Since the birth of MM&FF and the subsequent rise of the 5L Mustang, racing and winning has been in the hands of Generation X (those born between 1961 and 1981) and older generations. To this day, some of the pioneers of Mustang racing as we know it are still involved-Tim Matherly, Dwayne "Big Daddy" Gutridge, and Joe DaSilva, to name a few. There is a second generation, including guys like Justin Burcham, John Urist, Tommy Godfrey, who have already made a serious mark with race wins and championships.
Still, there's a new, younger generation of Mustang drag racers coming up through the ranks. Young guns like Reggie Burnette Jr., Matt DaSilva, Sondra Leslie, and Ashley Conway-all in their 20s-are making their marks on the hobby. Known as "Millennials" or "Generation Y," this young group of adventurous spirits is the future of our hobby, and your author is proud to be part of it.
The 7th Annual Aeromotive NMRA Ford Nationals at Milan Dragway in Milan, Michigan, was an arena for these young guns to show off their talent and hone their skills. It was also a stage for the veteran racers to flex their muscles in what is one of the greatest spectator events in the world-heads-up drag racing.
As everyone rolled into the pits on Friday, an overcast sky threatened rain and added to an already gloomy mood. Recently, 41-year-old NMRA racer Mike Tymensky was tragically killed in a boating accident, and this would be the first race without him. Tymensky left behind a wife, Denise, and two children. Mike's father, long-time Ford racer John Tymensky, was at the event. The NMRA began a 50/50 pot for the family, which reached over $500 by Saturday afternoon. The winner of the drawing, who wanted to remain anonymous, declined the winnings and donated them to the family.
As Saturday rolled around, things began to heat up on the track. In Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5, San Antonio, Texas' Mike Murillo ran a mph-record-breaking pass of 216.26 mph, while his Pro Outlaw 10.5 competitor Conrad Scarry answered with a record-breaking e.t. of 6.69-all during qualifying. The pair met up later in the final, where Scarry took the win-his third for the the season.
After breaking his own top mph record and qualifying first, Super Street Outlaw (SSO) racer and local favorite John MacDonald went red in Round 1 of eliminations. Five-time champ John Urist ended up in the final with underdog Chris Tuten. Tuten and his turbocharged 363ci Windsor took the win after Urist uncharacteristically went red. This is the former Real Street and Drag Radial champion's first SSO win.
Local hero and points leader...
Local hero and points leader coming into this race, SSO racer John MacDonald qualified first with a record-setting run, but went red in Round 1.
NMRA President Steve Wolcott...
NMRA President Steve Wolcott (right) introduces John Tymensky, father of Mike Tymensky, who passed away in May. The NMRA held a 50/50 drawing on Saturday to help the family. Mike will be missed greatly by the entire Ford community and by the MM&FF staff.
In the Ford Racing Performance...
In the Ford Racing Performance Parts booth, a European Focus RS was on display. Unfortunately, there are no plans for it to be sold in the U.S.
In the pits, 37 contestants signed up for the MM&FF/Tremec True Street class. Heavy-hitters Lidio Iacobelli and Chris Escobar showed up for the competition, but Iacobelli ended up on the trailer after a transmission failure during time trials, making Escobar the favorite. After a 30-mile cruise, an 80 percent chance of rain and looming clouds shortened the cool-down period. Still, all but three made the cruise and all three back-to-back passes, and the rain stayed away. Escobar came out on top for his 12th True Street victory with a 9.50-second average.
In the JDM Super Stang class, 20-year-old Matt DaSilva came out on top after facing Brenspeed's Brent White in the final. DaSilva is the son of legendary Pro 5.0 competitor Joe DaSilva, but he's clearly paving his own path as a racer. He is just one of a few young racers coming up through the ranks that we'll be keeping an eye on in the coming months and years.
Elsewhere, the swap meet was bustling, the car show was packed, and the manufacturers midway was full of your favorite manufacturers and suppliers. Seventeen members of Chicagoland Mustang Club traveled over 250 miles to attend the car show, and they mixed with the locals (and not-so locals) to display all types of cool Ford iron. There were classics and late-models present to suit just about everyone-we even spotted a rare '81 Cobra.
Pensacola, Florida's Chris...
Pensacola, Florida's Chris Escobar wheeled his modular Four-Valve-powered '86 SVO to the MM&FF/Tremec True Street victory. The twin-turbo Fox was built by Lamotta Performance in Longwood, Florida, and makes an appearance at almost every NMRA event.