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NMCA/NMRA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing Takes Over St. Louis

Blasting into The Gateway to the West, the NMRA and NMCA joined together for the 18th Annual NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing over the weekend of May 5-7, 2023, at the picturesque World Wide Technology Raceway just outside of St. Louis in Madison, Illinois. With the iconic Gateway Arch setting the stage in the backdrop for a truly special weekend, racers celebrated milestone moments, well-deserved wins, and everything in between.

In conjunction with the NMRA and NMCA’s famous drag racing action on WWTR’s quarter-mile track, Douthit Motor Sports brought not one but two incredible, flame-throwing jet engine-powered Funny Cars out for exhibition runs that packed the stands with spectators. Meanwhile, both the original Bigfoot monster truck and Bigfoot #8 graced the property with their presence and delighted fans all weekend long, and other special features such as the car show, vendor midway, and ultimate fan experience all provided ample opportunities for additional excitement with games, giveaways, and more.

The combined field of NMRA VP Racing Madditives Renegade and NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street made for some exciting action at World Wide Technology Raceway, and Terry Wilson topped the list thanks to a 4.537 at 154.30 mph pass in his nitrous-injected 1995 Ford Mustang. Wilson worked hard during the Testo Shootout, but it was Martin Connelley who instead claimed ownership of the Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring with a win there. Hunting for redemption, Wilson focused on the next hurdle in front of him – winning the race outright. In eliminations, he picked up four wins in a row to run against Steven Wardlow and his 1965 Chevrolet El Camino in the finals for all the marbles. Ready to settle the score, Wardlow ripped down the eighth-mile and found what he was looking for on the winning side of the track by way of his 4.618 at 154.26 mph run.

From start to stripe, defending class champion Samantha Moore took control of the Whatever It Takes Transmission Limited Street class. In qualifying, her ProCharger supercharged 2014 Ford Mustang California Special put down a leading run of 7.830 at 175.98 mph which gave the co-owner of Vector Motorsports the chance to run in the Testo Shootout. There, Moore clinched the win over Stacy Roby and earned a coveted Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring for her efforts. Moore’s wonderful weekend continued unabated, as she also won over Roby who red-lighted in the final eliminations pairing on Sunday. To cap off a picture-perfect event for the woman from Michigan, Moore also reset both ends of the class record on her way to the winner’s circle.

The crazy Coyote Stock antics were on display as usual this weekend, with wild wheelies and stick-shift mayhem across the class. After the qualifying order had been sorted, it was Vincent Dastra who took the lead by way of a 9.683 at 137.47 mph run behind the wheel of his 1992 Ford Mustang. After qualifying third, Ed Bennett of Michigan made big moves and won not only the Testo Shootout against Dastra but he also took down every opponent who dared line up against him and his 1991 Mustang in the main competition. In the finals, Dastra and Bennett met once again and each left the starting line with the wheels up on either side of the track, but Bennett snagged a big come-from-behind victory after Dastra got the hole shot advantage. When they crossed the traps, it was Bennett’s winning 9.850 at 136.68 mph pass to Dastra’s 9.906 at 135.95 mph effort.
 
Mike Bowen blasted his way to the top of the Richmond Gear Factory Stock qualifying list as he ran his Coyote-powered 1971 Ford Maverick out the back door to collect a 10.055 at 127.33 mph timeslip. Bowen met with the number two qualified driver, Mark Anderson and his 4.6-liter 2-valve-equipped 1986 Ford Mustang, in the finals where the two friends faced off as fierce competitors. Although they left the line side by side, Bowen’s car quickly made a big move to the left and Anderson went straight and true to secure the win with his 10.073 at 126.71 mph pass. Impressively, the win marked Anderson’s second of the weekend, as he took down Bowen in the Testo Shootout the day before as well.
 
The SunCoast Performance 8.60 Street Race category has been growing in popularity and in difficulty as more and more competitors throw their hats in the ring. Paul Sienkiewicz had no trouble, though, qualifying in the number one spot with his BigStuff EFI-controlled 1998 Ford Mustang Cobra that ran closer to the number than anyone else with an 8.610-second blast. His SN95 was on point on Saturday and helped its driver to take home a prestigious Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring after winning the Testo Shootout against Leticia Hughes. Casey Shotwell also had his 2016 Ford Mustang GT’s setup on point and got to take a trip to the final round where he staged against Sienkiewicz. Ultimately, though, Sienkiewicz slipped up at the start and Shotwell was gifted an anticlimactic win.
 
Always one of the NMRA’s most popular categories, ARP Open Comp had a plethora of powerful, pony-based entries. Jon M Pickering was just 0.001-seconds away from a perfect reaction time in qualifying, but his performance put him in the running for a Testo Shootout Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring. Pickering pushed his 1974 Ford Mustang II, but was usurped by Terry Haynal who scooped up the victory with his 1995 Mustang GT. Pickering, however, got a second shot at success in the final elimination round against Cameron Bowles, but it wasn’t meant to be as Bowles outgunned Pickering and blasted through the quarter mile with his 2005 Mustang in 9.902-seconds to head back to his home in Kentucky with the win.

Leading the way in HP Tuners Super Stang was the one and only Kevin McKenna, whose 0.014-second reaction time was the best of the bunch. His performance gave him the opportunity to run for a Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring in the Testo competition on Saturday against Marvin Knack, and McKenna made history for himself with a win. However, coming from lower in the order to contest the final elimination match of the weekend were Jerry Jones and Ray Williams Senior who had qualified twelfth and tenth, respectively. On their last run for the weekend, both ran slightly off their dial ins but Jones had the advantage on the tree and his 12-second 2022 Ford Mustang was able to trip the beams to trigger a win light while Williams’s 2012 settled him into second.

Bob Dill was nearly perfect leaving the line during CJ Pony Parts Truck & Lightning, as his 0.002-second reaction time put him in the number one spot for qualifying. Dill did his best against Johnny “Lightning” Wiker on the hunt for a Nitto Tire Diamond Tree Ring in a clash of class champions, but it was Wiker who walked away with the win. Later, Dill bowed out during eliminations, but Wiker, who had qualified third, and Danny Scheele, who had qualified eighth, got to run for glory on Sunday in the finals. There, the Pennsylvania-based Lightning showed his skill with an advantage at both ends of the track and translated his supercharged 1999 Ford Lightning truck’s 8.705 at 147.36 mph run on an 8.66-second dial in into a winning one.
 
Qualifying closest to his index of 13.25 with a 13.275-second run in FSC Ford Muscle, Andy Ransford didn’t get to go to the final round of the race but he did get to run in the Testo Shootout against Cindee Hall, and he was able to bring home a beautiful piece of jewelry there. Meanwhile, Anthony Jager with his 2020 Ford Mustang GT and Geary Bates with his 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 were the last two men standing as the weekend wore on, running on 11.50 and 11.00-second indexes respectively. Ultimately, it was Jager who had the reaction time advantage and got to head home to Ohio with a Victor trophy firmly in his grasp.

Modular power took center stage in Exedy Clutch Modular Muscle, and so did Susan Roush-McClenaghan. The woman from Michigan was absolutely unstoppable all weekend long and wielded her reliable, 9-second 2010 Ford Mustang expertly. In qualifying, McClenaghan mastered the tree with a perfect 0.000-second reaction time to not only gain a place in the Testo Shootout, but to also start eliminations from the number one position. True to form in each competition, McClenaghan was victorious and got to celebrate twice in as many days while James Meredith wrapped up his own weekend with his 1973 Mercury Capri and a respectable runner-up performance due to a red light in the final.

Street cars proved their prowess on Saturday, as a wide variety of makes and models completed the requisite Circle D Specialties True Street cruise before making three back-to-back passes on the dragstrip. Frequent winner Randy Thomas of Paducah, Kentucky, put his 2010 Ford Mustang GT500 into the leading spot when he accumulated an impressive average elapsed time of 8.647-seconds in the quarter mile and claimed the overall win. Not far behind was Jason Wagoner of Georgetown, Indiana, whose 2018 GT500 averaged 8.817 seconds and earned the runner-up bragging rights. Mike Post was the quickest in the 10-second group, averaging 10.021 seconds in his 2011 Mustang while Kevin Rowland won the 11-second category. In the 12-second group, Michael White was victorious and Makenna Oshinski did the same in the 13-second section.

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The NMRA Holley Ford Nationals drag racing series will continue its 2023 season on June 8-11 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, as the NMRA Ford Homecoming brings with it 25 years of NMRA history and tons of exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime reunions, meetups, and many more not-to-be-missed special events. For more information and advance tickets, visit NMRAdigital.com.

This story was originally published on May 8, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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