Sunday morning in Bowling Green is for Ford racers to chase their dreams of winning a race-and potentially a class title-at one of the most revered dragstrips in the country. The index classes are out on the track now for their first round of eliminations, and the heads-up classes are scheduled to go hot around 11:00AM Central.
Race fuel will be put to the test, parts will be broken, and championships will be decided. This is Ford racing at its finest!
You can watch all the action as it happens on SpeedVideo’s HD video feed. Check out the video player at the top of the page!
In the first round of eliminations, Val Clements had to face off with brother Alton in Renegade, which meant she had to heat up the tune in an attempt to get by. Although she didn’t beat him to the finish line, she did beat him to the 100-foot mark where I was standing. The car carried the wheels another 100 feet before it came down hard, which allowed Alton to get around her for the win.
Matt Amrine and Dan Ryntz are locked in a battle in the Factory Stock class. Amrine lucked out in round one of eliminations as Rob Chandler didn’t make the call; Amrine mangled the transmission downtrack and had to pull it out and swap it after the round. He has a competition bye through round two, while Ryntz is up against number-two qualifier Bart Welte. The championship battle with Ryntz will come down to who progresses further during eliminations.
Kent Nine has been on a roll in the Limited Street class. His Brenspeed-prepped Saleen blasted to a 9.73 in the first round, while opponent Matt Williams redlit his chances away. Kent faces Shawn Johnson in round two. Johnson’s car is also seriously impressive: 285 cubic inches of two-valve Modular engine and a 2,650-pound race weight equals 9.50s all weekend. Johnson says he can run at 2,350 pounds, but can’t get the car that light.
Speaking of Alton Clements, he is your 2017 Renegade champion. By outlasting Frank Varela (who went out in round two to Robert Rodgers), Clements has finally secured his second Renegade championship after three runner-up seasons in a row-and five second-place finishes overall-since he last won the class title in 2008. Congratulations!
Dom DiDonato and Chuck Wrzesniewski of C&D Autotech are rockin’ it in Coyote Modified competition and running personal bests all weekend long. His 7.43 at 187-plus put Shawn King on the trailer in round one.
Kelly Shotwell is the man to beat in the Limited Street class-he’s the only racer in the 8s and has eliminated Scott Barker to move into the semifinals.
You never know who you’re going to run into in Bowling Green. Older NMRA fans will remember Swill Scott Lovell, who won a Renegade championship in 2005? 2006? I can’t remember, as I’m almost as old as he is. But he did hint at a possible return, as he owns a car (the 1966 Mustang formerly owned by Nick Bacalis) which can fit into the Limited Street class with minimal modifications.
Street Outlaw:Rich Bruder, 4.38/167.28 mph
Renegade: Bart Tobener, 7.40/182.43 mph
Coyote Modified: Tom Annunziata, 7.73, 177.67 mph
Limited Street:Kelly Shotwell, 8.99/153.79 mph
Coyote Stock:Charlie Booze, Jr. 10.20/129.72 mph
Factory Stock: Matt Amrine, 10.62/126.12 mph
Open Comp:Jon Pickering, 9.43 ET/9.39 Dial
Truck & Lightning: Randy Conway, 10.39 ET/10.30 Dial
Mod Muscle:Charlie McCulloch, 10.814 ET/10.84 Dial
Stick Shift Shootout: Anthony Heard, 8.81/158.28 mph
TCS Vs. Terminator/GT500:Keith Rhea, 7.52/192.22 mph
Modular Xtreme: Clint Bates, 5.11/141.61 mph
The Champions Are Crowned!
Wow, what a day! If you’ve never been to Championship Day at the NMRA’s World Finals, you should put this on your bucket list of things to do. All day long, the track was packed with action. We were lucky that there were no major mishaps on the track this weekend, and the event winners are truly the best of the best in Ford-land when it comes to heads-up and bracket racing.
If you missed the event, you can head over to SpeedVideo and watch all of today’s action, as they’ve archived it for all of you Ford junkies sitting at home who couldn’t make it out to the event.
There was lots of drama during the elimination rounds, as several classes came down to the wire when it came down to crowning champions, like Truck and Lightning, where Randy Conway wrapped up his second title in a row. In Street Outlaw, Manny Buginga-who came back to NMRA action just last year after a long layoff-became the Champion again after eliminating Charlie Cooper in the semifinal round. Had Cooper won out, he’d have been the class champ.
In the Street Outlaw final, Rich Bruder capped off a successful inaugural season in the class by taking out none other than his teammate, class Champion-and car owner-Manny Buginga, when Buginga got loose and had to lift. It’s a win for the team regardless, and sure was fun to watch!
Bart Tobener was on a roll all weekend long; not only did he set the class record, he took out the Champ in the final round. His Bullseye Power-boosted S550 is a nasty machine.
It’s been a real treat to watch Tommy Annunziata’s run in Coyote Modified. With the assistance of longtime Ford tuning guru Jim LaRocca, Annunziata cruised to an easy win over Haley James when James redlit and left before the tree came down. Annunziata has a super-successful weekend, as he re-set the class record in the process of earning his win.
Certain racers are just winners, no matter what class, what type of combination, and what type of car. Charlie Booze, Jr. is one of those. We chatted with him on Friday and he mentioned that the team felt like they were still in left field with the clutch, but after qualifying at the top of the Coyote Stock field and running through some stiff competition, Booze found himself against former class champ Jacob Lamb in the final round. So how did he win? On a holeshot, naturally.
Lots going on today. There was a huge line of spectators and racers waiting to get into the track when I arrived at 7:15 this morning, and they’ve been piling in all day. One thing you can count on regarding the crowd here at Beech Bend Raceway Park-they always show up to pack the stands during the NMRA’s World Finals.
I was here early this morning to hang out with new Coyote Stock racer Jim Webb and shoot his car for an upcoming feature. Webb’s Fox-based machine was built by Tim Lyons at Lyons Custom Motorsports and is a complete work of art.
There is a massive field of True Street cars here this weekend. At last count there were 141 cars, which is extremely close to the NMRA’s record of 145 cars from a few years ago. Everywhere you look, there are True Street cars in the pits.
The manufacturer's midway is filled with fans and products from all of your favorite vendors. One of the interesting items I found are the carbon-fiber Fox inner fender panels from Scott Rod Fabrications. These are real carbon-fiber and can be epoxied or riveted in. I picked one up and it doesn't weigh more than a piece of paper.
Lots of carnage in the Street Outlaw pits this weekend-Urist had to overnight a new transmission in to be ready for today, Manny Buginga used the liftgate on his trailer as an engine hoist to swap powerplants, and Leroy Nabors Jr. has the heads off his bright-red Fox today. These guys are letting it all hang out this weekend. Urist made the qualifying round this morning but didn’t run anything special as he was just validating the transmission’s performance, while Buginga cranked off a stout 4.37 blast.
After yesterday Dwayne Barbaree sat atop the qualifying ladder in Street Outlaw, but at the conclusion of qualifying tonight Manny Buginga took his spot with a wicked pass. Remember, Buginga replaced the engine at the end of the day yesterday. It looks like his efforts paid off, and Buginga goes into the first round of eliminations tomorrow as the man to beat.
Lots of drama in Coyote Modified tonight. Joe Cram qualified number six on the ladder and toasted his Turbo 400 transmission in the process. So Cram borrowed a Powerglide from Haley James and was in the process of making the swap when we caught up with him.
Sometimes racing breaks parts, and in the case of Street Outlaw racer Leroy Nabors, Jr., it breaks them beyond repair. Nabors torched a head gasket, and in the process damaged a cylinder head and was unable to repair the car. He spent the day interacting with fans and says the car will be repaired this week so he can make another event next weekend.
Open Comp racer Brent Carver led the crowd in a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Lots of beautiful old Ford iron in the car show today!
TCS Vs. Terminator/GT500:Keith Rhea, 7.45/193.32 mph
Modular Xtreme: Clint Bates, 5.36/119.10 mph
GT500/Terminator Shootout: Randy Thomas, 8.47/164.01 mph
I’ve been to this race many times over the years, and it never disappoints as an amazing way to end the NMRA season. Fans lined the stands on both sides of the track during all of the heads-up classes, the True Street class exceeded expectations of the NMRA staff, and the car show was simply full of beautiful cars old and new.
Watching Charlie Booze, Jr. apply the racing knowledge he’s gained over many years of championship-winning naturally-aspirated racing into the severely limited Coyote Stock class is a pleasure; Booze, Jr. lit the scoreboard with an insane 10.13 pass during today’s final session to push Clair Stewart II into the second spot.
Coyote Stock is without a doubt my favorite class in the series; it brings old racers together with those just starting out and puts everyone onto a level playing field, and it’s refreshing to see such close racing happening between racers who are all willing to lend a hand to the competition in a time of need. Final qualifying has six racers between Booze’s 10.130 and Tyler Eichhorn’s 10.191 — with the rest of the field bunched between 10.227 and 10.573.
I’m a sucker for a clean four-eye, and Jason Holbert’s super-clean turbocharged ’85 caught my eye while walking through the show field.
The North Carolina resident packed a big single turbo underhood to pump up the pushrod mill, and converted the car to fuel injection, but kept the interior as stock as possible save for a few gauges located under the radio.
After qualifying third in Renegade with a 7.38-the car’s quickest pass in Renegade trim-Brian Mitchell (left) and crew chief Joey Finan made the executive decision to swap the head gaskets for preventative maintenance. “It’s a 12-hour ride home, and we didn’t want to have to think what if,” he said. “I was going to leave it, but Joey pushed me to change them.”
Is there anything better than a racecar covered in a Grabber Blue hue? Clint Bates’ Modular Xtreme machine is the one to beat tomorrow.
Donnie Bowles and Susan Roush-McClenaghan continue to prove that propane power is the fuel to beat in Modular Muscle-Susan sits at the top of the championship chase with Bowles in the second spot entering the final day of competition in 2017. By his unofficial calculations, Donnie says Jason Henson can catch him, and he can catch Susan, but Jason can’t catch Susan, so it’s very possible the Roush team ends up 1-2 in Modular Muscle for 2017.
Bill Tumas has one goal for the 2017 season-to win a round of racing in his first season as a heads-up racer. He goes up against number-three qualifier Mike Bowen in round one tomorrow, so he’ll have his work cut out for him.
Justin Jordan didn’t have a good day today-on his pass during qualifying tonight, the car popped a head gasket beyond repair, and the resulting water leak sent him from the left lane to the right lane at nearly 175 mph. He said he was just happy he could get the car stopped without incident, and will take it home to make repairs. He was checking out the data when I stopped by.
We’ll close today’s coverage with a simple statement: If you’re a Ford racer, you need to be where the big dogs run!
Don’t forget-you can watch all the action tomorrow as it happens on SpeedVideo’s HD video feed. Check out the video player at the top of the page!
It’s been a long, torturous season for the NMRA’s competitors, and all of their hard work, testing efforts, and buckets of cash spent trying to find that extra edge comes down to three days - the NMRA World Finals, set amongst the rolling hills of Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Stay tuned here all weekend long as we bring you the behind-the-scenes stories and photography you won’t see anywhere else. It’s time to crown the champions!
Our friends at Speedvideo are live-broadcasting the event - just click here to watch all of the action as it occurs!
John Kolivas is overseeing the efforts of Street Outlaw racer Alan Felts this weekend. Felts, whose Fox was built by Jessie Coulter at Jessie’s Garage right here in Bowling Green, just recently swapped to a Holley engine management system and ran a personal best of 4.55 at 161 mph at the recent Yellow Bullet Nationals in Maryland. He’s been slowly creeping up on the car, which is powered by a Jeff Burns Racing Engines small-block Ford and Precision 85 mm turbocharger. They are looking to get into the 4.40s or better in the eighth-mile here.
Lots of new Coyote Stock racers here this weekend, including Jim Webb and his crew chief, son Cru. Webb, who hasn’t been in a racecar in 18 years, picked up this immaculate 27,000-mile ’87 hatch and dropped it off at Lyons Custom Motorsports for a complete build. I can say it is without a doubt one of the nicest Fox race cars I’ve ever seen. Webb, who sold his last Mustang 18 years ago when Cru was born, is looking to make his mark in Coyote Stock . They are just trying to dial the car in at this point as he only has a few passes down the track behind the wheel. “My wife pushed me to do this as a father-and-son project. She kept us on budget throughout the whole build,” he says.