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Race Wrap | Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming

Posted By: Mary Lendzion
Written by Mary Lendzion
Photos by Steve Turner and Rudy Rouweyha
As the Holley NMRA Ford Nationals celebrates 25 years in 2023, the race season is creating new memories and merriment, and that was apparent at the 3rd Annual Mickey Thompson NMRA Ford Homecoming, June 9-11, 2023 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

"My team and I were happy to be part of the 25th anniversary of the NMRA," said Bill Bader Jr., president of Summit Motorsports Park. "We were proud that the series chose Summit Motorsports Park as the place to celebrate its major milestone in motorsports."

In addition to racing, the well-attended event in the Buckeye State was bustling with extra elements, including the Cobra Jet Reunion presented by and Ford Performance, 30th SVT Reunion, 40th Saleen Reunion, Harland Sharp Fox Body Reunion presented by Foxy Events, and the Anderson Composites Ford Off-Road Alley, among others.

Cars made crazy turns in the Maximum Motorsports All-Ford Autocross produced by AutoXperts, and the original Bigfoot and Bigfoot #19 made a boisterous appearance, with Bigfoot #19 crushing cars.

"To make this event even more special, we made sure that it was multifaceted, and we were happy to see racers and race fans enjoying the variety of offerings, from the racing to the autocross and the car-crushing," said Rollie Miller, NMCA General Manager, and National Event Director. "This definitely added fuel to our fire."

NMRA racers went for the gusto to gain points toward championships, and to get to the winner's circle at America's Racetrack.

In VP Racing Madditives Renegade, Martin Connelley and Terry Wilson wheeled to 4.612 and 4.616 to take the numbers-one and -two spots respectively in qualifying. Connelley, of Salyersville, Kentucky, and Wilson, of Pittsboro, Indiana, were fierce through four rounds of eliminations, and Connelley earned another trip to the NMRA Winner's Circle with a 4.61 to Wilson's right-there 4.59. 

Reigning Whatever It Takes Transmissions Parts Limited Street champion Samantha Moore, who is the current record-holder in the category with a 7.830 and 175.58, muscled to another 7.83 to set the pace at this event. The Michiganian kept her nose to the grindstone through the final round of eliminations, where she won with a 7.83 over Stacey Roby, who raced his Mustang to a 7.99.

In his T-Bird recently transformed into a Bob Glidden tribute car, Chad Stephens secured a 9.76 to lead qualifying in Coyote Stock. Four hard-fought rounds later, Stephens staged alongside Ed Bennett for the final round of eliminations and made fans wonder if his huge holeshot would help him win, but Bennett got around him and won with a 9.76 to Stephens' 9.88.

Matt Williams went wheels-up and landed at a 10.14 to lead qualifying in Richmond Gear Factory Stock, and later got to the final round of eliminations. There, he leaped off the starting line alongside Mike Bowen, and in a nail-biter of a race, Williams went across the finish line first with a 10.15 to Bowen's oh-so-close 10.17.

In the engrossing SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race, where the number of racers running so close to the class limit shows how well they have their combinations set up, Brian Larsen led qualifying with an 8.607. When the final round of eliminations rolled around, however, Gavin Black and Rick Baum went nose to nose. Black beelined to the win with an 8.76 to Baum's 8.79.

The final round of eliminations in Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle featured Chris Graff and Adam Cox, whose whole family was cheering him on this weekend. Graff grabbed the win with a 12.37 on a 12.27 over Cox, who broke out with a 9.97 on a 9.99.

Two longtime NMRA racers, Andy Ransford and Marvin Knack, staged for the final round of eliminations in HP Tuners Super Stang, and Ransford advanced to a dramatic win with a 13.46 on a 13.44 dial over Knack, who ran 12.51 on a 12.40 dial.

The trucks have a ton of character in CJ Pony Parts Truck and Lightning, and their drivers have a ton of commitment. Bryan Parker and Mike Motycka belted in for the final round of eliminations, and Parker picked up the win in the double-breakout bout with a 12.22 on a 12.25 to Motycka's 12.04 on a 12.13.

Nearly 50 racers showed up for a showdown in ARP Open Comp, and as always in that category, they were dialed in. The final round of eliminations featured accomplished racers Gordon Harlow and Jon M. Pickering, and Harlow ripped off a .005 reaction time and ran right on his 10.22 dial to defeat Pickering.

Reigning Ford Muscle champion Danny Towe, a longtime class competitor, told us that he still gets a case of the nerves while racing. However, he managed to quell them in time for the final round of eliminations at this event. The South Carolina resident ran to an 11.78 on an 11.75 index to defeat John Butsko, who ran faster than his 12.25 index.

Racers celebrated the 30th anniversary of Circle D Specialties True Street by going for a 30-mile cruise before returning to Summit Motorsports Park and making three back-to-back passes down the strip. Mike Jovanis, a battle-tested competitor behind the wheel of a wicked-fast car over the years, was the overall winner with an incredible 8.13 average in his blue Mustang. Chris DeRosa was the runner-up with a 9.55 average. Also winning this weekend were Jeff Smith (10-second), Felix de la Iglesia (11-second), Steve Hansen (12-second), Timothy Miller (13-second), Mike Cathan Jr. (14-second), Procopio Cusumano (15-second winner).

In King of the Street, featuring the eight quickest drivers in Circle D Specialties True Street, Mike Jovanis of Wall Township, New Jersey, held court with a 4.95 blast in the eighth mile to defeat Jeff Maggs, who clocked a 6.31.

Steve Trombley was ready at the hit and recorded a perfect .000 reaction time in the Watson Racing Cobra Jet Showdown to top the qualifying sheet. However, Ed Brown and Steven Hall hung tough all weekend for a final-round appearance. Brown went to the winner's circle with a nice .006 reaction time and an 8.75 top-end time to Hall's 10.27.

The TREMEC Stick-Shift Shootout, which is in its tenth year, is always a captivating category. At this event, Scott Triolo of New Jersey slammed gears to the win with a 10.49 over Jeff Smith, who sailed to a 9.38.

Gabby Lujan, who made the trip from Miami, Florida, drove her Mustang GT to a 9.28 average for the overall win in TREMEC All-Female True Street. Danielle Post put herself in the runner-up spot with a 10.28 average. Other winners included Kelly Bartlett (10-second), Kimberley Wood (11-second), Andrea Woolard (12-second), Danielle McGraw (13-second), Heather Flanagan (14-second), and Elaine Moistner (15-second). 

The special GT500 Street presented by Coastal Dyno, Palm Beach Dyno, Beefcake Racing, and ZPE GripTec put the spotlight on Dylan Royer and George Tisdale in the final round of eliminations, and Royer wrapped up the win with a 10.25 after Tisdale tripped the red light by a scant -.009.

Jamey Holcombe and Billy Franklin pulled up to starting line for the final round of eliminations in GT500 Shootout Unlimited presented by Coastal Dyno, Palm Beach Dyno, Beefcake Racing, and ZPE GripTec, but Franklin turned on the red light and then ran into trouble on the top end of the racetrack, where a cloud of smoke signaled potential parts damage.

Bracket racers dialed in for two days of Bracket Mayhem. On Saturday, Nick Scheckelhoff defeated Jerry Spoor with a dead-on 6.28 in Bracket 1; Summit Motorsports Park racer John Gregory, who excelled in NMRA competition through the years, earned the with a .026 reaction time and dead-on 5.94 after Nick Schecklhoff turned on the red light in Bracket 2, and Bill Saylor won when Daniel Imhoff had trouble in Bracket 3

On Sunday, Gary Varney outran Scott Maschari with a dead-on 5.54 in Bracket 1; John Gregory backed up his win on Saturday with another win on Sunday, this time with a 6.16 on a 5.94 against Ernest Sawyer in Bracket 2, and Brian Flanagan beat his brother Kevin Flanagan with a 12.46 on a 12.43 in Bracket 3.

Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales Jr. Street found Jaden Dietsch and Hayden Roby in the final round, and both turned on red lights. Dietsch picked up the win with a lifting 9.51 on a 9.40 in the eighth mile while Roby had an off-pace pass.

NMRA sincerely congratulates the winners and appreciates the racers, race fans, and sponsors for supporting this exciting event. The action will continue when NMRA joins NMCA for the TorqStorm Superchargers NMRA/NMCA Power Festival presented by Paul's High Performance, July 20-23 at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan.

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