This year the NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals, held at the scenic Maple Grove Raceway (Mohnton, PA), was moved to the end of the June and the racers and fans were met with the sun shining in the sky and warm weather. The legacy Ford event is the fourth stop on the six-race NMRA Ford Nationals tour.
At the top of the heap is VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw and every team had a battle with track surface temperatures, which reached temps as high as 141 degrees. C&D Autotech thrashed to get Dom DiDonato’s 2008 Shelby GT500 ready for this event and it paid off. He pushed the turbocharged 5.8L engine to the top of the list with a 4.530 at 168.58 mph. The Delaware racer used consistency to prevail against several heavy-hitters and found himself in the finals against Blake Copson, who was driving the MJM Lillian Realty sponsored Mustang. DiDonato took the stripe with a 4.510 at 166.95 mph to Copson’s 4.570 at 156.46 mph. It was DiDonato’s first trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle in nearly five years and his first time in Street Outlaw competition.
There was a fierce battle in Edelbrock Renegade between the nitrous, blower, and turbo camps in the 9-car field, which features rules similar to NMCA Xtreme Street and Ultra Street. Former Drag Radial racer Chip Provenza took the category win over the top qualifier Bob Zelenak, 4.815 at 148.12 mph to a tire-smoking 7.344 at 102.95 mph. ProCharger Modified Street saw record runs this weekend with several top supercharged cars dominating the competition. In the end, it was Brad Scherr and his ProCharger D-1X-powered Mustang taking the win over a tire-spinning Eric Bardekoff. Scherr’s 7.842 at 175.34 mph out ran a way off pace 9.151 at 168.28 mphperformance from Bardekoff.
It was a record weekend in Advanced Fuel Dynamics Limited Street with Bill Putnam setting the pace with a record-setting 8.715 at 153.56 mph and more than half of the field in the 8-second zone. Putnam would go out in the semifinals due to a broken transmission, leaving the door wide-open for current point’s leader and defending champion Michael Ciborowski. In the finals, Ciborowski unleashed another impressive run with an 8.725 at 155.65 mph to Michael Lewandowski’s 8.963 at 153.68mph effort.
Carlos Sobrino has been on a racing hiatus, but he had a “must-go” note written down for the Ford Motorsport Nationals. It was worth the trip as his G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock Joker race-car, with crew chief help from Rick Riccardi and Marco Ponce Jr. , pushed its way to the top of the 16-car field! Sobrino took down current point’s leader Clair Stewart II in the finals, a 10.229 at 130.99 mph to Stewart’s 10.313 at 129.22 mph. Surprisingly, the run was Sobrino’s first trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle in Coyote Stock competition.
Sharp reaction times and consistency are the highlights of the tight and competitive mid-10 second heads-up category called Richmond Gear Factory Stock. It appeared as if Justin Fogelsonger had it wrapped up with low ET in most rounds of racing, but defending class champion Dan Ryntz showed him that it is the whole package that matters. In a holeshot victory, Ryntz ran 10.399 at 127.64 mph to beat a quicker, but losing, 10.348 at 128.89 mph.
The championship Index classes saw major players exit competition in the early rounds, but in Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle, it would be two veteran racers squaring off. Charlie McCulloch topped Jason Henson and used an 11.007 on a 10.99 index to beat him to the stripe. Henson ran 12.094 on a 12.06 index in the finals, keeping it close at the stripe. ARP Open Comp saw two friends meet in the finals—Michiganders Tom Hoffman and Jim Johnson Jr. towed to Pennsylvania so they could race in the finals. A 10.475 on a 10.42 index claimed the win for Hoffman when Johnson broke out with a 10.532 on a 10.55 index.
Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning has become a true rivalry of truck styles—it is the Lightning group against the “other” pick-up trucks. Score one for the Ranger enthusiasts when Randy Conway grabbed another category win and celebrated in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle. This outing, he got to the stripe before Jon Plummer and his 2001 SVT Lightning—10.406 on a 10.29 index, while Plummer posted a 13.279 on 13.15 index.
Pete Espeut doesn’t run the complete NMRA schedule, but he is a force to reckon with when he does show up to compete in ROUSH Performance Super Stang. Wheeling a 2012 Mustang GT, Espeut managed an 11.976 on an 11.80 index to overcome the hard-charging 2015 Mustang GT of Robert Ball, who had run an 11.028 on a 10.84 index. In Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle, the racers select an index and try their hardest to get as close as possible without going quicker. It is a similar concept to Open Comp-style racing, but with fixed indexes. Newcomer Tony DiPietro drove his Fox-body right to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle when Carole Lissy went red. Both racers competed on a 10.75 index and DiPietro would’ve been tough to beat because he ran a 10.780 and cut a stellar .092 light.
The QA1 True Street field had 45 competitors brave the streets, despite the rainstorm on Saturday. NMRA officials moved the on-track competition to Sunday and Mike Jovanis became an 9-time class winner by topping the field with an 8.047 average. He also earned an invitation to the IDIDIT Performance King of the Street competition that will be held during the NMRA World Finals. Bill Unkel, who has attended every NMRA event in 2019, captured the Overall Runner-Up with a 10.084 average. Slipping into the 10-second bracket win was Ryan Bittel. Other winner’s include Corey Cunningham (11-second), Marvin Knack (12-second), Jerry Kratz (13-second), Andy Plummer (14-second), and Brett Zercher (15-second).
Three Bracket categories were contested during the Ford Motorsport Nationals—Fast Ford B1, Quick Ford B2, and Street Ford B3. Tom Terek topped the 1988 Thunderbird of Jack Grater in Fast Ford B1. Longtime NHRA Stock/Super racer Ray Scardelli pushed his Probe to victory over Jat Fitts in the Quick Ford B2 class. Jay Fitts captured the Street Ford B3 category win as he beat Raymond Goelz in the finals.
The NMRA series moves into the Midwest next month with the NMRA/NMCA Nitto Tire Super Bowl of Street of Street Legal Drag Racing and it goes down at Route 66 Raceway (Joliet, IL) over the weekend of July 25-28, 2019. For more information, visit www.NMRAdigital.com/IL Online tickets are available now, and spectators save extra when purchasing in advance! Click here!