2009 NMRA Keystone Automotive Ford National Series Tour - Battle Royale
The NMRA Keystone Automotive Ford National Series Wraps Up The 2009 Points Race In Grand Style.
From the March, 2010 issue of Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
By Pete Epple
Photography by Evan Smith, Michael Galimi, Pete Epple
Another NMRA season is in the record books. Incredible racing, fierce point battles, amazing car shows, fantastic spectator turn outs, and packed manufacturer midways made for an incredible scene at every stop on the 2009 NMRA Keystone Automotive Ford National Series tour. From the minute the first car went down the track at the season opener in Bradenton, Florida, everyone knew this was going to be an exciting year.
The 11th Annual Nitto Tires NMRA All-Ford World Finals, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was the seventh and final points race on the 2009 NMRA series calendar. Racers rolled into Beech Bend Raceway, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with more on the line than the previous six stops this year. Point battles came to a head, and in some classes, it took the final round to determine the '09 champions.
Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 always packs a lot of excitement into a few short days of racing. When the big boys of NMRA unloaded at Bowling Green, Dan Millen, Mike Murillo, and Conrad Scarry all came into the race with a mathematical chance to seal the championship.
As the qualifying rounds started shaping the field, Conrad Scarry found himself sitting at the top the ladder for Sunday elimination. This was the first pole position for Scarry and his new car in the '09 season. Once eliminations started, Millen set his sights on the championship. After a win in Round 1 over Justin Burcham, Millen sealed up the championship in Round 2. Although Millen got out of shape and Keith Neal was able to drive around him to take the win, Millen had accumulated enough points to seal the deal. The Final Round found Jim Brown and Keith Neal lining up, unfortunately, rain rolled in pushing final rounds back to Monday, and neither driver could stay to finish the show. After a coin toss, Brown was named the victor, and gained his first win of 2009.
The ProCharger Super Street Outlaw drivers put on an incredible show. Fourteen SSO cars came out to try and be the spoiler for John Urist's "drive-for-five" championship run. Chris Tuten qualified in the top spot with his turbocharged '87 Mustang. He laid down a solid 7.39-second e.t. at over 190 mph, while others fought to get down the track. Urist was among those trying to get a handle on the strip, and he qualified fifth with a 7.52, only making a full run in one of the late qualifying sessions. As Sunday eliminations got underway, it was the John Urist show, as the Albuquerque, New Mexico-native plowed through the competition on his way to the event win, and his fourth consecutive and fifth overall NMRA ProCharger Super Street Outlaw Championship!
In dramatic fashion, the DiabloSport EFI Renegade class was full of excitement. With a handful of drivers vying for the championship, it took the final round to decide who would wear the number "1" next season. Larry Hourcle of Alexandria, Virginia, came out strong in qualifying with his '88 Mustang, resetting the class record with an 8.32-second pass to become the top qualifier. Brian Mitchell, Alton Clements, Bart Tobener, and points leader Dan Rawls rounded out the top five. The second round of eliminations brought out the drama, as Clements drove around Rawls after a mechanical problem slowed his '90 Mustang at the 1,000-foot mark. This opened the door for Clements to take the championship from Rawls if he could go on to win the event. Clements raced his way into the finals where he lined up against Bob Cook. It was all Clements as he took the event win sealing up the championship in EFI Renegade.
Allen Hurley of Bristol, Tennessee,...
Allen Hurley of Bristol, Tennessee, brought out his '88 Mustang and took the win in Tremec True Street. Hurley took the top spot in the fastest True Street field on the '09 season.
John Urist successfully completed...
John Urist successfully completed his "drive For five," sealing his fifth championship in ProCharger Super Street Outlaw and scoring the event win, capping off an incredible weekend.
In Pro Outlaw 10.5, Dan Millen...
In Pro Outlaw 10.5, Dan Millen lines up against Justin Burcham in Round 1 of competition. It would not be Burcham's day, as Millen would drive around him for the round win and eventually the 2009 Pro Outlaw 10.5 championship.
Tommy Godfrey of Sunderland,...
Tommy Godfrey of Sunderland, Maryland, took his '89 Mustang to the win in ACT Factory Stock. Godfrey also sealed up his second consecutive title in the class.
Among the excitement at Bowling...
Among the excitement at Bowling Green, records were also broken. Sean Lyon qualified No. 1 for BFGoodrich Drag Radial and set a new class record with his 7.95-second pass.
Mike Webb of Louisville, Kentucky,...
Mike Webb of Louisville, Kentucky, brought out a pair of ASC McLaren Fox-bodies. His '86 McLaren Capri and '88 McLaren Mustang convertible are all original and a great representation of some of the special edition Foxes available in the '80s.
With 92 cars competing in...
With 92 cars competing in MM&FF's Tremec True Street, the driver's meeting was very important. NMRA officials and the MM&FF staff helped make sure everyone was ready for the 30-mile cruise and three back-to-back passes.
With his Edelbrock Hot Street championship hopes still alive, 70-year-old former two-time NHRA national event winner Don Bowles came into Bowling Green with his '72 Maverick running well. Bowles was a mere 70 points behind '08 title-holder Robbie Blankenship, so Bowles needed a little help; he got it in Round 2 as Ken Gross took out Blankenship. Don Bowles then put Bob Hanlon on the trailer, and in that moment locked down the 2009 class championship. "It feels great," said Bowles, "I didn't expect it at all, especially with a new car, but things went our way." But the race didn't end there. As the rounds progressed, Bowles found himself in the final against top qualifier Charlie Booze Jr., who set the class record at 8.53 in the previous two rounds. When the Tree turned green, it was all Booze Jr. with an 8.56-second pass to take the event win.
The excitement of the BFGoodrich Drag Radial class is rarely equaled. Making over 1,000 hp and running on DOT tires makes this one of the wildest classes in drag racing, and the 12-car field took to the strip at Bowling Green, offering another dramatic season finale.
When the sun went down in...
When the sun went down in Kentucky, the track became extremely tricky for high-horsepower Pro Outlaw 10.5 cars. Dan Millen (left lane) had a great save as his Mustang got way out of shape in Saturday night qualifying.
After dominating the first half of the season, Jason Lee came into the final stop of the NMRA points season having been in almost every final round in 2009. But as the ladder was set for eliminations, Sean Lyon found himself not only in the top spot, but the new Drag Radial record holder with a blistering 7.95. Lyons had worked all season to perfect his bright yellow LX, and he wanted to walk away with the trophy as well.
Final elimination were plagued with parts failure, however, as Steve Thompson, Jeff Reed, and Orson Johnson couldn't make the call. Once again, the second round was the magic round as Jason Lee lined up against Enzo Pecchini-a win for Lee would secure the championship. At the hit, both drivers left hard, but a serious wheelstand forced Pecchini to lift, handing the round win and the 2009 BFGoodrich Drag Radial Championship to Lee. The final round found Lee against Lyon. Both DR Mustangs left in a blur and amazingly ran identical 7.97-second passes, but Lyon moved first off the line and took the win on a holeshot by just inches.
The Real Street, Eibach Springs Pure Street, and ACT Factory Stock classes along with Roush Performance Modular Muscle, Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning, and JDM Engineering Super Stang all had exciting finishes to the 2009 season as well. Bowling Green was the Tim Matherly show in Real Street as he took the top qualifying spot with a 9.47-second pass. The battle wasn't as dramatic, because the high-flying GT driver clinching the championship at the Columbus race. Matherly would go on to win the race, nevertheless, with a lightning-fast 9.43-second blast.
In Pure Street, Mark Anderson mowed through the field on his way to the final, where he met Ryan Hecox. As the pair staged, Anderson needed to set the class record and take the win to seal up the championship. He cranked out a 10.17 to take the win, but he fell short of the record, handing the 2009 Pure Street Championship to Hecox.
Tommy Godfrey, the 2008 ACT Factory Stock Champion, came into Bowling Green looking to repeat. The weekend started off strong, as Godfrey qualified No. 1 with an 11.14. After working his was to the final, Godfrey lined up against Matt Armine. Armine left first, but Godfrey drove around him to take the win and the 2009 Factory Stock title.
In typical NMRA fashion, Saturday was the stage for Tremec True Street Presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine. The ultimate street car class was hoppin', filling much of the pits with a total of 92 cars and trucks. It was the second largest field of the year, and we would like to thank everyone who came out.
Michael Newton of Chatsworth,...
Michael Newton of Chatsworth, Georgia, took the second spot in True Street. Newton ran his '88 Mustang to an overall average of 8.88 seconds.
Bret Bierly of Elizabeth,...
Bret Bierly of Elizabeth, Indiana, piloted his '08 Bullitt to a 13.34 average in Saturday's True Street competition.
Lidio Iacobelli came down...
Lidio Iacobelli came down from Chesterfield, Michigan, to run his Tropical Yellow turbo coupe. With a 9.98-second average, Iacobelli placed fifth overall.
At an NMRA event, the action...
At an NMRA event, the action isn't always just at the track. We came across a group of Mustang owners getting ready to head to Beech Bend Raceway to take in some NMRA excitement. Jeremy Smith ('93 LX), Nathan Otto ('04 Mach 1), and Jeremy Shumate ('04 Cobra) all prepped their iron for the car show judges.
After some tech inspection issues at the Columbus race, the NMRA and MM&FF officials cracked down on a few minor rule infractions that were getting out of hand, such as non-complete interiors and tires that were a little "too" wide. This resulted in a number of cars being disqualified from competition. With the class lined up, the massive parade of fast Fords set out on the 30-mile cruise. The perfect weather made for an incredible trip through the Kentucky countryside, and many locals marveled at the thunder from all that Blue Oval horsepower. From the interstate to the back roads, the cruise tested the capabilities everyone's iron.
When the stampede of True Street machines returned to Bowling Green, drivers prepared for back-to-back-to-back passes. With the track prepped and the engines cooled, the drivers went for it and produced the fastest True Street class of the year. Allen Hurley of Bristol, Tennessee, took the top spot in his '88 Mustang with an average of 8.55 seconds. Michael Newton of Chatsworth, Georgia, also driving an '88 Mustang, took the runner-up spot with an 8.88-second average. Tim Casto of Mason, West Virginia, True Street winner from the Milan event, won the 9-second class with a 9.02 average to round out the top three.
The action was so good that MM&FF and the NMRA announced they will record the quickest average in Tremec True Street and award an official national record in 2010. So with the 2010 NMRA season growing close, take the time to make sure your True Street car is ready to rock. Bradenton isn't far away, and the Pro50.com Spring Break Shootout is again going to be action packed. And be sure your car fits within the guidelines set in the NMRA rulebook. In 2010, vehicles that do not fit the rules will not be allowed to compete.
Tim Casto of Mason, West Virginia,...
Tim Casto of Mason, West Virginia, won the 9-Second True Street class with a 9.02 average. If the name Casto sounds familiar to you, Tim won top honors in True Street at Milan a few months back, and is a threat to win every time he comes to an NMRA race.
As with every NMRA event, the car show is a huge attraction for contestants and fans. There was a ton to see at BG on both Saturday and Sunday. A wide variety of late-model and classic Fords packed the fields, giving fans an incredible opportunity to see some of the most amazing cars Kentucky and the surrounding area has to offer, and deals were flying on all those parts in the swap meet.
Although the event was officially held at Beech Bend Raceway, Mustang fever spread throughout the city of Bowling Green. Everywhere you turned, Mustangs and Mustang fanatics were not far away. Restaurant parking lots became car shows and club meets, and as a Mustang enthusiast, you really felt the energy and a sense of community.
The NMRA point season may be over, but there is no end to the fun you can have with your muscle Mustang or fast Ford. We would like to thank all of the fans, racers, True Street participants, sponsors, and companies that have supported what we love in 2009. We would also like to give a very special thank you to the NMRA for giving us a place to do it! See you in 2010.
The manufacturers midway was...
The manufacturers midway was packed all weekend. Venders offered products at special show prices for the fans in attendance.
Tim Matherly ran through the...
Tim Matherly ran through the field on his way to the event win. The 2009 Real Street champion clinched the title back at Columbus, and finished off his season with a win in Bowling Green.
Evan Smith poses with Ben...
Evan Smith poses with Ben Johnson, who was sidelined from competing by a broken back. Johnson is an avid Mustang enthusiast housing a stable of five Ponies in his hometown of Glasgow, Kentucky.
|MM&FF True Street Top 25|
|3||Tim Casto||9.02||9-Second Winner|
|6||Gary Graves||10.18||10-Second Winner|
|11||Michael Whitefield||11.10||11-Second Winner|
|24||Gary Johnson||12.02||12-Second Winner|
|26||Matt Belt||13.03||13-Second Winner|
|27||Kenny Smith||14.01||14-Second Winner|
|28||Clint Plummer||15.16||15-Second Winner|