As title sponsor of the Joliet...
As title sponsor of the Joliet race, Motive Gear found a great way to get exposure at Joliet by instituting a tradition of inflatable primates. This year the original Motive Gear monkey got a girlfriend. We suppose this explains the mini-monkey at the Motive Gear tent on the manufacturers' midway...
Horse Sense: The Outlaw 10.5 class was a huge hit at Joliet and, fortunately for Ford drag-racing fans everywhere, the NMRA and class sponsor Vortech Engineering worked out a deal to run the class at the NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We're crossing our fingers for a whole-season run in 2006!
We've been excited about covering the event at Joliet, Illinois' Route 66 Raceway since we first saw drag-racing heaven at the World Ford Challenge in 1999. But it seems racers are just as excited about going to Joliet, as the pits at the mammoth facility seem to grow more crowded with race cars every year. The track is well maintained, the facilities are beautiful, and the times are usually impressive. That was certainly the case at Joliet this year, and the addition of the Outlaw 10.5 class added even more excitement-so much so we thought the NMRA's voice of Ford Drag Racing, Dr. Jamie Meyer, might just lose it if another Outlaw car came to the starting line-he can only sustain that excitement for so long. And then there were the ever-present Motive Gear monkeys (even a female monkey) presiding over the mayhem. Check out the photos and captions for a reminder of why you want to see the monkey business at Joliet next season!
The talk of the pits was Mark VanMeter's new 10.5W ride driven by Joel Greathouse. This is one of the most beautiful race cars in recent memory, and it claimed the top qualifying spot with an off-the-trailer 7.16/198 pass. Look for big things, including a full feature in 5.0&SF, from this car in the future.
We're usually so busy covering the race and tracking down feature cars that we don't have time to do the car show justice. As we took a sprint through the show field, we ran into several killer rides. One of our favorites was this '93 Cobra clone with 10th Anniversary Cobra wheels, a Vortech supercharger, and a Trick Flow Box intake. Nice ride.
Pro 5.0 - You have to wonder if it ever gets boring for Don Walsh Jr. after another number-one qualifier and another win. OK, never mind, winning all the time is what we all dream of-it just doesn't get old. Obviously, Don still has the motivation, as he put his ProCharged-Windsor-powered '03 Mustang into the finals against Michael Hauf. It was an easy path with a bye, and a Joe Morgan redlight in round two. In the finals, however, Michael put up a fight, but Don won the race on the tree (big surprise) and bested Michael's 6.81 with a 6.73.
Pro 5.0 - Packing twice the displacement and just as much determination, Michael Hauf wasn't going to let Don Walsh Jr. have an easy win in every round. He qualified right behind Don with a 6.79/205 blast, and put himself on the opposite side of the ladder. After a freebie in round one versus Tom Jacobs, Michael lined up against Toffie Haddad in round two. Toffie got the jump, but Michael had the power to chase him down and take the win. (Sadly, Toffie was killed in a car accident just a few weeks after this race. R.I.P., Toffie.) In the finals, Michael had the power to give Don a run, but Mr. 0.400 worked his magic yet again.
Outlaw 10.5W - It was nice to see Chris "Mud Duck" Derrick at the races again after his successful run in SSO. Chris was back in action driving a Fox GT for McCullough Racing in the hottest new class at the NMRA-Outlaw 10.5W. With all the excitement about this class and its high-profile racers, Chris snuck up on everyone, qualifying his dirty, old horse in the fifth spot with a 7.36 at 191.81. With Mike Duffy working his chassis magic, Chris' GT proved the tortoise still has the upper edge, as his car was never the quickest, but it ran 7.30s in every round, which was good enough to take out Dan Schoneck, Joe Bucaro, and Bryan Markienicz en route to a final round clash with Ed Rice. "If not for luck, we could not have won this weekend," Chris said. "In the process I got to beat a Mustang legend in the final round. I think there was a whole inch difference between us at the stripe. Man, that was one of the closest races I have ever been in." Chris beat Ed's 7.36 with a 7.31 in the final.
Outlaw 10.5W - While all the hoopla was at the top of the Outlaw 10.5 qualifying sheet, Ed Rice quietly put his '95 Mustang with a 400ci, Brodix-headed Windsor blown by a 101mm Precision turbo into the seventh spot with a 7.41 at 197.50. His e.t. was slightly off the pace, but the mph was right in the mix with the big dogs, which should have been a warning he was coming. And that he did. In the first round, Ed shocked the world (or at least Joel Greathouse did) when the number-one qualifier lit the red bulb and allowed Ed an easy win. Then he put two tenths on Greg Blevins Jr. and blew the head gaskets out of his car before riding a bye into the finals where he clashed with the Mud Duck. In the bye, Ed had no water in the engine, but his pal Sammy Vincent told him to put three gallons of water in the motor and give it hell-it would burn it. And that's just what Ed did. He left first, but Chris had the muscle to take the win down track. Ed says he's bringing decoys and a duck call to Bowling Green...