The NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals presented by MAHLE Motorsport celebrated its 10th year at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, April 5-8, 2018, and while the cool, wet weather provided some challenges, the NMRA/NMCA/Atlanta Dragway staff and the racers worked hard to give spectators a great show and complete the event. A combined event showcasing both the NMRA and NMCA series, the All-Star Nationals delivered exciting, side-by-side racing for fans of all brands.
Boasting the world’s fastest street cars, the VP Racing Fuels Xtreme Pro Mod class saw 22 cars try to qualify for the 16 available spots, and Jason Hamstra set the pace and the unofficial class record in qualifying with a 3.67 performance. Hamstra would go out in the semifinals to Eric Gustafson, who went on to meet Craig Sullivan in the final round. This was the first time both drivers had been to an NMCA Pro Mod final, and Sullivan drilled the tree with an .020-second reaction time, but Gustafson drove around him for the win, 3.77 to 3.85.
Bradenton Mickey Thomson Radial Wars winner James Lawrence was hoping to double up in Commerce, but he was outshined in qualifying by 2016 champion DeWayne Mills, who took the top spot with a 3.88 run at 206 mph. In the final round, it was Marty Stinnett and his Mustang facing Mills and his Camaro. The drivers were neck and neck down the track and both made moves toward the centerline. Both drivers clocked 3.88-second runs, but Mills was ahead at the stripe for the win, and took the trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle.
At this event, the NMRA’s VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw class runs with the NMCA’s Vortech Street Outlaw classes, and Andy Manson grabbed the top spot in qualifying with a wicked 4.28-second run. Clicking a 4.23 off during eliminations, Shawn Ayers driving Fletcher Cox’s Gold Dust Mustang worked his way to the final round of competition where he would face Manson. Both cars left strong, but Manson lost traction half way into the run, and Ayers charged hard to a 4.24 and the event win.
Coming off a huge showing at the season opener where Geoff Turk was the first to dip into the 7-second zone, the Holley EFI Factory Super Cars contingent was back in action with Carl Tasca leading qualifying thanks to an 8.06 time. Turk had once again worked his way to the final round, and edged out Chuck Watson for the trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a close 7.99-to-8.04 win.
ARP Nitrous Pro Street saw the return of 2016 NMCA Top Sportsman champion Shawn Morrow, but longtime class racer John Trobiani put his 1968 Camaro on top of qualifying with a 4.69, eighth-mile time. Trobiani took out Morrow in the first round, but fell in the second and final round when James Noel took the win with a 4.79 run to Trobiani’s 4.86.
Hard-charging Edelbrock Xtreme Street featured a number of new competitors in the class, one of whom was Shaun Arnold, who topped the qualifying sheets with a 4.80-second performance at the wheel of his turbocharged 1969 Ford Falcon. Another debut entry was Tim Knieriem, who put his nitrous-enhanced Mustang into the final round against Arnold. It was a tight, all-Ford race to the finish with Knieriem edging out Arnold for the 4.73-to-4.81 victory.
The cool weather this weekend looked favorably upon the naturally aspirated cars of the ARP NA 10.5 class. Twelve hungry competitors entered the fray and David Theisen set the pace with a 7.85 from his big-block-powered, 1969 Firebird. Theisen squared off against Bradenton winner Robbie Blankenship in the finals, but Blankenship had mechanical problems at the hit, and Theisen scored the class win with a 7.78-second elapsed time.
Coming off a victory at the season opener, Jesse Wilson set the pace in Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center qualifying with a stellar 10.09 performance. Wilson would meet Haley Rounsavall in the final round of competition and take the win with a bracket-like 10.09 to Rounsavall’s 10.31 run.
Lots of new competitors arrived for Coan Engineering’s Stock/Super Stock Combo, and Dennis Breeden topped the qualifying sheets with a -1.712-second under run on his 11.00 index with a 9.68. Breeden reached the finals, but gave the win to Darren Morris after red-lighting.
The always entertaining, wheels-up ATI Performance Products Nostalgia Super Stock class saw Doug Poskevich put his 1969 Ford Fairlane at the top of the qualifying sheet after running a 12.000 on his 12.00 index. However, it was Corky Bumpus who took the final-round victory over Bruce Lang.
The second of two Ford Falcons topping qualifying sheets belonged to Cindee Hall of Deland, Florida. She drove her ’63 model Falcon to a 13.007 on her 13.00 index in Detroit Trutrac Nostalgia Muscle Car, but it was Steve Wilson who was the class winner after defeating Jacob Weigl.
With 24 racers and the top three qualifiers all grabbing triple zero reaction times, MagnaFuel Open Comp is full of top-notch talent. Joe Hutchins topped qualifying, but in the final round, Will Spearman took the starting line advantage and used it to defeat Kelly Pierce.
As the event title implies, there are a several all-star shootouts that take place within this race. The eight racers in each showdown include the top two point finishers from each sanction, two randomly drawn racers, and two who are picked by the previous year’s champions. In the new-for-2108 Street Outlaw shootout, NMRA racer Andy Manson got the better of the NMCA’s Daniel Pharris. In a 180-degree turn, the Sealed Stock shootout saw two Chevrolet Performance Stock entries in this year’s final, with 2017 class champion Jesse Wilson taking the win over Haley Rounsavall. Finally, in the Open Comp shootout, it was a real barn burner that pitted 2017 LME Street King champion Kurt Anderson against the NMCA’s 2017 Open Comp and Stock/Super Stock champion Ricky Pennington, the latter of which secured the victory.
In Gear Vendors True Street competition, Randy Thomas averaged 8.98 seconds over his three-runs to take the top honors in the class. Jeff Brady grabbed runner-up honors with a 10.02 performance, while Alan Hill took the 11-second win with an 11.17. DeWayne Massengale was awarded the 12-second prize for his 12.10 average, while Erick Pedersen rounded up the 13-second award for his 13.007 average. Rounding out the field were Nicholas Massengale with the 14-second win at 14.01 and Allen Smith for the 15-second win with a 15.61.
The All-Stars offered a bracket program and Chas Ledford took the Bracket 1 win, while Michael Gardner was the victor in Bracket 2.
The NMRA and NMCA series part ways for the next event with the NMCA moving on to Beech Bend Raceway for the 17th Annual NMCA Quick Fuel Technologies Bluegrass Nationals presented by Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center May 17-20. The event plays host to the Dave Duell Classic, a Nostalgia Super Stock event of epic proportions, as well as the second round of the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series featuring the LSX Shootout.