Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
February 1, 2001

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What a year Y2K has been in the world of Mustang drag racing-Pro 5.0 cars a hair from the 7.10s, Job Jr. runs the first 7-second Outlaw pass, Tom Payne's Pure Streeter turns in a sick 11.09-are you kidding me! In a year of benchmark performances, the Renegade class was lost in the shuffle, but they've come real close to knockin' on the eight- second door.

Can an eight-second Renegade car really be that far off? One person who thinks it's just around the corner is Bart Tobener. A three-year veteran of the Renegade wars, Bart knows a thing or two about what it takes to run the number. His performances this year back him up. No, it didn't start out that well at Bradenton when he had transmission trouble, but at the Atlanta Fun Ford he served notice that Renegade was under attack.

At Atlanta, Bart qualified in the top spot with an astounding 9.53 at 144 mph. However, a defective transbrake spelled an early exit in the first round, and he would have to wait to claim his first victory. But he wouldn't have to wait long. At the Houston Fun Ford race, Bart again qualified number one, and this time the red-light start wouldn't jump up and bite him. He dispatched '99 Renegade champ Chip (or is that Chris) Havemann in the final with a 9.60 at 141 mph to a 9.90 at 138 mph.

Sure, the Houston victory was a milestone, but Bart's true test would be just a couple weekends later at the World Ford Challenge. All the big dogs were on Gateway's grounds to do battle in every class, and Renegade was no exception. Tommy Nunz was there. Brian Meyer was there. And let's not forget perennial contenders Chip and Bob. Here at 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords central, we couldn't wait to see the Renegade show. Before the race, we were doing our own bench racing about who was going to win Renegade. We couldn't wait to see Bart against Tommy-and Brian's Jerico against everyone else. It was everything we imagined.

Tommy let it all hang out in qualifying when he ripped off a mind-numbing 9.25 at 145 mph. Brian would meet Bart in the third round, but a red-light start gave Bart the victory. Tommy trailered both Chip and Bob, and in the final it was worth the price of admission-Bart against Tommy Nunz.

Bart let Tommy get out first, but he was hot on Tommy's heels. At one point Bart stuck his nose out front, until he blew a head gasket. Tommy won with a 9.40 at 144 mph over Bart's losing 9.52 at 139 mph. Bart returned to his Boca Raton, Florida, home licking his wounds. But he had to heal up fast because the Gainesville Fun Ford was just around the corner.

Bart would remain true to form in the insanely hot Florida sun by turning in a 9.65 at 140 mph to once again qualify in the top spot ahead of 18 Renegade racers, but he would turn on the red light (again) against Craig Zurman in the finals. A visit to Norwalk turned into victory over Michael (Semper Fi) Goza, followed by another at Bristol over Manny Geno. Cordova FFW opened the door for another number-one qualifying effort with 9.44 at 141 mph, but Bart ran into problems in eliminations.

At Bart's first NMRA event of the year at the Holley World Finals at Bowling Green, Kentucky, things didn't turn out the way he had hoped either. We're sure a lot of people didn't have much fun due to the rainy weather, but Bart qualified only in the ninth spot with a 9.76 at 136 mph in probably one of the tougher Renegade fields of the year. Adding insult to injury, he met an early defeat at the hands of Fun Ford-regular Dan Jaynes in the first round of competition.

His Bowling Green performance notwithstanding, Bart Tobener has what it takes to be a player in the Renegade ranks. Can he be the first Renegade racer in the eights? He closed out the season with a blistering 9.30 at 144 and took home the win at the Fun Ford Weekend finale in Ennis, Texas, so those eights might not be far off. However, he'll have company on his journey. With the LaRocca camp making tranny-breaking power, and Brian Meyer and tuning wizard Rick Anderson becoming more comfortable with the Jerico, Bart won't be the only one with eights on the brain.

Horse Sense: On the Unlimited Performance [(561) 588-6630] Dynojet, Bart Tobener's 2000 Renegade car made 732 hp and 632 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. His Renegade-spec Paxton Novi 2000 makes more than 23 pounds of boost with a 3.25-inch pulley-and an eight-rib belt!