan Millen didn't take the trip to Bowling Green. Regardless, Scarry left nothing to question, as a better light and a 6.88 dumped Ron Lummus' 6.95 in the final. Putting a period on the weekend was Scarry's speed, as he ripped off a booming 217 mph lap in the money round.

The ProCharger Super Street Outlaw trophy round was a repeat of last year's running, as Fireball John Urist squared off against the nitrous-snorting hatchback Mustang of Don Burton. Unlike last year, which saw Urist and Burton go at it in a winner-take-all final, the championship was settled much earlier between Urist and AJ Powell, whom Urist gunned down in the semi-finals. Burton knew he had to lean on it, as Urist ripped off a 7.35 in qualifying. However, when the Tree flashed, so did the scoop opening in Burton's ride. Burton backfired through the carburetor and went nowhere, handing the win to Urist, who clicked off a 7.52. "It wasn't a nitrous backfire, otherwise the hood, scoop, and the top half of the motor wouldn't be here," Burton says afterwards. "It just backfired through the carb when I hit the button. It might have broken a valvespring."

The final round in Diablosport EFI Renegade showcased a match up between the '91 Mustang of Brian Tuten and the '04 Cobra of Bart Tobener. Tuten drilled Tobener to the Tree by almost a tenth of a second, but Tobener clicked the car into high gear and drove around Tuten by an 8.54 to 9.39 count.

While the opening to this article detailed the exploits of Charlie Booze, the chance to be crowned the Edelbrock Hot Street winner at Bowling Green came down to newly-crowned champ Robbie Blankenship and outgoing champ Ben Mens. Both drivers recorded near identical reaction times, but at the stripe, it was Mens taking the victory, as his 8.70 was a bit quicker than Blankenship's 8.75-second effort.

With the track having a ton of grip and the air conditions being ripe, everyone was waiting for the first 7-second NMRA BFGoodrich Drag Radial time to be flashed on the scoreboard.

While no one dipped into the 7-second zone, the parity in the class was quite evident, as John Kolivas and his turbocharged Cobra, Bob Kurgan and his Vortech-blown '86 Mustang, and Jason Lee in his ProCharger-blown '86 Stang, all went 8.06 during the course of the weekend. When the final round rolled into the burnout box, repeat champion Kolivas squared off against the colorful Pony of Matt Bell. The race was prematurely ended when Kolivas went to put his car up on the transbrake and spool up the turbo. Instead of things going normally, he rolled the beams, handing the automatic win to Bell, who blistered to an 8.23 at 173.

The Real Street class eliminations showcased a brave come-from-behind championship run. Bruce Hemminger, who came into the event in Third Place, used a clutch performance, coupled with a bit of luck, and took home the event win and the title. Hemminger squared off with Kevin Scott in the final round, and even though he was behind out of the gate, he put the screws to the wood and got the victory with a stout 9.64. The win, combined with early round losses by Tim Matherly and Jim Breese, gave Hemminger his first ever title.

Tremec Pure Street saw yet another championship go down to the wire, as Brandon Alsept and Ryan Hecox went into the event Second and First, respectively. When Hecox went out in the quarterfinals, the door was open for Alsept to step through, which he did. Alsept went to the final round against Brad Meadows, and even though he wrapped up the title, he couldn't close the deal on the race. Meadows led this one from wire to wire, leaving first and getting there first by a 10.29 to 10.33 measure.

It was the Tommy Godfrey show in ACT Factory Stock, as Godfrey, wheeling the JPC '89 Mustang coupe, set the record, qualified on top, won the race, and became a two-time champ. That was all in the same weekend, folks. Godfrey tangled with the '03 Mach 1 of Jay Dold in the final, and even though he gave up a sizeable amount of time on the starting line, Godfrey powershifted his way to the Winner's Circle with an 11.17-second pass.

Not only were the heads-up racers duking it out, but the index and bracket class competitors were going toe to toe as well. Roush Modular Muscle saw Reggie Burnette, Jr. outlast Brad Elander. Burnette scored a tenth of a second on the starting line, and used the holeshot to take the win as his 11.27 (11.10 dial) was closer than Elander's 10.59 (10.35 dial). In Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning, the championship came down to Mike Motycka and Johnny Lightning. With Johnny taking a tough second-round breakout loss, Motycka was guaranteed the title, and went on to win the race. A redlight by final round opponent Gary Windsor sealed the deal for Motycka, who ran an 11.93 on the single. Steeda Open Comp's final run was a bout between Stacey Estel and Damon Sea. Estel scored the holeshot with an 0.013 light, and then ran a 12.37 (12.34 dial) to gun down Sea's losing 9.43 (9.40 dial) effort. Finally, in JDM Engineering Super Stang, Bobby Barrick got set to square off against the V-6-powered S197 of Larry Russell, Jr. Russell, who clinched the championship earlier in the day when Paul Gamino fouled out by a mere 0.007-second in Round 2, broke out by a scant 0.005-second in the money round, as his 14.785 was underneath his 14.79 prediction. That handed the win to Barrick, who ran a 13.47 on his 13.43 index.

The NMRA closed out its first season of Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords True Street in grand fashion, as 81 cars showed up to compete. Of the 81 contestants, 44 Mustangs and fast Fords managed to live through the 30-mile cruise around scenic Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the subsequent three back-to-back passes down the Beech Bend quarter-mile. There were some pretty quick cars, and when the smoke cleared, it was Michael Newton taking home top honors in his '88 Mustang. Newton averaged a 9.35, which was just enough against runner-up EJ Williams, who averaged a 9.67 with his own '88 Stang. Rounding out the Top Three was Brandon Coday, who used a best lap of a 10.18 to end up in Third Place with a 10.37.

For more photos and the True Street Top 25, check out our website at www.musclem ustangfastfords.com.