2012 NMRA Bradenton - Wind Speed
From the July, 2012 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Michael Johnson, Steve Turner
Photography by Michael Johnson, Steve Turner
It's nice to have things in life that you can count on. When the racing season finally ends after the PRI show, the performance world takes a deep breath over the holiday season. There seems like so much time to work on those cars over the offseason, but once we hit the new year, time seems to fly by, and the first race of the season is suddenly upon us.
In the case of the NMRA, that first race is always in Florida, and it's always around the time of Spring Break. Northern racers can't wait to get out of the cold and onto a sunny race track. We can't wait to get out from behind our computers and snaps some shots of wheels-up Mustangs. It's a beautiful thing.
Early March in Florida can bring weather as unpredictable as the performance of a new combination. It could be warm. It could be cold. It's right on the cusp of Mother Nature putting the coals to the Sunshine State. In the case of this year's season opener it was both. The first couple days of the race were windy and warm. Then a cold-front blew through, dropped the temperatures and offered a tail wind.
In short, the finals rounds were a gift to all racers, and the records set at the season opener might not be touched until Bowling Green rolls around. Time will tell on that front, but for now the season is well on its way, and the fields are sure to get more robust as races stack up. So, strap in and let's hit the highlights of the first race.
Horse Sense: ProMedia has added a number of boutique categories within its event programs. This season it has expanded the popular Ford Racing Cobra Jet Shootout to Bradenton Motorsports Park and the VMP Tuning Terminator versus GT500 Shootout to include Maryland International Raceway.
Mike Murillo rolled into Bradenton...
Mike Murillo rolled into Bradenton with a sweet new wrap on his Pro Outlaw ride. With a base of carbon fiber-look vinyl accented by colorful sponsor logos, Mike's 554ci big-block-powered ride had a rocky first race. After spewing tranny fluid during qualifying, Mike landed in the third qualified spot. He got the car back on the track for eliminations, but the car was still off pace and went out in Round 1. It looked great doing it though.
One of the most impressive...
One of the most impressive performances at the race didn't come in the heads-up categories, but it lurked in the Super 'Stang field. There Ken Bjonnes wheeled a new GT packing a twin-turbo system. This car is the creation of Ken, tuning guru Jon Lund, and turbo fiend Jake Long of Power by the Hour. The car features an L&M built motor with custom, TiVCT-friendly cams and the aforementioned turbos. Running this combo, the automatic car reeled off effortless 9-second e.t.'s, the best of which was a 9.42 at 150 mph.
In the inaugural Coyote Stock...
In the inaugural Coyote Stock race, only two guys made the trip. It was a battle of the Joes—Joe Charles and Joe Guertin. Of course, Hi-Po Joe Charles took the win, and you can read about him shortly, but we thought the
To hear Chris Tuten (right)...
To hear Chris Tuten (right) talk, his Super Street Outlaw car is a stock block'd, B-cam'd, Vortech A-Trim'd, second-hand powerplant. If that's the case, his brother Brian's (left) Drag Radial ride (pictured) must have an '86 GT long-block with a CFI set-up. However, you can see that's not the case. Chris does run one of the smallest displacements in the class, but he isn't fooling us, no matter what he says. Chris told us at Bradenton he and Brian are focused on having fun, and running the best they can. They just want to race. Speaking of racing, Chris got loose in Round 1 against Andrew Demarco. Brother Brian suffered the same fate at the hands of Ronnie Diaz when he too got loose in Round 1 of Drag Radial. In other Tuten news, Chris' longtime crew chief Big Mike looks studious in his new glasses.
Pro Outlaw 10.5 Tim Essick...
Pro Outlaw 10.5 Tim Essick is one of the few Pro Outlaw 10.5 racers bringing a small-block to the party. Tim runs a twin-turbocharged 430ci combination. He's had to play catch-up with Mike Murillo the last couple years, but it looks like Tim is ready to perhaps dethrone the perennial Pro Outlaw 10.5 favorite in 2012. At Bradenton, Tim qualified in the top spot, and had an easy 1st round when Jim Brown was unable to make the call due to mechanical damage. In the final against Archie Marasco, Tim was able to blast out an evil 6.66 at 210 mph to take the event win, and get his year off to a solid points lead.
Super Street Outlaw You would...
Super Street Outlaw You would think that the seven-time SSO champion would spend every waking moment preparing for the season opener, but between attending Motley Crue concerts with your editor and whipping up a new twin-turbo kit for Coyote Mustangs, John Urist was a little busy. All the Hellion A-team did to its trusty combo was freshen the engine and hit the road to Florida. Because of the good air and vexing wind conditions, the team started out with a conservative approach.
Drag Radial Afco Drag Radial's...
Drag Radial Afco Drag Radial's Jason Lee picked up a fresh wrap from his sponsor Strange Engineering, as you can see. We think his Drag Radial classmates will grow tired of seeing the wrap, especially if the first race out is any indication of how 2012 is going to be. Jason has the new ProCharger F-1X supercharger on board, and he's definitely onto something. Jason ran a 7.58 at 185 mph in the heat of the day during qualifying, and it wasn't even a clean pass. In round 1 of eliminations, he ran a 7.41 at
EFI Renegade For EFI Renegade...
EFI Renegade For EFI Renegade racer Chad Allmandinger, racing is a family affair. Chad's brother and father were on hand at Bradenton to help Chad focus on racing. You shouldn't miss Chad's ride at all since it's a ‘80 Mercury Capri, and well, it's not exactly subdued. Chad's been racing EFI Renegade for a while now, but with the new season he was able to get his first win, and run his best ever time in the process. With a BES Race Engines-built 310ci bullet under the hood, Chad relies on 30 pounds of boost from a Vortech YSi-Trim supercharger. Though he's made a few final rounds in his NMRA career, Chad wasn't able to taste victory.
Hot Street In the class known...
Hot Street In the class known as an engine-builder's showcase, the season opener turned into a battle of Roush bullets. Robbie Blankenship put his 399ci '04 Mustang at the top of the qualifying sheet thanks to an 8.55 at 156 mph, but Don Bowles was close behind in his 400ci Maverick. That also meant that Don would have to work a bit harder to make it to the finals, as there were only three cars in Hot Street, and Don would have to take on Michael Demayo. A wounded engine thwarted Michael, and Don roared into the finals. There Robbie got squirrelling, handing Don the easy win.
Coyote Stock Not only did...
Coyote Stock Not only did Hi-Po Joe Charles have Tim Matherly's former Real Street car at Bradenton to run in Coyote Stock, Tim put the car together for him, as well. Obviously, the car is always ready to run something, but when Coyote Stock came up as a new class, Joe and Tim knew the car would be a perfect fit. The chassis actually used to be Joe's, but before he was able to get the build off the ground, he was forced to sell the car, which Tim purchased, and the rest is history. Joe is now writing his own chapter at the wheel of the successful car with the first-ever win in the NMRA's newest class, Coyote Stock. Joe's fellow competitor Joe Guertin was unable to find the starting line grip to put up much of a fight at Bradenton.
Factory Stock For Factory...
Factory Stock For Factory Stock racers at Bradenton, it was a matter of getting to Sunday's projected cooler temps, and reversal of wind direction. The heat of Friday and Saturday kept many competitors from the 10s, but as soon as Sunday came around if you weren't in the 10s, you were going home early, son. Louis Sylvester wasn't going home early. He took care of Michael Washington in Round 1, then had a bye run into the final where he had a match-up with defending champ Carlos Sobrino. Judging by reaction time, Carlos was the more-ready of the two, but down track it was all Louis with a 10.79 at 124 mph to a losing 10.93 at 123 mph.
Modular Muscle One of the...
Modular Muscle One of the most robust classes on the property, Modular Muscle is flourishing thanks to its accessibility and open comp-style racing. With 21 cars in the field, it's no cake-walk to take the win, but Donnie Bowles was prepared to uphold the family tradition at Bradenton after his pops took the Hot Street crown. He even went a step further and qualified Number 1 with a perfect 0.00 reaction time! Donnie was a machine, chopping down the tree and running right on top of his dial-in. In the finals, Donnie took out Gary Parker in a photo finish.
Super 'Stang Kent Nine's...
Super 'Stang Kent Nine's car wears a number six on the window and it qualified twelfth. That's a lot of numbers, but the important number was an 11.05. That was his winning e.t. in the finals. To get there, Kent had to get past Larry Firestone, Bryan Hearn, and Gary Soltys before clashing with defending champion Allan Miller's BMR-equipped '11 GT in the finals. Kent's '06 rolls with a Saleen-boosted Brenspeed B302 with Detroit Rocker cams, but in SST, it's all about running your dial. In the end, Allan lit the red bulb and Kent cruised to the stripe.
Open Comp In Open Comp, everyone...
Open Comp In Open Comp, everyone was breaking out due to Sunday's cooler temps and wicked tailwind. Friday and Saturday it was hot, with a wicked headwind. Therefore, Sunday's times were way off, and way quicker than they were on Friday and Saturday. When it was over, Rodney Ward was the one who survived the day. Robert, at the wheel of his 347-powered '65 fastback, perhaps due to his index being slower in each round, was able to see where his opponent was at the top end, and adjust accordingly. Evidently, his combination of luck and skill spelled a win for the Muncie, Indiana, resident.
Truck Like Open Comp, the...
Truck Like Open Comp, the Truck class was a breakout-fest. Pretty much every competitor ran quicker than their dial-in. Not surprisingly, the one competitor able to maintain their class dial-in also won the class. Jim Roberts capitalized on his fellow racers' mistakes to take the win over defending champ Steve Martin.
Cobra Jet Showdown One of the more popular, exciting classes at Bradenton was the Cobra Jet Showdown, which lured a pack of these purpose-built racers to Florida to square off. It didn't hurt that the winner would take home a jacket, an award, and a cool grand. Obviously with a bunch of NHRA racers on the property, the competition was fierce. However, Robbie Hudlow made it look easy by qualifying Number 1, then climbing the ladder to the win. He squared off against Gary Richard in the finals; Gary got the jump, but Robbie knabbed the win.