For Blue Oval race fans seeking hard launches and low e.t.'s, the first chance to get their fill is the NMRA season-opener, held each March in Bradenton, Florida. This year, the 16th Annual Nitto Tire Spring Break Shootout kicked off with a bang as more fans than ever before came out to see the racing, car show, and everything else that the event has to offer.
The highly anticipated Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords SBS, presented by Pro50.com, is a special addition to the True Street class that pits the top 16 True Street qualifiers in a heads-up battle for street-legal bragging rights and a shot at the $800 winner's prize (which is only a part of the overall purse), a Pro 5.0 shifter of choice, a set of Nitto tires, a 6-foot trophy, and a custom jacket.
As with most highly anticipated races, many Internet forums and websites were flooded with speculation about who was bringing the big guns and what kind of e.t.'s they were going to run. There was speculation about the first 7-second TS average, but only time would tell. And while True Street isn't held until Saturday, the pits were packed by Friday, with many racers testing and making the necessary adjustments. The energy level was high and the event was shaping up to be the hottest True Street/SBS ever.
By Saturday morning the total number of vehicles entered peaked at 102, though only 88 made the cruise. After the obligatory drivers' meeting and 30-mile trek through the Manatee County countryside, the field cooled down and was called to the staging lanes for the three runs. Unfortunately, Angel Padilla of Converse, Texas, who was driving Joel Cura's low-8-second notch, didn't make the call because of a cracked block during the cruise. Padilla won the Lone Star Shootout back in November 2009 and there was speculation he would lay down the first 7-second average.
Still, the field was packed with a slew of 8-, 9-, and 10-second hitters, and fans lined the fence once the three back-to-back runs began. It didn't take long for the single-digit e.t.'s to start popping up, either. Larry Albright knocked down a pair of 8.64-second passes before springing a transmission fluid leak, which knocked him out of competition.
Running 8s and 9s once is one thing. Doing it three times in a row is another-and sadly fans watched a few hitters fall victim to problems. Florida natives Don LaMana of Hudson and Matt Scheleon of Lake Wales each made an 8-second pass before dropping out.
Over 100 True Street competitors...
Over 100 True Street competitors lined up for the 30-milecruise
Ultimately, the Tremec True Street crown went to Orlando, Florida's Randy Seward and his Calypso Green coupe. Amazingly, Seward's coupe made the 140-mile trip to Bradenton (from his home) under its own power and without a trailer. This sick street '91 LX packs a 363ci Windsor that gets help from twin-63mm turbos, and believe it or not, this was its first time on track since Seward had TRZ Motorsports install new suspension components. Seward averaged 8.669 seconds to nudge out 10-time True Street winner Chris Escobar, who was happy for Seward. "Ten-time True Street champion goes down in flames," said Escobar in jest, as he laughed and congratulated Seward with a handshake and a smile. "I'm glad he's the one who beat me," added Escobar. "He deserves it." The win in True Street also gave Seward the top qualifying spot for the SBS, which was still to be contested.
Alan Happel of Warner Robins, Georgia, took the 9-second win with a 9.098-second average in his Pacific Green '97 SVT Cobra. Built by Panhandle Performance, the Four-Valve features a 76mm turbo. Ten-second bragging rights went to Alexys Garcia of Miami. He averaged a perfect 10.000 over the three runs. A stock engine out of a Terminator boosted by a 78mm Hellion turbo powered his black '99 SVT Cobra.
Austintown, Ohio's Craig Svader...
Austintown, Ohio's Craig Svader showed up with this sweet twin-turbo '04 Mach 1. Other than the sick paint job, it features a full interior and working A/C. A 9.52-second average in Saturday's Tremec True Street competition yielded Svader a spot in Sunday's SBS. Unfortunately for him, he fell victim to Escobar (above) in the semifinals.
True Street winner Randy Seward...
True Street winner Randy Seward (near lane) goes heads-up against Darryl Buckner in the first round of the Spring Break Shootout on Sunday. Seward damaged his differential on this run, putting him out of the competition and sending Buckner on to Round 2.
Winner of the 15-second trophy,...
Winner of the 15-second trophy, Chris Parisi heats up the hides during the True Street event.
Halston Jernigan replaces...
Halston Jernigan replaces spark plugs on Darryl Buckner's LTD prior to the True Street competition. It must have helped because he averaged a 9.74.
Macon, Georgia's Jason Borum...
Macon, Georgia's Jason Borum averaged 9.14 on Saturday but lost in Round 2 of the Shootout to Escobar.
Rich Vollberg wheeled his...
Rich Vollberg wheeled his '09 GT500 to a 12.064 average-enough for the 12-second win.
Nine-second winner Alan Happel...
Nine-second winner Alan Happel averaged 9.098 seconds on Saturday and made it to the semifinals in the SBS on Sunday, but he ultimately lost to Segura.
Steffan Pearman made it through...
Steffan Pearman made it through the cruise....
.....but sheared the studs...
.....but sheared the studs off of his right axle....
....launching on the first...
....launching on the first pass.
Wayne Davis took home 13-second...
Wayne Davis took home 13-second bragging rights with a 13.006-second average.
Another perfect finish was made by the 11-second winner Darius McLaughlin of Boerne, Texas (11.000). His '65 Mustang coupe is powered by a 408ci Windsor with a 150-shot of nitrous. Bringing victory to the late-model crowd was Rich Volberg of Jacksonville, Florida. His '09 GT500 averaged 12.064 second, enough for the 12-second win. Volberg's Torch Red GT500 sported the stock Eaton with a pulley, as well as suspension and exhaust upgrades.
Wayne Davis of Valdosta, Georgia, took the 13-second win with his clean, silver '91 LX. The mostly-stock notch features a naturally aspirated 5.0L and a five-speed gearbox. Victory in the 14-second class went to Clay Pate of Lenox, Georgia. He wheeled the white '93 LX hatch to a 14.014-second average. And True Street veteran Chris Parisi took yet another 15-second win with his V-6-powered S197.
The top 16 finishers from Saturday's Tremec True Street event came back on Sunday for the MM&FF Spring Break Shootout, presented by Pro50.com. For this race, competitors were allowed to open their hoods to make adjustments or repairs between rounds.
While it may seem that Seward had a lock on the field, he was knocked out in Round 1 after damaging his rear on launch. Darryl Buckner and his unique four-door '85 LTD took advantage and cruised to win with a 9.31 at over 146 mph. Alan Happel also won Round 1 with a 9.82-second over Darius McLaughlin, who ran 10.63. True Street/SBS-veteran Blair Brannock pulled off an impressive 8.19 at over 172 mph to take out Tony Whetstone's 10.29.
Rare and funky, Darryl Buckner's...
Rare and funky, Darryl Buckner's '85 LTD surprised quite a few with its 9.743-second average on Saturday. Buckner pulled out all the stops for the Shootout on Sunday, but 9.36 wasn't enough. He lost in Round 2 to Happel's 9.01.
Meanwhile, Fort Meyers, Florida-native Chris Segura eliminated Ryan Herringdine of Middleburg, Florida. True Street runner-up Chris Escobar quietly took the win over Michael Jovanis, who made the 1,000-plus-mile trip from Wall, New Jersey. And Jason Borum eliminated Connie Greiner; Brian Bromley took out Ryan Doyle; and Craig Svader topped Jason Roberts.
In Round 2, Happel knocked out Buckner and Svader slipped past Bromley. Brannock blew the tires off at the start line and lost to Segura, and Escobar's 8.94 wheeled him past Borum's 9.28. With the sun still shining, the final four rolled to the staging lanes for the semifinals. Segura took the win over Happel, despite Happel's head start. And Escobar pulled off an 8.77 over Svader's 9.26 to set up the final.
Blair Brannock of New Port...
Blair Brannock of New Port Richey, Florida, placed Third in the True Street competition, and blew the tires off in Round 2 of the Shootout on Sunday, losing to Segura.
Despite not having the quickest car in True Street, veteran Escobar turned up the wick and made his way through the field. He had a performance advantage for the money round, but Segura did his job and got off the line first with a 0.076-second reaction time, 0.019 seconds earlier than Escobar. Despite this, it wasn't enough to hold off the 10-time champ-Escobar cleared the traps in 8.80 seconds at 156 mph, while Segura trailed with a respectable 9.24 at 150 mph.
Escobar's clockwork-like SVO managed consistency and pulled through to score yet his second SBS victory in a row. It's not always about being the quickest or the fastest, but it does help if you're in the 8s.
"I was real happy. My car ran the best it's ever ran," Escobar tells us of his SBS victory.
For more hot photos of the MM&FF/Pro50.com SBS go to www.musclemustangfastfords.com.
MM&FF True Street top 25 and winners
|5||Alan Happel||9.098||9-Second Winner|
|12||Alexys Garcia||10.000||10-Second Winner|
|21||Darius McLaughlan||11.000||11-Second Winner|
|35||Rich Vollberg||12.064||12-Second Winner|
|46||Wayne Davis||13.006||13-Second Winner|
|54||Clay Pate||14.014||14-Second Winner|
|62||Chris Parisi||15.113||15-Second Winner|
Wheeling classic iron, 11-second-winner...
Wheeling classic iron, 11-second-winner Darius McLaughlan averaged 11.000 in the True Street competition with his '65 coupe.
Pro50.com's "Pro 50 Joe" stands...
Pro50.com's "Pro 50 Joe" stands next to his '10 Mustang rental during the SBS.
Chris Segura (near lane) gets...
Chris Segura (near lane) gets out in front of Ryan Herringdine in Round 1 of the Spring Break Shootout.
Tony Whetstone hit the street...
Tony Whetstone hit the street in his drop-top Fox during the True Street cruise. He averaged 9.82 seconds.
New jersey's Michael Jovanis...
New jersey's Michael Jovanis (near lane) made the cut for Sundays SBS but lost in Round 1 to Escobar.
Escobar's Modular-powered SVO gets busy on its way to an 8.80 over Segura's 9.24 for the win.
True Street King Randy Seward...
True Street King Randy Seward accepts his trophy from NMRA official Jeff Conley.
Editor Evan Smith presents...
Editor Evan Smith presents Chris Escobar the trophy for the.....
....Muscle Mustangs & Fast...
....Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords Spring Break Shootout, presented by Pro5.0.com.