Frank H. Cicerale
February 1, 2009
Kevin Volk finished third on the True Street sheet with his '07 Shelby GT500. The 5.4L Four-Valve is topped with a Kenne Bell 2.8 Stage 3 blower stuffing in 20 psi of boost. Dyno runs validate the 856 rwhp number out of the Karl's East Coast Speed prepared snake. While the car has run a best of a 9.81, problems plagued the Shelby, and Volk could muster only a 10.53 best.

When the winter season rolls around in the northeast part of the United States, the dreaded strike by a nor'easter is always something to watch out for. Oftentimes it can sock everyone from Maine to Maryland in copious amounts of wind-driven snow and ice.

While the threat of a nor'easter was a long ways away when the Fun Ford Weekend parade visited Epping Dragway in scenic Epping, New Hampshire, there was a blizzard of another sort brewing. Thanks to the high-horsepower Fords and the prevalence of a large pile of cash for the Street Renegade folks, New England's finest muscle Mustangs and fast Fords made the trip in hopes of coming home with memories, a class win, or even a car show award.

With neither the Pro nor Street Outlaw categories being contested, the top dogs in Street Renegade unloaded their rocketships to do battle for $10,000. A total of eight cars made qualifying attempts, with the nitrous-snorting Mustang of Don Burton taking home the top qualifier award with a stout 7.51. Burton, who has won his fair share of races this year, racked up yet another tally in the win column with a final-round victory over the supercharged Mustang of Mike Trimandilis. Trimandilis, who blistered to a 192 mph blast in qualifying, scored the reaction time advantage over Burton in the final. At the stripe, however, Burton's 7.62 at a thundering 195 mph was enough to come around Trimandilis' valiant but losing 7.75, 190 mph effort.

In Street Bandit, it was a pair of Fox-body Mustangs duking it out for the glory, as the '84 Mustang of Nick Bonang squared off against the '90 Pony of Bob Dugan. Both drivers left green, but it was Bonang scoring the advantage on the starting line. He used the advantage to illuminate the win lamp at the finish line, as his 10.64 on the 10.60 index was enough to hold off the quicker but losing 10.62 by Dugan.

It was a battle of New Edge Mustang GTs in the final round of Mod Comp, as Shane Williams and his multi-colored SN-95 lined up against the silver '03 version of Jacob Lorant. Williams left nothing for Lorant to work with on the starting line, as the Knoxville, Tennessee, native hit a near perfect 0.006 reaction time. When the pair streaked through the lights, it was Williams getting the nod, as he was able to back off to a 12.27 (12.14 dial-in) to not breakout and take home the victory.

Ultra Stang saw the turbocharged '07 Mustang of SD Wheeler take on the supercharged Saleen of Paul Gamino in the last round. Gamino, who qualified at the top of the heap with a 10.31, took the easy win when Wheeler broke after taking the Tree. Seeing his competition in dire straights, Gamino rolled out of the throttle to prevent running under his 10.21 index, and cruised to victory with an 11.44 at just 88 mph.

Todd Rochefort made the trek from Middleboro, Massachusetts, to Epping to run his '93 GT in True Street. The Fox-body packs a 408 ci Windsor that saw a healthy 200 hp dose of laughing gas. Rochefort, who has been in the 9.70s with the car before, looked good on his first two runs, the best being a stout 10.13. Unfortunately, problems arose on his third and final pass, a 19-second crawl, and he ended up out of the top 25 with a 13.45 average.

Tom Conrad has been doing fairly well in Mod Comp this year, and once again showed his driving prowess with a win over Manny Scata in the money round. Conrad scored a huge holeshot, and used it to take the win, with an off-the-throttle 12.26 (11.90) doing the trick. Scata gave it his all, but his late light coupled with a further off the mark 12.43 spelled doom, and relegated him to the runner-up honors.

After winning the Ultra Stang final, Gamino came back to knock down the Tough Truck win as well. Gamino, who has already added two more notches to the win belt so far this season, collected win number three with a final round triumph over the '94 Ranger of Gerry Van Veen. Gamino was better out of the gate in his '07 Saleen truck, and used the better reaction time to turn on the win light with a 13.73 (13.50 dial).

A total of 60 cars lasted through the 30-mile cruise and three back-to-back passes that are staples of the True Street category. While there were a couple of passes close to the 9-second zone, the Epping True Street field was one of the closest we have seen in a while. Take into consideration the 22nd and 23rd finishers, Marc Denault and Richard St. Martin. Both contestants averaged a 12.389 over the course of three runs. How's that for close racing folks! In the end, it was Phil Potvin taking home the True Street accolades with a 10.24-second average. Potvin was close to the 9-second zone, as he ripped off a 10.14 on his first pass, and an even quicker 10.10 on his second run. Just a couple of steps behind him was Artie Darling, who averaged a 10.40. Rounding out the top three was Kevin Volk with a 10.67. Other winners included Matt Peery (11-second winner), Tom Joyce (12-second winner), Jack Pereira (13-second winner), and Jody Vitali (14-second winner).

With two races left in the season, it is now do or die time for those in the championship hunt. Ironically, that part of the season started in the state with "Live Free Or Die" on its license plate.

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