Spring Break. We look forward to it every year.
There may still be snow on the ground in many places in early March, but in Bradenton, Florida, there's sand and sunshine. Couple that with a very capable Bradenton Motorsports Park, and it's easy to see why the NMRA hosts its season opener there every year. If you've never experienced it, go ahead and book a room now for next year. You won't regret it.
Little Miss Sunshine
As the holidays were winding down, racers thrashed on their rides to prepare for the upcoming racing season. Through the lull of winter, everyone anticipated the trip to Bradenton.
Being the first race of the season, many hopeful racers show up with their sights on a championship ring. Others come out to dust off their Pony for a stab at a win in Tremec True Street or a spot in the MM&FF Spring Break Shootout class sponsored by Blow-by Racing (Read about it on page 136.) For others, the car show is their comfy spot.
This year, we saw a slew of early and late-model Stangs in the overflowing UPR Products car show. We always find feature cars at the Bradenton event, and this year was no exception.
But for most, spectating is the name of the game. Food, drinks, fast cars, and beautiful weather attracted a few thousand spectators on Saturday alone! Attractions included full pit access, a sprawling swap meet area, the NMRA Power Mall, and too many vendors to name. Companies like Tremec, Nitto, QA1, UPR Products, Blow-by Racing, and Steeda had their products displayed, many offering weekend-only specials.
To the Stripe
"You can't win ‘em all if you don't win the first one" is a phrase that was drilled into your author's head during the off-season by a former coach. As in sports, this first race of the year could create a points margin that can be carried throughout the entire season.
Drew Skillman took the win in the Cobra Jet Shootout, beating Chris Holbrook in the Final.
The Pro Outlaw 10.5 class is gone, and taking its place at the top of the heap is AFCO Street Outlaw. Formed by merging former Super Street Outlaw and Drag Radial classes, this new premier class brings the best of both classes together in one wild show. Lebanon, Ohio's Phil Hines qualified first, just in front of eight-time champion John Urist. The two faced each other in the final, where Hines bested the champ with a 7.30 at 195.01 mph to Urist's 7.42 at 192.06 mph. "I'm usually on the other end of the Tree," said Hines after his win and 0.040 reaction time to Urist's 0.042.
In Edelbrock Renegade, record-holder Brian Mitchell launched the new season the way he ended last season—with a win. After qualifying second to Scott Grove, whom he beat in the finals at Bowling Green for a season-ending win, Mitchell went on to face A.J. Wyce in the final, but Wyce's 8.97 wasn't enough for Mitchell's 8.54.
Strange Engineering Coyote Stock continues to grow and get faster. Almost all of the competitors are picking up 10-second timeslips—many approaching the 10.50 mark. Champion Joe Charles qualified second with a 10.72, followed by Joe Marini with a 10.76. Marini, whose car was piloted by JPC Racing's Justin Burcham last year, is now piloting the '11 Mustang himself. Marini defeated Charles in the semi-finals, and went on to take out number one qualifier Shane Stymiest in the finals with a 10.63 to Stymiest's 10.66. Marini's slow reaction time almost cost him the race, but he won by a thousandth (0.001) of a second!
In the Nitto Factory Stock ranks, veterans Louis Sylvester, Matt Amrine, Carlos Sobrino, and John Leslie Jr. all rolled into Bradenton with the taste of win on their tongues. After qualifying first, Sylvester went on to face Amrine in the Final. Amrine bested Sylvester's 10.95 with a 10.87 at 122.26 mph.
1. Portland, Indiana’s Chad Wendel qualified second with his Moser Engineering ’07 GT, but
2. In Edelbrock Renegade, Brian Mitchell (far lane) faced A.J. Wyce in the final. Wyce let
3. Susan Roush McClenaghan dominated Exedy Clutch Modular Muscle in Bradenton. After quali
4. In the ever-growing Strange Engineering Coyote Stock class, Joe Marini (far lane) has t
5. Nitto Factory Stock brought Matt Amrine (far lane) and Louis Sylvester together in the
6. This Lightning isn’t competing in Detroit Locker Trucks—no, it competes in AFCO Street