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Get In The Ring—Only 12 elite machines entered the Ring of Fire, and one left with top honors

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written by Steve Turner
Photography by Dr. Rudy Rouweyha

It’s a special weekend on the calendar with the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals series rolling into Summitt Motorsports Park for the Ford Performance Nationals. Sure everyone is excited about the ice cream on a hot racing weekend, but this event is also packed with special features ranging from the Baer Brakes All-Female True Street category to the TREMEC Shelby GT500 Shootout. 

However, the special events weren’t just limited to the racing surface. Elsewhere in the facility, there was the burgeoning UPR Products Car Show (covered elsewhere in these pages) and adjacent gathers of Ford GTs and Model Ts. However, on Saturday, an elite group of 12 vehicles was drafted from the car show field to compete in the Ring of Fire show.
This best of the best competition drew some of the most eye-catching Blue Oval machines around. Several took home special honors, but only one drove away with the coveted Best of Show award.

In any form, a 1965 Mustang fastback is a classic machine, but Dominick Farbo pushed his pony to new horizons. This restomod stallion is powered by a NASCAR-spec, 427-cube engine constructed by Wegner Automotive. Residing in a super sanitary engine compartment, this big Windsor barks out through Ring Brothers headers and sends the power through a Bowler five-speed manual to a John’s Industries 9-inch rearend. Though the powertrain is potent, what sets this pony car apart is its presentation. Wearing a bumper decklid, fenders, hood, and side scoops made of carbon fiber, it is sprayed in Blizzard White and rides low on a complete DSE suspension over massive HRE wheels wrapped in Nitto Invo rubber. Inside, it is fitted with an Alpine audio system, Classic Instruments gauges, Recaro seats, a RingBrothers push-button start, and more. Farbo’s fastback earned the coveted Best of Show hardware in the ultra-competitive Ring of Fire competition.

Besides the Best of Show, the other categories were just as competitive in the Ring of Fire. In the case of the Best Engine award, it was more brawn than flash that brought home the hardware for Clint Chaney’s 2008 Shelby GT500. Lurking under the hood of his crimson snake is an L&M engines-prepped, 5.4-liter modular engine topped by one of Kenne Bell’s fittingly named Mammoth twin-screw superchargers. Donning mostly black with a few nicely placed highlights, but boosted powerplant muscled its way to the engine award.

While it was an attention-grabber from the outside, it was the inside that mattered on Jeff Nimon’s 2014 Mustang at the NMRA Ford Performance Nationals. Fitted with a range of carbon, color, and chrome accents, the S197’s cabin stood out from the crowd enough to earn Best Interior hardware in the Ring of Fire competition.

There were plenty of gorgeous paint jobs in the Ring of Fire field, but Ed and Kathy Williams’ 2008 Ford F-450 pickup hauled away the Best Paint hardware on the merits of a paint scheme that used the truck as a canvas to celebrate support for the US armed forces. 

Complete with its own flatbed hauler, George Conrad’s gorgeous, blue 1969 Mustang earned the Best ’60s award in the Ring of Fire at the NMRA Ford Performance Nationals.

Conrad had another vehicle selected to get in the ring. His 1969 Mercury Cougar didn’t earn any awards, but you have to appreciate that it is powered by a stack-injected Coyote 5.0-liter.

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