2009 NMRA Bradenton- Packin' The Track
Kicking Off The Season In Style, The NMRA Shows Mustang Performance Is Alive And Well
From the August, 2009 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Michael Johnson, Steve Turner
Photography by Michael Johnson, Paul Rosner, Steve Turner
Though the NMRA season closed on a high note last October, the country's turmoil was at full-throttle. Gas prices were high; the economy threw a rod; an election was imminent. After a tumultuous off-season, would the racers and fans be ready to race again in the spring? We had a feeling that cheaper gas and the need to forget all the bad news and the winter weather would make for a healthy event. That's just the way it turned out.
Though the heads-up car counts weren't at full strength, that's typical of the first race of the season as racers scramble to wrap up their programs. What impressed, however, was the massive turnout in the car show and the stands. NMRA officials say that Saturday's spectator turnout may be the biggest ever. In short, people still love their Mustang performance, and we couldn't be happier.
Better yet, that huge crowd was able to soak up some awesome record-setting race action. Kicking off the season with 7-second drag radial racing and huge crowds sets the stage for big things this season, so check out the captions to see who has the early jump on those coveted Nitto Diamond Tree rings.
We were stoked to see a seven-car...
We were stoked to see a seven-car field in Real Street at the opener, but it wasn't the front-runners that were drawing a crowd in the pits. Jonathan Musil brought a "new" car into the Real Street fray. It was new to racing, but certainly not new. Just weeks before the event, the car had a tree growing up through the engine compartment. Jonathan's team rushed the car into race shape and got a one-race waiver on the paint, but the team's race ended in the first round when the ancient crank busted on the starting line.
Putting the fear into the...
Putting the fear into the entire crowd, Conrad Scarry's '04 Mustang Pro Outlaw racer took a hard right at the top end and disappeared into a cloud of smoke as it careened out of control and crashed during the second round of qualifying. Witnesses at the top end told Conrad's opponent, Mike Murillo, that the Scarry machine nearly missed the back of Mike's Star Car II. Fortunately that didn't happen, and Conrad walked away from the crash. His car, however, was pretty used up.
Another scare in Pro Outlaw...
Another scare in Pro Outlaw came in the first round of eliminations, as flames erupted underneath Dwayne "Fireball" James' '03 Cobra. The flames filled the cockpit, and while Dwayne acted quickly, flipping down his visor and pulling the release cable for the fire suppression system, it took a second Herculean tug to get the system activated. Finally the fire disappeared in a flash. It wasn't soon enough, however, as Dwayne still suffered second-degree burns on his face. A quick trip to a burn specialist, and Dwayne was in fine spirits with his medicine in hand.
Tech Editor Jones and Associate...
Tech Editor Jones and Associate Editor Johnson are big Maverick fans, and Editor Turner grew up in a two-Maverick household for a few years in the '70s. As such, we were all excited to see Don Bowles shaking up the Hot Street class with his new Mav! Powered by a high-revving, Roush-built, 398ci Windsor, Don's Maverick lived up to its wild name on the starting line. Don was chasing just the right suspension settings to grab the track without reaching for the sky. He qualified in the fifth spot with an 8.88/150.22 pass, but fell to Tim Eichorn in the first round.
With four Diamond Tree rings...
With four Diamond Tree rings in his collection, including those from the last three seasons, John "Do Work, Son" Urist is back in the Super Street Outlaw hunt looking for one more to complete the fistful of rings. From the outset it looked like things were going John's way. He qualified at the top of the ladder with a 7.427/189.75 blast, and ran as quick as 193 in qualifying rounds. In Round 1, John drove around Chris Tuten but hurt his motor in the process. He took the beams for his third-round bye, but the Hellion Power Systems crew didn't have time to fix the wounded powerplant in time to take on Don Burton.
Pro outlaw 10.5 Keith Neal...
Pro outlaw 10.5
Keith Neal thanked Sheppard Race Cars and his new crew chief, Rick Irwin (we thought he looked familiar), for helping get him to victory at Bradenton. "After all the problems last year, we were determined to avoid parts failures this time out, so we backed the new John Urist-built bullet down to only 28 pounds of boost, then set up everything to leave nice and soft, which paid off in spades for us later Sunday during eliminations," Keith says. With Conrad Scarry and Jerry Morgano suffering mishaps prior to Sunday, the door was wide open. Keith took advantage of others' misfortunes during eliminations. In the final, Rueben Tetsoshvili lost traction and went 9.20 at 147 mph while Keith ran a 7.281 at 199.37. For the race, Keith was able to try Mickey Thompson's new 16-inch tire and he likes it. "They've really got something going on with that new tire design," Keith says.
Super Street Outlaw We didn't...
Super Street Outlaw
We didn't actually see it, but we'd have to guess that even the melancholy Don "Burndown" Burton cracked a smile resulting from his opening-weekend success. After squeezing out a piston ring during testing and rebuilding his engine on Friday, he qualified in the third spot thanks to a 7.591/191.24 pass. Don easily dispatched Perry Santini and Jon McDonald before riding a bye run into the finals against John Urist. In the round that counts, Don must have known John's car was hurt, as the two had an epic starting-line duel before Don eventually took the tree and blasted the victory with a 7.591 at 192.06.
Ruben Tetsoshvili from Wesley...
Ruben Tetsoshvili from Wesley Chapel, Florida, thought he carried a butter knife to a shootout, but that's why the lights drop on the tree. It doesn't matter how things appear-it's a matter of who makes it to the finish line first. Ruben qualified his turbocharged Fox GT in the sixth spot with an 8.01 at 180 mph. Ruben had a single in Round 1, and got past a struggling Dan Millen in a borrowed car in Round 2. Ruben does a lot of racing in the Tampa Bay area, but the home cooking wasn't enough to get him past Keith Neal in the final.
EFI Renegade Brian Mitchell...
Brian Mitchell doesn't usually have the best luck at Bradenton. This year, things were a little different. "I couldn't have asked for a better weekend," he says. "Nice, warm weather; clear skies; and a car that worked perfect. It's rare to have the Florida race go so smooth." Brian didn't change up his program for 2009. He still relies on Cleveland Performance and Vortech superchargers for the power, and a ProFormance Transmissions C4 with a Frank Lupo Dynamic converter to transfer the power. Though his old car with Dan Rawls at the wheel trumped him for the top spot for qualifying, Dan hurt the old car and never made it to Sunday. That left the door open for Brian, and he made the most of the opportunity by taking the win over Chris VanGilder in the final.