Every spring, the NMRA rolls into Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, to kick off the new racing season. But this year, the NMRA and MM&FF had a special treat--the duo teamed up to bring back the illustrious Spring Break Shootout class and event moniker. The 8th Annual Nitto Tire Spring Nationals (including the SBS sponsored by Pro50.com, FRPP, and MM&FF) brought out Mustang racers from all over the country to shake off the winter cold and get back on the track.
Fans got what they paid for as the hot Florida sun was only out done by the sweltering action on and off the track. Over the course of four days, we saw staging duels, broken records, and huge crowds, and the largest NMRA Tremec True Street field to date.
The show began on Thursday with an open test and tune day for racers who wanted get a handle on the strip at Bradenton. Test and tune sessions continued into Friday's schedule with the first round of qualifying kicking off in the afternoon. As nighttime fell on Friday evening, racers qualified in the heads-up and shootout categories, then the action moved to the annual Hooters party, which featured a live band, plenty of wings, and a parking lot full of sick late-model Ford iron.
When the gates opened on Saturday, business turned to the Tremec True Street class, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine. A whopping 107 muscle Mustangs and fast Fords came out to run the classic 30-mile cruise through the streets of Central Florida, followed by three back-to-back quarter-mile passes.
The girls from Blow-By Racing came out to celebrate the opening of the '09 NMRA season.
New for 2009 was the revitalized Spring Break Shootout class, which was comprised of the quickest 16 True Street competitors, as determined by their three-run qualifying average. Those 16 came back on Sunday to run heads-up for the SBS title and a chance at the $3,000 purse, a Pro50.com shifter, and a Ford Racing Performance Parts Boss engine block.
With all of this on the line, we expected great things, and ended up with one of the fastest fields in the history of the class. The crowd witnessed a great show as Chris Escobar of Pensacola, Florida, piloted his twin-turbo, mod-motor-powered '86 SVO Mustang to his seventh consecutive True Street win with an average of 9.13 seconds. Escobar's win also gave him the number one qualifying spot for the 15th annual Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords Spring Break Shootout, presented by Pro50.com.
The heads-up competition had a wide range of high-power streetcars battling it out for the Spring Break Shootout championship. The field ranged from Chris Escobar's 9.13-second average to a 10.61-second average for the 16th qualifying position. You can read all about the SBS results and action in a dedicated article on page 166.
But the racing and excitement didn't end with True Street or the SBS. Over the course of the weekend, the regular NMRA racers battled for points and prizes, and many pushed to the limit and beyond. Jason Lee of Maumee, Ohio, cranked out a record-setting performance in Sunday eliminations, laying down the first-ever 7-second pass in BFGoodrich Tires Drag Radial competition. Lee went on to win the event, blasting out another 7-second pass to defeat Sean Lyon of Panama City, Florida, in the final.
NMRA fans got a chance to checkout the all-new '10 Shelby GT500.
In the ProCharger Super Street Outlaw final, fans saw a wild staging duel between returning four-time SSO champion John Urist and Don Burton. Both racers inched their cars into the pre-stage beams, and after several minutes, it was obvious neither driver want to stage first. As the engines heated up, so did the crowd, and Burton inched forward first to start the SSO final round. When the light went green, Burton launched hard to a 7.51 at over 192 mph. Urist's car had mechanical troubles and never left the gate. "Something in the motor broke in the first round," Urist explains. "If we would have had more time, we would have been able to fix it. I knew I had to do whatever I could to try and get the win, but going to the final with a hurt car isn't bad."