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NMRAPaul
03-09-2006, 09:00 PM
NMRA Nitto Tire Spring Ford Nationals
Bradenton News & Rumors – Thursday March 9, 2006

The big topic for pre-race speculation for the first event of the 2006 NMRA-Denso Ford Drag Racing Series was the track maintenance completed literally days before cars arrived in Bradenton. The surface was surveyed and once the lowest point was established, the asphalt and concrete were precision-ground down to match. With the high spots removed and the cracks cleaned and sealed, the track received a clean layer of traction compound and rubber, and the end result seems to be agreeing with the high-horsepower cars.

Speaking of speculation, the off-season bench racing in 5.0 Mustang Real Street was hot and heavy thanks to rules changes that many believed would give a significant bump to nitrous cars, with some predicting 9.80’s for the bottle-fed racers. Don’t count the blowers out just yet – on Wednesday, Brian Meyer ran 9.95 at 135 mph here at BMP, despite the regs restricting blower cars to 3.55 gearing and a larger (and therefore lower-boost) pulley.

Manny Buginga, 2005 MSD SSO champ, is back to defend his title, but not with the Yates-headed 383 he’s been working on over the winter. After suffering some ring and piston damage in testing last week, Buginga dropped in last year’s 363 cube mill, which sports a 9.2-inch deck block and Edelbrock Victor heads.

Paul Svinicki, the only Paul I know with a last name harder to pronounce than my own, turned up with his Vortech V6-powered ’06 on Wednesday. The two-short-of-a-full-load Mustang makes up for what it lacks in cylinders with a Vortech supercharger and air-to-water intercooler, backed by a 5-speed and breathing through a set of JBA headers and a JBA exhaust. We’re told that the car puts 400 horses to the rear wheels, and we believe it – his first two runs were in the 12.40’s thanks to problems with second gear, but once he got a clean pass, the scoreboard read 11.65 at 116 mph. Should be fun to see what he can do this weekend in Mod Motor; his goal is to have the fastest new-gen V6 on the planet.

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Those with good recall of days past may remember Ben Schooler; he’s back for 2006 with an impossible-to-overlook Lamborghini Orange Fox stuffed with a 360 cube 9.2-deck turbo motor. He’ll be running in MSD SSO, looking for performance in the 7.60 range. 20+ psi of boost is supplied by a big 91mm Precision turbocharger.

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We also ran into Chuck DeMory in the pits, prepping his DiabloSport Pro 5.0 ride. There are plenty of interesting details on his Escort ZX2, which he ran previously with the IHRA, but we were especially taken with his cool pushbutton pneumatic shifter control for the Lenco transmission.

That's it for today - Check back tomorrow for more news and video from the track!

NMRAPaul
03-10-2006, 07:20 PM
NMRA Nitto Tire Spring Ford Nationals
Bradenton News & Rumors – Friday, March 10, 2006

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Bob Hanlon worked the entire winter with noted Hot Street guru Chris Beningo to lighten his 360-inch 5-speed '83 GT to make it competitive. Expect big things out of Bangin' Bob, who's already been 8.91 at 154+ mph with the new combo.


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Larry "Mr. Open Comp" Geddes has been hard at work under the hood during the off-season too. To harness it, he's running a new McLeod adjustable clutch that can be tweaked by adding or subtracting weight or preload, just like a "slider" clutch. A tiny hole in the bellhousing allows for changes without dropping the driveline, and marks on the damper make getting the clutch lined up properly less difficult than it sounds.


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Drag Radial veteran Peter Champani ran into some problems on Thursday when his newly-allowed 88mm turbo moved on to the afterlife mid-pass during test and tune, forcing him to qualify with a smaller 85mm turbo on Friday at 88mm weight. Rumor has it that a new 88hairdryer is on its way, so expect high mph blasts from this team once everything gets bolted up.


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Joey Bridge travels all the way from Australia to race in Drag Radial. His mod-engined turbo car squeaked out a 9.26, but with a wild 165 mph trap speed. Once he gets the front half of the track figured out, look out!


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It's been confirmed that Gene Hindman will not be returning to the NMRA in
2006, but it seems Pure Street can't get away from the Hindman domination as Jimmy Wilson recently purchased the champ's old bullet and made some noise with his newly painted orange Fox. So far the car's gone 10.90's lifting, but with Hindman handling the tuning duites, we expect Jimmy to be a definite player this weekend. The word in the pits is that we haven't seen the last of Hindman, but if he does return, what class will he run?


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Noted former SSO driver and tuner extroardinaire Randy Haywood is on the property helping out customer Ben Schooler with his brand new Outlaw car. As of the first round, Schooler is in the fifth qualifying position with a 7.91 at nearly 178 mph.


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Team Aruba is in the house, but they're not happy about the 50 extra pounds their 814-cube Pro 5.0 Escort has to carry that their Mustang-bodied competition doesn't. The theory behind the rule is that the smaller, slippery Escort shell gives them a leg up versus the blunter Mustangs, but in any case, driver Burt Kelkboom seems to be managing pretty well with a 6.78 at almost 207 mph in the first round.


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Ex-Renegade veteran Bob Kurgan had his newly revamped ride in Bradenton and despite some online sandbagging prior to the event, he proved to be a player in the first round of qualifying. The four-eyed fox managed to get down the track with a decent 8.58.


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Pennsylvania's Bill Weiner told us that he came all the way to Florida so the NMRA could toss him out because of his illegal turbos. This is Racin' Jason Betwarda's old Probe, but driver Ben Hopko had to shut it down in the first round of qualifying. A 12.72 ET came as a result of massive tire shake.


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The Schmidt Brothers made some cosmetic changes to their wicked Hot Street car by upgrading to a lightweight, and aerodynamic-friendly 87-93 front clip. Some say that the grill/fog light-delete front end is worth a half mile an hour, but we'll have to wait and see.

Continued below...

NMRAPaul
03-10-2006, 07:27 PM
Friday, Part 2:

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John "Four-Finger" Gotera made it back to Drag Radial after burning his car up at NMCA Memphis 2004. A 342-inch engine, coupled with a nice 85mm turbocharger, netted him a 9.20 on a super-safe tune. Gotera was simply happy to get down the track in one piece.


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Don Burton displayed his awesome big-block-equipped SSO car in Bradenton, but when we went to check it out, this is what we saw. What kind of intakesecrets lie under that sheet metal cowling?


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Yet another new entry into Hot Street running a 399-inch Roush engine is former Open Comp standout Robbie Blankenship. Taking it easy on his first pass, Blankenship still cruised to a 147 mph trap speed, showing that he's got the horsepower, even though the 9.22 ET didn't reflect it.


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The Swill guys did it again as Scott Lovell coaxed the Sticker Dude-sponsored Fox to the number one qualifying postion with am 8.68 in an awsome identical rematch against Zoop Zellonis.

We're done for today - Check back again tomorrow for more tidbits from the pits.

NMRAPaul
03-11-2006, 07:44 PM
NMRA Nitto Tire Spring Ford Nationals
Bradenton News & Rumors – Friday, March 10, 2006

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Diablo Pro 5.0 newcomers Glenn Adams, Dave Smetzer, and Jack Lyons showed up in Bradenton with their wicked all-black SN95 Mustang in hopes of breaking the record for the fastest 8.2-deck motor in history, or run at least 7.20’s in the quarter. Well, they didn’t break the record with their 200.4 mph blast -- that’s still held by ex-Pro 5.0 racer Bill Devine -- but they did run a stellar 7.16. Not bad for a car that was built in their garage!

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Today’s “best tool falling out of a car on-track” award goes to Tremec Pure Street racer Jonathan Paulk, who dropped this nearly-new vise-grip at about the 330-foot mark during round three of qualifying. We’re happy to report that it was returned without further incident.

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Rhode Island’s own Eric LaFerriere took the top dog spot in BFGoodrich Drag Radial at the end of qualifying on Saturday. With an insane 8.18 @ 170.42 mph pass in round one on Friday night, LaFerriere uncorked a shot that put the rest of the Drag Radial world on notice. He and Davey Hopper seem to have figured out the critical first half of the racetrack better than the rest of the field.

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The Sutton High Performance team brought out their badass 2005 and attempted to push their ProCharger-blown modular into the 8-second zone. The ended up blowing up their “B” engine, but they were quickly back in action with their backup “C’ engine. Their “A” motor is still waiting on a crank as of this moment, but expect big things from the Illinois-based team by the Maple Grove race.

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In the “best broken part – unlimited” category, our winner is Diablo Pro 5.0 racer Chuck DeMory, who sheared the hub clean off the right-side axle during a second round qualifying attempt. Fortunately, the damage was limited to the axle and carbon-fiber brake rotor, and since DeMory got a clean pass on Friday, he’s still in the show if the team can round up replacement parts.

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Contrary to popular belief and the internet (who believes THAT anymore?), 2005 Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning champ “Captain” Keith Kohlmann is on the premises to defend his title. When asked about his offseason maintenance schedule, Kohlmann told the NMRA staff, “I changed the oil a week or so ago, and refilled the nitrous.”

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After a mad thrash up until the last day of qualifying, Rich Groh finally showed up in Bradenton with his newly revamped Pure Street ride for ProCharger EFI Renegade. The car was sporting a vertical throttle body with a nifty Pro Flow nitrous plate. Groh managed to take the beams and make an 11-second motor pass to make the ladder, but the RGR team should be ready to rock by eliminations on Sunday.

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Former Fun Ford Weekend Renegade champion Mike Freeman showed up to run in MSD Super Street Outlaw for 2006. With a turbocharged 358-inch engine, Freeman managed an 8.12 in qualifying.

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Stef Pearman literally dragged a ’91 notch out from the bottom of a creek, slapped a Factory Stock-spec driveline and powerplant into it in 45 days, and joined his buddy Jonathan Paulk in K&N Factory Stock competition. They were hoping for a 12.50, but all the rusty beast could muster was a 13-flat. Consider it a work in progress.

Continued in the next post...

NMRAPaul
03-11-2006, 07:54 PM
Saturday continued...

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Did NMCA Xtreme Street regulars Gina and Lance Munden show up in Bradenton for some pre-season testing, or are they looking to run SSO in the near future?

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Back from the school of hard knocks, former K&N Filters Factory Stock champ and ballet dancer Mike Washington has a Rich Groh Racing Engines 311.1 cid engine in his ’93 Cobra. Looking to dethrone Shawn Johnson as the big dawg, Washington still needs some time to figure out his new combo.

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Taking time off from his usually bling-encrusted lifestyle was Leo Johnson. As the new owner/driver/head wrench of the former Kenny Compton Hot Street champion car, Johnson found out the fun way what it’s like to do between rounds on one of the mini-pro-stockers.

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Bob Hanlon seems to be a favorite for Bradenton’s News and Rumors. With a monster wheelstand in round three of qualifying, Hanlon had parts flying all over the track.

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Speaking of wheelstands, plenty of cars can yank the front wheels, but how many can also pull the collectors? Tremec Pure Street driver David Hill did just that in the third round today. Although the noise was alarming, the damage appeared to be confined to nothing harder to repair than slipping the exhaust back together.

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What goes up must come down, and ProCharger EFI Renegade racer Jay Mingolelli did just that, putting his drop-top SN-95 hard on the rear bumper, then crashing to earth. Believe it or not, the car left the track under its own power and still full of fluids.


Record Recap:

With all records reset at the beginning of the season, they were waiting to be claimed today at Bradenton for the price of a single pass plus another within one percent to back it up. Here’s the list of who’s on top for now – Special thanks to Big-Time TV Guy and Friend of the NMRA Brett Kepner for figuring these out for us while we wrote our column tonight. Note that these are unofficial; we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow…

Diablo Pro 5.0: Mike Hauf 6.640 ET, 208.86 MPH
MSD Super Street Outlaw: Sammy Vincent 7.564 ET, Manny Buginga 188.99 MPH
ProCharger EFI Renegade: Scott Lovell 8.683 ET, Brian Mitchell 158.17 MPH
Edelbrock Hot Street: Patrick Topolinski 8.929 ET, Charlie Booze 150.27 MPH
BFGoodrich Drag Radial: Eric LaFerriere 8.181 ET, John Kolivas 170.61 MPH
5.0 Magazine Real Street: Brian Meyer 10.066 ET, 133.29 MPH
Tremec Pure Street: Brad Meadows 10.388 ET, Ron Anderson 128.47 MPH
K&N Filters Factory Stock: Shawn Johnson 11.613 ET, 116.33 MPH

Just one day left – See you tomorrow for more inside info and crazy photos!

NMRAPaul
03-12-2006, 08:26 PM
NMRA Nitto Tire Spring Ford Nationals
Bradenton News & Rumors – Sunday, March 12, 2006

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Jimmy Briante took on the task of driving the Sorby Bros. red rocket this weekend, as car owner Bryan Sorby had a baby a few weeks ago. He ended up falling in the quarterfinals to eventual race winner Sammy Vincent.

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Speaking of Mr. Vincent, even Super Street Outlaw hot shoes need to take some family time every now and then. Sammy Vincent spent some time sunning in the grandstands with wife Michelle and this adorable little guy.

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Shawn Johnson continued his domination of the most restrictive (and as a result possibly the most challenging) heads-up class in NMRA competition by starting off the season right with a win here in Bradenton in K&N Filters Factory Stock. It seems like he hasn’t missed a beat, because even with all of the off-season changes to make the class slow down, Johnson was only two tenths off of last season’s pace.

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On Friday, we mentioned that Larry Geddes was packing some new power under the hood of his Toyo Tires Open Comp ride in the form of a Kuntz & Co. 376 cubic inch, 8.2-deck crate engine. This bad bullet was able to propel the notch from the 12-second zone he used to run into the mid-10’s. He ran a little off with the new combo, but we have a feeling that Mr. Open Comp will be a main player in the points chase this year.

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Randy Henry debuted his ultra-clean Fox in Bradenton and made mid-9-second passes with the virtually untested car. With Bennett Racing behind him, expect Henry to be a player in 2006.

Continued below...

NMRAPaul
03-12-2006, 08:32 PM
Sunday continued:

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We caught Gary Barrett swapping from 4.88s to ultra-low 5.13 gears on Friday in hopes to improve his off-pace times. Well, it definitely worked since he went from bottom of the ladder on Friday to fifth with solid 10.60 performances. Barrett redlit in the quarter-finals against Brad Meadows while attempting to holeshot Meadows’ flamed SN95.

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BFGoodrich Drag Radial winner John Kolivas was talking to us about the fact that something was wrong with his car, and he was losing approximately half a mile an hour on every subsequent run. However, he managed to find a little something extra, including leaving the tree in Mauro Vitale’s lap, in order to take the win.


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After lots of off-season testing, Robin Lawrence’s 5.0 Mustang Magazine Real Street 2005 is really starting to work well, despite its weird factory-style 3-link suspension. He cracked off a nice 10.16 in qualifying, enough to grab the third position on the qualifying ladder. Unfortunately he broke in the first round, but at least Uncle Robin can say he’s getting both fronts in the air nowdays.

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The School of Automotive Machinists brought what seemed like the entire student body to work on Pat Topolinski’s Edelbrock Hot Street Cobra. The team coaxed the car all the way to the final, but an unfortunate -.015 redlight against Charlie Booze Jr. ended the race before it even got started.

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Finally, the Wheelstand of the Day is brought to you by EFI Renegade racer Zoop Zellonis, who scared the focus right out of Race Pages editor Paul Huizenga. Zellonis came down hard enough to put his car into the left-hand wall, but he walked away with only bumps and bruises. Look closely and you may be able to see your life pass before your eyes – Huizenga claims he did when the car came straight at him.

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That's all for Bradenton News and Rumors. Don't forget to check out today's video, and we'll see you in Georgia at the end of the month.