When the Keystone NMRA Racing Series announced an appearance in Georgia, we were excited, to say the least. Not only are the fans and racers some of the greatest in the country, but let's face it-we were just happy to have more 1,320 fun.
The now-defunct Fun Ford Weekend series once made a yearly stop in Commerce at Atlanta Dragway (about 90 miles north of Atlanta), drawing large car counts and larger crowds. This was the first year that the NMRA made the stop in Commerce, with the Inaugural Nitto Tire NMRA Peach State Nationals.
Some of Florida's heavy-hitters rolled into the True Street pits just in time to get in a couple of trial runs, and there were only about a dozen other Tremec True Street competitors registered as Friday came to a close.
As the sun crested the hills to the east of the track on Saturday, there was much talk about the near-100-percent chance of rain for Sunday. Though this undoubtedly kept some from traveling long distances to the race, the local showing was more than any of us expected. By 10:30 a.m., the vendor area was packed, the stands were filling up, the car show area was overflowing into the True Street pits, and 44 cars were lining up for the 30-mile Tremec True Street cruise.
Tremec True Street competitors scrambled to get in a couple of trial runs before the meeting. Ten-time True Street winner Chris Escobar ran a best-ever 8.44 at over 162 mph, making him the one to watch, but a win wasn't in the cards. The Modular-powered '86 SVO had sprung a transmission fluid leak, and upon closer inspection, Escobar found the transmission housing was cracked.
After the driver's meeting and 30-mile police-escorted cruise, a total of 39 competitors lined up in the staging lanes for a quick cool-down. Known heavy-hitters Blair Brannock, Randy Seward, and Allen Hurley all made it back in one piece. Seward even drove his car 496 miles from his home in Orlando, Florida (see the full story on page 38)-after that, 30 miles was no problem.
After three consecutive passes, a total of 37 competitors were left standing. At the top of the heap, with his nitrous-powered '88 LX, was Allen Hurley of Bristol, Tennessee, who averaged 8.65. Seward took runner-up with an 8.89 average. The 9-second trophy went to Jason Duggar of Acworth, Georgia, and his '88 "Coupri." The Nov. '08 MM&FF cover car averaged 9.86.
Ten-second bragging rights went to Michael Harper of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, driving a black '93 LX owned by his uncle Les Harper. Equipped with twin 63mm turbochargers, Harper's coupe averaged 10.11 seconds. Keith Lankford of Byron, Georgia, took home the 11-second win with an 11.01-second average. The '92 SSP features a nitrous-powered 331 and a built AOD. In the 12-second category, Adairsville, Georgia's own Joe Charles took the win with his (wife's) '03 Mach 1. The Azure Blue coupe just received a new FRPP Aluminator days before the competition, complete with FR500 cams and intake.
Craig Jones of Senoia, Georgia, took the 13-second victory with a 13.41-second average. His gray '89 LX hatchback is powered by a 5-liter with GT-40 heads, a Cobra intake, and a five-speed. A couple of less-likely candidates took trophies in the 14- and 15-second slots. Dallas, Georgia's Ray Tschakert and his '96 Thunderbird took the 14-second win with an average of 14.09, and Austin Barr of Blue Ridge, Georgia, took home the 15-second win with his '66 F-100. Barr is only 17 years old, and did most of the work on the truck himself with the help of friends and family. It features a 390 with a C6 and a 9-inch rear with 4.10s.
For an inaugural race, the turnout was great. We're looking forward to next year as the crowds and car count will no doubt be bigger and better. Maybe someone can dethrone King Hurley and his nitrous-powered "Dragway Patrol" coupe.
|MM&FF True Street Top 25 And Winners|
|3||Jason Duggar||9.865||9-Second Winner|
|5||Michael Harper||10.113||10-Second Winner|
|11||Keith Lankford||11.015||11-Second Winner|
|20||Joe Charles||12.068||12-Second Winner|
|26||Craig Jones||13.410||13-Second Winner|
|30||Ray Tschakert||14.099||14-Second Winner|
|31||Austin Barr||15.034||15-Second Winner|