Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
June 9, 2011
Photos By: Team MM&FF

We do very little to hide the soft spot in our hearts for Tremec True Street and its participants. Some of you may tire of our rambling about the class and its 13-, 14-, and 15-second winners, among others, but the truth is that we love True Street and everything it stands for. Few national drag racing circuits have a class like it. Though many offer "street" classes, they don't require a cruise, proof of registration and insurance, working headlights, or street-legal tires. For the regular guy on a blue-collar budget, there's no better way to get your quarter-mile thrills than attending an NMRA (or NMCA) event and running True Street.

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NMRA's season-opener and home of the MM&FF- sponsored Spring Break Shootout is held every year in early March in Bradenton, Florida. This is the event where everyone shakes off the departing winter chill and converges on Bradenton Motorsports Park for what is one of the NMRA's largest events in terms of participation and attendance.

This year proved as exciting as ever. By Friday afternoon, nearly 50 cars were registered. On that list were heavy-hitters Chris Segura, Alan Happell, Randy Seward, and 7-second-capable Angel Padillaùall vying for a coveted spot in the Spring Break Shootout class, made up of the top 16 True Street qualifiers.

Padilla laid down a low-8-second average in Houston last November, followed by multiple 7-second passes in the Lone Star Shootout. Padilla and car-owner Joel Cura weren't shy about shooting for the first ever 7-second True Street average. "We're hoping to average 7s," said Padilla in an interview on Friday. "The car is running great, and we feel really good about it," he added.

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Tremec True Street

By late morning on Saturday, a total of 82 cars lined up for the 30-mile cruise. After NMRA's Jeff Conley instructed the contestants of the rules, the scenic tour began. All but four made the entire cruise and were lined up in the staging lanes for cool-down.

After all three back-to-back passes were made, 62 were left standing. Orlando, Florida's Randy Seward, a serious favorite, broke his trans on the first pass, sending him to the pits. John Sheffler of Fort Meyers, Florida, showed up with his '85 SVO but broke on his first pass as well. In the end, San Antonio, Texas' Angel Padilla stood victorious. His 8.040-second average was good enough to bring home the coveted six-foot trophy, $250, and a new national True Street recordùbreaking his previous record by one hundredth of a second.

The runner-up spot went to Mike Jovanis of Wall, New Jersey, with an 8.883-second average, while the 9-second win went to Chris Segura of Fort Meyers, Florida. Tampa, Florida's Julio Don averaged 10.074 to take the 10-second victory with his turbocharged '89 GT. In the 11-second category, Sunrise, Florida's Connie Greiner laid down an 11.057-second average to take the win in her nitrous-fed '98 Mustang.

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With a 12.014-second average, Doug Fiero took the 12-second win in his Fort Meyers, Florida-based '93 Mustang. Steve Bouffard of New Port Richey, Florida, took home the 13-second plaque with a 13.018-second average. The '95 Cobra clone is powered by a homebuilt 331ci stroker and made two high-12-second passes on the first two runs. Bouffard took a little off on the third run to take the win.

Jeff Girardello of Palm Harbor, Florida, wheeled his '98 GT to a 14.041-second average to take the 14-second win. The Tremec-shifted coupe is mostly stock with a built rear and aftermarket suspension. With an average of 15.114, Tampa's Louis Fernandez, a first-time True Streeter, won 15-second bragging rights. His '03 GT convertible is stock with a cold-air intake.

One contestant of previous years whose absence must be noted is Pensacola's Chris Escobar. He wasn't able to get his '86 SVO ready in time, but we fully expect the champ to make an appearance in Commerce in April with his new power combination and 25.5-certified cage.

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Baer Brakes SBS

Though winning a prize in True Street is the goal for some, a place in the Spring Break Shootout is the real objective in Bradenton. When prizes were handed out on Saturday after the True Street competition, the top 16 were invited back to participate in the MM&FF Spring Break Shootout, presented by Baer Brakes.

This is perhaps the ultimate real street-legal heads-up race anywhere! The event is run heads-up using an NHRA Sportsman ladder with a 0.400 pro Tree. The drivers can lift the hood and tune, whereas the cars must be untouched in True Street.

Not only is winning a big goal, but winners take home some nice prizes. With an $800 cash prize, a six-foot trophy, and a Baer Brakes product sponsorship worth $2,500 all on the line, competition was fierce.

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Because the forecast for Sunday was dismal, NMRA officials squeezed in Round 1 Saturday evening. That was no problem for Padilla as he ran a 7.99 at 181 mph to knock out Julio Don. Chris Segura eliminated Ronnie Smrekar of Saint Augustine, Florida, while Segura’s wife, Deneen, defeated Tony Whetstone of Tallahassee, Florida. Elsewhere, Mike Jovanis knocked out Herman Hernandez, Alan Happell eliminated Roger Feldner, Rebecca Starkey won over Eddy Perez, and Karl Wesson beat out Steven Valladares.

Though the top eight were staged for a while on Saturday night waiting for Round 2, a rain shower brought racing to a halt, leaving everyone to wonder if racing would continue Sunday morning. Thankfully Sunday was beautiful, and Round 2 was underway by late morning. The Segura husband/wife team were back in action, but Deneen’s 10.23 wasn’t enough for Padilla. Chris, however, wheeled his ’86 GT to a 9.09 at 150 mph, enough to edge out Wesson.

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Allan Happell broke during Round 1, giving Starkey a bye run, and Jovanis eliminated Don to set up the semifinals. Though only the eighth-quickest car in the field, Rebecca Starkey made her way to the semifinals. She comes from VMP Tuning, and didn’t even bother to remove the baby seat from the back of her ’11 GT. Her husband, Justin, cheered as she took on Mike Jovanis. Starkey was a little slower out of the gate and never recovered, sending Jovanis to the Final.

In the other semifinal matchup, a hopeful Chris Segura went head-to-head with Angel Padilla. Segura got out of the gate nearly 0.2 second sooner, but shut it down after the 1-2 shift. “I was conservative with a 200-shot at first, but cranked it up against Angel,” said Segura. The 1.28 60-foot time, Segura’s best of the weekend, went by the wayside as he coasted to a stop before the 330-foot mark, but Padilla streaked to yet another 7-second pass.

The excitement built as underdog Jovanis lined up against Padilla for the final. The winner and runner-up from Saturday’s True Street competition lasted the day and finally went head-to-head for the first time ever. Though Padilla wasn’t quick on the Tree in the semis, he improved during the final with a 0.093 reaction time over Jovanis’ late 0.296. Jovanis busted into the 8s with an 8.905, but Padilla was gone, running 7.98 at almost 176 mph.

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“We’re really happy with our win here, but we’re going to make some adjustments and hopefully come out and average 7s,” said Padilla after his victory on Sunday. After two consecutive True Street wins together, with shootout victories and records, the Texas crew has its eyes on the 7-second prize. It’s one of the last barriers in True Street that stands and they want it bad. Check back to see if the team can do it in Georgia.

For many more photos and lots of video footage from True Street and the Spring Break Shootout, visit our site at www.musclemustangfastfords.com.

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