2007 2nd Annual Shakedown At E-Town - Shake And Bake
Mustang Racers Hold Their Own At The Shakedown At E-Town.
From the April, 2008 issue of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
By Frank H. Cicerale
Photography by Evan J. Smith, Frank H. Cicerale
The lone ranger from the Mustang...
The lone ranger from the Mustang camp in Pro Outlaw was the IHRA-legal, mountain-motor, Pro Stock '07 GT of John Nobile. Nobile stood tall, though, and after qualifying Fifth with a 6.35, he spent the rest of the day routing the field with some stellar runs. Nobile's 820ci monster gunned down the nitrous-assisted Corvette of Jim Kane in the final with a 6.278 moon shot.
Some would argue that the birth of heads-up Mustang racing was created just 50 miles south of New York City in a small hamlet called Englishtown. Back in the early '90s, the Mustang Showdown Series was created by the folks at Raceway Park (also known as E-Town), pitting the baddest supercharged, turbo, and nitrous-gulping Mustangs in a three-event showdown that grew to become a rather big deal. It grew into the famous Mustang vs. Buick Showdown that garnered national attention and turned many Mustang racers into heroes.
E-Town did it again recently with the Shakedown, an Outlaw extravaganza that has become the sickest one-day, heads-up drag race in the country. The event is the brainchild of Pro 5.0/Outlaw 10.5 racer Dave Hance, who hails from the city that never sleeps. Wanting to pit the best of the best in a no-holds-barred, heads-up race at a killer venue, he sat down with the RP brass and spearheaded the inception of the event known today as the Shakedown at E-Town. It's five years later and Hance not only makes sure the event is held each year, but that it thrives and grows. With four classes being contested and enough cars to fill a full 32-car field in each, the hitters come out to play with both barrels blazing-and there's no shoe polish in sight.
This year's Shakedown grand...
This year's Shakedown grand marshal was none other than NHRA star Mike Ashley. The New York native, who formerly campaigned a couple of Mustang-bodied Pro Mods, now pilots a horse of a different breed, namely a nitromethane-snorting NHRA Funny Car.
The Shakedown drew monster hitters, such as Tim Lynch, Brad Brand, John Nobile, and many others, who put on a fantastic show with two qualifying sessions and four elimina-tion rounds. Things grew tense, though, as the day drew to a close, and the 7:30 p.m. curfew imposed on Raceway Park rapidly approached. "Before the event, we were ready to split the pot among all the racers," Hance says. "Thankfully, we were able to get the show in. We had no one go into the wall or wipe out any of the center cones. Things ran as smooth as could be."
When the track lights were flipped off at the end of the night, we saw a Mustang take home the victory in three out of the four classes. We also witnessed the quickest and fastest runs ever by both an IHRA Pro Stock car and a 10.5W car. Not bad for a day's work!
The top-tier category was Pro Outlaw, which consisted of Pro-Mod and Pro-Stock style cars. There was no minimum weight for the cars in this class, and it was pretty much a double-barreled gunfight. Scott Filkins in a GM product was the number-one qualifier. The only reason we even mention this is because Filkins' ripped off an astounding 5.98 to grab the top spot. That run was stout, but when the final round rolled into the burnout box, the '07 Mustang GT of John Nobile set up to do battle against the nitrous-snorting '63 Vette of Jim Kane. Kane left on Nobile, but at the stripe, it was all Nobile, as the IHRA-legal mountain-motored Pro Stock Ford Mustang ripped off an amazing 6.27 at a thundering 223 mph for the win.
In the Outlaw 10.5 category, it was none other than Tim Lynch and his crew of wife Kelly and builder/tuner Steve Petty. The category was devised to accommodate stock-style, front-suspension cars running 10.5W tires out back. Lynch and his twin-turbocharged Mustang qualified on top of the stout field with a 6.79, and then turned the wick up for eliminations. Lynch's slowest run of eliminations came in Round 1 when he clocked a 6.61. He then proceeded to run a string of low 6.50s on his way to downing the nitrous-aided Camaro of Chuck Ulsch in the final with an unheard-of 6.53. As a side note, Lynch made a pass the day earlier during the test and tune where he blistered the track to a mid-6 at 231 mph!
"We changed only a couple of things from last year," Lynch said after the event. "We put on a pair of new Precision turbos that have a billet wheel, and we switched to VP fuel. We also worked on the chassis, but that is usual for every event we go to."
After John Nobile flew through...
After John Nobile flew through the traps in the Pro Outlaw final round, the scoreboards showed the quickest run by an IHRA-legal Pro Stock car to date. Before the 6.27 blast in the final, Nobile ripped off a 6.32 in the first round, a 6.28 in the second, and a 6.29 in the semis.
The Drag Radial category at...
The Drag Radial category at the Shakedown was filled with a host of Mustangs. When the sun went down, it was the colorful notchback of Mustang Mike Modeste that stood above the rest. Modeste qualified in the bottom half of the field with an 8.79, but he used a few high-7-second passes in eliminations to take home the crown.
Brad Brand qualified Fifth...
Brad Brand qualified Fifth in Outlaw 10.5 with his twin-turbo notchback and a stout 6.93 at 207 and change. Unfortunately, the Orlando FFW Outlaw winner couldn't make the call for the first round of eliminations.
Joaquim Pedro thought he was...
Joaquim Pedro thought he was on the outside looking in when Drag Radial qualifying was over, as he mustered only a 17th best 8.93 in qualifying. Good fortune shined down on the red twin-turbo '99 Mustang, however, as Pedro took the spot of Donald Helsel when it came time for the top 16 to do battle for the win. That was the only fortune Pedro saw, though, as he lost his first-round bout with eventual winner Mike Modeste.
Dave Hance (left) once again...
Dave Hance (left) once again assembled arguably the baddest one-day heads-up event. He received a thank-you present in the form of a collage of articles showcasing all five years of the Shakedown at E-Town.
Chris Evans' high-flying hatchback...
Chris Evans' high-flying hatchback Fox-body qualified Eighth in the Drag Radial field with an 8.17. Evans' day ended in the second round when he was gunned down by the '68 Camaro of Joshua Knight.
Walter Pfister's '87 hatchback...
Walter Pfister's '87 hatchback could only hustle to a 9.36 best, which placed him 19th on the Drag Radial final qualifying sheet. While he missed the show, Pfister did go out in style--and on the bumper. The Fox-body reached for the stars each time it left the starting line in qualifying, bringing the fans to their feet at the same time.
After last year's Shakedown, when Lynch shocked the world with a 6.66, most figured the envelope had been pushed to the max. For the second time in as many years, though, Lynch showed everyone there is still a vast amount of the envelope left to explore.
"It amazes me how we're able to pick up in performance every year," Lynch says. "The air is always good at this race, so there being a drastic difference in conditions from year to year isn't a factor at all. It's funny how a couple of years ago, we were going 6.90s and hoping to run that at best. Now we're nearly a half a second quicker, and I keep asking myself when it's going to end. A large part of our ability to run quicker can most definitely be attributed to Steve Petty and his tuning abilities."
So with Lynch running that outstanding 6.53, is there more left for next year's event?
"We can definitely go quicker next year," he says. "When we ran the 6.66 in 2006, the eighth-mile times indicated we should have gone a bit quicker. We looked long and hard at the data and the incrementals from the 6.53 run, and we're pretty sure that we can go 6.40s next year. The incremental on the 6.53 run indicates it, so don't be surprised if we do it."
The Heavy Street final showcased a pair of GM products, but Chris Connor and his '88 Mustang did make it to the semifinals before he fouled out. Heavy Street is an interesting class made up of back-halved cars that utilize any combination or power adder. As for Drag Radial, it was an all-Mustang money round as the fast Fox-bodies of Chris Little and Mustang Mike Modeste squared off. Little had been hanging the hoops and traveling the first part of the track on the bumper for most of the day, and the wear and tear of those hard landings took their toll, as his green '90 LX broke after the launch. Modeste gave the fans a show, however, as he lit up the scoreboards with a 7.97-second, 177-mph blast.
For the Mustang contingent, life in the big city was good. Most of them ended up on Broadway. Best of all, the RP staff has added a day to the Shakedown for 2008. The event is slated for October 18-19, and we wouldn't miss it for the world.
Tim Lynch's twin-turbo Cobra...
Tim Lynch's twin-turbo Cobra went easy on everyone in Outlaw 10.5 qualifying, taking home the top spot with a 6.79. When it came time to do business, though, the Steve Petty-tuned Mustang obliterated the field and the record books. Lynch opened eliminations with a stellar 6.61 before recording a pair of 6.54s to get to the final. The Lynch Mob's day culminated with a 6.534, 220-mph blast that became the quickest run by a 10.5W car to date.
Former NHRA Super Gas and...
Former NHRA Super Gas and Super Comp standout Steve Drummond bucked the trend and qualified his '69 Mustang 16th in Outlaw 10.5. Drummond's old-school Stang was one of three cars competing in the class that were not late-model body styles, and it was the only Ford of that group. His 7.19, 194-mph effort was no match for Tim Lynch's Mustang in Round 1, though.
Chris Connor's '88 Mustang...
Chris Connor's '88 Mustang did the Blue Oval faithful proud in Heavy Street. Connor's Fox-body was the only Ford product to make it to the semifinals of the predominately GM inhabited class. Connor, who qualified Sixth with a 7.34, gave away a stout 7.22-second blast in the semis when he fouled out against eventual runner-up Jorge Rodriquez's '86 Camaro.
Chris Little's turbocharged...
Chris Little's turbocharged '90 Mustang spent more time on two wheels than it did on all four. The green notchback qualified 13th in Drag Radial with an 8.63 and made its way to the final round, one bumper-dragging pass after another. Unfortunately, the hard landings took a toll on the car, as Little broke right after the Tree went green in the money round.
Yanni Papakosmas ended up...
Yanni Papakosmas ended up filling in for John Chemin, who couldn't make the call for Round 1 of Heavy Street. Papakosmas and his turbocharged '04 Cobra was the 18th qualifier with an 8.15. Unfortunately, Papakosmas took the Round 1 loss to Henry Jackson and his '69 Camaro.
With a 7.06, Rocky Rosella...
With a 7.06, Rocky Rosella qualified ninth with the Mike Carrabs-owned '03 Mustang in the Outlaw 10.5 field. The twin-turbo monster lost a close first-round duel with Jim Robbins, however.
We have to admit that when...
We have to admit that when we heard Brett Hull was in the house, we were waiting for a hat trick, a fight, and a couple of body slams against the boards. It took a few minutes to realize that we weren't at the hockey arena but at Raceway Park taking a closer look at the other Brett Hull and his super-clean '93 Cobra. The red snake ended up in Ninth Place on the Drag Radial qualifying sheet with an 8.10. Unfortunately, after recording an opening-round victory over the Mustang of Richard Boch, Hull broke after scoring a sizeable holeshot over second-round opponent Scott Bitzer.
A pair of Mustangs duked it...
A pair of Mustangs duked it out in the Drag Radial final, as the notchbacks of Chris Little (far lane) and Mike Modeste (near lane) squared off. The race was over before the 60-foot clock, however, as Little broke soon after launch, handing the win to Modeste, who motored to a 7.97.
Tim Lynch (near lane) was...
Tim Lynch (near lane) was letting it all hang out, and Chuck Ulsch (far lane) knew he'd have to step on his nitrous oxide-induced Camaro to try and down the twin-turbo Mustang of Lynch in the Outlaw 10.5 final. Ulsch overstepped the traction boundary, however, as he blew the tires away early into the run. Lynch flat-out drove away, ripping off a 6.53-second blast for a win that was nearly impossible to beat.