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 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.