NMRA Drag Racing At Atco Raceway - New Jersey Hit Squad
NMRA Racers Invade Atco Raceway And Battle For 1,320 Supremacy.
From the February, 2007 issue of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
By Michael Galimi
Photography by Evan J Smith, Michael Galimi
Bob Hanlon's old-school Mustang...
Bob Hanlon's old-school Mustang beat out Charlie Booze and laid claim to the Hot Street national record as he secured the top qualifying position by running an 8.80 at 152 mph.
Atco Raceway, located in southern New Jersey, was home to some historic clashes in the early days of the 5.0 Shootout scene. Back in the late '80s and through the '90s even a 10-second or 9-second Mustang was the big dog. Monster wheelstands were reserved for the NHRA Super Stock crowd-not Mustang racers. Times have changed, however, as the NMRA regulars showed up at Atco to put on a wild show. Not only did racers post performances in the mid 6-second zone in the DiabloSport Pro 5.0 cate-gory, but records fell by the handful in the other heads-up categories. That was in large part due to unusually cool August air and great traction.
Having to put on a sweatshirt in August was not normal for Jerseyans, but the fans and racers were willing to accept the trade-off for the performance-enhancing weather. NMRA's Saturday program starts late in the afternoon, and the final rounds of qualifying are held "under the lights." It adds drama, and it also presents the racers with an outstanding racing surface and cooler air. With the season points battles taking shape, many class leaders had their equipment set on "kill" to grab the few extra points for breaking an elapsed time record.
Team Aruba's entry, driven...
Team Aruba's entry, driven by Burt Kelkboom, dropped a 6.57 at 213 mph to grab the top qualifying position. The night air and Atco's legendary traction provided conditions for Kelkboom to unleash the quickest Pro 5.0 pass in the NMRA's seven-year history. The team made it to the finals on Sunday, but a broken throttle linkage prevented them from racing against Bischoff.
The battle for quick times was no more prevalent than in Pro 5.0 and Edelbrock Hot Street. In the Pro 5.0 class the top racers went blow for blow during the first rounds of qualifying by bettering each other as they ran down the track. The two drivers who separated them-selves from the six-car field in that last round of qualifying were Michael Hauf and Burt Kelkboom. Hauf was first to run in the final session, and he ran a demented 6.59 at 212 mph. It marked the first time a naturally aspirated car ran in the 6.50s in NMRA action.
While the team was high-fivin' and the crowd cheered, the newly constructed race car of Burt Kelkboom, which is sponsored by the island of Aruba, came to the starting line. At the flash of green, Kelkboom let out the clutch pedal and marched to a 6.57 at 213 mph-the quickest and fastest pass in the history of the NMRA's Pro 5.0 class. Just like that, the attention and celebration went to Team Aruba.
The drama was also running high in the Hot Street division where competitors run naturally aspirated small-block engines. It was a clash in style between Bangin' Bob Hanlon with a 359ci engine and G-Force five-speed clutchless transmission, and Charlie Booze Jr. who does battle in Hot Street with a large Windsor engine (backed by an auto tranny) that pumps up the P&G meter at 439 ci. The Kuntz and Company- built small-block sees 9,000-plus rpm, and due to its size the Booze freight train has a minimum weight in the 3,250-pound range. It's a radical difference in approach to H/S racing, but the close competition points to fairness between the two powerplants and drivetrain combinations.
Brandon Alsept of MD Motorsports...
Brandon Alsept of MD Motorsports pushed his modular-powered '98 Stang into the 10.50s and went to the semifinals. His was one of two modular cars to run deep into the 10-second zone in Pure Street competition. The other Stang belonged to Victor Downs. Both raced Four-Valve, 284ci engine combina-tions from Al Papito's Boss 330 engine shop. Pure Street rules restrict the competitors to naturally aspirated combinations and street-type camshafts.
Winner Brian Mitchell went...
Brian Mitchell went back to the winner's circle with his EFI Renegade race car. The YSi-Trim-blown, 310ci engine combination gave the stock suspension and 28x10.5-inch slicks all they could handle. The car soared through the air on each run, and Mitchell took out Zoop Zellonis in the finals.
Congratulations were in order...
Congratulations were in order to Mike and Tammy Abdalla as they scored their first 8-second perform-ance in Hot Street. The Abdalla family traveled from New Mexico to compete, and it was worth the trip thanks to the 8.99 Mike posted in qualifying. The '88 GT gets it done with a Jerico four-speed transmission and a high-winding 358ci engine.
New-car blues was the theme...
New-car blues was the theme of the weekend for Chip Provenza as he showed off his brand-new Drag Radial racer. The black car sports a 25.1-certified cage and the same 1,300hp Vortech-blown engine from last year. He ran 8.25 in testing the night before qualifying, but he couldn't keep the BFGoodrich tires glued in qualifying or eliminations. Once the team sorts out this ride, they are expecting to run 8.10 at more than 173 mph.
Don Bowles and the rest of...
Don Bowles and the rest of the Roush Performance team were on the property, with an assortment of Mustangs testing various products. Through their drag-racing efforts, Roush continues to refine and release new products that are up to the task of street use as well as drag racing applications. Bowles and the team compete in the Modular Muscle category. He made it to the third round in the five-round eliminations ladder. The supercharged, 330ci mod motor runs mid-nines.
Winner The win at Atco marked...
The win at Atco marked the fourth straight in SSO for John Urist of Hellion Power Systems. His ProCharger-blown Saleen was outstanding, and he even showed off some runs in the 7.50 zone. Urist beat Phil Hines in the finals, 7.62 to 7.90.
Dave Hance was running his...
Dave Hance was running his twin-turbocharged Mustang in Pro 5.0 competition. Some recent upgrades have pushed this tube-chassis Stang to consistent runs in the 6.60 range. His best at Atco was 6.63 at a scorching 213 mph. Hance became a force to reckon with in NMRA competition that weekend-except he took himself out by going red in the first round of eliminations.
It was a brutal battle in...
It was a brutal battle in Hot Street as two heavyweights went blow-for-blow during qualifying. Charlie Booze Jr. fired off several quick passes only to have Bob Hanlon knock him off the top qualifying spot each time. He also was runner-up to Ben Mens in the final round.
Pennzoil's Joel Norton (left)...
Pennzoil's Joel Norton (left) presented Ray Jermyn (right) with the Pennzoil Platinum Prize. Thanks to Jermyn being a longtime user of Penzoil products, he was nominated and awarded the prize. Pennzoil will provide a lifetime supply of synthetic Pennzoil Platinum motor oil for Jermyn's '70 Mustang Mach 1.
Despite the disparity in weight, the two cars went toe-to-toe, and it looked like a championship heavyweight bout. By night's fall, the two racers had their engines tuned to perfection and the chassis ready to dig the 28x10.5-inch slicks into the Atco surface. As if it were scripted, Booze hung the wheels and rolled to an 8.82 at 152 mph, which is the quickest pass in class history. As soon as Booze cleared top end, Hanlon rolled his classic Mustang racer to the starting line and threw down an even quicker 8.80 at 152 mph. The old-school Mustang laid claim to the national record as he secured the top qualifying position.
The rest of the racing action was equally as close as the NMRA band of regulars invaded the track. It was no surprise that Toyo Tires Open Comp was enormous-New Jersey is birthplace to that type of racing. A total of 43 competitors made qualifying passes. The Modular Muscle eliminator also had a great showing with 23 cars-all without pushrods. The Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning class was also an Open Comp format eliminator. This year, the NMRA moved to a new qualifying system for those classes. Based on reaction time, it has been an effective technique to even out the field. Open Comp-style racing is not about being the quickest; now some of the slower cars have a chance to grab the bonus qualifying points for top qualifier. Eliminations were tough for these competitors because of the variance in weather between qualifying and elimination rounds. It threw a curveball even to the veteran racers.
JPC Racing's Ryan Hecox stuck...
JPC Racing's Ryan Hecox stuck his nose in the air at the competition-the nose of his '03 Cobra, that is. The Pure Street entry blasted into the 10.20s, but a busted transmission in eliminations ended his hopes for grabbing a second P/S win in 2006.
Mr. Nice Guy and Mr. Open...
Mr. Nice Guy and Mr. Open Comp are just two names given to Larry Geddes, maker of Burnout Guard, Dial-In window marker, and other products. This year, Geddes stepped up with a healthy 376ci engine from Kuntz and Company. Low-10-second performances are the norm, and Geddes continues to row the gears of his four-speed transmission. An unfortunate red light in Round 1 ended his weekend.
Winner Master engine builder...
Master engine builder Tony Bischoff of B.E.S. has been red hot in the Pro 5.0 category. A 646ci engine with three stages of nitrous gets this Cougar motivated into the 6.60 zone. Bischoff shook the tires and ran 6.91 in Round 1, but he beat Don Walsh Jr., who had problems. In Round 2, he eliminated Michael Hauf, the number-two qualifier. It was the closet run of the day-6.67 to Hauf's 6.68. In the finals, Bischoff's competitor, Kelkboom, broke, and Bischoff singled for the win with a 6.68.
Three-time Pro 5.0 champion,...
Three-time Pro 5.0 champion, Don Walsh Jr., got really loose in the opening round of eliminations. It was suspected there was fluid on the track because the car always runs dead straight. Walsh is entrenched in a tough championship battle with Michael Hauf. Heading into the event, both drivers were deadlocked in the points. Hauf left the event with a slight edge.
Winner Bruce Hemminger hangs...
Bruce Hemminger hangs 'em out! With the front wheels dangling and the Edelbrock nitrous spraying down the engine, this little coupe ran 9.90s in Real Street.
Event sponsor Downs Ford Motorsport...
Event sponsor Downs Ford Motorsport had this '06 Mustang Mach 1 replica on display.
Winner John Kolivas mowed...
John Kolivas mowed through the Drag Radial field with his '95 Cobra. The Bennett Racing engine is pumped up with a Turbonetics 88mm turbo, and Job Spetter Jr. handles the tuning. Kolivas dropped an 8.22 at 174 mph in Round 1-it is the quickest and fastest the car has gone in NMRA trim and on BFGoodrich drag radials. Kolivas marched to the final and beat Jason Lee, 8.30 to 8.41.
Future Winner This future...
This future racer is just getting himself familiar with the cockpit of a Wild Street car. He told us (in baby talk) his dad was going to let him drive in a few years.
This is what happens when...
This is what happens when things don't go according to plan. Zoop Zellonis found himself staring straight at the sky when his front-end limiters broke, unbeknownst to him. Zellonis fixed the damage and made it to the finals where he lost to Brian Mitchell, running 8.74 to Mitchell's quicker 8.67. Zellonis did nail down the number-one qualifying position with an 8.56 at 158 mph.
Winner The points battle...
The points battle in Truck and Lightning has never been tighter. Captain Keith Kohlmann (shown) is fighting to retain his truck title this year. He took the win at Atco, and with his recent performances, a repeat championship looks imminent.
Outstanding weather coupled with favorable track conditions provided record-setting accomplishments. There were performances quicker than the national record, but the racer is required to back up that performance within 1 percent in order to claim it at the conclusion of the race weekend. Some racers missed that margin by mere hundredths of a second. In all, five e.t.. and mph records fell-it would have been seven if some racers were able to back up their runs. It's amazing, but the south Jersey racetrack continues to be a prominent stop on the Ford drag racing scene, even after all these years.
Denso NMRA Drag Racing Series
Atco Raceway Event Winners
Presented by Downs Ford Motorsport
|DiabloSport Pro 5.0 ||Tony Bischoff |
|MSD Ignition Super Street Outlaw ||John Urist |
|BF Goodrich Drag Radial ||John Kolivas |
|Edelbrock Hot Street ||Ben Mens |
|ProCharger EFI Renegade ||Brian Mitchell |
|Real Street ||Bruce Hemminger |
|Tremec Pure Street ||Brad Meadows |
|K&N Factory Stock ||Jeff Schmell |
|Toyo Tires Open Comp ||Tom Demalto |
|Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning ||Keith Kohlmann |
|Vortech Modular Muscle ||Zak Harty |
Paul Maleski (near lane) lost...
Paul Maleski (near lane) lost to Tom Demalto (far lane) in the finals of Open Comp. Maleski and Demalto both pilot high-11-second Mustangs. Their street-legal cars took down full-on race cars to head to the finals against each other. Maleski had an 11.73 index, while Demalto was running on an 11.98. Demalto won the race with a 12.01, and Maleski broke out with an 11.63.
Tim Matherly always has his...
Tim Matherly always has his Two-Valve modular Real Street combination running strong. He qualified well with a 9.98 at 134 mph and lost in the semifinals to Bruce Hemminger.
Bob Walker ran his street-legal...
Bob Walker ran his street-legal Lightning into the 9s during test and tune on Friday night. The truck relies on a Johnny Lightning-built bullet, a Kenne Bell blower, and a whiff of nitrous. He backed it down to the 10.20 zone for Truck and Lightning action. Walker lost in the semis to Johnny Lightning. He was late on the Tree, but he still ran a 10.204 on a 10.20 index.
Michael Hauf left Atco with...
Michael Hauf left Atco with a slight points lead over Don Walsh Jr. The Iowa resident posted the first Pro 5.0 run in the 6.50 zone with a 6.59 in qualifying. He got lucky in the first round when Dave Hance went red. Hauf had a tight race with Tony Bischoff in Round 2, but was on the losing end of the 6.67 to 6.68 match up.
Andy Schmidt underestimated...
Andy Schmidt underestimated the track conditions with his Hot Street ride. The teal LX went wheels up immediately after Schmidt let go of the transbrake button. The car put a gouge in the track surface when it landed, dinging its headers and slightly denting the oil pan. Other than that the car was fine.
Alex Vrettos' turbocharged...
Alex Vrettos' turbocharged entry posted some great mph performances at Atco, but the BFGoodrich tires proved to be a bit tricky that weekend. He did run in the 8.50s at a scorching 172 mph. Vrettos lost to John Kolivas in the semifinals. When Vrettos is not running in NMRA competition, he bolts on a 101mm turbo and some M/T Drag Radials and runs in the 7-second zone on the Outlaw Drag Radial circuit.
Jarrett Halfacre and his brother...
Jarrett Halfacre and his brother would rather forget the Atco event. It was rough, with everything from busted transmissions to exploding turbochargers. Luckily, these two fierce competitors carry enough spare parts and a welder. They thrashed all night and then popped off a 7.60 in Round 1 of SSO. Unfortunately, more carnage (a blown transmission) in Round 3 prevented them from going to the starting line to face eventual event winner John Urist.
Winner Ben Mens was driving...
Ben Mens was driving the DeMayo family's '89 LX that is normally driven by Mike DeMayo. Mens is a Roush engineer who has been working with many teams in NMRA competition fine-tuning the Roush engines. He got behind the wheel of the LX and was fortunate enough to make the finals and take the win with an 8.96 over Hanlon. Mike DeMayo was behind the wheel of the family's brand-new Hot Street ride built by Team Z Motorsports. The 25.5-certified ride has a new 400ci Roush engine under the hood and ran in the high-8s at Atco-it was the first time to the track with the new car. The team left from the chassis shop and drove straight through to Atco for the race.
Brent Blacker went to Round...
Brent Blacker went to Round 4 in the Open Comp category. The big-block Ford combination runs in the 10.60 zone, but unfortunately it ran too fast in the quarter-finals-10.59 on a 10.63 index. Open Comp was huge that weekend as it spanned six elimination rounds in order to crown a winner.