2009 Ford National Series NMRA - Labor Play
We make the pilgrimage to Columbus, Ohio, for NMRA action
From the March, 2010 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Michael Johnson
Photography by Michael Johnson, Paul Rosner
Drag Radial racer Steve Thompson...
Drag Radial racer Steve Thompson is definitely going against the grain these days. When Chris Little dominated this class, he used the straightforward combo of juice on a button. Now blowers and turbos dominate the class. Bringin' back the juice, Steve has steadily stepped it up for the '09 season. At Columbus, it all came together. His qualifying attempt wasn't the greatest, but as soon as eliminations started his e.t.'s took a plunge. Steve's 8.26 in Round 1 proved he was heading in the right direction. He then busted out an 8.13 against Dave Guy, but Dave redlit so that race was over at the start. In the semifinal, Steve ran another 8-teen with an 8.15 against Enzo Pecchini, but he wasted it with a redlight start. The front bumper cover sticker isn't for show; Steve relies on the boys from Panhandle Performance for power. He got started with Panhandle with the purchase of a pair of cylinder heads, and the relationship has grown from there.
Though we still enjoy warm temperatures at and around our Tampa, Florida, and Los Angeles, California, offices, many parts of the country start feeling the effects of fall.
Labor Day weekend is supposed to be the unofficial end of summer. The leaves are starting to change, and temperatures are about to fall like a Kobe Bryant turnaround jumper.
Usually, the NMRA's stop in Columbus, Ohio, Labor Day weekend brings with it falling records. However, this year warm temps kept that from happening.
OK, so Matt Stanford...
OK, so Matt Stanford might be a pretty good racer after all. He's done well at the wheel of his '08 Cobra Jet, and at Columbus he made it to the Super 'Stang final against Chris Parisi. Matt's Cobra Jet runs in the mid-10s, and it appears he was more lucky than good at Columbus. His reaction times weren't setting records, but Matt's opponents most likely heard the Cobra Jet's top-end charge because a couple of them broke-out even though they seemingly had the win in hand. Matt's luck ran out when Chris Parisi dropped a 0.046 light on him in the final.
Columbus was all about heating up the points races or prepping for next season. Many racers not within striking distance were busy getting a head start for 2010. Many figured why wait and chance any lack of testing during the off-season. Better to know now, and the NMRA know their plans, as well.
For their sake, we hope they left a little on the table or they might've accelerated a mid-season rules revision. We know some eyebrows are raised.
Find out who made waves and who didn't...
One racer running on a budget...
One racer running on a budget is Factory Stock racer Matt Amrine. He has a PVC pipe for an intake pipe, and to make matters worse, his GT wasn't running well at Columbus. Probably the only good thing about the event is that thanks to his buddy Joe Palmer, he had a clean racecar. Joe must not have waxed the car's underside, however, because it didn't help Matt's e.t.'s. Mike Murillo once told us waxing a car's underside is worth at least a tenth. Thanks to drawing Tommy Godfrey in Round 1, Matt needed hurricane force winds to get past the defending champion, but no such luck for the Cabela's poster boy.
Columbus is one of those races...
Columbus is one of those races that bring the teardowns. This year was no exception. This is a look at the racers who were able to spend some quality time with the NMRA Tech Department. If you're called for an appointment with the tech staff, it's a reward for going fast. Some racers only had to remove the intake, yet others had to go much further to prove their legality. In this photo, it appears half the Pure Street class was called to the principal's office. Seen here are Brandon Alsept, Mark Anderson, Eric Burkhart, and Ryan Hecox. Don't worry-these guys have been here before.
Brian Tuten's EFI Renegade...
Brian Tuten's EFI Renegade coupe was off-pace at Columbus, and he wasn't sure why. He spent the majority of the weekend scratching his head as to why the car wouldn't run the number. He was able to squeak by Chris Van Gilder in Round 1 with an 8.80, but we've seen his car run 8.40s in competition so it was a puzzling situation. Brian said before the event he swapped to a different cylinder head with a larger intake port, so he thought port velocity might've been compromised. Bad thing was he didn't have the previous heads with him at Columbus to test that theory before his Round 2 match-up against Larry Hourcle, which didn't end well for Brian.
Pro outlaw 10.5
Pro outlaw 10.5
Dan Millen and the Livernois Motorsports crew had his Pro Outlaw 10.5 Mustang running stout and consistent at Columbus. During our between-round treks through the pits, the Livernois camp was pretty calm. That tone changed to business-like when it was time to go down the track. Dan led from wire to wire, qualifying number 1 with a 6.80 at 211 mph, then getting past Dwayne James and Jim Monson before lining up with Conrad Scarry in the final. Dan made sure to give himself a fighting chance against Conrad, and was able to make a big statement with an unbelievable 6.72 at 215 mph to Conrad's 6.91 at 212 mph.
Pro Outlaw 10.5 has become...
Pro Outlaw 10.5 has become a small-block versus big-block class. At Columbus, the big-blocks guys were outnumbered 5 to 3. Conrad Scarry, Mike Murillo, and Jim Brown carry the class' big sticks, but Conrad was the one to carry it the longest at Columbus. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the big-blocks make a boatload of power, and Conrad's twin-turbo big-block has steam for days. In the race of the weekend, Conrad had to run Mike Murillo. Conrad had a 0.444 light with a 6.963 at 204 mph, and Mike was right on his door with a 0.453 light and a 6.983 at 214 mph. Conrad came out on top for that race, but in the final he was unable to best Dan Millen.
Super Street Outlaw
Super Street Outlaw
John "The Fireball" Urist's crew had quite a bit of spare time on their hands at Columbus. John's coupe was running well so the Hellion bunch had a little time to unwind during the event, throwing the football and takimg bets on John's reaction time (I owe Dwayne James $5). On the track, no one should bet against John. He qualified with a 7.39 at 192 mph, and his reaction times got better each round. In the final against John MacDonald, The Fireball ripped off a 0.413 light, but that was probably as a result of MacDonald's -0.159 red light start, giving Johnny U. the victory. John also had a few new stickers on his Super Street Outlaw ride as well. No word on if Exodus, Dokken, Poison, Cinderella, Iced Earth, and Ratt have started paying contingency, but it doesn't hurt to try, right John?
With ProCharger sponsoring...
With ProCharger sponsoring the Super Street Outlaw class, it's no surprise that John MacDonald and John Urist would do well. Both racers run ProCharger superchargers, and Johnny Mac's program has really improved over the last few races. He qualified with a 7.44 at 189 mph to land in the second spot behind The Fireball. Johnny Mac made it to the final, but he was roughly a tenth off The Fireball's numbers, so he tried to push the Tree and left too early.
Following the successes of ProCharger customers John Urist and Johnny Mac, Jason Lee also took the supercharger manufacturer to the winner's circle in Drag Radial. As is usually the case, Columbus is tricky for the Drag Radial guys. The slick-tired cars have no problems getting down the track for the most part, which doesn't bode well for the radial cars. It took Jason a few rounds to find the sweet spot for his '86 GT, but once he did it was 8.0s, which was untouchable.
While we're talking about...
While we're talking about ProCharger, Enzo Pecchini also runs one of the company's superchargers. With Tim Lyons helping with the car's tuneup and maintenance, Enzo's made strides up the ladder in 2009. The Canadian racer qualified with an 8.21, and followed that run up with an 8.14 in Round 1 to get past Pete Johnson. However, Enzo stumbled his way to the finals and ran into problems against Jason Lee.
Larry Hourcle is another EFI Renegade racer switching to radials, but his choice of boots come from Hoosier. His choice of power adder comes from Vortech Engineering. At Columbus that power was enough to get the win. Larry's times hovered around the 8.50-8.60 mark, which was in the top half of the class, and Larry used quick reaction times to take the win.
Speaking of switching, Alton...
Speaking of switching, Alton Clements runs a Four-Valve modular engine is his EFI Renegade coupe, also with Vortech power. Alton qualified Number 1 with an 8.50 at 161 mph, and took advantage of redlight starts by his opponents to get to the final against Larry Hourcle. However, when it was time to go, Alton's car didn't. That kept him from challenging for the win.
Score one for...
Score one for the Maverick. In a sea of Mustangs, Don Bowles' Maverick sticks out like a giraffe in a Pinto. The bright yellow is part of the attraction, but it's not every day you see a Maverick running deep into the 8s with naturally aspirated power. Don utilizes Roush power under the hood to run those numbers, and he used every bit of his driving prowess to beat the young guns to the stripe. He beat Ben Mens to the stripe in the final with an 8.73 to an 8.82.
Ben Mens has had his fair...
Ben Mens has had his fair share of woes in 2009. A new suspension brought with it a pretty steep learning curve. The team had to work hard to find the most optimum setup for the car, and those changes started to bear fruit at Columbus. The power's always been there thanks to Ben's day job at Roush Performance, but the suspension and other changes for 2009 have come around to work with the power, and not against it. Ben was firmly entrenched in the 8.80s, whereas final-round opponent Don Bowles was solid in the 8.70s. Even using fuzzy math, those numbers don't add up to a victory for Ben.
The warm temps...
The warm temps spelled trouble for the Real Street class. The temps meant Bruce Hemminger's nitrous ride was going to fly. His 9.51 qualifying hit at "only" 139 mph landed him in the top spot, and then Jim Pickel was unable to make the call for Round 1. Then Bruce had a bye run into the final. He wasn't wasting those testing opportunities, either. He ran a 9.54 to make sure all was right, and then a 9.53 with a zero over Tim Matherly's 9.53 with a 7 in the final to take the win.
Tim Matherly had a smoother...
Tim Matherly had a smoother go of it at Columbus compared to his fellow MV Performance running mates. Tim's pit was relatively quiet, and I discovered he's not too bad on the grill, either. However, he's better in a car than at the grill, and he proved it again during eliminations with consistent 9.50s, but he just didn't quite have enough for Bruce in the finals. The margin of victory in the finals was just a couple feet.
Jim Breese once again had...
Jim Breese once again had to change out an engine at a race due to pushing the envelope. He was able to regroup and have it running by Sunday's eliminations, though. However, Tim Matherly took out Jim in the semis with a 9.57 to a 9.65.
With six Real Street cars...
With six Real Street cars at Columbus, Matt Johnson was in jeopardy of bringing up the rear. However, Dave Ginter was having all kinds of issues so he took care of that spot. Sorry Dave, Matt's coupe had the least problems between the two. The problem Matt has been having with his car is the thing wants to be part of NASA's space program. It gives new meaning to the term "launch." At Columbus, the car displayed the technique a few times, and Matt was really unable to make a clean pass until Round 1, but even then his 9.93 wasn't enough to get past Tim Matherly.
Causing quite the stir in the Pure Street class, Brandon Alsept had a Two-Valve under the hood of his car. Not only that, but the engine is from Eric Holliday's Factory Stock car when he went on a tear a couple years ago. The engine is an RGR bullet, and it's also the same engine JPC Racing had in its blue Fox GT in a short-lived, late-season run in 2008. The engine wears a Trick Flow intake, but with the Ford Racing Two-Valve heads from a few years back. The combo is a stout one since Brandon was able to qualify in the second spot with a stout 10.27 at 129 mph. With eight cars in the class, it wasn't an easy route to the finals for Brandon, but he ran a 10.30, a 10.32, and then a 10.31 in the finals to get past Steve Gifford.
Steve Gifford also runs a...
Steve Gifford also runs a modular engine in Pure Street, which means this was probably the first time two modular-powered Mustangs have faced each other in a Pure Street final. Leading up to that race, Steve's road to the final was similar to Brandon's. He qualified with a 10.29, and ran 10.30s all day Sunday, but he lit the red bulb against Brandon in the final.