Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
July 1, 2009
Photos By: Team MM&FF
Competitors brought their "A" games to the Spring Break Shootout, and the tight racing proved it.

Each year, March brings with it the start of the new NMRA racing season, so what better place to kick it off than sunny Bradenton, Florida. This past March 6-8 marked the 8th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Nationals, presented by Steeda Autosports, along with series sponsor Keystone. One of the biggest classes of the event weekend, Tremec True Street, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine, stacked the pits with 107 hardcore competitors. In addition, MM&FF has brought the Spring Break Shootout back to its home at Bradenton, and the turnout was amazing.

For the '09 SBS, MM&FF combined with long-time class sponsor Pro50.com to take the top 16 qualified Fords, based for the first time ever on True Street qualifying. The top 16 made the heads-up field for Sunday's eliminator, and competitors got a chance for the near $3,000 purse and FRPP Boss block that was up for grabs.

With 107 cars entered in True Street, the highways surrounding Bradenton Motorsports Park got quite crowded when it came time to endure the cruise portion of the event.

With all this excitement, 107 cars flooded the pits and many participated in Friday's test and tune. By Saturday, Bradenton Motorsports Park was buzzing as most had seen the numerous True Street heavy hitters making test hits. There were so many competitors in the class that the NMRA staff was still teching in cars just as the 30-mile road tour was heading out.

Drivers and vehicles were put to the test once they were back at the track, as the cool down period lasted barely 30 minutes and then it was time to hit the track. Some 29 cars failed to make the three required passes, which was disappointing to some and heartbreaking for a few who had a solid chance at taking the True Street crown, as well as the Spring Break Shootout win on Sunday. True Streeters like Chris Lancaster, David Belcher, Larry Albright, John Walker, and Andrew Juhl all had 8- and 9-second-capable rides, but failed to make it through Saturday's True Street competition.

Ryan Kelly of Edgewater, Florida, drove his 5.0 coupe to the lowest 12-second three-run average of the True Street class. It doesn't get much better than 12.012 seconds.

Despite the attrition, competition in the class remained tough. Having won seven True Street crowns in a row, Pensacola, Florida's Chris Escobar seems unstoppable in this realm of super-fast street cars. His twin-turbocharged, modular-motivated SVO Mustang went as quick as 8.89 on this weekend, and was awarded the True Street crown with a 9.13-second three-run average. Winning True Street was only the first leg of the trip, as this gave him the top qualifier spot for the SBS, but he still had to go four rounds to seal the deal.

New Port Richey, Florida's Blair Brannock logged a 9.48-second average to take the runner-up spot in TS with his 347-powered '92 Mustang, and local Bradenton-resident Christian Worley nabbed the low 10-second spot with a 10.02 three-run average.

Making the long trek from his home in Cranston, Rhode Island, Keith Calitri powershifted his G-Force five-speed transmission to the low 11-second win with an 11.13 average, and Edgewater, Florida-native Ryan Kelly succeeded in taking home the low-12-second prize by posting a 12.012-second three-run average with his blacked-out notchback. To let you know how close the competition was, Bob Walsh posted an 11.135 average to Calitri's 11.131 effort, and Joe Hartman Jr. averaged 12.08 to Kelly's 12.01 posting.

Nick Carmack of Hudson, Florida, took home the low 13-second trophy with a 13.043 three-run averagem and Dorinda Slaney of Deltona, Florida, nailed down a 14.010 quarter-mile average for the low 14-second win. Rounding out the True Street winners' category is Jacksonville, Florida's Chris Parisi, whose V-6 Roush Mustang posted a 15.03 average to beat out James Robinson's 15.07 effort.

The competition in True Street was certainly tough, but it goes hand in hand with sportsmanship. When John Rollins of Plantation, Florida, pulled to the back of the staging lanes to make his third of three runs, an errant transmission line began spewing fluid all over the ground. Figuring his day was done, Rollins informed the NMRA staff that he wasn't going to make it.

Diehard stick driver Keith Calitri powershifts proudly behind the wheel of his 306-powered, '88 notchback. He put together the lowest 11-seond average at 11.131 seconds.

"People just came out of nowhere and started helping," said Rollins. Some crewmembers from the nearby Roush Racing trailer came over to help, as well as other True Street competitors, and in a few minutes, the transmission line was reattached. Rollins went on to finish sixth in True Street, and went out in the first round of the Spring Break Shootout in a tight battle against Ron Smrekar.

For 2009, the Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords Spring Break Shootout, presented by Pro50.com (makers of the popular Pro 5.0 Power Tower Shifters), returned to its original home in Bradenton, Florida, and the Ford faithful came back to compete in the wildest street-legal Ford class around. They came from far and wide, with entrants hailing from such places as Texas, Louisiana, Rhode Island, Michigan, Missouri, Maryland, both Carolinas, and everywhere in between. The prolific Florida contingent, however, was stacked and came loaded for bear. They claimed 10 of the top 16 positions that made up the SBS ladder, and also held the top two fastest and quickest times going into eliminations.

Most people probably didn't notice how fast Christian Worley's '91 GT was, given its sedate looks. Packing a 12.5:1 347-cube, carbureted bullet with a healthy shot of giggle gas, Worley's rocket screamed to a 9.87 on its first pass--on 17-inch drag radials. He followed that up with a 9.97 and a 10.20, which averaged to a 10.02 and gave him the low 10-second win.

True Street killer Chris Escobar took the first round bye as his opponent, Christian Worley, had broke on his third pass in True Street the day before. The nitrous-gulping, 383-cube LX hatchback of Steeda Autosport's Scott Boda took down Tony Whetstone's brand-new turbocharged convertible, and JPC Racing's Justin Burcham drove his record-setting Three-Valve Mustang GT to a first round win over Bryan Bromley.

Modular-powered and twin-turbocharged, the bright red notchback belonging to Jason Borum was victorious over Chris Segura, while Blair Brannock took out Texas hotshoe Joel Cura to advance to Round Two. There couldn't have been better racing displayed this weekend than the first-round matchup with John Rollins and Ron Smrekar. Rollins posted a 10.66 time, while Smrekar lit up the board with a 10.67, but Smrekar had a 0.151-second holeshot that got him to the stripe first. Orestes Gonzalez was victorious over Todd Entenmann, and Randy Seward put the screws to Jason Roberts to advance.

A couple of upgrades to the pair of Precision turbochargers and a hot tuneup by Cal Hartline on the Big Stuff 3 engine management system enabled Chris Escobar's SVO to run a slew of 8-second passes this weekend. Fast times and bulletproof reliability allowed him to take home the True Street crown and trophy. While it remains turbocharged, the SVO now sports 4.6 liters of DOHC, modular power. Aside from forged rods and pistons and the slightest of port work on the heads, the motor is otherwise stock.

Round Two action saw Escobar squeak past Boda, and Borum moved on after Burcham broke. Brannock then edged past Smrekar, and Seward smoked Gonzalez with his Calypso Green coupe. Aside from the first-round bye, Escobar had probably the toughest competition of the shootout. It took an 8.89 to beat Scott Boda's 9.16 run in Round Two, and an 8.94 to beat Jason Borum's 9.12 effort. Randy Seward pulled out a huge holeshot over Blair Brannock to make his 9.23 e.t. and the finish line before Brannock's 8.95 pass.

That set up the final round of Spring Break Shootout competition, with Pensacola's Chris Escobar pitted against Orlando's Randy Seward and his Mustang 5.0 coupe. There were four turbochargers between the two of them, and both were hitting the Christmas tree extremely well all day. When the lights came down, Seward left first with a 0.010-second head start and had a nose on Escobar until the 330-foot mark. That's when Escobar's SVO started freight-training to the finish. Escobar stopped the clocks first with an 8.90-second e.t.; Seward wasn't far behind with a 9.23 effort.

In addition to his seven True Street crowns, Chris Escobar took home the Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords/Pro50.com Spring Break Shootout win, the trophy, the $800 in cold hard cash, a Pro 5.0 shifter, and a new Boss block from Ford Racing Performance Parts.

True Street continues at every NMRA event this year, and rumor has it they may be adding a heads-up True Street shootout to select events, too. If you can't make it to any of those, Florida is always a nice place to be in March. See you next year.

Another quick-with-a-stick coupe belonged to St. Augustine, Florida's Ronnie Smrekar, who powershifted his way to the 14th spot in True Street. The carbureted 408-cube Windsor under the hood is topped off with an Edelbrock RPM nitrous plate, and it propelled the '92 notchback to a best e.t. of 10.12 seconds. Smrekar won the first round in the Spring Break Shootout on a holeshot and left first on Blair Brannock in Round Two. However, his 10.90 effort wasn't enough to drive around Brannock's 9.16 pass.
Tremec True Street Top 25
PlaceNameAverageWin Status
1Chris Escobar9.135Winner
2Blair Brannock9.482Runner-Up
3Justin Burcham9.526 
4Todd Entenmann9.582
5Scott Boda9.{{{600}}}
6John Rollins9.750
7Jason Borum9.818
8Randy Seward9.885
9Christian Worley10.02010-Second Winner
10Joel Cura10.049 
11Bryan Bromley10.074
12Orestes Gonzalez10.212
13Tony Whetstone10.217
14Ron Smrekar10.{{{240}}}
15Chris Segura10.431
16Jason Roberts10.618
17Dennnis Morse10.991
18Keith Calitri11.13111-Second Winner
19Bob Walsh11.135 
20Ed Kaplonski11.533
21{{{Jimmy}}} Richardson11.633
22Brent Loveless11.730
23Justin Starkey11.851
24Doug Hierro11.890
25Kirk Dimitais11.906