Horse Sense: When a star goes supernova, it collapses under its own weight and leaves destruction in its wake. That was certainly a possibility when Promedia scheduled the first meeting of its two event series. Filling Route 66 Raceway with race cars was never a question, but pulling off the race was. Now the only question is, how big will this race be next year?
Dubbed the "Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing," the first meeting between the NMRA and NMCA shared much of the same hype generated by the biggest football game of the year. Fans of street-legal-style drag racing looked forward to this race since the day it was announced, but what no one foresaw was that the racing wasn't the only thing that was hot. The Chicago area was under a heat advisory and people were warned to stay indoors. Obviously, hanging out at the dragstrip wasn't a way to keep your cool.We survived-thanks to a Chill Factor neck wrap from our friends at Anderson Ford.
Despite the oppressive heat, the race cars from both series were out in force and the fans brave enough were in for a treat. For us, it was a pleasant surprise to see so many Mustangs competing in the NMRA's sister series, the NMCA. In fact, Mustangs won four of the NMCA classes, which meant they would face their fellow Mustangers when the two series clashed at the end of the event in a bracket-style format. It didn't sound exciting at first, but when Dr. Meyer had the stroke of brilliance to keep score between the two series, the drama went into overdrive. In the end, the NMRA bested the NMCA 6 to 5 in the intramural shootout, and the only NMCA Mustang to take a shootout match was Billy Glidden's black GT.
Imagine the fodder for smack talk leading up to next year! We can hardly wait.
In his element at Joliet, Billy Glidden reveled in the big stage and the hot, humid nitrous weather. He qualified in the top spot in the NMCA's venerable Super Street 10.5W class with a 7.04/195 that served notice to the rest of the field. Billy showed deadly consistency through eliminations, and in the finals he clashed with another model of consistency, Dan Millen. We're used to seeing both racers rocket down the track like their cars are on rails. Billy got out first, but Dan spun the tires a bit and even his turbo wouldn't help him track down Billy on the big end. Billy faced SSO superstar John "The Fireball" Urist in the NMRA versus NMCA shootout. Even though John cut a better light, Billy nailed the no-breakout bracket race with a 7.02 on a 7.04 dial-in.
NMCA's Xtreme Street class is sort of like NMRA Drag Radial on slicks and includes some pesky Chevy racers, too. The class is popular among Mustangers, and Cameron Coble put his '01 Mustang into the fifth qualified spot with an 8.44/166 ride-thanks to 524 ci of big-block power. His only true test in NMCA action came in the second round. His quicker reaction time allowed him to beat Chuck Barthome's 347-powered '93 Mustang, which ran a hair quicker but slept at the Tree. In the final, Cameron was the one who left late as Andy Mayes cut a great light, but his '70 Challenger didn't have the power to outrun Cameron. His win meant Cameron had to face Drag Radial winner John Kolivas, who defended the NMRA's honor with a superior light and an 8.28 on an 8.22 dial-in.
Sponsored by our sister magazine Car Craft, the NMCA Street Race class is a more radical version of our Real Street class-again, with a few Chevys in the mix. In fact, many Real Street racers have defected to the class or have swapped on larger power adders and run NMCA events when they are nearby. Tim Meagher's '90 Mustang was among five Mustangs in Street Race, and he qualified number two with a 9.34 at 147 mph and seemed to have an easy path to victory in the finals. Tim Hendricks' '95 Pontiac could only muster at 14.05, which wasn't even close. We couldn't seem to track down a Car Craft staffer in time to wager on the Real Street versus Street Race battle royale. Bruce Hemminger did us proud running a 10.06 on a 9.99 dial-in, but Tim's red light start killed the suspense.
It wouldn't be a Joliet event without the Motive Gear monkeys. The head-scratching ape was a new addition for this year's big race. Even he was trying to think of a way to stay cool.