Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 1, 2007
Photos By: Courtesy KJ Jones, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords

In years past, the National Mustang Racer's Association has held its Ford Motorsport Nationals in Pennsylvania. Due to scheduling conflicts and other reasons, the event was moved to Michigan's Milan Dragway for 2007.

The 4th Annual Toyo Tires NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals held June 15-17 had plenty of racing and show action. The attendance and car counts were down a bit, which is common in the first year of a new location until the word gets out-then again, it was also Father's Day weekend, with several other large Ford events going throughout the country. The weather was perfect, and there were plenty of cars on the track and in the Laurel Mountain Auto Show field hosted by the Motor City Terminators of Toledo, Ohio. This club is centered around the '03/'04 SVT Cobra Mustang, also known by its internal name of Terminator Mustang from ex-SVT head John Coletti.

Usually a weekend away from home covering an NMRA event means plenty of hot sun, lugging around a big camera, and eating indistinguishable track food. But thanks to Ford Racing Performance Parts and Factory Five Racing, I actually became part of the action at NMRA Milan, pedaling FFR employee Jim Schenck's FFR Challenge Series Spec Racer down the track during the Ford Racing Invitational. I was having so much fun, I almost forgot to take pictures.

One of the highlights of the event was the Inaugural Ford Racing Invitational-a media-only racing event held within the NMRA's weekend schedule. Ford Racing Performance Parts brought out a bevy of new Mustangs and F-150s fully loaded with all sorts of speed parts from its catalog. The lucky, invited journalists picked their car at random from a pool of cars. Included with the new Ford products were two Factory Five Challenge Series Roadsters. These two cars are Spec Racers for the FFR Challenge series and feature stock drivetrains from '87-'93 Mustangs. While wheeling a 600-plus horsepower '07 Shelby down Milan's quarter-mile would have been fun, we were even luckier to draw one of the FFR Challenge cars. With our own Roadster AWOL for painting, it was a blast taking the FFR down the track.

Racing For Fun And Profit (Well, Fun At Least)
As part of Friday and Saturday's event schedule, I and 11 other Ford magazine journalists got to experience the other side of the dragstrip wall by strapping on various Ford products modified with Ford Racing Performance Parts (everything from experimental cams to supercharger kits), all in the name of product education and some good, clean competition.

Set up as a bracket-style event, qualifying was via reaction time. Somehow I captured the top qualifying spot with the best reaction time during Saturday-morning qualifying. I think the sticky racing tires on the Spec Racer were a help compared to the guys running big power on stock radials. I've cut a perfect light or two in the past, but I felt lucky to get the reaction time I did after having not gone down a dragstrip in over a year.

The luxury of a bye run during the first round of eliminations put me up against Michael Galimi from Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords in an automatic-equipped Hertz Mustang. I chose a 13.3 dial-in, while Michael wrote a 14.00. I wasn't so quick on the draw this time around, however, and Michael schooled me something fierce on the Tree. When we crossed the finish line, I saw the win light go on in his lane, and I knew the race had been won at the Tree. Com-paring timeslips, Michael ran a 14.20 and I ran a 13.40. I was closer to my dial-in (and would have won) if I hadn't been caught nap-ping at the Tree (where Michael picked up nearly three tenths on me).

The Ford Racing Invitational came down to an all-F-150 finals (both automatics, which are easier to bracket race, and both with superchargers). It was John Gallagher, publisher of Car Craft, against a journalist from Road & Track. John took the win and brought the Ford Racing Invitational award home for the Primedia folks.

Maybe next year Ford will have an award for top qualifier, but then again I probably won't be sitting pretty in the top spot. Many thanks go to Jesse Kershaw, Jamie Allison, Whitney Drake, and all of the FRPP, Ford Racing Technology, and Ford corporate people who put on such a killer "event within an event" with the NMRA staff.

Mustang & Fords
Editor's Choice Award

Don Klein, Toledo, OH
'65 Ranchero

Don Klein's Ranchero is the epitome of clean styling. While maintaining the stock body lines (which is no slouch on its own) Don added stylish wheels in just the right size to give the Ranchero a nice stance and striking outward appearance without looking outlandish. Inside, he added a few mild street-rod touches, including a billet steering wheel on a tilt column, a custom console with gauges, and a Hurst shifter to row his five-speed conversion. The car is so clean, it looks as if you could eat off of it. Don walked away with First Place in Best Ford Truck on Saturday as well as our Editor's Choice award.