Every year the NMRA World Finals sneaks up on us. It seems like the Bradenton opener is barely over, and we're driving down the winding Beech Bend Raceway entrance road to start the King of the Street competition, which we do as part of the finals each year. In reality almost eight months passes in between Bradenton and the World Finals. Yeah, time does surely fly when you're having fun.
What wasn't fun was the realization that some NMRA classes were having their last races in Kentucky. Pro Outlaw and Hot Street are being folded into the NMCA series, while Super Street Outlaw and Drag Radial will fuse into an all-encompassing, unlimited-style class. Next season will feature four heads-up classes, and four index-style classes. We're sure there will be plenty of storylines from new and returning racers, and those moving up to faster classes.
Certainly the future is exciting, but for now let's celebrate the historic close to the '12 season.
Horse Sense: The NMRA's Hot Street is headed to the NMCA side of the track. The NMCA's version, Pro Stock already enjoyed many NMRA regulars, but now that's the only spot for those guys with a heads-up format.
Charlie Booze Jr. is bummed that Hot Street is going away, but he’s the last class champio
Though he’s raced for years, 2012 marks Johnny Lightning’s first NMRA Truck and Lightning
It’s become tradition for us to hold the King of the Street competition at the NMRA World
Mike Murillo had another successful season in 2012, but he didn't really hit his stride until he figured out a new transmission combination later in the year. Going from a 'Glide to a three-speed, Mike received a ton o help from ATF Speed and ATI Performance Products to get his down the track on a more consistent basis. Mike had become proficient at swapping transmissions as the year went along. At Beech Bend it all paid off with a win over Tim Essick. Mike not only won the NMRA Pro Outlaw championship, he also won the NMCA's Super Street 10.5 W class championship, and the Street Car Super Nationals, as well. Mike faces a big decision for 2013. He'd like to move up to Pro Mod Racing, but his current Mustang is a bit off pace from the big boys. Wherever Mike lands, we know he'll be successful.
Super Street Outlaw
Super Street Outlaw When John Urist wrecked his SSO coupe at the Milan race it looked like the car was history. He was able to put his former car back into service for the Joliet Super Bowl race to keep the points lead in hand, but at Bowling Green the coupe was back in the mix after a big thrash to get the car straightened out. The car picked up where it left off with another victory, sealing yet another Super Street Outlaw championship for John with a win over Filthy Phil Hines at Beech Bend Raceway. With the blending of Super Street Outlaw and Drag Radial into a Street Outlaw class for both 28x10.5 and 275 drag radial cars, the freak show goes on, but in a different manner and under a different banner.
Renegade Speaking of domination, Renegade racer Brian Mitchell added another championship to his racing resume in 2012. Brian put together consistent performances, and seemed untouchable at every event. It was more a fight to see who would get runner-up at each event Brian was so far out in front of the class. However, the gap is closing thanks to performances from past-champion Alton Clements, Adam Arndt, Scott Grove, Chad Allmandinger, Bob Cook, and the rest of the Renegade class, which has remained strong through the years thanks to consistent rules. At Beech Bend, Brian was able to complete his championship with a win over Renegade newcomer Scott Grove in the final with an 8.28 over Scott’s 8.39.
Hot Street Rick Riccardi is one of the Hot Street racers unable to make every race. And he’s also one of those guys with limited resources. However, when he does make a race, he does his best to make an impact. Rick had the car blasting down the track, even running an 8.38 at 159 mph in Round 1. Right then we knew he was going to factor in the outcome, and factor he did. Rick narrowly escaped the semi-final round against Charlie Booze Jr. for a right to face Tim Eichorn in the final. On paper, it was going to be a race to the finish between Tim and Rick. Unfortunately, Tim’s guess at the tree turned on the red light, handing the event win to Rick, turning him into a NMRA trivia question answer. Who is the last NMRA Hot Street event winner? Well, Rick Riccardi, of course.
Like Mike Murillo, Drag Radial racer Jason Lee also doubled up his points championships in 2012. Jason won both the NMRA and NMCA classes in dominating fashion. With a ProCharger on board, Jason consistently ran in the 7.40s all year on his way to both championships. At Beech Bend, he only had to get past the ‘82 Fairmont of Kurt Borton since he and Kurt were the only participants. Jason was indeed able to win the last NMRA Drag Radial.
When he initially got his Coyote Stock car to the track, Shane Stymiest’s Fox coupe had a C4 in the tunnel. However, so far that transmission choice is lacking a few tenths at the track so he swapped over to a stick just prior to the finals. Pre-race testing showed great promise, but it also showed potential durability issues. At Beech Bend, Shane was able to keep mechanical issues at bay and get past Jacob Lamb in Round 1 and then Justin Burcham in the final. We hope Coyote Stock grows for 2013—from what we’re hearing, it will.
Though the Factory Stock class turned into the Carlos Sobrino/Matt Amrine show, Louis Sylvester showed at Beech Bend that we shouldn’t forget about him. Louis qualified in the top spot, and then took out the class’ heavy hitters John Leslie Jr., Carlos Sobrino, and then Matt Amrine in the final in one of the closest races with a 10.97 to a losing 10.99. Amazingly, both racers had identical reaction times.
Racing out of the JPC Racing camp, Joe Marini’s turbocharged S197 went rounds at Beech Bend thanks to a lot of luck combined with racing skill. In Modular Muscle, there are some great racers, but Joe was able to put together stellar reaction times with elapsed times right on his 10.43 index.
Open Comp Greg Cole brings a 9-second, big-block Fox into Open Comp to do battle with mostly small-block-powered competition. Of course, engine size matters little in Open Comp, it’s all about driver skill in the index-style class. At Beech Bend, Greg was the one able to put skill to the pavement and take the win.
Truck & Lightning
In racing, it's sometimes better to be lucky than good. Jim Roberts was a little of both at Beech Bend. Johnny Lightning put together wins, and he was well on his way to doing the same until Jim snatched the event win in the final. It appears Johnny ran into problems, while Jim created his own luck.
We had equated JD Coon's Shelby GT500 to a Bigfoot sighting it had been so long since we had seen it. The car had been in mechanical jail for a bit, but he had it back in racing form in time for the Beech Bend finals. And what a way to close out 2012 with a win. JD outlasted a tough Super 'Stang class to get the win over Silent Lloyd Mikeska's ‘06 GT in the final. JD's Shelby runs deep into the 9s now, and at Beech Bend he showed the car will run that number on a consistent basis.
Terminator/GT500 Shootout We love a good ol’ fashioned shootout any day of the week. We’ve started looking forward to the Terminator/GT500 shootout ever since the NMRA started it. This year Jacob Conant and his ‘03 Cobra showed the Terminators are still the SVTs to beat in this match-up. Jacob ran consistent 8.90s on his way to the win.