Friday Coverage — 22nd Annual NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival

Bringing the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals season to a triumphant close, the 22nd Annual NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival is in full effect today at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. With championships on the line and racers jockeying for a spot in the coveted Top 10, competitors are dialing in the combos with test and tune hits before rolling into the first round of qualifying.

On the circle track, Holley Grand Champion and Autocross competitors are carving up the cones. In between those sessions, professional drifters Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his teammate Chelsea DeNofa are performing exhibitions. Capping off the action on the oval, Cleetus McFarland’s Ford Festival 50 pits several NOS-injected Crown Vics in a roundy-round race.

Stay tuned to this page for highlights of all the hot-and-heavy action from the day on this page and our social channels.

Here’s how the action will unfold on the drag strip today as racers fine-tune their combinations heading into qualifying.

After fighting the new-car blues in St. Louis, Frank Varella is back in action with his VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw machine at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. Running a billet Coyote block with just a Boss 302 crank and stout steel internals, his team is working to dial in the FuelTech setup controlling the methanol-burning machine. “It’s been a long stressful project but it all worked out,” Varella said.

After narrowly missing the win in the Holley Grand Champion class in his 1965 Mustang (609) in 2019, Ron Schoch brought out a second car to run this year at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. His ’65 is powered by a 347 and rolls on a Mustang ll suspension in front and an IRS out back. His 2016 Mustang GT (608) will compete in Grand Champion this year with a built Coyote, Paxton boost, JRI coilovers, and more.

Randy Soper is trying out some new exhaust on his  G-Force Transmissions Coyote Stock wheel-stander at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. He is looking to find some lost power and hopes to go enough rounds to move into the top five in the 2020 season points.

Eric Bardekoff (at Right) has been competing in the Edelbrock Renegade class with his Whipple-supercharged S550 Mustang, and at the last race in Michigan, he and his father Jeff entered this S197 Roush Mustang in JDM Engineering Limited Street. The 2008 model featured a Whipple-supercharged Mod motor and the father/son team recently made a torque converter change along with a few other things, so Eric made some shakedown runs during Thursday’s test and tune to assess the results prior to handing the driving duties back to his father.

Power Automedia’s James Lawrence is returning to VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw with a brand new Fox Mustang coupe, but things didn’t go so well on his first test hit on Thursday. The worm gear clamp holding the V-24 Vortech Supercharger’s bell mouth on failed to secure the piece, and the blower tried to ingest it during the pass. The shards of metal on the table next to the wrench are parts of the impeller that the crew pulled out of the various engine components, and after checking out the engine, they will be swapping a replacement supercharger.

Ford Performance is on the property at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival looking to run quicker than ever with its all-electric Cobra Jet 1400. Get a glimpse of the future as it makes hits all weekend!

You gotta come out to NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival this weekend and see Bigfoot!

Matt Fint (right) hurt the engine in his Richmond Gear Factory Stock Cobra, but his friend, and G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock stalwart, Jacob Lamb was nice enough to loan Fint the engine from his street-going Cobra complete with a fresh oil change so he could come out and race this weekend at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. The loaner engine definitely paid off, as Fint ran his personal best, a 10.45 which was far better than its previous best pass, an 11.01.

Thanks to the generosity of her brother, Richmond Gear Factory Stock competitor John Leslie Jr., Sondra Leslie is here competing at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival in JDM Engineering Limited Street. After grenading her just-freshened Coyote engine just two weeks ago, she borrowed a backup bullet from her bro — which Steve Higgins helped assemble and install — and made it out to Bowling Green. John wants her to preserve his backup block, so she backed off the boost a little for the race and hopes to collect some bonus points this weekend.

With the JDM Engineering Limited Street championship locked up, Bill Putnam is still on a mission at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. Fresh off some testing at the Shakedown race to play with starting-line rpm to dial in his launch, Putnam is looking to cap off a perfect season in his UPR Products-backed, VMP supercharged Mustang even though he knows the competition is tightening up in the class.

After wounding her engine in Martin, Haley James is on the property looking to dial-in her Hellion-turbocharged Edelbrock Renegade machine to set the stage for the 2021 campaign. Right now she is running a stock Coyote block that is filled and sleeved, rather than the more robust Predator block usually under the hood, after the team discovered an issue with the main motor. The car is running well with the backup bullet, however, having qualified well in Edelbrock Xtreme Street at the 19th Annual Nitrous Supply NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance in Indy a couple weeks ago.

Plenty of racing events have been cancelled this year, but thankfully the NMRA has soldiered on in 2020. Texas Mile competitor Eddie Presnull couldn’t stretch the legs of his turbocharged 2013 GT500 at standing-mile events this year, but with a few changes by Chad Epperson at London Chassis Dyno, the Shelby has been set up for the quarter-mile. While Presenull likely won’t be going 224 mph like he normally does, he and his GT500 should be a force to be reckoned with in the Mickey Thompson Terminator/Cobra vs GT500 shootout this weekend at the NMRA Finals.

The Capri Club of North America is swarming upon Beech Bend Raceway Park this weekend, and there are plenty of these unique machines to check out here on the property. This version of the Capri was sold overseas by Ford, as opposed to the later Fox-Body-based version sold by Mercury in the USA.

Not competing just yet, but looking relatively at home sitting in the picturesque parking area at Beech Bend Raceway is this early Ford pickup. The low stance and later-model wheels are dead giveaways that something more performance related is going on beneath the patina’d sheet metal.

Edelbrock Renegade points leader Joel Greathouse (at right) clicked off a 4.59 during testing yesterday, and backed that up with a 4.57 in the early Friday test session. The team, which started the season with a 311ci engine combination from KBX Performance, set the class record at the season opener in Bradenton with a 4.65, and with a 363ci engine that they dropped in last month, they look poised to reset that this weekend. Greathouse is looking to collect his first NMRA championship this year, after coming very close just two years ago in the Street Outlaw category. He currently sits 295 points ahead of Jason Spina, but the competition is certainly stepping up their games with a number of mid 4.6-second runs in testing so far.

Casstown, Ohio’s Shane Isaacs came to this race to help out some friends, but decided he might as well run one of his cars while he’s here. Isaacs picked up this 1993 Cobra that had already received a Kenne Bell-blown, 5.4-liter Cobra Jet engine swap, but had been sitting for some time. He and Chad Epperson needed to sort out a few bugs with the car as well before jumping into the JDM Engineering Limited Street class this weekend. Isaacs is planning on stepping up into Edelbrock Renegade fort the 2021 season with a 2004 Cobra that’s packing a turbocharged small-block Ford powerplant.

There is no shortage of super fast street cars here at the NMRA World Finals and Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. The QA1 True Street class is already rumored to have over 90 cars, a good majority of which are sporting parachutes that are necessary for their ETs. Greg Mayton of nearby Philpot, Kentucky, rolled into the tech line with his 1987 Mercury Cougar, which is packing a 1,000-plus horsepower turbocharged, small-block Ford between the fenders. Due to the car’s configuration, he’ll be competing in the VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw category this weekend in only the car’s second race.

There are a wide variety of Fords competing in the Holley Autocross and Grand Champion ranks on the Beech Bend oval this weekend. Among them is Cliff Elliot’s Performance Pack-spec 2016 Mustang GT. Obviously a dedicated corner carver, it is even powered by a built Voodoo engine right down to the cross-plane crank used in the Shelby GT350. Topped by a Cobra Jet intake, Elliot’s engine revs to 8,400 rpm and delivers 615 horsepower.

VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw Dom DiDonato (right) debuted his new crew chief William Jackson at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival. The team was playing with chassis adjustments, shock tuning, and weight distribution to reel in the wheelies and make the most of the good air in Bowling Green. “Once we get that figured out, it will be something good to see,” Jackson said. They weren’t running it all out in testing, but will definitely put the coals to it in qualifying and eliminations.

Where else are you going to see Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chelseas Denofa out slaying tires with Cleetus McFarland (behind the wheel of JR’s Fox)? That is just a slice of the action going on this weekend at the NMRA World Finals & Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival.

Capping off tonight’s festivities, Cleetus McFarland put on the Ford Festival 50 circle-track race pitting drivers in these NOS-injected Crown Vics in battle on the track. “We are not going to worry about the condition of the cars, we are just in it to win,” Cleetus proclaimed.

Tremec Transmissions is always a big part of any NMRA race, and in particular, the NMRA World Finals + Holley Ford Fest where the QA1 True Street class produces the TREMEC Stick-Shift Shootout finalists. Completely opposite of those mean machines is this really cool Mercury Cyclone that the company has in its booth on the manufacturer’s midway. The car runs a TREMEC five-speed transmission and regularly runs on the street … and on the salt flats at Bonneville!

Becki Cram clicked off her first 4-second run in her Edelbrock Performance Renegade Cobra Jet Mustang with a 4.94 run in testing earlier today. Her husband Joe told us that he put back in 4 degrees of timing into the front end of the tune for the second run, and the added power surprised her a bit. Now that she knows what to expect, the first round of qualifying coming up should be interesting.

The autocross and Grand Champion cars are driving hard, some harder than others as you can see from this machine headed back to the pits on the rollback.

In the MBRP booth we came across Tony Cooper and his 1988 Ford EXP. Most of these cars have been seemingly scrapped, as you rarely see them on the road any more, but Cooper has owned his since new. It underwent a tube chassis upgrade and rear-wheel-drive conversion and now looks the Pro Street part. Under the hood is a 289ci small-block with a solid lifter cam, 351 Windsor heads and a nitrous kit is soon to join the party.

Edelbrock Renegade racer Bob Cook has had a tough go of it as of late. At the NMCA race last week, his Mustang went into a big wheelie that caused a bunch of damage. He later torched a cylinder head, which RGR Racing Engines repaired before this race, and now he found out that the block is cracked on the 1 and 2 main webs of the engine block. He’s unfortunately done for this weekend unless he can procure another short-block, but is already looking at the 2021 season.

There’s never a shortage of True Street cars here at Beech Bend Raceway Park, and multi-time True Street winner Mike Jovanis brought out his other “street car” project that he just wrapped up. Almond Joy, as he calls it, packs a VMP supercharged Coyote and 6R80 transmission, and it has already run well into the 9s in testing this weekend. Jovanis, a Baer Brakes dealer, is also on the manufacturer’s midway to offer sales and support to any current and potential Baer customers.



Saturday’s Schedule