DragRaceCanada was pleased to attend the recent 2015 season opening event for the uber popular NMCA circuit. . . .
There was lots of excitement at the 13th Annual Ross Racing Pistons NMCA Muscle Car Nationals that took place March 20-22, 2015 in Bradenton, Florida. With two new classes debuting and the addition of the local Outlaw 632 eighth-mile points race, the action during the NMCA Flowmaster Drag Racing Series season opener did not disappoint!
In VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod new rules for 2015 opened up the class to vehicles with roots or twin-screw superchargers. These alcohol-injected beasts with their raucous exhaust notes emanating from their zoomie headers certainly grabbed everyone’s attention in Bradenton. John Benoit of Vermont made the only five-second run of the weekend with his nitrous car and went number one in qualifying, but the juice didn’t last long. Michael Biehle II in his turbocharged machine and Robert Abbott in his supercharged ’69 Camaro charged to the final. Rumor has it that Abbott was nursing a serious illness all weekend, but he made pass after pass regardless. In the final race of the day, Biehle took the advantage off the line and his twin turbos hauled the mail on the top end with a 6.09/252mph winning performance to Abbott’s 6.17/228.
Growing larger by the minute, judging by the chatter online, Mickey Thompson Radial Wars was another exciting class to watch over the weekend. With Jason Carter’s Malibu still getting some updates, Mark Micke got behind the wheel of Nick Agostino’s twin-turbocharged Camaro, a car that everyone in the ranks said had the stones to run 3.9s. Micke took the Radial Wars Top Qualifier spot with a 4.10 pass at 194 mph. In the final, though, it would be the Corvettes of reigning Radial Wars champ, Keith “Purple Rain” Berry and Mark “Woody” Woodruff that were lined up next to each other. Berry took the starting line advantage and never let up, taking the win with a 4.19/189 mph over Woodruff’s 4.28 at 179 mph.
ARP Nitrous Pro Street always brings out some interesting cars. Throughout qualifying, competitors faced much adversity with new car/combination bugs, and even equipment failure that led to an overnight thrash by Danny Shemwell’s crew. Putting in the hours proved fruitful, as Shemwell got his ’69 Camaro into the final against Jeff Rudolf, himself facing a small nitrous explosion on his bye in the first round of eliminations. Both got the repairs completed and in the final, Shemwell pulled the holeshot and never looked back, while Rudolf’s repaired hood launched into the air down track. Still, it was a close race with Shemwell taking the win, 7.57 to 7.65.
Phil Hines was the last Stainless Works Street Outlaw car to get into qualifying, but his car showed it was already dialed in and didn’t need much to get him into the final against a hard-charging Eric Gustafson. Gustafson, arrived with his NMCA WEST 2014 ProCharger Street Outlaw championship in hand, and his 6.94, 6.90, and 6.88 efforts showed the champ was here to bring the pain to the east coast contingent. Though Dwayne Barbaree had also jumped into the 6s, it was Hines meeting Gustafson in the final. Hines got the jump off the line and posted a 6.98 for the win. Gustafson had posted the faster 6.97, but his speed was down over 20 mph at the stripe, suggesting the engine was hurt-and that he quite possibly would have run much quicker had it been at full steam the entire pass.
Tony Alm, who normally competes in NMRA’s VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw class, felt the new rules for Edelbrock Xtreme Street gave his turbocharged combination a competitive edge, and after he qualified number one with a 7.72 at 186, it would seem that was the case. In eliminations, Alm unleashed a staggering 7.61 at 187 mph on his bye run, and Charlie Cooper’s turbocharged Cobra Jet Mustang dropped a 7.88 on the competition as well. Alm dispatched Cooper in round two with a 7.64, beating Cooper’s 7.91, but the nitrous cars were coming with Bill Trovato’s LSX-powered Camaro posting a 7.90 and defending champ Dave Hutnick running 7.88. Alm’s turbocharged notchback was set on kill though, taking out Hutnick with a 7.61-to-7.79 lap, and then he finished off Trovato’s 7.98 with an incredible 7.60.
The naturally aspirated, high-winding machines of Quick Lane of Toms River N/A 10.5 fought traction issues all weekend, though Leonard Long seemed to find the groove early as he laid down a 7.99 to claim top qualifier-Robbie Blankenship was right behind him with an 8-flat. In eliminations, Blankenship claimed the groove as his own, posting a 7.98, a 7.95, and then a 7.94 in the final to take the win over Dwight Ausmus who had to get off the gas when his Firebird got loose at half-track.
This event marked the debut of the brand-new Chevrolet Performance Stock class presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center, and the five entries were all working out new-car bugs. Ronnie Hackelton showed just what was capable with the DR525 engine, posting a 10.44 elapsed time to claim number-one qualifier. In a battle of Fourth-Gen Camaros, number-two qualifier, Kevin Lumsden, dispatched Keith Vaughn and then took a bye into the final. Hackelton lost in an upset to Heath Shemwell, who then dropped a slight holeshot on Lumsden in the final. The orange SS of Lumsden, however, packed a little more power and drove around Shemwell at the top end for the 10.71-to-10.89 win.
The Ross Racing Pistons NMCA Muscle Car Nationals hosted a round of the local Ross Racing Pistons Outlaw 632 eighth-mile heads-up class, and it featured many a beautiful, yet wicked-fast muscle cars. Robert Briscoe’s Chevy Nova was the gold standard in qualifying with a 4.42 effort. He would proceed through the 12-car field until he lined up next to the bright orange ’69 Camaro of Ken Quartuccio. The Camaro was first out of the gate and the holeshot was enough to fend off Briscoe’s 4.57 with Quartuccio’s slower, but winning 4.62.
Another new class that debuted for 2015 was E3 Spark Plugs Top Sportsman. Two of the best Top Sportsman cars in the land raced each other: Matt Buck and Jason Juday. Buck was ahead in qualifying (6.67 to a 7.07), and was obviously the favorite to win. Juday, who hasn’t been in the racing game for some 17 years, made his license passes this weekend, and then hammered the Christmas tree with a perfect 0.000 light in the final. Buck wasn’t far behind with a respectable 0.029 time, and his 6.87 lap was enough to see him to the finish line before Juday could get there with a 7.20.
The classic speed-fest that is ATI Performance Products Nostalgia Super Stock hit the track hard with 21 racers all vying for the money rounds. Defending champion Dave Schultz of Katy, Texas, set the pace in qualifying with a 9.750 on his 9.75 index, but it would be Corky Bumpus and his ’67 ‘Cuda facing off against Mike DeChicco in his ’65 Dodge Coronet. Bumpus had the better reaction time (0.013 to 0.097), and ran an 11.007 on his 11.00 dial, defeating DeChicco who broke out with a 9.69 break-out of his 9.75 dial in.
There were a number of really nice muscle cars running in Detroit Truetrac Nostalgia Muscle Car, including the Nova of defending champion, Gerry Vizzo. Andy Warren’s manly ’71 Chevy Caprice posted a 10.506 on a 10.50 index for number-one qualifying status, and Warren would go four rounds to take the win over Jerry Mathis who red lit.
MagnaFuel Open Comp is always a tough place to race, with the class full of competitors who have finely honed their on-track skills. Hanson, Kentucky’s Donald Carver had posted not one, but two 0.000 reaction times on Saturday, and he managed to go two rounds before fuel problems ended his day. After five rounds of eliminations, it was Shawn Calabrese at the wheel of an ’01 Firehawk who was victorious over a red-lighting Norman Crane and his ’93 Mustang.
Gear Vendors True Street is always the largest class of the event, and this year we saw 43 racers tech in. Only 33 were able to make all three passes count, and Clarence Walker of Tampa, Florida, took the 14-second average. Chris Hansen of Brandon, Florida, took the 13-second win, and Grant Martin turned his turbo Buick into a 12-second winner. James Barlow of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was leaving the line hard in his ’67 Cougar and took the 11-second win for his efforts, while William Howard’s 67 Dodge was slightly better and nabbed the 10-second average. Mike French of Ocala, Florida, took the runner up spot behind the wheel of his nice ’67 Camaro with a stout 9.65 average, but it was Tim Hafke of Brooksville, Florida, putting in the work with his ’93 Mustang that averaged 8.76 seconds for the overall win.
This race featured two bracket classes, and Super Pro (B1) found Elizabeth Keene of Bradenton, Florida, taking the win over another local, Tim Butler of Sarasota. It was tight at the light (.012 to .015 respectively), but Butler broke out (6.11 on a 6.12 dial in) whereas Keene posted a 5.08 against a 5.06 dial in. In Sportsman (B2), Shane Carr nailed a .004 light en route to a 6.446 on a 6.44 dial in, which was too much for James Stover who was .041 on the tree, and 6.64 on a 6.65 dial in.
About the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA):
The NMCA Flowmaster Muscle Car Nationals is the #1 street-legal motorsports show in the United States, attracting the most racers, fans, sponsors, and contingency. Each NMCA event features awesome heads-up muscle car drag racing, a huge all-domestic car show, a giant manufacturers midway, swap meet and more. These family-friendly events, where kids 12 and under are always free, have something for all automotive enthusiasts. NMCA event action can be found regularly in national magazines and websites along with extensive coverage in Fastest Street Car, NMCA’s official monthly publication. For more information about the NMCA, please visit www.NMCAdigital.com.
Posted by: Camee Edelbrock
Photos by: Bruce Biegler
To view DragRaceCanada’s extensive photo gallery from this race click: HERE