Photography by Brian Hogan
And just like that, the 19th annual season of the NMRA drag racing series has come to a close. The All-Ford World Finals ended the season in its typical form, with broken records and top-notch racing action. The setting of Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, KY housed the spirited competition and played host to perfect weather and personal bests.
The community of racers in the NMRA put it all on the line with each event. Sacrificing not just their money, but also their time to compete in their respective classes. The cars don’t always cooperate and repairs take up majority of the time at the track, which adds to the stress of an already intense weekend.
The competition is made up of fourteen different classes including Street Outlaw, Renegade, Factory Stock, Coyote Stock, and Truck & Lightning just to name a few. Each are sanctioned by their own strict rules, in an effort to level the playing field amongst the racers in attendance.
John Urist started the week at his test session in Memphis, Tennessee the way no racer wants to—with transmission issues. After picking up parts in Mississippi, the team headed to Bowling Green, where they worked on the car for two days, installing their “old reliable” transmission. Everything must have been working well in eliminations, as he was able to run the Turn 14 Distribution-sponsored Mustang’s best time of 4.45 at 165 mph and take the win. The number one qualifier eventually knocked him out, while Urist tried to pedal out a 100 mph wheelie.
In VP Racing Street Outlaw, Manny Buginga got qualifying off to a rough start, having to change engines the night before the main competition. The Bridgewater, Massachusetts native finished the swap in time to clock the quickest qualifier with a 4.342 pass in his MJM Construction Corp ’03 Mustang. Later in the weekend, he faced his teammate Rich Bruder, who edged him out to win the class.
Just as he did in Edelbrock Renegade class at the Super Bowl, Frank Varela from the Hellion Turbo B-Team took the top qualifying spot with a 7.348-second pass at 185.31 mph. However it would be Bart Tobener and Alton Clements in the final race, with Tobener taking home the honors.
Again similar to Joliet in ProCharger Coyote Modified, it was Thomas Annunziata who claimed the number one qualifier spot in his LaRocca’s Performance ’14 Cobra Jet. Running a 7.696 at 177.72 mph pass granted him a new class elapsed time record, and a bye-run into the second round of eliminations. Annunziata wouldn’t have to fight much in the finals to claim the win, as his opponent Haley James red lit in the most crucial race.
It was a consistent class victory in the Steeda Autosports Limited Street class. With Kelly Shotwell clicking off the quickest qualifier with an 8.938 at 153.39, then running an 8.899 over Shawn Johnson in the finals for the class win.
Charlie Booze, Jr.’s 10.130 pass at 130.12 mph was good enough to earn himself and Justin Fogelsonger’s ’86 Mustang the top qualifying spot in the G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock class. Booze was able to check off four victories in succession, including a holeshot win against Jacob Lamb for the win in the finals.
In Richmond Gear Factory Stock qualifying, Matt Amrine’s ’98 Mustang took top spot of the group with a 10.604 at 126.13 mph. He progressed through eliminations and found himself in the finals against Bart Welte. Welte cut the light and got the holeshot, but Amrine caught and passed him for the class win with a 0.007-second gap.
Woody Pack’s perfect 0.000-second reaction time helped net him the number one qualifying run in an Aerospace Components Open Comp group with over fifty entrants! However, Jon Pickering would be crowned the champ after running a 9.431 at 125.55 mph on his 9.39 dial-in in the finals.
For the Detroit Locker Truck & Lightning class, Vinnie Telesco tripped the beams just 0.019-seconds after green—a reaction time good enough for the top qualifying spot. Unfortunately he would be eliminated in round two. Randy Conway progressed through eliminations and into the finals, where he faced Wade Trammel. However it would be Conway’s ’84 Ranger igniting the win light.
Another perfect light came in Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle class, when Rex Jamison topped the qualifying sheet with a 0.000-second reaction time on his run. In the finals it would be Charlie McCulloch and Donnie Bowles battling for class win. Unfortunately for the pair, the double breakout run would go in McCulloch’s favor as his opponent crossed the line 0.023-seconds too soon.
The NMRA Keystone Automotive drag series season closer was a massive success with racers finishing off the year in fine style. The 20th season of this incredible series is already set to begin again early in 2018 in Bradenton, Florida and we’ll see you there! For now, check out the gallery of images from Bowling Green below.