It's been a long time coming, but John Leslie Jr. finally did it-he got his first Factory
As you can imagine, having a Ford event in the shadows of the motor-city means there's lots of potential automotive competition in the area. From cruise nights and open-track events to street action and NASCAR races, the gasoline-fueled distractions are myriad. As such, the NMRA wisely decided to truncate its event. The main reason for the short event was NASCAR had rolled into town on the same weekend, so the NMRA thought it best to give motorsports fans an opportunity to enjoy the NMRA race on Friday and Saturday, and the NASCAR race on Sunday.
It was a fine plan. However, to pull off an event in roughly a day and a half, we knew the Milan, Michigan, NMRA event was going to be tighter than a magazine budget. If a spec of rain would've rolled into town, the event would've been tighter than a Hot Street engine at the top end. Keeping things more interesting was the annual Ford Racing Invitational, a bracket race amongst members of the media. This event within an event not only allowed Editor Turner to showcase his lack of driving skills, but also put yet another run group in the mix of the tightly scheduled event. Almost everything went off like a hitch, and Editor Turner didn't even hit the wall-not that he apparently didn't try.
Along those lines all the media types also got a shot in the heralded Ford Racing Cobra Jet, which added yet more passes to the mix. All tried to hit second in the Ford Racing Cobra Jet, but few were able to execute a smooth pass. The event, despite the short window and extra events, went smooth as glass, which meant we got home a day early for a nice change of pace. Tune into the captions for the rest of the details and check out Editor Turner's sidebar for a full report on his harrowing Invitational experience.
Prior to the Milan race, Ben Mens' Hot Street racer had its suspension reworked by Team Z
Ford Racing Invitational
Over the past two years, the NMRA's stop near the Motor City has become a favorite event of mine for purely selfish reasons. That's because I've been fortunate enough to be invited to Ford Racing's annual media event. This is no standard ride-and-drive press event either-this one is pure insanity. The crew at Ford Racing rounds up as many of it's hot-rodded Mustangs as they can and turns the media loose in a bracket race.
They are certainly braver than we are, especially considering these street-tire rides are packing way more power than their stock brethren. Couple that with a bunch of drive-it-like-they-stole-it media members with various levels of driving ability, and it makes for an unpredictable and entertaining event for all. For me, it's fun to actually get to feel like I'm participating in an NMRA event without all the pressure or any conflicts of interest.
All that said, I usually don't do myself any image favors at the event. I'm an average drag racer at best. While I can occasionally pull a rabbit out of the hat and make one quick run, repeating that feat has never been my specialty. I've said before that this event has given me new reverence for the bracket and open-comp competitors that nail those numbers pass after pass.
Of course, it doesn't help that thus far I've been selected to drive some of the most powerful cars in the bunch. The first year I landed a TVS-blown GT500 pushing 600 hp. Last year I was in an unfamiliar Factory Five coupe with a stout 347. Both presented challenges, but were lots of fun.
If I'm going to lose a bracket race I'd much rather do it in a fast car so I can enjoy all the passes. So I wasn't too disappointed when I scored another TVS-blown GT500, the white-with-blue-stripes Poster Child seen doing burnouts in the FRPP catalog. It featured the blower, tuning, an FRPP handling suspension, and some Toyo tires born for drifting. Inside it had a 'cage and no radio, so it was a bit on the racy side, but still fully streetable.
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