Coming off a disappointing rainout in New Jersey, fans and racers were all keeping their fingers crossed for better weather in Columbus for the 30th Annual JDM Engineering NMRA Ford Expo at National Trail Raceway. Though a thunderstorm dropped a couple of inches in less than an hour on Friday night, the race went off without a hitch, much to the delight of the large bracket contingent of nearly 300 cars on hand to race alongside the NMRA’s championship classes.

The turnout in Turbonetics Pro Outlaw 10.5 was a mere three cars, victim to the NHRA nationals and a big-money outlaw race nearby that siphoned off many of the usual suspects. Nevertheless, in qualifying Conrad Scarry ran like his life depended on it, qualifying first with a 6.859 at 213.06 mph. That performance gave him the bye into the finals, while Dan Millen and Tim Essick, both still looking for a six, fought it out to see who’d take Scarry on. Despite giving up the holeshot, Millen outran Essick, 6.970 to 7.170, showing he might have a little something for the Scarry Crew. When the tree came down on the final, Millen was away first, and on his way to an even quicker 6.841, more than enough to best Scarry’s 7.033 and secure Millen’s first win of the year.

ProCharger Super Street Outlaw put eight cars in the lanes on Sunday morning, led by AJ Powell and his 7.519-second blast in qualifying. John Urist was right behind him with a 7.554, while Chris Tuten was in third at 7.691. SSO eliminations turned out to be wild and wolley, with the field coming down to Urist on one side for the finals, and dark horse Perry Santini on the other. While Urist’s trip involved driving around a holeshot from Don Burton in the first round and besting Richarl Lelsz in the second, Santini got an opening bye when Tuten, his motor hurt in qualifying, couldn’t make the call, then drove past Powell in the second round despite sitting in the beams for almost three seconds – And it was good that he did, as Powell’s wild ride took him across the centerline and finally against the wall, doing no more cosmetic damage but ending his weekend short of the finals. Despite laying a .012 to .068 holeshot on the Fireball, Santini was simply outrun in the finals by Urist, who clicked off a 7.520 on his way to the winner’s circle.

DiabloSport EFI Renegade had no fewer than 15 cars qualified by the end of the day on Saturday, and would have matched the high water mark set in Joliet but for a DQ in tech. Nevertheless, Dan Rawls was in the lead in quals, running 8.578 at 159.85 mph. Brian Tuten was next at 8.587, while Bob Cook was third with an 8.604. After three rounds of intense racing on Sunday, it had come down to Cook versus eighth-qualified Alton Clements in the finals. Clements, making his first final round appearance, had bested Mike Catapano in the first round, cutting a .001 light in the process, then got past a limping 11-second pass from Bart Tobener in the second. A third round gift in the form of a -.008 redlight from Brian Tuten was all it took to slingshot Clements into the deciding race. Determined to make the most of the opportunity, Clements leapt to a .015-second reaction time, but Cook didn’t leave much on the table with a .022 of his own, and down-track, The Mongoose had a good two tenths on Clements, running out to an 8.646 to Clements’ losing 8.851, making Cook the first two-race Renegade winner this season.

Defending BFGoodrich Tires Drag Radial champ was facing the possibility of putting a lock on his title defense in Columbus, but early returns from qualifying weren’t encouraging – the top spot on the ladder was claimed by Aussie phenom Joey Bridge with an 8.280, while Joliet winner Tony Akins was right behind at 8.283. Kolivas, fighting his tuneup, was third at 8.322, with Jason Lee hot on his heels in fourth. Unanticipated mechanical problems down-track ended Bridge’s day early in the first round on Sunday, but Akins and Lee both worked their way through to the semis, along with Kolivas. A -.001 redlight from Akins sent Kolivas on untouched to face Lee, who ran out his competition bye straight into the finals. At the tree, the usually untouchable Iceman lost the leave to Lee, .046 to .020, but down-track Kolivas pulled out his best pass of the weekend, an 8.277, to outpace Lee’s 8.347 and seal the deal for the event and the season.

Edelbrock Hot Street was on a hot streak in Columbus, with nine naturally-aspirated single-digit racecars in the show. The top honors in qualifying went to defending class champ Ben Mens with an 8.857 at 155.56, but Charlie Booze, Jr., Robbie Blankenship, and Keith Courtney all had eight-eighties to their credit by the end of the festivities on Saturday as well. Sunday’s eliminations narrowed to a semi-final pitting Mens against Booze, with the odd-field single going to Blankenship. The tree would tell the tale – despite running a fractionally slower 8.848 to Booze’s 8.846, Mens’ .043 light to Booze’s .112 gave him just enough breathing room to squeak through into his second final round of the season. There, it would be Blankenship doing the holeshotting – a .079 light to Mens’ .109 put him out front, and an 8.813 to 8.833 kept him there, rewarding Blankenship with his second Hot Street win this year.

Bruce Hemminger has been knocking the bottom out of 5.0 Magazine Real Street since his reemergence in Milan, and Columbus would prove to be no exception. A 9.688 at 138.87 gave him the top slot in the qualifying order, while Tim Matherly and Jim Breese followed close behind at 9.711 and 9.783, and Jim Coger rounded out the single-digit club (and the top half of the eight-car field) with a 9.806. An opening-round ‘broke’ put Coger out of the picture early in eliminations, with the field coming down to Matherly versus Mike Washington on one side, and Hemminger versus Breese on the other. A -.060 redlight from Breese punched Hemminger’s ticket, while Matherly put a small holeshot at the tree and a tenth down-track on Washington. With the final pair set, near-identical reaction times meant the blower-versus-nitrous battle would be decided on raw performance, and Hemminger condensed a stunning 9.592 out of thin air while Matherly could only watch as his car limped along behind.

Tremec Pure Street drew a full field of eight drivers in Columbus, led in qualifying by a 10.280 pass from Ryan Hecox, the fourth time in a row at the top of the list this season. Brandon Alsept was next at 10.374, and Rocky Mason brought up third with a 10.393. On Sunday, Hecox made it unscathed through to the finals, dispatching Ken Bjonnes and Mason along the way, where he faced Mark Anderson, who had qualified right in the middle of the field but trailered Jack Fifer and Brandon Alsept to earn his trip to the last pairing. At the tree, Anderson put the holeshot on Hecox, .041 to .117, but just plain got outrun to the stripe, crossing with a 10.537 to Hecox’s 10.231, the quickest Pure Street run of the weekend, and the quickest we’ve seen since we got out of the bottom of the well in Bradenton.

“All shook up” is a good way to describe the state of ACT Factory Stock going into Columbus, and more was in store over the weekend. Defending champ Tommy Godfrey was first in qualifying with an 11.262, followed by the only guy left to unseat him, John Leslie, Jr., who was carrying an 11.472. Louis Sylvester was third at 11.612, while Jay Dold was batting cleanup with an 11.713. A dropped valve and holed piston in the burnout box in the last round of quals put Leslie out of the picture, and Godfrey made the most of it, going all the way to the finals on Sunday, where he’d be matched against Matt Amrine, the FS rookie who scored a shocking win over Godfrey in the final round at Joliet. Amrine broke out the chainsaw and left the tree in Godfrey’s lap with a .034-.147 holeshot, but the eleven-sixty pace he’d been on all day wasn’t going to do it as Godfrey pulled an 11.224 out of his bag of tricks and earned his first winner’s circle appearance since Bradenton last year.

Susan McClenaghan led qualifying in ROUSH Modular Muscle, thanks to a near-perfect .001 light, and rode that streak to her third final round appearance of the year against second-ranked qualifier Tom Motycka. Both drivers were within .006 of each other at the tree, but with Motycka’s slower index putting McClenaghan in a tail-chase, she overshot at the top end and broke out, running 10.882 on her 10.92 dial to Motycka’s winning 12.578-on-12.55.

As usual, Steeda Open Comp packed the lanes, with 27 drivers gunning for glory. Saul Walker II pulled a perfect light on Friday, locking in the top spot despite Randy Conway getting his own triple-oh on Saturday. Wesley Dalrymple was third, with a positively glacial .001, while Jason Boyer and Sam Dyer might as well have been taking naps at the tree with a .006 and .008. It took four grueling rounds of eliminations on Sunday to boil the field down to the final pair – Johnny Wellen versus David Watson. With the slower index, Wellen got the green first and was away with a .012, while Watson followed two and a half seconds later with a .059. Both drivers ran it out the back end, and when the scoreboards flashed, the win light was on in Wellen’s lane, with an 11.166 on his 11.06 dial besting Watson’s 9.678-on-9.59.

It took a .002 light for Mike Motycka to secure the top slot in Detroit Locker Truck & Lighting qualifying; Ohioan Bryan Parker was right there with a .003, while Matt Chobirko slipped into third out of the 16-truck field with a .010. In eliminations, Chobirko was the last to fall, making it to the semis before being bested by Paul Gamino, who was pulling double duty in both TR and SST. Gamino squared off in the finals against James Steamer, and a .043 light versus Steamers’ .142 was enough to make the difference and score Gamino his first Truck & Lightning win of the season.

JDM Engineering Super Stang drew ten entries at National Trail, with three rounds of racing coming down to the inaugural SST winner, Larry Russell, Jr., versus Paul Gamino. Away first with a slight holeshot, Russell took his V6 down-track while Gamino chased him down in his Saleen. At the stripe, it was a double-breakout, with the nod going to Russell’s 14.988-on-14.99 over Gamino’s 10.244 on a 10.29 index. The win makes Russell the only man to go undefeated so far in SST history.

Hedman Hedders True Street, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords, drew just shy of 40 entries, and after the 30-mile cruise and three back-to-back runs, Tim Casto was crowned “King of Ohio” thanks to his 9.593-second average. Jimmy Thery was runner-up, posting a 9.749 average, while perennial True Streeter Jon Huber drove his boosted 4-banger to third at 9.954.