By When Fun Ford last visited No Problem Raceway near Belle Rose, Louisiana, it left with high hopes for a triumphant return after a great inaugural event in 2005. Headquartered in the nearby Baton Rouge area, this was a homecoming for a lot of the racers, fans, and other people who have played prominently in the 16-year history of the series. Hurricane Katrina changed all of that.
The unmistakable signs of storm damage, a changed people, and economic hardships were evident even though the area was some nine months removed from that fateful event. Fun Ford and its sponsors could have easily pulled the plug on returning to this area that had suffered America's greatest natural disaster, but it decided to come anyway. The resulting event, while smaller than what's typically found in this series, nevertheless provided a welcome sign of a return to normalcy in what is still a long road to full recovery.
With this event marking the close of the first third of the '06 season, Belle Rose signaled there is a new wave of racers ready to take their place beside some of the sport's better-known partici-pants. David Schorr, who made his FFW debut last year at Cordova, took his mountain-motor EFI combination into the Winner's Circle after some near misses at other events, and went home with the points lead in Probe Pro Eliminator. Schorr made the trip to Louisiana despite the persistent threat of rain and picked up what proved to be some valuable championship points in his bid for the '06 title.
ProCharger Street Outlaw saw a familiar face take the honors as the team of Steve Petty and driver Tim Lynch scored the event win with a 7.183/183.72 over Chip Havemann. Hoping to crash this year's party, however, was newcomer Conrad Scarry, who qualified number one the week before at Houston with crew chief Jason Fields calling the shots. Scarry and crew were hoping to build on that momentum in a big way at Belle Rose only to find a bent wishbone suspen-sion component that contributed mightily to some severe handling problems. With no spares to be found, the team had to run what they brung and make the best of it in the first round, where they lost.
Series points leader Gina Munden made her lone qualifying pass in BFGoodrich Drag Radial to grab the pole with an 8.239-second run. Manny Alvarez, on the other hand, struggled to keep from blowing the tires off every time he went down the track. Things changed on Sunday, though, as Alvarez found the handle and came back to surprise Munden during eliminations with a slightly quicker 8.237 of his own to pick up his first FFW win in three appearances this year.
Ronnie Wilson successfully defended his win in Precision Turbo Street Renegade from the year before with a 7.834/174.01 thrashing over Joe Robinson. Wilson, who spent considerable time and money updating his car to take full advantage of the nitrous rules, has been on a tear with a perfect record during eliminations. Robinson, who won several times in limited appearances on the tour last year, showed he wasn't as rusty as some had hoped he'd be when he peeled off a 7.87 with a faster mph than Wilson had in qualifying with his ProCharger-powered Fox-body. Wilson and Robinson took care of Adam Louramore and Scott Pennington to make the final round.
The biggest surprise of the '06 season has been the performance of Conrad Scarry, who left
David Schorr became the fourth winner in as many events at Belle Rose, and extended his po
Jim D'Amore of JDM Engineering made the trek from New Jersey to run in Ultra Stang.
Defending series champion Ronnie Wilson continued his unbeaten streak in Precision Turbo S