Nine years ago the gates opened at the Fun Ford Weekend season opener and a new crop of racers took the staging lanes. They had their sights set on winning the Spring Break Shootout. The idea was to combine the party atmosphere of Spring Break with a heads-up street class featuring very few rules. When the dust settled, Mark Biddle of Panhandle Performance had captured the title with consistent low 10-second runs. Our yearly tradition of the pre-race Hooters Party and the Shootout class continues to grow and is still the best party in all of Ford drag racing. This year FFW once again played host to our Pro50.com sponsored Spring Break Shootout class and the turnout was awesome.
The rules have remained largely the same, save for the allowance of ladder bars and mini-tubs (though we're thinking about going back to stock suspensions for 2005). You can race any Fox or SN95 Ford vehicle as long as the stock framerails are still in place and you apply the power to a set of 28x10.5-inch slicks. Cars that are equipped with inline valve heads (on top of small-blocks) need to weigh a minimum of 2,900 pounds, while big-block and Yates/Cleveland/Brodix headed entries tip the scales at 3,200 pounds. Your car must be registered with license plates and proof of insurance. All street equipment must be present and working. Otherwise it's run whatcha brung and hope ya' brung enough.
Pro 5.0 Shifters sponsored the class and has been involved since its inception and this year 22 racers showed up to qualify. Mike Wadsworth added some nitrous to his big-block Ford engine in order to claim the number-one qualified position this year. The notchback covered the quarter-mile in only 8.37 seconds, one of the quickest passes in Spring Break Shootout history. The coupe did have ladder bars and mini tubs, all legal under the 2004 rules. He has 600 ci sitting under the cowl hood that produces in excess of 1,100 hp and gobs of torque when the NOS fogger system is activated. Top speed for this cruise missile was 166.20 mph. Claiming the second position on the ladder was Glenn Adams, who drove a sedate looking red notchback quietly into the mid-9s. An impressive elapsed time indeed, but the owner reported the car was capable of going deep into the 8s and the 155.79-mph blast showed it. The new combination was still being sorted out that weekend. Third on the qualifying sheet was Charles Manchester who owns a gorgeous '95 Mustang and packs 408 ci under the hood. On a small hit of nitrous the car qualified with a 9.78 at 138.73 mph.
Mike Hollek and Cory Pittzer both claimed a spot on the qualifying ladder with 9-second times. Hollek ran 9.82 to take the fourth position and Florida-resident Pittzer was fifth in the field with a 9.90. One of the coolest cars on the property belonged to Bill Kieler. He drove a phat '89 Lincoln Mark. Before you laugh, just think about this sleeper combination; it's a warmed over 357-cube engine with a carburetor and a hit of nitrous combined with the luxury of a Lincoln and the race-friendly Fox-chassis. The car just screams "street racer" and we are sure there have been many unsuspecting folks who lost serious money when lining up against Kieler. It did run 10.01 in qualifying and dipped into the 9s during eliminations. In all, there were 13 competitors who qualified in the 10s or quicker. There could have been a few more 8- and 9-second players had it not been for parts breakage. Surprisingly, Spurgeon Adkins qualified down towards the bottom of the ladder with a 15.25 run. His purple notch always comes to play at Spring Break Shootout and packs 8-second times. This was not his year though, and he was sidelined with breakage.
In heads-up drag racing anything can happen and the first round of our class proved it. Adams was paired up with Mike Stefani and it was on its way to being a lopsided victory. Stefani left the starting line first, but when the red notchback started making boost it was all over. Adams cruised to the win with a 10.11 to Stefani's 10.79. Hollek showed Ryan Chisholm that his 427 ci was better than Chisholm's 281 cubes. The silver coupe pounded out a 9.80, while Chisholm watched from his 12.0 Stang. Manchester picked up the pace a bit with his '95 Stang and sent Brainard back home to Sorrento, Florida, with a 9.65 to Brainard's 12.92 run. When you qualify twentieth you tend to expect to be first round fodder, but that was not the case with Blake Keller and his '89 Mustang. Mario Gutiener Jr. broke his '93 Stang in the burnout and Keller drove solo down the track for the win. Pittzer advanced to the second round, as his 9.87 was no match for Whittaker's 13.99 effort.
Remember we told you anything can happen in heads-up drag racing? Sherry Gonyon is living proof of the previous statement with her twin-turbo '86 Mustang. The docile-sounding Stang ran deep into the 10s, but had the misfortune of lining up against Wadsworth and his low 8-second ride. Both racers pulled to the starting line and brought the revs up, but when the lights dropped, Gonyon leaped off the starting while Wadsworth sat there motionless. Gonyon raced to the finish line and stopped the clocks in only 10.65 seconds, but as it turned out Wadsworth's Powerglide transmission tapped out giving Gonyon the easy win. Another racer who had an easy first round win was Kevin Morris. Morris was supposed to face Spurgeon Adkins, but the purple coupe did not make the lane call. Broken parts also sidelined the turbo car of Todd Aamdus, which gave Mario Durado a single with his '03 Cobra. The convertible ran 13.72 at 104 mph. Parts attrition was high this year and Daniel Mclean pulled out of competition after qualifying giving his first round opponent, John Bressell, a bye run. Steneth Bubbles survived by beating Nick Cogswell with a 10.21 to Cogswell's 13.40 pass. Kieler showed Bryant Steipling how to push 4,400 pounds of steel down the track in only 10.17 seconds and the Lincoln advanced.
Most people know if you get lucky in the first round you probably won't be so lucky in the second one, but that was not the case with Durado who remained in competition when Manchester left before the Tree was activated. Hollek was the only other driver to have an easy second round. The nitrous-powered coupe sent Keller back to the trailer as it covered the quarter-mile in 9.83 seconds. When Wadsworth exited competition all eyes turned to the number-two qualifier, Glenn Adams, and his turbocharged Mustang. He was scheduled to face Bubbles, but missed the lane call and Adams was sent on a bye run. Adams wisely made an easy "tuning" pass to ensure everything was working properly. Kieler impressed the crowd and had his eye on the Pro50.com money. The 4,400-pound barge blistered a 9.96 to beat Bresell who pulled a 10.11 out of his bag of tricks. Pittzer proved to have the toughest battle in the second round when he lined up against Morris. Both cars posted 9-second times with Pittzer being the quicker car, 9.85 to Morris' 9.94. Gonyon received a bye run and she advanced while running a stout 10.46 at 130 mph with her street car.
Six competitors remained in competition with Durado making the most noise, not by his speeds but by luck. However, his story did not have a happy ending as Kieler and his Lincoln ended Durado's day. It was not without drama as Kieler ran into some problems, but his 10.94 was still quicker than Durado's 13.43. For a split second the crowd thought the Cobra would have a chance when the Lincoln spun bad off the starting line. Adams knew this round was to be his biggest test, because if he made it past Pittzer then he would have a bye run into the finals. His longtime friend, Jack Lyons, upped the boost and told Adams to hold on tight. The coupe unloaded a 9.11 at 145.58 mph and he beat Pittzer to the finish line. Gonyon's day ended at the hands of Hollek, but she made a race out of it. The two Mustangs left the starting line together and Gonyon stayed in the race as the two turbos were working hard under the hood. But Pittzer had too much steam for her and turned on the win light first; 9.89 to Gonyon's 10.50.
There were supposd to be three racers left in competition for the semifinals. Adams was scheduled to have a bye run, while Kieler and Hollek were going to battle it out for a spot in the big money round (Thanks to Pro50.com for putting up that cash!). However, after repeated calls over the PA system Hollek did not show up. Race officials put the question out to Adams and Kieler--they could each make a solo run and come back later to run the finals or square off for the Pro50.com Spring Break Shootout title at that moment. Both drivers agreed to get it on and they lined up against each other. In one lane sat Adams with his high-tech pony, while Kieler was strapped into his street-race-like Lincoln ready to crack open the nitrous bottle. The two finalists could not have been further apart in looks and the crowd simply loved it. From the moment the green light dropped Adams was out on Kieler and he never looked back. The notchback kept pulling away and Adams saved his best performance for last. He ran 9.04 at 153.13 mph for the victory, while Kieler stopped the clocks in 9.97 seconds at a speed of 136.94 mph.
This year marked the tenth annual Spring Break Shootout and we plan on having the eleventh bash next year. Do you have what it takes to be the quickest and fastest Spring Break driver? Come on down and find out; we'll be there waiting with cameras.
Spurgeon Adkins has been a...
Spurgeon Adkins has been a regular in the Pro50.com Spring Break Shootout class and usually fares very well with his high 8-second coupe. We bet he would like to forget this year because he struggled with parts breakage all weekend long. You can see some of the bent up sheetmetal on the passenger side. They are scars left over from a violent wheelie that got away from him at the end of last season.
The sweet sound of a turbocharger...
The sweet sound of a turbocharger led us to take a closer look at Glenn Adams' LX coupe.
It's low rumble is deceptive...
It's low rumble is deceptive as he pounded several low 9-second times to take the class win and pocket Pro50.com's money.
Number-one qualifier Mike...
Number-one qualifier Mike Wadsworth looked to have a lock on the title after his 8.37 qualifying run...
However, a broken transmission...
However, a broken transmission ended his day in the first round.
Under Wadsworth's hood resides...
Under Wadsworth's hood resides a 600ci behemoth that will push this 3,200-pound coupe into the low 8s. Chemical additives are delivered via a NOS fogger system.
This is perhaps one of the...
This is perhaps one of the coolest rides on the property. We are sure Bill Kieler has won some serious money with this Lincoln. How cool is it that the car weighs over 4,000 pounds, lifts the big front tires off the ground, and runs in the high 9s?
Sherry Gonyon and her husband...
Sherry Gonyon and her husband Tony hauled their street-legal, twin-turbo Mustang to Orlando for the Spring Break Shootout class. Sherry ran mid-10s and went to the third round of eliminations where she lost to Mike Hollek.
Charles Manchester is seen...
Charles Manchester is seen here leaving the line during Saturday night's qualifying round. A 408 with some nitrous is responsible for the 9.78 at 138.73 mph performances. Manchester qualified third in the 22-car field.
The Spring Break Shootout...
The Spring Break Shootout attracts people from different parts of the country and Mike Hollek made the trip from Cypress, Texas. The number-four qualifier advanced past Chisholm in the first round, then dispatched Keller in the second, and finally ended Gonyon's day to make the semifinals. Unfortunately, Hollek was unable to make the lane call for his match with Kieler.
Chad Hitt made the switch...
Chad Hitt made the switch from Renegade to the Spring Break Shootout class, but broke shortly after this photo was taken. Because he did not make a qualifying run, he was not on the ladder.
Anything can happen in heads-up...
Anything can happen in heads-up racing, just ask Mario Durado, who was having fun with his '03 Cobra. The low 13-second convertible went all the way to the third round in a field filled with many 9- and 10-second cars.
This is Ebon Whittaker driving...
This is Ebon Whittaker driving his turbocharged '79 Stang to another low 12-second run at 119 mph in qualifying.
Cory Pittzer used high 9-second...
Cory Pittzer used high 9-second passes to get him to the quarter-finals before Adams took him out.
Did we mention before that...
Did we mention before that we really dig Kieler's Lincoln? He was a 2004 SBS finalist.
Daniel McLean may have posted...
Daniel McLean may have posted a 16-second time in qualifying, but we suspect he has run much quicker due to his full cage and healthy sounding engine.
Just missing the coveted 9-second...
Just missing the coveted 9-second zone was Stenneth Bubbles of Georgia. The teal coupe ran 10.04 on Saturday, which placed him seventh in the field.
With a Lugo Performance sticker...
With a Lugo Performance sticker on the windshield you know this '95 Mustang has to be turbocharged. Todd Amandus qualified for the show with a 10.06, but had problems that prevented him from competing on Sunday.
|2004 Pro50.com Spring Break Shootout Qualifying List |
| ||Name ||Hometown ||ET ||MPH |
| || || || || |
|1. ||Mike Wadsworth ||Macon, GA ||8.37 ||166.20 |
|2. ||Glenn Adams ||Orlando, FL ||9.44 ||155.79 |
|3. ||Charles Manchester ||Miami, FL ||9.78 ||138.73 |
|4. ||Mike Hollek ||Cypress, TX ||9.82 ||137.71 |
|5. ||Cory Pittzer ||Thonotosassa, FL ||9.90 ||135.25 |
|6. ||Bill Kieler ||Tampa, FL ||10.01 ||134.99 |
|7. ||Stenneth Bubbles ||Lawrenceville, GA ||10.04 ||131.75 |
|8. ||Todd Amandus ||Orlando, FL ||10.06 ||138.56 |
|9. ||Mario Gutiener Jr. ||Orlando, FL ||10.14 ||135.01 |
|10. ||Kevin Morris ||Jacksonville, FL ||10.19 ||142.22 |
|11. ||John Bressell ||Sunrise, FL ||10.31 ||129.85 |
|12. ||Sherry Gonyon ||Middleburg, FL ||10.37 ||131.42 |
|13. ||Mike Steffani ||St. Petersburg, FL ||10.79 ||124.77 |
|14. ||Chris Brainard ||Sorrento, FL ||11.59 ||117.29 |
|15. ||Ryan Chisholm ||Lakeland, FL ||12.20 ||117.67 |
|16. ||Ebon Whitaker ||St. Cloud, FL ||12.47 ||119.00 |
|17. ||Bryant Steipling ||Tallahassee, FL ||12.66 ||113.29 |
|18. ||Nick Cogswell ||Mt. Dora, FL ||13.02 ||104.07 |
|19. ||Mario Durado ||Lakeland, FL ||13.36 ||100.13 |
|20. ||Blake Keller ||Gainesville, FL ||13.47 ||107.32 |
|21. ||Spurgeon Adkins ||Cordele, GA ||15.25 || 61.52 |
|22. ||Daniel McLean ||Millbrook, NY ||16.80 || 51.94 |