Roush Racing is getting serious...
Roush Racing is getting serious about NMRA Ford Drag Racing. Jack's crew practically invaded Bradenton with five cars, including a development version of its forthcoming Drag Pack S197 Mustang. These cars will reportedly offer some weight and option reductions, coupled with a supercharged Three-Valve powerplant. Sounds like a good idea to us.
Horse Sense: The NMRA says more than 17,000 fans filled the Bradenton Motorsports Park for the entire weekend, and they were rewarded with 14 Pro 5.0 cars thanks to more wide-open rules. Car-show attendance was up more than 20 percent over last year as well-we always tell you how nice Florida is in the spring, and the Bradenton race had chamber-of-commerce weather.
Nothing gets us going like spring-birds chirping, sun shining, and white, puffy clouds in the blue sky. The smell of traction compound and tire smoke, together with unmuffled exhaust and high-rpm shifting, must mean it's spring and the NMRA season is kicking off in fine style at Bradenton Motorsports Park. While Bradenton is always a big show, the '06 installment seemed alive with even more excitement. Racers turned out in droves and the performances were already in mid-season form. With a kickoff like this, we can only imagine the kind of records we'll see as the NMRA gets up to full boost in 2006. Here's how it began.
Zoop Zellonis had a bad run of luck at the season opener. His passenger door was bent back by a car trailer, his car got loose after a big wheelstand, then it hit the wall.
Thankfully, Zoop was OK and the damage to the car appeared superficial.
We took the opportunity to show off Old World Industries' Project Fire & Ice '06 Mustang in front of the Nitto display at Bradenton. Yes, the car is wearing Nitto NT-555s on those sweet Ford GT wheels, and you can follow the construction of this car beginning in this issue. If you're feeling lucky, you can sign up to win it at your local AutoZone store or by visiting splitfire.com or peakantifreeze.com for an entry form (between May 7 and July 1). Good luck.
While he couldn't exactly make a pass, this young NMRA racer certainly had the right idea. Safety first!
Pro 5.0 - It seems like only yesterday we saw Don Walsh Jr. blast alone down the quarter-mile at Bowling Green, when mechanical failure rendered Burt Kelkboom's '04 Escort unable to compete. While that incident happened in the final round of the World Finals, a similar scenario played out at this year's season opener, as Donnie once again ran by himself in the semifinals-despite a great display of sportsmanship as he waited for Burt to get his car fired-and secured his place in the final round versus Michael Hauf. "I knew Mike Hauf would be on his game in the final," Donnie says. But Mr. 0.400 was on his game as well, as he used a 0.021 holeshot to stay in front of Michael's quicker and faster big-block at the stripe by a mere 15 thousandths of a second (0.015). "What a drag race! This is what it's all about," Donnie adds. "This was an awesome weekend for Pro 5.0 as a class. We were happy to see so many new faces, and we're looking forward to the competition that all of these teams are bringing to the table." A slight change in Pro 5.0's weight requirements has opened the door to mega-inch, naturally aspirated IHRA Fords to compete in NMRA's top category.
Pro 5.0 - While big-block-powered, IHRA Pro Stockers showed up in force at the NMRA season opener, Michael Hauf and his crew are now considered one of the Pro 5.0 "regulars," as he has been campaigning his Yellow 814-inch '04 'Stang for quite a while on the NMRA circuit. His experience showed itself on Saturday as he landed the UPR top-qualifier cash with his blistering 6.64/208 pass. Michael wasn't too far off his qualifying pace on race day. Speeds of 207-208 mph were the norm in three fairly easy rounds, and they carried him to a final-round matchup with Donnie Walsh Jr. In the final, while a wicked 0.975 60-footer made it appear as though Michael may have been able to overcome Don's holeshot lead, his car drifted into the crumbs and fell behind. "It was a tough loss, but a great race," Michael says. "This truly shows the parity in Pro 5.0, and should give fans a great time at the track."
Super Street Outlaw - It appears Kentucky Sam Vincent is over the house fire that took the family home in May last year. No stranger to the 7.50s, Sam took the top qualifying spot with a 7.56 at 181 mph, followed by Super Street Outlaw regulars John Urist and '05 champ Manny Buginga. Still running a nitrous-chugging 438ci small-block and a Matukas Motorsports Race Cars chassis setup, he didn't baby it around town for his first-round bye run with a blistering 7.55 pass. Then he had another bye run when Zack Posey was unable to make the call, but there wasn't a person sitting down for the third-round matchup between Sam and Jim Briante, who was driving the nitrous'd Sorby brothers coupe at Bradenton. In true Briante fashion, Jim got the holeshot, but Sam was able to come around the legendary Mustang racer with a 7.66 to Jim's 7.70. Another bye run lit up the scoreboard with a 7.60 to make sure the tune was spot on for the final round against Manny Buginga. But Manny lost grip around half-track, and Sam cruised to victory.