Michael Galimi
February 1, 2013
Mike Murillo is one of the most decorated Mustang racers of all-time with 13 national series championships to his credit. The veteran Mustang racer from San Antonio, Texas, claimed his third NMRA championship in his illustrious career. He beat Pro Outlaw 10.5 rival Tim Essick to earn the title as he unleashed a 6.64 at 220 mph in the final round.

The 2012 NMRA Keystone All Ford Nationals drag racing season held its championship in early October on the grounds of historic Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was the 14th running of the NMRA World Finals, an annual get-together that is consistently one of the biggest Mustang events of the year.

Nearly 90 cars were on hand for True Street action, and almost 300 cars packed the show grounds. The NMRA World Finals is a 72-hour festival of Mustangs that overflows onto the local strip at the conclusion of the on-track action. The Bowling Green event is not just a race, but a complete Mustang takeover of the town that's located an hour north of Nashville.


A noticeable trend in the NMRA has been the increasing number of women entering the drag racing ranks. This is Valerie Clements, who races in an 8-second '05 Mustang GT in the Renegade category. She cut her teeth in the Junior Dragster world and joined her brother, Alton Clements, full-time on the NMRA tour this year as a two-car Renegade team.

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On track, the heads-up and index/open comp categories were filled with competitors vying for championships and aiming to set performance records one last time before the winter. Of the 11 NMRA racing categories, 8 had yet to crown a champion. So for many racers, everything was on the line. John Urist (Super Street Outlaw), Jason Lee (Drag Radial), and Brian Mitchell (Renegade) were the only racers who sealed-up championships prior to the finale. Charlie Booze Jr. and Don Bowles fought for the Hot Street title, while HiPo Joe Charles had Justin Burcham knocking on his back door in Coyote Stock. Louis Sylvester was chasing defending series champion Carlos Sobrino for the bragging rights in Factory Stock.

Truck and Lightning was a slugfest with four racers vying for the championship. The Modular Muscle and Super Stang championship titles were literally up for grabs as the top six racers in points had a mathematical capability of winning. In Open Comp it would be the top seven point-earners vying for the championship! The racing is that close and competitive in the Open Comp and index categories. Participation is extremely high in those categories making the championship implications that much more complicated.

An added bonus was a special Terminator vs. Shelby GT500 Shootout and 21 racers made the call. We watched everything from mild bolt-on cars to all-out racing machines hit the track for fun and glory. Both the Shelby GT500 and Terminator (unofficial) world records went down at Bowling Green.

Topping the qualifying list was Tim Oswalt and his street-driven '03 Cobra. The black Terminator ran 8.18, the quickest known run by a Terminator—a pair of twin turbos force-feeds this 4.6L powerhouse. Tommy Passalacqua has the honor of being the quickest and fastest Shelby GT500 racer thanks to an incredible 8.36 at 165 mph during round three of eliminations. Passalacqua's GT500 features an L&M 5.4L engine with a Kenne Bell 3.6L Twin-Screw supercharger. It also carries the street car moniker like Oswalt's twin-turbo Cobra. Sleeper doesn't begin to describe either of these specialty Mustang vehicles.

We were once again blown away by the level of participation in the True Street ranks thanks to 90 entries passing through tech. The top players were all aiming for the 8-second zone, some accomplished that task while others fell short. True Street, however, is not just about the top tier entries. NMRA gives out awards to the quickest averages for 9-second, 10-second, 11-second, 12-second, 13-second, 14-second, and 15-second time zones.

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