After Team NMCA took home the Super Bowl win in 2016, Team NMRA was back with a vengeance and ready to fight it out at the 12th Annual Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, presented by Precision Turbo at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, on July 28-30, 2017. The weather was perfect with not a single drop of rain all weekend, and as the records began to fall, the pressure to win was heightened.
Once all of the standard NMRA classes were run to completion, the winners of each category combined forces to represent NMRA in the Super Bowl battle where the ran against the winners of each NMCA category. When the smoke cleared and the scores were tallied, it was Team NMRA that prevailed with a final score of 9 to 5. Manny Buginga’s shootout win clinched the Super Bowl victory and Charlie Booze Jr. added insult to injury when he captured the final pairing against Chevrolet Performance Stock. Team NMRA drivers all received their own Nitto Tire Diamond Tree championship ring to commemorate the victory.
In VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, twenty-one cars from both NMRA and NMCA came out to play in the combo class. Jacky McCarty topped the list with his turbocharged small block-powered ’92 Mustang on a 4.375 at 163.57 mph, but popped the engine in round one of eliminations on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Manny Buginga from Bridgewater, Massachusetts had landed just a touch behind McCarty during qualifying in the number two spot, and his ’03 Mustang was on point all weekend long. Buginga bested every opponent in eliminations until it was only him and Rob Goss left in the running. The lights dropped, both men cut good lights, but it was Buginga who flew through the traps with the winning pass of 4.504 at 167.41 mph.
Hellion Racing “B-Team” racer Frank Varela of Albuquerque, New Mexico, took the number one spot after the qualifying order had been finalized for Edelbrock Renegade with a 7.452 at 179.56 mph blast in his Work-turbocharged ’90 Mustang, then went to reset the class elapsed time record when he went 7.396 at 180.52 mph in round one of eliminations. Varela ultimately went out in the semi-finals, but the number two qualifier, Alton Clements, stayed in the game right up until the end. Running his Vortech supercharged ’89 Mustang, Clements went up against Tony Hobson in the finals. It was a tight battle with Hobson getting the hole shot advantage, but Clements drove around him and turned the win lights on in his lane.
The ProCharger Coyote Modified competition was as tough as ever, but Tommy Annunziata’s Whipple-supercharged Peoples Bank ’14 Cobra Jet charged to the front of the pack and earned the number one honors in qualifying with a 7.815 at 174.64 mph pass. The Colts Neck, New Jersey native’s LaRocca Performance-prepped pony car was performing well in eliminations, and Annunziata defeated Haley James-Schneider in the finals with a winning 7.818 at 175.39 mph hit.
Mike Bowen held the lead in Richmond Gear Factory Stock after three rounds of qualifying as his ’71 Maverick’s 10.719 at 122.68 mph pass proved to be the quickest of the baker’s dozen field of cars. Matt Amrine, the number two qualifier out of Batavia, Ohio, wound up making it all the way to the final round of eliminations with his BES Racing Engines-powered ’98 Mustang GT known as “The Black Pickle”. There, Amrine defeated Dan Ryntz when he ran 10.853 at 113.47 mph.
Marion, Pennsylvania-based G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock racer Charlie Booze, Junior, was the quickest qualifier driving Justin Fogelsonger’s “Gold Dust” Mustang to earn a 10.210 at 128.81 mph time slip. The dynamic duo had a bye in round one of eliminations, then defeated Tim Matherly and Clair Stewart II on his way to run down Drew Lyons. Both men red lighted at the start, but Booze’s early leave was the lesser of two evils and his 10.249 at 129.68 mph blast was a winner nonetheless.
Piloting a ’94 Ranger, Gerry Vanveen’s flawless reaction time of 0.000-seconds placed him in the number one position of Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning qualifying. Then, after qualifying sixth, Bob Dill of Templeton, Pennsylvania pushed his ’01 Lightning through to the finals where he met up with Vinnie Telesco. Dill scored a big hole shot advantage, and his 9.456 at 133.57 mph pass on his 9.28 dial secured him the victory.
The Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle class hosted nearly two dozen competitors, but when Brent White cut a perfect 0.000-second light in qualifying behind the wheel of his ’11 Mustang, he earned the number one bragging rights. White went out in round three, but Susan McClenaghan of Livonia, Michigan had qualified third and kept her confidence through each of the five elimination rounds. For the final, McClenaghan took on Lloyd Mikeska. Her ’10 Mustang ran a 9.519 at 134.67 quarter-mile pass on her 9.53 dial in, while Mikeska broke out and handed the win to McClenaghan.
Roush Performance Super Stang driver Marvin Knack was focused on his reaction time in qualifying, and his 0.008-second reaction time meant he and his ’11 Mustang GT were the top team going into eliminations. His keen eye and quick reflexes kept Knack in the running for five straight rounds, and he was paired with Shelby Wendel in the finals. Once again, Knack’s speedy start gave him the better reaction time, and allowed him to turn his 12.062 at 113.10 mph pass on his 11.92 dial in into a winning one.
It was a seriously tough field in Aerospace Components Open Comp with nearly thirty cars all gunning for the win, but Charlie Atkinson left the start just 0.001-seconds after the green light signaled the start in qualifying and he was placed in the number one position. It was Dennis Corn of Northville, Michigan, however, whose ’88 Ford Thunderbird was the winning entry for the class. Corn coaxed the car to a 9.666 at 139.72 mph run on a 9.65 dial in during the final round of eliminations to mark Gordon Harlow as the runner up.
In Race Pages Ford Muscle, a field of Fords with diverse dial ins comprised the class. Mike Zerbe ran dead-on to his 11.50 index in his ’90 Mustang and was placed at the top of the qualifying list as a result. Zerbe broke out in round two, but Bryan Parker stayed close to his 12.00 dial in and the consistency paid off in the form of a final round appearance. Parker staged against JC Cascio who had an 11.00 dial in. Paired with a solid 0.031-second reaction time, Parker’s 12.063 at 106.24 mph trip earned him a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
During Saturday’s True Street fun, Cal Hayward reset the record when he ran an elapsed time of 7.374-seconds in his Bullseye Power turbocharged Mustang. The man from Dowling, Michigan, averaged 7.489-seconds after all three of his passes had been made, and he took the overall win for the category. Hot on his heels in the runner-up spot was Jeff McCool who averaged 10.078-seconds with his Mustang. Jason Struckman took the 10-second category win with a 10.232-second average while Jack Caldwell averaged 11.024-seconds to earn the win in the 11-second group and Lee Goetz’s 12.022-second average sealed the deal for the 12-second title. The 13-second win went to Doug Johnson, the 14-second win went to Chris Parisi, and Dave Urbanski rounded it out with the 15-second win.
Next up on the NMRA Drag Racing Series schedule is the season finale, the 19th ANNUAL NITTO TIRE NMRA ALL-FORD WORLD FINALS over the weekend of September 28-October 1, 2017 at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.