Written by Ainsley Jacobs
It is well into November and while most of the 2019 racing season is behind us, Justin Young and his Mod Motor Mustangs social media community are keeping the Modular/Coyote engines boosted and the tire smoke plentiful with their Mod Nationals, presented by Accufab.
The Mod Nationals is an annual event that started several years with the idea of bringing together the quickest modular-powered cars in the country, enjoyed its annual get-together at its home at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta, Georgia, over the weekend of November 14-17, 2019.
Rain made the racing tough but Mod Motor enthusiasts don’t quit, period. Everyone in attendance stuck with it, and even though qualifying and eliminations had to be run in one day a and track prep man Wade Rich busier than ever keeping the surface in good shape, the effort ensured that the race was run to completion on Sunday. Overall, more than a dozen class winners were crowned and over $50,000 in cash prize money was up for grabs – much of which was won by NMRA/NMCA regulars.
There was no doubt that Keith Rhea was the King of the 4-Valve, as the NMRA Hellion Turbo Battle regular put his Wonder Racing-backed ’04 Mustang at the front of the pack all weekend long with help from a new set of Bullseye Power turbochargers. Resetting the quickest modular-powered Mustang elapsed time record after qualifying had been finalized thanks to his outstanding 6.642 at 209.75 mph run, Rhea was closely followed by Justin Jordan who had gone 7.140 at 199.11 mph. The class also hosted Daniel Pachar, Rebecca Starkey, Brian “The Iceman” Devilbiss, and Oscar Morin.
The “Street” group of King of the 4-Valve racers went on to run their own eliminations, and the final round saw Devilbiss face off against Thomas Benavidez in a battle of the 2019 vs 2013 Mustangs. Benavidez broke, though, and enabled Devilbiss to blast past with an 8.555 at 160.63 mph final performance to bring the win back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The “Pro” group, however, saw Rhea continue his run for glory and nothing stood in his way. Although he had been hoping to run a 6.5-second pass over the weekend, he had to settle for a record and a win instead as he was able to slip past Kurtis Forsberg in the final elimination round despite maybe putting a little too much power into his tune up and having to battle wheelies as a result.
In Driver Mod “Street” eliminations, the finals hosted Joel Nystrom of Lake Worth, Florida, and Tanner Basye of Virginia and the two both ran all out with 10.3-second passes, but it was Nystrom whose ’04 Cobra got to the finish first. Floridian Driving his unmistakable “Minion” ’98 Cobra, Yandro Ulloa, took down every opponent in the “Pro” section and clicked off a winning 8.367 at 144.26 mph pass in the finals to defeat Taylor Hendrick by about a half a second.
Showing off the automatic transmission’s prowess, Monty Mullenix of Cleveland, Texas was the quickest during 6R80/10R80 qualifying and threw down with an 8.187 at 170.97 mph trip in his ’18 Mustang.
Once again, the class was segmented into “Street” and “Pro,” groupings, and in the Street bunch, Joe Glockner had the class on lock as he was the only man in the 8-second zone during eliminations. In the finals, Glockner who hails from Portsmouth, Ohio, put the hurt on Josh Flynt and continued on into the winner’s circle with an 8.791 at 162.82 mph time slip to make things official. Meanwhile, in the “Pro” pack, Austin Prather of St. Cloud, Florida, and his ’14 Mustang were absolutely unstoppable. Prather went against Mullenix for the last run of the weekend and had him both on the tree and at the stripe, 8.140 at 174.82 mph to 8.635 at 139.40 mph, earning the men the win and the runner-up finish, respectively.
Starting the All Blower “Street” eliminations, Rick Baum and his ’00 Mustang were working together to go rounds and the man from Lucas, Kentucky, was no match for the rest in the class. In the finals, Baum put Jason Wagoner back on the trailer and sent him home to Georgetown, Indiana, after a winning 9.316 at 146.08 mph was cause for celebration in his own camp.
The quickest of the bunch in All Blower “Pro” included Indiana resident Chad Wendel whose ’07 Mustang ran 8.682 at 156.28 mph, Tyler Eichhorn going 8.746 at 161.94 mph, Oscar Morin, Michael Ciborowski, Rebecca Starkey, Randy Thomas, and Brian “The Iceman” Devilbiss. Running like a darkhorse with his TVS supercharger-equipped ’14 Mustang, though, Ciborowski stole the show in eliminations when he delivered the knockout punch – a blisteringly quick 7.986 at 170.75 mph hit, his first in the 7-second zone – in the finals to defeat the Texas-based Morin and his ’16 Mustang in the opposing lane.
Heading into Heavy Street, Jim Braun of Clear Water, Florida, captured the coveted top position courtesy of a 7.879 at 175.91 mph effort in his ’12 Mustang. He maintained the advantage expertly throughout the duration of eliminations, and, after easily eclipsing four other drivers, repeated the feat for the fifth and final time in the finals to advance victoriously over Paul Albino.
In Open Comp qualifying, it was no surprise to see 2019’s NMRA Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle champion “The Professor” Charlie McCulloch of Kennesaw, Georgia, claim the number one spot with a quick 0.007-second reaction time behind the wheel of his ’04 Cobra. McCulloch went out uncharacteristically early, though, with an upset in round two and left the door wide open for another racer to lay claim to the glory. Nashville, Georgia’s own Brandon Wood was more than happy to do the honors, and he was able to wheel his Modular-powered Chevy S10 across the stripe ahead of Steven Daniels in the final round to turn the win light on in his own lane by going 9.991 at 126.92 mph on his 9.97 dial in with an 0.077-second light.
It was a small but mighty group that contested the Mod Outlaw class, and the two quickest qualifiers each earned spots in the final elimination pairing. There, the man from Marshfield, Missouri, Mr. Jim Lockwood, went 6.015 at 144.98 mph and picked up the uncontested win as Mark Meiring of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was unable to get down the track.
Coming all the way from Norwell, Massachusetts, with his ’19 Raptor, Stan Saunders was the number one qualified driver in Modular Truck by way of a 0.053-second reaction time while Nina Gusler slotted her ’01 Lightning into sixth. Saunters stayed in the game through the semi-finals, but Jim Roberts “JR” and Dan Sutter went on to battle it out for all the marbles. Running 12.355 at 104.73 mph on his ’17 F150’s 12.19 dial in, Roberts of Largo, Florida, was deemed the winner and Sutter settled for second.
Outlaw All Motor had many familiar NMRA drivers doing battle, but it was none other than NMRA G-Force Racing Transmissions superstar Darin Hendricks of Center Point, Indiana, and his familiar ’93 Cobra who took the number one position by way of a 9.764 at 135.41 mph pass. In second was Jason Sloan driving Tim Matherly’s ’02 Mustang, and Drew Lyons landed in sixth. Hendricks held on through to the finals after getting three round wins in a row, but Lyons rallied and was able to drive around Hendricks – who had the advantage at the start – to edge him out at the stripe in an impressive 9.776 at 135.21 mph to 9.811 at 136.14 mph showdown.
The Battle of the Underdog class was a fun one to run, with Tennessee-based racer Andrew Lavender landing at the top of the qualifying order thanks to his ’03 Mustang’s 8.177 at 169.21 mph run. Lavender left the show in the semi-finals, so it was up to the number two and number three qualifiers, Jeremy Rousseau and Bryan Hanson, to get on with the remainder of the show. Hanson had the hole shot advantage from the driver’s seat of his ’06 Mustang, and his 8.492 at 161.09 mph trip was no match for Rousseau’s runner-up 8.534 at 137.51 mph effort.
Congratulations to all of the event’s winners, runners up, to those who set new personal bests, achieved goals, or survivors who just didn’t blow their stuff up – see you next year!