Frank H. Cicerale
March 1, 2009
Photos By: Paul Rosner

It's been said that you can always tell when you go south of the Mason-Dixon line. The people are more laid back, the food is some awesome down-home grub, and everywhere you turn, the Southern aristocracy that was in the region up to the beginning of the Civil War is all around. When the Fun Ford Weekend parade rolled into Bristol Dragway in scenic Bristol, Tennessee, the Southern hospitality was accented with some high-horsepower Ford racing.

With FFW's bevy of classes on tap, there was something for everyone at Bristol, be it the mid 6-second Pro cars, the sportsman bracket cars, or the car show. Throw in the True Street contingent, and there truly was an answer for every need. The action on the strip was just as hot as the climate, especially in the Pro category. The money round came down to the nitrous-snorting GT500 of Dale Brinsfield and the monster-cube Ford big-block-powered Escort of David Schorr. Brinsfield, who qualified Number One and spent most of the weekend in the mid-6.40-second zone, left first and never looked back, ripping off a 6.45 at 219 mph for the victory.

Conrad Scarry has taken control of the Street Outlaw class, as he put together a solid weekend to take home yet another win. Street Outlaw, which ran the eighth-mile and not the standard quarter-mile, saw three cars compete, in which Frank Mewshaw nailed down the Number One qualifying spot over Scarry with a stout 4.64. On his first-round single, however, Mewshaw broke, as his elapsed time was only an 8.07, and he couldn't come back and face Scarry in the final. Scarry, who blasted to a 4.57 in his opening round victory over John Choate, cruised to an easy win.

Street Renegade had a good-sized field, and racers made their way into the staging lanes for battle, with an eclectic mix of cars duking it out. The final round came down to the nitrous-oxide sniffing Mustang of Don Burton and the supercharged '91 coupe of "Mustang" Mike Modeste. Only four-hundredths of a second separated the two in reaction time, but as the pair traveled down track, nitrous overcame boost, and it was Burton taking the win by a 7.66 to 8.46 count.

The 10.60-second index class called Street Bandit featured a final round between former champion Mac Sibley and perennial hitter Tom Conrad. What was shaping up to be a great final was over as soon as the Tree flashed, as Conrad left too soon and fouled out by 0.040-second. Sibley legged the last pass out to a 10.56 at 125 mph.

The Ultra Stang trophy dash was a battle between S.D. Wheeler and Paul Gamino, both of whom have won in the class this year. Wheeler left nothing for chance on the starting line, as he hit a near-perfect 0.002 reaction time. At the quarter-mile mark, both Wheeler and Gamino went under their respective indexes, but it was Wheeler coming out on top as his 11.55 (11.60 index) was less of an infraction than Gamino's 10.48 (10.65 index).

Tom Conrad lived and died by the red-light sword in Bristol. After giving up the Street Bandit win with a red light in the final, Conrad got one back when Street Stang final round opponent Jim D'Amore III fouled out himself. D'Amore, who missed the Tree by a scant 0.018-second, ran a losing 11.92 to Conrad's winning 12.00 on the class' 11.90-second index.

In Tough Truck, Gamino made up for his losing effort by downing former Tough Truck champ Don Justus in the winner-take-all final. Justus was better on the starting line with an 0.034 reaction time to Gamino's 0.050, but at the stripe, the double-breakout race went in favor of Gamino, who ran under his 13.91 dial with a 13.87, which was less of an offense than Justus' 10.83 (10.88 dial).

It was a battle of Tennessee natives in the Mod Comp final, as the Kingsport-based Escort of Van Greer squared off against the Knoxville-housed Mustang of Shane Williams. Greer overcame Williams' holeshot in yet another double-breakout affair at the finish line. Williams stayed in the loud pedal a touch too long, running a 12.60 on his 12.64 prediction. That handed the win to Greer, who also ran under his dial, albeit it less.

As per the norm at any Fun Ford event, the True Street class was contested. After passing technical inspection, each contestant is required to partake (and survive) a 30-mile cruise before making three back-to-back passes down the quarter-mile. When battle was done, 34 cars lasted the cruise and the three runs, with the top three distancing themselves from the rest of the field by a wide margin. After opening with a stunning 9.18, Tracy Silver captured the True Street crown with a 9.29-second average. David Dockery ended up a close second with a 9.80 average, while Jonathan Williams rounded out the Top 3 with a 10.89 average. The Bristol True Street field seemed to be more of a working man's one, as most of the cars were in the 12- and 13-second range.

As the FFW season winds down, the heads-up classes are only going to get more and more fierce. Next up is a trip to New England and Epping Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Stay tuned!