Justin Fivella
November 2, 2011

Despite a rich history chock-full of car culture, in recent years California has lacked a serious gear-jammin’, all-encompassing, sanctioned event that enthusiasts could really get behind. This all changed when the NMRA and the NMCA combined to create the first West Coast Shootout at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California.

Like Batman and Robin, or Starsky and Hutch, only the NMRA and NMCA could whip up such an amazing event packed full of fabulous Fords and other Brand-X vehicles. Attendance was strong as enthusiasts enjoyed eight classes of drag racing, including True Street, the Hotchkis autocross course, Baer Brakes Speed-Stop-Challenge, a packed vendor row, and the ever-popular show-and-shine area full of serious iron. In other words, there was something for everyone.

This was the first time in years an event of this kind ventured into the Golden State, and the Auto Club Dragway proved to be the right venue, as the strip bit hard despite the grueling temperatures. “In spite of the serious heat, the attendance was strong and the racing was solid,” says Auto Club Dragway Manager Mark Dawson. “I’m looking forward to next year already.”

The NMRA and NMCA used an abbreviated class structure during this non-points event, but there was no shortage of Blue Oval performance. The Mickey Thompson Extreme Drag Radial number one qualifying spot was taken by Sandi Wold with a 7.74 at 187.47 pass in her beautiful ’00 Mustang GT. Wold’s New Edge lit the strip with a boosted 4.6 combo stuffed inside a sleeper exterior accentuated by blacked-out rims and a Washington license plate that read: GTBOOST. Wold would make the final round only to foul out for not tripping the forward beam while trying to light the turbo.

Centerforce Hot Street saw a pair of fast Mustangs face each other in the finals. In the end, Daniel Bott II piloted his ultra-clean SN-95 to victory over Anthony Valentino in his Fox coupe with a winning run of 8.399 at 162.66 mph to Valentino’s 8.455 at 160.38 mph.

The ever-popular Ford Racing Performance Parts Mustang Madness class concluded with Scott Dool and his tubbed-out ’90 GT chasing down Cal Gordon in his four-eyed LX for the victory. Gordon nabbed the win with an impressive wheels-up 9.295 at 145.19 mph pass.

Another highlight was Tremec True Street. Over 60 contestants set forth into the popular class, but there was a twist—True Street also included the special Racer’s Against Street Racing (RASR) Media and Manufacturers class, which joined the traditional competition to name the fastest hot shoe from the industry. Our fearless leader, Evan Smith, piloted the Boss 302 of Tracey Keller to the RASR 13-second title with a three-run average of 13.087.

True Street competitors had the rare opportunity of cruising the 2.0-mile, banked NASCAR oval at the Auto Club Speedway for the driving portion of the event. To say the experience was amazing would be an understatement. The competitors shared in this sentiment with full-throttle blasts and ear-to-ear grins around the famed track.

After hot-lapping the oval, the drivers flooded the lanes and got down to business with fender-to-fender racing. The True Streeters came back for action on Sunday for some bracket action, and although a Ford didn’t win the overall title, Norm Knox and his ’11 Mustang GT made it to the semifinal round with a high 11-second e.t. Knox also went on to win the 13-second class (different from the RASR portion of the event). Holding it down in the 14-second category, Jason LaFrenz steered his ’93 Fox-body coupe to victory, while Gregory Anderson in his ’07 V-6 Mustang claimed the 15-second title.

After a great weekend full of solid competition and serious camaraderie, it was fitting that class winners were bestowed with the prestigious NHRA Wally Award, a magnificent trophy named after Wally Parks, the founder of the NHRA. Few can lay claim to winning an actual Wally Award, and the gracious move on behalf of the event promoters put the proverbial icing on the cake.

So if you’re west of the Mississippi next July, make plans to stop by Fontana—you won’t be disappointed.

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