It's been a brutal winter between the end of the 2013 NMRA campaign and the start of the 2014 season. Snow, snow, and more snow has dominated the forecast for many an NMRA racer, and nothing cures the winter blues like good ol' Florida sunshine.
Though the Thursday before the event wasn't exactly Chamber of Commerce weather, the rest of the weekend gave racers exactly what they needed ... lots of sunshine combined with mild temperatures. What NMRA racers gave back to us in return was a race that let us know 2014 is going to be an awesome year for Mustang drag racing.
The big NMRA news was the addition of the new Coyote Modified class, which pits power-adder, Coyote-powered Mustangs against each other in a heads-up format. The class came out swinging with the Fox coupe of Frank Varela setting the pace right out of the gate with times in the 8.70s. We trust times will only get quicker from here.
The other big news was the re-emergence of Pure Street. This naturally aspirated class took a brief hiatus, and was folded into the NMCA (the NMRA's sister sanctioning body) Mean Street class. That too brought out some familiar faces back to the NMRA fold where they belong. Even in its short time over in the NMCA ranks, Mean Street was basically an all-Mustang class. It was natural to bring it back over to the NMRA side of the fence.
Besides those two new wrinkles, the 2014 NMRA season is going to be fast, competitive, and one of the most memorable in the history of Mustang drag racing if Bradenton is any sign of things to come. Of course, Bowling Green will be here before we know it, so let's relish in the Bradenton action for now.
Though it wasn’t blazing hot for the Bradenton opener, these young entrepenuers were definitely onto something. They had lemonade, snow cones, popcorn, duct-tape wallets, scented candles, and more. Your author was hoping they’d have Mountain Dew, but our boy Brian McFarland out of the Jacob Lamb camp came through for us in a pinch. Next year they’ll have Mountain Dew, and we’ll be a regular customer.
We’re here to tell the world about a guy we only know as Burnout Box. We can only imagine he’s related to Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and he must play in a band at dive bars around the Bradenton, Florida, area. Burnout Box is pretty much our hero, and was the hardest working dude at the track during the 2014 NMRA Spring Break Shootout at Bradenton Motorsports Park. He was busy keeping his burnout box clean of debris, busily sweeping it between each car, and was almost run over at one point by an anxious racer. Since the Sunday of the event was the warmest day, Burnout Box had to cool himself by using one of his tools of the trade, a water hose. Keep rockin’, Burnout Box!
An NMRA mainstay, John Urist’s consecutive championship streak was broken by Phil Hines. Therefore, Phil’s car wears the #1 this season. However, we know John isn’t going to back down, and if Bradenton was any indication, this battle is going down to the wire and might be decided at Beech Bend Raceway in October. John’s turbo-motivated, Nitto-sponsored Pony landed the first punch by winning Bradenton in spectacular fashion, running several 7.ohs at 200 mph, including a 7.10- at 202 mph in the final against Phil Hines, who ran a 7.15 at 194 mph. An NMRA mainstay, John Urist’s consecutive championship streak was broken by Phil Hines.
The 2013 NMRA season closed with us wondering whether anyone in the Renegade class would ever beat multi-time champion Brian Mitchell; at the 2014 opener, it appeared Bart Tobener would be the racer to do it. Bart ran in the 8.30s during qualifying, but at the last moment, Brian whipped out an 8.21 at 167 mph to secure the top qualifying spot. We knew right then Brian would probably leave Bradenton with the win. Brian’s been there and done that in Renegade; he has a handle on what’s going on with his program. When Bart was taken out by Charlie Cooper, it was Brian’s race to lose, and that just doesn’t happen. Brian’s 8.21 was the only time he really had to push his equipment. He had a relatively easy time of it in Sunday’s eliminations when other racers were having various issues putting down the power. One thing though, the Cobra Jets are really gaining steam in the class, so Johnny Lightning making it to the final is a sign of things to come. Whether anyone is able to beat Brian Mitchell is another
We all wish we could throw together a race car in a couple weeks, go out and thrash on the competition. Making it look easy was Frank Varelo and Hellion Power Systems B-team. Dwayne James and the crew put the car together after Hellion’s John Urist fabbed up a turbo kit using a Precision 67mm unit. The car was seemingly on a string, running 8.70s at will, to put a sizable gap on the rest of the competition. Richard Lelsz’s nitrous combination appeared to be Frank’s toughest competition, but Terry Reeves took him out on a holeshot win in the semi-final round. With a mis-matched converter in his car, though, Terry didn’t have much hope against Frank in the final. Making it look easy was Frank Varelo and Hellion Power Systems B-team.
We’re thankful for the return of Pure Street, which is now sandwiched between Coyote Modified and Coyote Stock. It was always one of our favorite classes with it’s high-winding small-blocks banging gears to the tune of bottom 10s. These days, technology has them in the 9s. Teddy Weaver knows how to win at Bradenton; he did it last year against Brandon Alsept at the NMCA opener. For the 2014 season, Teddy had Roush go through his combination, and the hard work paid off, helping Teddy to the low qualifier spot with a 9.67 at 138 mph. Of course, Sunday was a smidge warmer than Friday and Saturday, so he was unable to match those times, but a 9.75 enabled him to get the victory over Jimmy Wilson in the final.
Supposed ping pong master Shiftin’ Shane Stymiest had a stranglehold on Coyote Stock in 2013, and it looks like he just might keep it going. Shane has his car figured out thanks to help from Booze Brothers Racing and UPR Products, among others. He didn’t wait long to let the competition know there was no let-up. While Shane’s first qualifying pass was stout, his second qualifying lap showed perhaps a chink in the armor. However, in the final round of qualifying, Shane had another stout pass to take the top qualifying spot, with 10.43 at 126 mph, over a tenth ahead of number 2 qualifier Drew Lyons. Shane and Drew would be paired against each other for the final, but Shane was again on his game to take the win with a 10.49 at 124 mph to Drew’s 10.90 at 120 mph. Shane has his car figured out thanks to help from Booze Brothers Racing and UPR Products, among others.