It's cool to see some of these Internet superstars in the flesh, even for us, and Chris Cruz's white GT was the first automatic '11 to bust into the 9-second range online. Having seen it at Bradenton weeks earlier, we had no idea of its capabilities, but capable it was. Chris cracked off a 9.83 at 141, which was only good enough for the second qualified spot in what would be the day's most hotly contested category. That's because his Whipple/auto car was on a collision course with Rebecca Starkey's TVS/auto car. After knocking off Clinton Smith in the first round, Chris took a bye into the finals against Rebecca. It was anyone's race, but Chris got the jump and held her off all the way down the track for the win.
Engine And Drivetrain
Suspension And Chassis
It was a last-minute decision for the VMP Tuning family to make the trek up from Florida, but obviously they made the right choice. Rebecca Starkey has really maximized the performance of her Roushcharged automatic GT. In Florida, she ran it right up to the brink with a 10.00 pass, but in the cool Maryland air, Rebecca's car was flat flying. On her first qualifying pass, the 9-second barrier was broken. She ran in the 9s on every run at MIR, and qualified in the top spot with a 9.80 that put her up against VMP customer Rod Heltzel in Round 2. Rod put up a valiant effort, but Rebecca prevailed with an amazing 9.79, setting up the race of the day with Chris Cruz. Rebecca ran quicker (9.84 versus 9.90), but Chris won the race at the Tree.
You know you're hardcore when you drive 23 hours from Texas to attend a one-day race at MIR. Hardcore is an understatement for Rod Heltzel, who already has another '11 and a '12 Boss 302 on order. He says that he actually bought the car you see here after reading our stories on Rebecca Starkey's car breaking into the 10s. After that, Rod bought the car, ordered up similar gear--including the supercharger and tune from VMP--and set a goal of running 10.teens. After qualifying in the third spot with a 10.05, it was time for a new goal. Though he lost to Rebecca in the second round with a 10.07, he kept plugging away with test 'n' tune passes. Just as the track was about to shut down, Rod clicked off a 9.89! Talk about making it worth the trip.