Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
November 8, 2013

Horse Sense: Super Stang racer Joe Cram—and our boy—ran consistent 10.54s in qualifying; he said he really needed to go some rounds to get some publicity. Marvin Knack ended Joe's weekend in Round 2, but you can check out Joe's West Coast exploits in KJ's NMCA West report.

When we first saw the 2013 NMRA schedule at the beginning of year, one event we were excited to attend was the 10th Annual McLeod NMRA Ford Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Editor Turner has never been there, but when asked about Norwalk, Tech Editor KJ Jones responded, “Best pound of ice cream you can purchase ... anywhere!” He didn't say anything about the racing, the facility, or anything else. It was the ice cream that stood out.

Safe to say no other track is known for its ice cream like Summit Motorsports Park. It resembles a small town under its stadium seating, and the most popular place is the ice cream stand. We witnessed plenty of ice cream lovers over the weekend, but one thing we've heard about Norwalk over the years is that the racing is as hot as the ice cream is cold.

The NMRA enjoys most of its popularity on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Since Norwalk is centrally located, and convenient to many NMRA regulars, racer counts were up in more than one class. Norwalk has a huge history when it comes to Mustang racing, and the 10th Annual McLeod NMRA Ford Nationals continued that theme. To find out how your favorite racer did, check out the captions.


Drew Lyons has run more than his share of NMRA events—competing in the old Pure Street class and in this car. This is the beauty of Coyote Stock. Drew had an existing chassis, all it needed was a powerplant. Hello, Ford Racing?! Drew dropped the required sealed crate engine into the car's existing Racecraft tubular K-member, added Kooks headers and a Competition Clutch flywheel, and made sure the Team Z rear suspension components were ready to go. As of Saturday afternoon at Norwalk, the combo had six passes on it. Drew also smoothed out a section of the 8.8's ring and pinion during qualifying, which—this just in—is not something you want to happen! He was able to fix the car and get past Joseph Jones in Round 1. However, eventual event winner Shane Stymiest awaited him in Round 2, and after a rare re-run due to a timing error, it didn't go Drew's way.

Racing out of the Espeut Performance camp, Diallo Walcott made it to his first final at Norwalk. Much to the enjoyment of Pete Espeut, who showed off his credit-card vertical after Diallo secured the semi-final round win, and he was amped to say the least for Diallo's first final-round appearance. Unfortunately, Diallo's ‘13 GT only moved a foot or so when the lights dropped in the final. The stock driveshaft couldn't take anymore. We thought every Coyote-powered GT had a one-piece driveshaft on it by the second day of ownership, but one thing's for sure, Diallo's GT has one now.

It would be OK with us if every NMRA race was held at Summit Motorsports Park just for the ice cream stand. For $1, you get a pound of ice cream! That's right—$1 gets you a pound of ice cream at Norwalk with a variety of available flavors. We made sure to get ours early Friday afternoon, which kept us from wanting anymore the rest of the weekend. We weren't the only ones, though, as you can see. Norwalk ice cream lovers include UPR Products' Mark Maineiro (we caught him both Saturday and Sunday), Tim Matherly, Jim Breese, and Matt Amrine, just to name a few.

The wife of Factory Stock racer Matt Amrine, Danielle brought her newly-purchased ‘03 GT to see what it would run on a prepped track such as Norwalk. While dodging the paparazzi, She was able to run solidly in the 13s, which helped her devise a plan going forward for the car. She can't really decide if she wants to make it faster for the track or more menacing for the street. Her Kenne Bell-supercharged powerplant would benefit from a smaller pulley, a free-flowing exhaust, and a performance-oriented cold air intake. However, she also wants to add cool wheels to the car as well. Sounds like Danielle has the same problem as the rest of us. We happen to think the car looks perfect, but that's just us.

When asked how his 13-second Cobra pulls the wheels, Modular Muscle competitor Rob Hartness simply responded, “Team Z suspension!” Rob qualified at the top of Modular Muscle thanks to a perfect reaction time, but drew the always tough Susan McClenaghan in Round 1. Hoping to go rounds at Norwalk, Rob made sure to be on the Tree, but unfortunately, he turned on the redlight with a heart-breaking -0.004 reaction time.


Street Outlaw

While everyone has been switching power adders, Phil Hines has stuck with his proven ProCharger/423ci Windsor combination. With his performance at Norwalk, who could argue with his plan. Phil qualified at the top of Street Outlaw with a 7.30 at 193 mph, and he stayed in the 7.30s on Sunday, with his slowest pass being a 7.35 at 193 mph against Jason Lee in the final. Phil's 7.35 was still quick enough to get him the win.

A longtime ProCharger supporter, it was kind of a shock to see a huge Vortech sticker on the hood of Jason Lee's '86 GT at Norwalk. Making the switch over to a Vortech XB105 supercharger, the new combo paid big dividends when he was able to qualify with a 7.37 at 189 mph. On Sunday, he didn't really have to push the car until the final round against Phil Hines. Even though he was out of the gate first, Phil was able to reel him in and take the win at Norwalk.


Renegade

It's got to be disheartening when your competitor doesn't show up until the second round of qualifying, and then goes on to the win the event—but we're talking about Brian Mitchell here. Brian let his friend Adam Arndt have some glory during qualifying, but once eliminations started, Brian got to work. He was able to get past both Valerie and Alton Clements before facing Scott Grove in the final. By that time, Scott's ‘84 Mustang was hurt, which spelled victory for Brian.

After qualifying was over in Renegade, it looked like it would finally be Adam Arndt's time. Unfortunately, you still have to suit up and race on Sunday, and a redlight start in Round 1 against Tim Matherly meant Adam was out of the running. Scott Grove and his nitrous-assisted ‘84 Mustang took advantage of the situation. Scott was on the winning side of a redlight start by Tim Matherly, who had to push the Tree to have any hopes of getting to the next round. Fortunately for Scott, he had a bye into the final because by that time he had hurt the Dart 410ci combination in his ride, handing the event win to Brian Mitchell.



Coyote Stock

After running his version of a perfect pass at MIR with a 10.38, Shiftin' Shane Stymiest came back to the pack at Norwalk thanks to his 60-foot times being slightly off. However, if Shane was off, so was everyone else in Coyote Stock. Shane was still able to qualify at the top of the class with a 10.60 at 124 mph, followed closely by Joe Charles. Both Shane and Joe got a visit from the NMRA tech team to check transmission gear ratios, and both passed the check. After that, it was all up to Shane to do the shiftin'. Shane was able to get past Drew Lyons when the two actually had to race twice on Sunday due to a track timing error. Then he was able to shift his way past Joe Charles, and then Joe Marini in the final to notch another win.

After taking over driving duties of his ‘11 GT from Justin Burcham, Joe Marini is a force to be reckoned with at every race. Joe didn't figure to be much of a threat after qualifying with a 10.80, landing him in the fifth spot. However, known to have a good time every now and then, Joe got down to business on Sunday, getting past Frank Braneaccio's Fox GT in Round 1, Jacob Lamb in Round 2 thanks to a holeshot, and a bye into the final. It was all Shane Stymiest in that match-up, though, even though Joe was once again out first with a poor redlighting effort 0.414 reaction time. Shane was still able to come around him before the stripe.


Factory Stock

If there's any racer making it look easy, it's Factory Stock racer Matt Amrine. His pit is drama-free, and the only time Matt and crew chief Brandon Alsept look busy is when they're called to the lanes. Otherwise, it's make a pass, bring the car back to the pits, cool down the engine, and wait for the lane call. Matt topped Factory Stock with a 10.74 at 124 mph, a full 0.2 quicker than number 2 qualifier John Leslie Jr. Matt was the only consistent 10-second racer on Sunday, and as such, he took the event win.

If we know one thing about Matt Williams, it's that he's probably one of the more consistent Factory Stock racers. Because of the nature of Factory Stock, times can vary due to traction, or a lack thereof since the class mandates a drag radial and most racers utilize a manual transmission. When other racers were up and down at Norwalk Matt ran consistent 11.30s in eliminations, which was enough to carry him to the finals against Matt Amrine. Unfortunately for Matt Williams, Matt Amrine is also consistently in the 10s, which didn't bode well.


5.0-Liter Shootout

We had hoped more cars would show up for the Granatelli Motorsports 5.0-Liter Shootout Class. However, what cars did show up were strong. Plus, of the five cars, three were out of Evolution Performance. Evo's Nelson Whitlock piloted Justin Cyrnek's ‘13 GT to the top spot with an 8.49 at 163 mph. You should know a little bit about Justin's car, since it competed in the King of the Street and is prominently displayed on the cover of the May '13 issue. Though the car incurred tensioner problems at KOTS, it displayed no such issue at Norwalk. Justin can't say the same for his other car, which he raced, but ran into mechanical issues during qualifying. All was not lost for Evo and Justin, though, as Nelson proceeded to take out Terry Reeves in the semis, and then Chris Cruz in the final. The big news for us is that Justin's green car, Terry's car, and Chris' car are all KOTS veterans, with Chris Cruz winning the '11 King of the Street.


Modular Muscle

It's been a while since Reggie Burnette Jr. has won a race, but to be fair, he has a right to be a little off since the passing of his dad Reggie Burnette Sr. in 2012. If he's getting back in the groove, that doesn't bode well for his fellow Modular Muscle competitiors since he is a past champion of the class. At Norwalk, he flashed the past brilliance that earned him that championship as he won the event, even beating class stalwart Gary Parker in the final.


Open Comp

In the hotly contested Open Comp class, Jim Johnson Jr. and his black Fox GT was the last man standing on Sunday. Jim capitalized on others' mistakes but he also did work at the Tree when he needed it. While other racers were redlighting themselves on the trailer, Jim took advantage to get the win. In the final against the vintage Mustang of Woody Pack, Jim had a 0.523 reaction time, while Woody went red with a -0.003 light, handing the win to Jim—but he'll take it any day of the week.


Super 'Stang

Super ’Stang Running out of the Brenspeed camp, Larry Firestone’s ’08 GT has Brenspeed’s 520R Roush supercharger package and a pair of Kooks headers with that company’s 49-state Green Revolution catalytic converters, 3.73 gears, and a TCI Street Fighter 3,000-rpm stall converter inside the stock 5R55S transmission. In NMRA Super Stang competition, all that adds up to consistent 11.80s, but Larry’s talent added up to a victory at Norwalk. He had a little help along the way when semifinal-round opponent Marvin Knack redlit and final-round opponent Diallo Walcott broke a driveshaft on the launch. Brenspeed’s 520R Roush supercharger package includes a Roush TVS 2300 supercharger with a Brenspeed calibration and fuel pump upgrade. Brenspeed’s Brent White tells us the shop converted all its racecars over to Kooks 49-state Green Revolution catalytic converters to promote emissions-friendly racing.

Running out of the Brenspeed camp, Larry Firestone's 2008 GT has Brenspeed's 520R Roush supercharger package and a pair of Kooks headers with that company's 49-state Green Revolution catalytic converters, 3.73 gears, and a TCI Street Fighter 3,000-rpm stall converter inside the stock 5R55S transmission. In NMRA Super Stang competition, all that adds up to consistent 11.80s, but Larry's talent added up to a victory at Norwalk. He had a little help along the way when semifinal-round opponent Marvin Knack redlit and final-round opponent Diallo Walcott broke a driveshaft on the launch. Brenspeed's 520R Roush supercharger package includes a Roush TVS 2300 supercharger with a Brenspeed calibration and fuel pump upgrade. Brenspeed's Brent White tells us the shop converted all its racecars over to Kooks 49-state Green Revolution catalytic converters to promote emissions-friendly racing.


Truck and Lightning

Steve Martin makes the haul from Ontario, Canada, to do battle in Truck and Lightning; at Norwalk he made the trip worth it by winning the event. We would love to tell you he consistently cut down the Tree each round, but he was fairly inconsistent at the Tree in his mid 10-second Lightning, especially in the final against Robert Chuhran when he was out of the gate with a 0.708 light. Sure, a Lightning's reaction time isn't going to be the greatest—it's probably pretty difficult to consistently cut a good light in a truck—but when he lacked in a reaction time he made up for by running his 10.50 index with a 10.57 in the final to get the win.