Bridge be Damned – Tornadoes, Earthquakes, and Record-Shattering Racing
The 2017 NMRA Keystone Automotive Drag Racing series pulled in to Commerce, Georgia, after a week of wild weather in Atlanta which included tornadoes, an earthquake, and a collapse of a section of I-85. Just like last year, too, the second stop of the season, the 9th Annual NMRA/NMCA All Star Nationals presented by Steeda Autosports, saw unseasonably chilly temperatures and intense headwinds. The conditions presented a challenge at first, but the weather showed some sweet southern hospitality in time for Sunday’s eliminations and competitors took advantage of the recently repaved surface.
A combination NMRA and NMCA VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw field meant there were fourteen cars fighting it out, but it was Manny Buginga who led the way with his MJM Construction Corp-backed, turbocharged ’03 Cobra in qualifying with his 4.330 at 169.21 mph hit. Jacky McCarty of McCarty Performance, though, had his mind set on getting the win and stopped at nothing as he relentlessly took out the other drivers. McCarty faced off against Jarod Wenrick in the finals, and his 4.435 at 169.87 mph pass in his ’93 Mustang helped McCarty make his mission a reality.
Edelbrock Renegade was hotly contested during qualifying, but Aaron Bates came out on top when his DMC Racing-built, ProCharged 360 ci ’87 Mustang bested the rest with a 7.397 at 186.98 mph hit. It was a déjà vu weekend for Bates who won this event last year, and the finals saw both Bates and Frank Varela with hiccups, but Bates was victorious once again as he took a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle for the second year in a row.
Sporting a new, rear-facing Whipple blower on his Coyote-powered ’14 Cobra Jet Mustang, Tommy Annunziata set the pace in ProCharger Coyote Modified qualifying when he ran 7.875 at 174.87 mph with his LaRocca Performance car. Annunziata made it through to the finals, but ultimately was sent packing courtesy of John Kauderer and his UDMC Racing, MMR-powered ’14 Cobra Jet. This marks the second straight win for Kauderer, who is a part of the JPC Racing camp.
The 2017 Richmond Gear Factory Stock season champion James Meredith was the number one qualifier after three rounds with a wicked 10.722 at 122.98 mph hit in his ’03 Mach 1 Mustang. In eliminations, though, all eyes were on Dan Ryntz and his ’89 Mustang as Ryntz powered past the competition four times over, finishing up the weekend by defeating Matt Amrine in the finals, 10.768 at 122.64 mph to 11.052 at 124.60 mph.
Meanwhile, in G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock, Jacob Lamb drove his ’86 Mustang to the top of the qualifying list with an impressive 10.240 at 127.84 mph blast. From qualifying through to the final round of eliminations, Lamb was untouchable all weekend long and picked up the class win for the All-Star Nationals race for the second year in a row, beating Tyler Eichhorn in the finals.
Randy Conway cut a quick 0.004-second reaction time in his ’84 Ford Ranger during Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning qualifying and ranked number one. The Michigander continued on to take the win in each of the five elimination rounds and finished with a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
Nearly two dozen cars showed up for Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle, but Donnie Bowles had the quickest reaction time of the bunch in his ’05 Roush Mustang and earned top honors. The Kentuckian had a bye in the first elimination round, but worked hard for each subsequent win. He cut another quick light in the finals against Gary Parker and cruised through the traps to take the win with a 10.037 at 132.67 mph number on his 10.02 dial.
Roush Performance Super Stang had Pete Espeut’s name listed next to the number one spot once qualifying had been finalized, as Espeut cut down the tree with a 0.004-second reaction time in his ’12 Mustang. He went out in round one, but Marvin Knack – the number two qualifier – advanced and was able to repeat his success story time and time again until he reached the final round. There, Knack and his ’11 Mustang GT had a slight hole shot advantage and finished with a successful 11.933 at 102.55 mph run on an 11.87 dial in.
The huge, thirty-plus car field for Aerospace Components Open Comp meant the competition was tough, but Will Mckay made it look easy with a 0.002-second light on the tree for the number one qualifier rights. At the start of eliminations, however, Dennis Corn stole the show when he took the win light with his ’88 Thunderbird. Ultimately, Corn was able to get past everyone who he lined up against and was crowned the victor for the class.
In the Race Pages Ford Muscle index class, Danny Towe’s 12.003-second run on his 12.00 index meant he was the closest to his time during qualifying, but in eliminations, it was Bryan Parker who was the last man standing thanks to a winning 12.132 at 106.27 mph final trip in his ’68 Mustang on a 12.00 index.
The special Open Comp Shootout class paired Bruce Boyle against Don Fenlon in the final elimination round, but when Fenlon red lighted with a -0.026-second reaction time, the win lights illuminated in Boyle’s lane and he clocked a 9.019 at 148.99 mph pass on his 9.07 index to make things official.
A second special shootout, the Sealed Stock Shootout, was also contested in Georgia and paired four NMRA Mustangs against four NMCA Camaros. The two were evenly matched as the semi-finals featured Ford vs Chevy rounds, but the last pairing of the weekend was an all-Ford final with “Shiftin’” Shane Stymiest going head to head against Tim Matherly of MV Performance. A burndown battle between the two resulted in Stymiest taking the win, 10.31 at 128 mph to 10.33 at 128 mph.
The QA1 True Street class saw the largest car count to date at the Atlanta event, and David Kwigist took the overall win with his ’67 Mustang and an average elapsed time of 9.145-seconds. Runner-up honors went to Jason Wagoner who averaged 9.842-seconds in his ’93 SVT Cobra. In the 9-second category, Jason Beardslee took the win on a 9.868-second average in his ’14 Mustang. Gregory Trail was the quickest of the 10-second group as his ’03 Cobra averaged 10.959-seconds, while David Biersch and his ’92 Mustang LX took the win in the 11-second bunch with an 11.464-second average. The 12-second win went to Philip Switzer and his ’00 Mustang, the 13-second win was earned by Jorge Flores driving his ’06 Mustang GT, the quickest in the 14-second section was the ’16 Mustang belonging to Chris Parisi, and Jerry Jones rounded out the pack when he and his ’98 Mustang GT took the 15-second trophy.
Next up, NMRA heads to Reading, Pennsylvania on May 4-7, 2017 for the 17th Annual WyoTech NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.