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Race Wrap | Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by Rudy Rouweyha, Steve Turner & Evan J. Smith
Months of planning went into preparation for the Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming presented by Anderson Composites & Saturday TransTec Thrill Festival, June 7-9, 2024 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Organizers wanted the event to be exciting and evocative for everyone involved, from racers to race fans, and that is why the fourth stop on the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals tour featured drag racing plus the Larsen Motorsports flame-throwing Jet Cars, BIGFOOT Monster Truck Car Crushes, FMX Stunt Shows, the NMRA Fan Experience with giveaways and the UPR Products Car Show.
The well-attended gathering also offered the 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.
“We set the bar high for this event, and we wanted it to have something for everyone to enjoy,” said Steve Wolcott, president and CEO of Holley NMRA Ford Nationals. “We were thrilled to see racers and race fans having a great time, whether they have been to our events before or were attending for the first time. There really was a family-style festival feel to the event, and we appreciate people of all ages coming out to join us.”

Martin Connelley of Salyersville, Kentucky, and Joel Greathouse are hardcore racers who continuously climb any mountain or cross any river to get to where they need to be competitively in VP Racing Lubricants Renegade. Both have great teams behind them as well, and it was anyone’s race when they pulled next to each other for the final round of eliminations. Connelley was .007 on the tree and 4.58 on the top end to earn his trip to the NMRA Winner’s Circle, while Greathouse was right there with a 4.59.

Charlie Booze Jr. of Marion, Pennsylvania and Chad Stephens of Selkirk, Ontario, pulled into the beams for the Vengeance Clutch Coyote Stock final, and Booze Jr. got the win in his 1990 Mustang after Stephens turned on the red light in his 1987 Thunderbird. Both drivers stayed in the throttle to see what numbers they would nail to the board, and Booze Jr. was 9.71 and Stephens was 9.77.
The engines were singing in Richmond Gear Factory Stock, where Mike Bowen set the pace in qualifying with a 9.90 in his 1971 Maverick. All eyes were on him to see if he could win his fourth race in a row, and he responded with a 10.02 to defeat Frank Brancaccio, who was 10.41 in his 1991 Mustang.
Cody Poston of Roundhill, Kentucky, and Gavin Black of Elkview, West Virginia, took the stage in the SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race final, and Poston, a multi-time winner, visited the Winner’s Circle again after running to an 8.62 on an 8.60 in his 2020 Mustang while Black ran to an 8.64 on an 8.60 in his 2011 Mustang.
The new Whatever It Takes Transmission Parts Street Bandit 10.10 category captures a lot of attention, and this race was no exception to that. Lou Herfuth of Gilbert, Pennsylvania, won in his 1965 Falcon after Bill Wittenhauer of Crestwood, Kentucky, had issues that prevented him from making a clean pass in his 1989 Mustang.
Johnny Lightning of New Providence, Pennsylvania, and Bob Dill of Templeton, Pennsylvania, are as tough as their Lightning trucks, so it was no surprise when they made it to the final round in Fastest Street Car Truck & SUV. Lightning added another win to this racing resume, and this time, it was with a good reaction time and a 9.09 on a 9.00 over Dill, who drove to an 8.88 on an 8.87.

In ARP Open Comp, where races are routinely won by very narrow margins, Cameron Bowles of Madisonville, Kentucky, won at the hit in his 1972 Maverick — with his dial written in can’t-miss-it style on the roof of his car — when Terry Haynal of Ocklawaha, Florida, illuminated the red light in his 1995 Mustang GT.
Longtime Holley NMRA Ford Nationals racer Matt Harget and Lee Blankenship lined up for the Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle final, and Harget, of Flat Rock, Michigan, wrapped up the win with a lifting 10.50 on a 10.30 in his 1975 Coyote-powered Capri after Blankenship, of Crestwood, Kentucky, lifted in his 1996 Mustang GT.
Mike Moistner of Dublin, Indiana and Dale Aldridge of Pavo, Georgia, found themselves in the HP Tuners Super Stang final, and Moistner, motoring in his 2005 Mustang, pulled off the win by running right on his 11.58 dial over Aldridge, who broke out with an 11.52 on an 11.55 in his 2021 Mustang.
Bryan Parker of Centerburg, Ohio and Geary Bates of Wintersville, Ohio, cut comparable reaction times in CJ Pony Parts Ford Muscle, but on the other end of the track, Parker pulled off the win with an 11.64 on his 11.50 in his 1968 Mustang against Bates, who stopped the clocks at 11.19 on an 11.00 in his 1969 Cougar.
Racers went on a 30-mile cruise on the roads around the racetrack before returning to make three back-to-back passes down the quarter-mile in the always-popular Circle D Specialties True Street. Kevin Schweizer secured the overall win with an 8.53 average in his 1980 Zephyr, after telling NMRA media team member Steve Turner that his goal was to dial into the 8.50s and go to the winner’s circle. Brian Larson landed the runner-up finish with an 8.57 average in his 1993 Mustang. Other racers deserving of recognition were Allen Lohr (9-second winner in his 1969 Mustang), John Caldwell (10-second winner in his 1997 Mustang), Mike Moore (11-second winner in his 2022 Mustang GT500), Ray Williams Sr. (12-second winner in his 2012 Mustang GT), Scott Hansen (13-second winner in his 1990 Mustang), Austin Russell (14-second winner in his 2013 Mustang) and Mike Baker (15-second winner in his 1983 Mustang GT).

“The level of competition at these races continues to amaze me,” said Rollie Miller, General Manager and National Event Director for Holley NMRA Ford Nationals. “Our racers are committed to the core. They have grit and they have their noses to the grindstone, and that is how they get things done, while putting on a great show in the process.”
All of the special features of the event served to step up the experience even more for many racers and race fans. Among them was the BMR Suspension S650 Mustang Stampede, where Terry "Beefcake" Reeves, the owner of Beefcake Racing in Moscow, Ohio, showed what he and his beautiful 2024 Mustang GT are made of by blasting to a 9.85 and the win.
The Paul’s High Performance Godzilla Invasion presented by Willis Performance was introduced to this year’s event as a celebration of Ford’s Godzilla engine family, and it was entirely enjoyable. Chuck Bartholme of Salisbury, Massachusetts, and David Henderlong of South Lyon, Michigan, faced each other in the final round of eliminations, and Bartholme went to the Winner’s Circle in his 1990 Mustang despite a breakout time of 9.51 on a 9.65 after Henderlong, who went -.005 red in his 1988 Thunderbird.

TREMEC All-Female True Street was another feature of this event, and Kimberly Walter flew to an 8.76 average in her 1966 Mustang and the overall win. Kimberly Wood ran to a 9.81 average in her 2014 Mustang and the runner-up finish. Other standout racers were Autumn Schwalbe (11-second winner in Kevin McKenna’s 2014 Mustang), Andrea Woolard (12-second winner in her 1991 Mustang), Sabrina Wright (13-second winner in her 2014 Mustang), Heather Flanagan (14-second winner in her 2010 Mustang GT) and Dani Lee (15-second winner in her 1992 Mustang GT).
TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout
competitors had fun in the sun, and staying in it the longest amount of time were Scott Triolo of Brick, New Jersey and Dennis Osworth of LaSalle, Michigan. Triolo took the win with a 10.14 on a 10.94 in his 1985 Mustang to Osworth’s 11.02 on an 11.73 in his 2008 Mustang.

Mickey Thompson King of the Street, featuring the eight quickest racers from Circle D Specialties True Street, saw Kevin Schweizer steer his Godzilla-powered 1980 Zephyr to a 5.40 in the eighth-mile to take the win over Allen Lohr, who landed at 5.63 in his 1969 Mustang.
Bracket Mayhem was also in the mix at this event. On Saturday, Kenny Robinson and Gary Varney were both .00 on the tree, and Robinson raced to the win in his 1967 Fairlane with a 6.23 on a 6.21 dial while Varney raced to  a 5.53 on a 5.50 in his 1985 Thunderbird in Bracket 1; David Lowry drove his 1991 Mustang to a 6.46 on a 6.45 and the win over Mike Dumont, who drove his 1989 Mustang to a 5.88 on a 5.87 in Bracket 2 and Brian Merrick muscled to the win with a .002 reaction time and a lifting 10.12 on a 10.04 in his 1964 Thunderbolt after Christopher Elliott turned on the red light in his 2014 Mustang in Bracket 3. On Sunday, Jimmie Laney of Port Clinton, Ohio, upset Kenny Robinson of Greentown, Indiana, by racing to a dead-on 6.03 in his 1967 Mustang while Robinson ran to a 6.23 on a 6.22 in his 1967 Fairlane in Bracket 1, John Gregory drove his 1991 Mustang to a 5.96 on a 5.92 to defeat Mike Dumont, who was right on with a 5.87 but not quite as quick on the tree in his 1989 Mustang in Bracket 2 and Brian Merrick of Dellroy, Ohio, got the instant win in his 1964 Thunderbolt after Scott Hansen turned on the red light in his 1990 Mustang in Bracket 3.
NMRA racers will join NMCA racers, and points chases will pump up, at the next stop on the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals tour, the TorqStorm Superchargers NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by Nitto Tire & Saturday Thrill Festival, July 19-21, 2024 at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan.
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