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Friday Coverage | Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming

Posted By: Steve Turner and Mary Lendzion
During a test and tune session on Thursday, June 6, racers gave a glimpse of the gobs of adrenaline-fueled action race fans can anticipate seeing at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming presented by Anderson Composites & Saturday TransTec Thrill Festival, which runs through Sunday, June 9, at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

In addition to all of the wheelstands and wicked-fast passes down track, this fourth stop on the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals tour will be fascinating and fan-friendly with flame-throwing Jet Cars, BIGFOOT Monster Truck, FMX Stunt Shows as part of tomorrow’s TransTec Thrill Festival, as well as the NMRA Fan Experience with giveaways and the weekend-long UPR Car Show.
Sure to pump up pulses even more are event extras including Circle D Specialties True Street, Tremec All-Female True Street, BMR Suspension S650 Mustang Stampede, Paul’s High Performance Godzilla Invasion presented by Willis Performance, Tremec Stick Shift Shootout and Mickey Thompson King of the Street.
The forecast is favorable for beautiful weather and plenty of fast elapsed times and fun, so make plans to join us!

Here is the Friday drag race schedule. For a schedule of Thrill Festival features, including Jet Cars, BIGFOOT Car Crushes, FMX Stunts and UPR Car Show, click HERE.

In advance of this weekend’s special Paul’s High Performance Godzilla Invasion Presented by Willis Performance event within the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming Presented by Anderson Composites this weekend, Paul Svinicki and Blaine Ramey took their Godzilla-powered Cobra Jet to the storied Ford Windsor Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, to show the team creating these engines that the fruits of their labor can perform reliably and at a high level. The Cobra Jet was likely the first vehicle to drive in and out of the plant under its own power, and it was a big hit with the dedicated team of Ford employees that build the Ford 7.3-liter pushrod engine for production vehicles. (Photo courtesy of Blaine Ramey)
Behind the wheel of Michael Washington’s Fox Mustang, Mark Anderson found the hook in testing at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming Presented by Anderson Composites. This Richmond Gear Factory Stock ride is powered by a Gen I Coyote engine fitted with Todd Warren-designed camshafts. It also carries UPR, AFCO and Strange Engineering suspension components onboard, which seem to be hooking its Mickey Thompson tires.
Though they are holding court today, these BIGFOOT monster trucks will cut loose during Saturday’s TransTec Thrill Festival and crush these cars. It is quite a sight when a huge monster truck runs roughshod over a defenseless row of cars. You don’t want to miss it, so if you aren’t already at Summit Motorsports Park, make sure you are on the property tomorrow for all the action. 

For years, Woody Pack pulled into every Holley NMRA Ford Nationals race to compete in ARP Open Comp in his red 1966 Mustang, but in 2022, he had to take a step back, as he was experiencing complications from diabetes. Sadly, due to infection, he had to have surgery on his heart and had to have all of the toes on his right foot removed. He had a very committed cardio rehabilitation team on his side, but just around the time he was getting better, his beloved wife of many years, Cynthia, or Cis as he called her, was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away on March 8. Pack was encouraged by his grandson, Austin, to return to racing, and he is doing just that this weekend, with help from his friend, James Halsey, and the support of his racing family. “My wife was always on the starting line with me, and I am going to miss her, just like I miss our late daughter and son, and everything is so different without her, but it is good for me to be here,” said an emotional Pack. “I can’t wait to have my grandson, Austin, at the next race. He is my crutch.”

Terry Wilson is holding down third-place in VP Racing Lubricants Renegade points, and he is focused on moving up a notch or two this weekend at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming presented by Anderson Composites & Saturday TransTec Thrill Festival, the fourth stop on the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals tour. Wilson, who relies on a 580 cubic-inch engine by BES Racing Engines, Turbo 400 by RPM Transmission and a nitrous system by Robert Lane and Fast Lane Nitrous, said he is struggling with a few things with his set-up at the moment, but he is trying different converters, among other things, and is working hard to be ready for qualifying today. Thankfully, he has support from Jimmy Harris and Jason Waterman. “Our goal is to park it in the winner’s circle and have our pictures taken, so that is what we are focused on,” said Wilson.

There are some beautiful cars on display today in the UPR Products Car Show at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming Presented by Anderson Composites. However, it was Paul Stegall Sr.’s 1965 Mustang convertible that rose above the crowd to earn the Director’s Choice Best of Show award today. This immaculately detailed, 289-powered droptop is mildly modified and carries the classic Mustang torch in style. 

Whatever It Takes Transmission Parts Street Bandit 10.10, for 9- and 10-second race street-legal cars that are not built specifically for an existing class, debuted at the final NMRA race of 2023, and enthusiasm for the class continues to escalate. Among the racers standing out is Cary Shotwell, who is currently in sixth-place out of 24 racers in the championship chase. Shotwell, of nearby Carlisle, Ohio, is ready for qualifying in his Medusa Drag Racing 2017 Mustang motivated by a Coyote engine, VMP Performance supercharger and Brett LaSala-built 6R80 transmission. It features BMR suspension and Viking rear shocks, and Ken Bjonnes from Palm Beach Dyno is handling the tune-up. “The class is very competitive, but I earned a runner-up finish at the race in Bowling Green last fall, and my goal this weekend is to get to the winner’s circle,” said Shotwell, whose brother Kelly, races in VP Racing Lubricants Renegade, and brother Casey is the reigning SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race champion. “My car is still a little fast for the 10.10 index, but we are working on it and we will get there."

Chris Tino is still ironing out his new-to-him Fox Mustang in the SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street race class. He plans to see how the car performs this year in hopes of stepping up to Edelbrock Renegade next season. He likes a challenge, so Tino sold his orange S550 and moved to this four-eye Fox with that plan in mind. The car is already performing well enough to compete 8.60 Street Race, having run an 8.47 in testing. Tino just needs to back it off a little to run the number. 
Caleb Cox is struggling a bit with transmission problems this weekend in VP Racing Lubricants Renegade. He says he is running on a budget, so they don’t have a spare transmission in the trailer. Coming off a crazy Race For The Rings race last month, which resulted in a damaged trailer and destroyed tents, Cox and company are tuning in the transmission to run as well as possible at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming Presented by Anderson Composites, the fourth stop on the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals tour.
Having won the first two races of the season, Gavin Black is doing well in the SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race class. Hoping to keep that momentum going at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming Presented by Anderson Composites this weekend, he says the key to being successful in the class is consistency. His S197 stallion seems to deliver that. Despite losing on a red-light start at the last event, Black says adjusting to the weather is the biggest challenge to running the number. Part of the allure of the class for him is its popularity. More cars competing means more runs, and he loves going rounds in Holley NMRA Ford Nationals action.
It was a quick turnaround for Tripp Carter, who competed in the Dodge // Direct Connection Shootout last weekend at the Red Line Oil NMCA Muscle Car Nationals event in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He returned home for only 24 hours to grab his Vengeance Clutch Coyote Stock Mustang to bring it out to this weekend's race at in Holley NMRA Ford Nationals action at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming Presented by Anderson Composites. Unfortunately, he left his data-logging laptop computer at home during the changeover, so he is making all his adjustments by the seat of his pants this weekend.

As the 2023 NMRA VP Racing Lubricants Renegade and NMRA Edelbrock Xtreme Street champion, Martin Connelley had high hopes coming into the 2024 race season, but they were dashed when he had catastrophic engine failure at the first Holley NMRA Ford Nationals race of the year. He and his team don’t know how to give up, and they gathered enough parts for Tony Bischoff to build a new engine for them. It is a 363 cubic-inch small-block Ford with a Shelby aluminum block, Ross pistons, GRP rods, a slightly bigger Callie’s crank than the previous crank, Trick Flow High Port heads and an Edelbrock intake enhanced by Bischoff. It features new fuel rails from Aeromotive and a new crank trigger from Joe Oplawski of Hyperaktive Performance Solutions, and it is enhanced with a 76mm Harts turbo. Connelley and his team made it to the recent Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Scott’s Trailer Sales & Saturday Thrill Festival at Beech Bend Raceway in Kentucky, where he exited in the first round with a 4.67 to Stephen Barnett’s close 4.65. He has already run quicker than that at the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming presented by Anderson Composites & Saturday TransTec Thrill Festival today at Summit Motorsports Park, as he is currently qualified in the third spot out of 9 cars with a 4.59. As always, he will be worth watching, as his steps and strides are always giant ones. “We learned a lot at the race in Bowling Green, and now we just want to make more progress,” said Connelley, who has support from his wife, Michelle, son, John Martin, daughter, Izzy, dad, Marty, Eric Mitchell, Dalton Winfield, Ron Winfield, Cory Brooks, Jason Waterman, Brent Daniel, Terry Wilson, Eric Gash, Jason Martin, Tony Bischoff and Rodney Massengale, among others.

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