Horse Sense: Mark this season as the first one in NMRA history with no Pro 5.0 class. Born out of the likes of Super Ford magazine's 5.0 Shootout events, the Pro 5.0 class had long been the top-dog class at every all-Ford race on the calendar. With class fields dwindling, the NMRA made the brave decision to replace Pro 5.0 with a full schedule of Outlaw 10.5 races.
When I was a kid, Pro 5.0 was...
Whoosh! An arctic blast rushes by, the air chills, and moisture starts to form, but it wasn't the influence of an Outlaw 10.5 'Stang's air-to-water intercooler on 40-plus pounds of boost. Instead it was the cold front that seemed to hitch a ride on the trailers of all those northern racers trekking down for the NMRA Spring Ford Nationals, the kickoff for a season of wheels-up Ford drag racing, held at Bradenton Motosports Park in Bradenton, Florida.
While the cool temperatures and the threat of torrential rain served to make promoters and spectators nervous, the racers still showed up in droves, proving that a bleak forecast-weather or economic-can't keep a hardcore Ford racer away from a sticky quarter-mile surface. In the end, the rain began after the first round of qualifying on Friday and ended well before the second round fired up on Saturday. We were left with some wind and downright cool temperatures on Saturday and Chamber of Commerce weather for Sunday's eliminations.
We think the records set in Bradenton are going to be tough to touch until the weather cools off again at the end of the season. If the racing competition is as hot and heavy as it was at the first race, we likely won't notice.
Even though many Hot Street racers were at the Bradenton NMRA opener with a different car or combo, Tim Eichorn raced his usual '89 Mustang coupe. Tim owns Mustang Performance Racing in Pompano Beach, Florida, and specializes in anything to do with Mustangs. He builds his own engines with help from Kuntz and Company and Wilson Manifolds, and Matukas Motorsports Race Cars built the car, which Tim debuted in 2005. He hooked up with Kuntz and Company during the off-season between 2005 and 2006. Tim runs a 400ci engine with an Arnett Transmissions Powerglide and an Ultimate Converter stall converter. He says the car has been working well, so he'll stick with it. He takes it back to Steve Matukas every six months or so to get checked out. At Bradenton, Tim had a good start to the race by qualifying in the fourth spot with an 8.75 at 154 mph. However, he relaxed too much in the first round of eliminations against Keith Courtney, and he paid the price with an early exit from competition.
A newcomer to our beloved Real Street class, Dave Ginter came calling with a '98 Mustang Cobra packing ProCharged Two-Valve power. We've always liked yellow '98 Cobras, and we love Real Street, so it's great to see the combination together. En route to the event, Dave enlisted the help of MV Performance's Tim Matherly. Tim says Dave was down on power compared to his own Real Street ride, and he'll be building a new bullet for Dave, so watch out for another mod-motor player in the class.
Chris Tuten has once again changed power adders. He ran nitrous in Real Street and won a championship there. Then he moved up to Drag Radial with a turbo and won another championship. He's still racing in Drag Radial, but now he's doing it with a ProCharger F-1R underhood. Proline Racing Engines is still doing the engine work, while a Torque Converter Services Powerglide lives in the tunnel. Chris says the biggest difference between running a turbocharger and a supercharger is that the latter requires a lot more fuel because of the increased power it requires. "Your tuning window is more narrow with a supercharger," Chris says. "I'm going to make it work." He usually does. He showed up at Bradenton without dyno time and still ran 8.20s with a 1.34 60-foot time. Not only did he change power adders, but Team Z Motorsports also redid the chassis to 25.2 specs. The only thing left from last year is the wheels, front brakes and struts, and the body. Chris says there's more in it, but he must make it live at the same time. We asked if Hot Street was his next class, and Chris responded, "You'll never see me run all-motor."
Bucking the trend of body-in-white race cars, Robbie Blankenship brought this former six-cylinder car to Bradenton to do battle in Hot Street. Outfitted with last year's freshened-up Roush 400ci combination, the car was built by Matukas Motorsports Race Cars. Even though Robbie has had the car for a few years now, Steve Matukas began working on it in June 2007, and it was finished just after the first of 2008. Though Robbie qualified third with an 8.73 at 151 mph, he was unable to make it past Charlie Booze Jr. in the second round of eliminations. Robbie and Steve will be busy testing new converters from Ultimate Converters, doing some suspension tuning, and playing with different induction setups. Look for Robbie to be a hot Hot Street player again this year.