Photos and text by Rafael Martin
The NMRA kicked off the beginning of its 2018 racing season over a weekend of beautiful weather in Bradenton, FL, at Bradenton Motorsports Park. Racers from around the country came to test, tune, and aimed to take a win after spending the winter making various changes to their cars and racing programs for the upcoming season.
For the uninitiated, like myself, the NMRA accommodates fans of speed, smoky burnouts, and Mustangs of all generations with a slew of classes, ranging from street cars to full-blown turbo or supercharged Ford-powered space frames. The various classes allow for close competition and encourage access from beginners all the way up to professionals.
Upon arriving to the track on Sunday, I decided to start my day by walking the premises to take in everything that was going on. Outside of the fences on either side of the track and the burnout box, spectators are free to roam the premises as they wish. This gives attendees the opportunity to get up close to the cars, the drivers, and the teams as they prep and work on their cars. It’s a very friendly atmosphere, and everyone was very approachable, which isn’t necessarily the case in many other sports.
Looking around, it was clear that cars and speed have a funny way of bringing people from various walks of life together. The grandstands proved to be well represented including kids, seniors, men, and women. I overheard discussions ranging from people reminiscing about their former days of drag racing in their garage-built high school car, to those still in high school currently trying to build their own car.
There were many vendors with tents around the park showing off their latest products and cars, as well as a swap meet for fellow Mustang owners and racers to buy those parts they’ve been looking to score a deal on. There’s always a chance someone will bring that rare gem you’ve had a hard time sourcing!
By the afternoon, the sun was beginning to take its toll. Even this pooch decided to take refuge in the shade.
Having never been to an NMRA event before (heck, I haven’t even been to too many drag racing events before), I was a bit skeptical of the whole thing going into it. Just Mustangs? While that didn’t turn out to be the case, I was quite happy to realize how diverse the field was, and yet how competitive the classing made the racing. I’d call that a success!
John Urist ran his best time yet in the Turn 14 Distribution-sponsored S550 Mustang with a 4.42-second pass at 166 mph! Cutting lights on all of his competitors, he was able to advance into a semi-final battle with Manny Buginga. During this race, he charged into the lead with his nose in the air, but had to pedal out mid-track.
In the finals of the VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw class, Andy Manson took home the win after contending with Buginga. Manson also posted a new record for the NMRA Street Outlaw class with a run of a blistering 4.29-second pass.
In the Edelbrock Renegade class, Bart Tobener took the top podium, edging out Frank Varela, who took the runner-up position.
In the ProCharger Coyote Modified class, Haley James took home first with a blazing 7.62.
For the new Steeda Limited Street class in the heads-up categories, Kelly Shotwell’s abilities took him to the winner’s circle.
G-Force Racing Coyote Stock saw Tyler Eichhorn work his way to the top of the podium after knocking out Darin Hendricks in the quarter finals, and Clair Stewart, for the win.
Dan Ryntz took home the top spot in the Richmond Gear Factory Stock class, Kevin McKenna took first in Race Star Wheels Ford Muscle, Tim Hamilton won ARP Open Comp, and Charlie McCullough won the Exedy Racing Clutches Modular Muscle class.
In the Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning class, Bob Cochran and James Steamer fought it out, but it would be Cochran who came out victorious as Steamer jumped the light by .008 seconds. Cochran’s ’48 F1 truck is probably one of the coolest cars to see line up on the strip, impressing any skeptics with a solid wheel stand! Don’t let its looks fool you!
Defending champion, Marvin Knack, continues to have a firm hold on his title, as he won the first round of the new season in the Roush Performance Super Stang class.
In QA1 Street, Randy Seward took the overall win with an average of 8.37 seconds. Other winners in their respective time classes were Don Julio in the 9 second group, Carl DiBlasi in the 10 second group, Connie Greiner in the 11 second group, Robin Whiteford-Quinton in the 12 second group, David Berry in the 13 second group, Aaron Donton in the 14 second group, and Rodney Ward in the 15 second group.
For those that prefer to “row” their own gears, the Tremec Stick Shift Shootout pits the top 8 cars in the True Street class and gives them another opportunity to take home some bragging rights. This go around, Karl Goin came out victorious, and took his spot at the winner’s circle.
At the end of the day, winners were crowned, and the 2018 Springbreak Shootout came to a close. The next stop in the NMRA calendar is at Atlanta Dragway, in Commerce, GA, April 5-8, and Front Street will be there to bring you our take! For now, check out the gallery of Bradenton images below: