NMRA’s 2021 Season Opener Goes Off with a Bang in Florida

The National Mustang Racers Association (NMRA) racing season began this past weekend at Bradenton, Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park. The BMR Suspension-sponsored event marked the 27th consecutive year of the race, otherwise known as the Spring Break Shootout, beginning on March 5th and running through March 7th.

The weather mostly cooperated, with the exception of a half day of rain on Saturday, thwarting attempts by track officials to fit in a fourth round of qualifying. However, relatively cool air temperatures and tail winds aided in the breaking of several records throughout the weekend.

Heads Up!

The quickest of the quick battled it out in VP Racing Madditives Street Outlaw, where a turbocharged 2002 Mustang piloted by owner Steve Halprin landed in the top qualifying spot to the tune of 4.249 at 170.28 mph. Halprin would advance all the way to the finals to compete against number two qualifier John Urist and his turbocharged S550, but even with a holeshot advantage, Urist would reign victorious with a 4.261 at 171.97 mph pass.

Next up, in Edelbrock Renegade, Bill Gregan’s ProCharged Fox-body took the top spot in qualifying with a 4.566 at 152.90 mph. As with Street Outlaw, it would be a first and second qualifier final round, where Charles Bartholme’s ’90 Mustang staged against Gregan, left the line last, but drove around his competition and soared to a 4.557 at 154.21 mph win.

JDM Engineering Limited Street saw several record-breaking passes over the weekend, including one from Samantha Moore, whose VMP-supercharged S197 Mustang would clench the number one qualifying spot and eventually the final victory over Kent Nine. The California Special fired off an incredible 8.194 at 162.68 mph pass in the class which had previously not even seen a pass in the 8.20 range.

G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock is always a crowd favorite, as the class pits its competitors against one another in the ultimate battle of the drivers. Nathan Stymiest’s quick 9.719-second pass at 137.53 mph put him in the top spot of the qualifying sheet, and he would go on to add another victory to his running list after knocking out Frank Paultanis and his 2004 Mustang in the finals with a 9.706 at 138.78 mph pass.

Rounding out the heads up classes, Richmond Gear Factory Stock found Mike Bowen sitting in the number one spot at the close of qualifying with his 1971 Maverick. The ’71 advanced to the finals against number two qualifier Justin Fogelsonger, who put Bowen on the trailer with his ’88 Mustang to a 10.153 at 131.48 finish.

Index Racing

Modular Muscle brought 21 cars to the track, and it was Darren Foster who pulled a triple zero reaction time out of his hat, clenching the title of top qualifier with his 2005 Mustang GT. It would be a battle of the Jasons in the finals though, with Jason Steamer and Jason Henson battling it out with their ’08 Mustang GT and ’03 Mach 1 respectively. Steamer would reign victorious.

Fastest Street Car Super Stang also qualifies based on reaction time, and Chris Parisi’s 0.005-second reaction put him in the number one spot. He would eventually defeat Lloyd Mikeska in the final round with a 12.089 on an 11.95 dial.

A total of 27 competitors took the track for ARP Open Comp, and unbelievably, two drivers would cut perfect 0.000 lights in qualifying: Greg Cole and his ’88 Mustang and Cameron Bowles with his ’72 Mustang. The final round pitted Woody Pack’s ’66 Mustang against Bradenton-local Steve Cannizzo’s ’67 and both drivers would break out, but Pack’s time was the lesser of two evils, granting him the win.

Yet another perfect reaction time was had in Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning by Bob Dill and his 2001 F-150. Mike Roup would counter Fred Wade in the final round, where Roup’s ’70 Ranchero would best Wade’s ’04 Lightning with an 11.362 at 118.72 mph.

Alan Hill piloted his ’87 Mustang to the top of the qualifying sheet in RacePagesDigital.com Ford Muscle with a 11.007 on an 11.00 index. Hill would advance to the finals against Bill Lee Jr.’s 1979 Fairmont. Unfortunately for Lee Jr., the Fairmont wouldn’t make the call in the finals, so Hill was granted a bye to the winner’s circle, even with a 10.945 at 122.05 mph break out pass.

True Street

Even with the rough weather on Saturday, QA1 True Street competitors showed up in force, with over 100 cars in attendance. The weather caused NMRA officials to cancel the usual 30-mile street cruise that proves competition streetability, choosing to air on the side of caution. Instead, all 100 cars idled for 15 minutes before making three consecutive passes without adjusting a single thing besides tire pressure (they aren’t even allowed to pop the hood). The three passes were then averaged to give each driver their final time. Donato Sierchio of New Jersey and his ’86 Mustang wowed the crowd with an 8.305-second average, taking first place. In second place was Larry Albright’s 1991 Mustang with an 8.409-second average.

Along with the overall quickest averages, awards were also given for individual “second” categories. The 9-second category was won by Don Walsh and his 2020 GT500, while the 10-second category winner was Scott Boda and his 2018 Mustang. Cary Shotwell’s ’17 Mustang was victorious in the 11-second index, and Maci Belcher (new racer and daughter of Renegade driver Becki Belcher) nailed down the 12-second category in a 2016 Mustang. Ray Eugenio won the 13-second index, and Rick Doern was victorious in the 14-second segment, with Stephen Priske rounding out the list of winners with his 15-second win.

Of the 100+ True Street cars, the top 16 fastest were invited to compete in a heads-up competition, with Donata Sierchio battling Larry Albright in the final, each in the 7-second zone. It would be Sierchio who came out on top with a 7.367-second hit to Albright’s 7.534.

The TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout specialty class pitted the eight quickest manually-shifted Mustangs from True Street against one another, awarding each of them with custom plaques and TREMEC jackets. The heads-up class was won by Florida-native David Leshay and his 1963 Galaxie with a 11.974 at 115.36 victory over Tyler Thornburg’s ’88 Mustang.

Paul Svinicki showed up to compete in the Cobra Jet Showdown with his 7.3-liter Godzilla-powered 2010 Cobra Jet.

Donata Sierchio’s 7.456-second pass at 183.89 dominated qualifying in the Mickey Thompson Street Car Challenge presented by Whipple Superchargers category. You’ve seen Sierchio’s name pop up a few times now, as his weekend in Bradenton was a very successful one. He added another win to his inventory with a 7.403 at 189.42 mph pass against second qualifier Randy Thomas and his 2010 Shelby.

The Watson Racing Cobra Jet Showdown showcased Ford’s factory performance, qualifying based on reaction times. Steve Trombley took the top spot in his 2013 Cobra Jet with his 0.005-second reaction time, and he went on to dominate the field. Number two qualifier Tony Jarvis met Trombley in the finals, where each Cobra Jet cranked out numbers impressively close to their respective 8-second dial-ins, but Trombley came out on top.

Finally, there was plenty of Bracket Open action on Sunday, with enough participants to warrant seven rounds of racing. In the finals, it was Jerry Norton against J.C. Cole, where Cole red-lit (-0.009-seconds) and Norton faced mechanical trouble. Norton was not able to complete a full pass, but still won after breaking the beams.

Racing resumes on April 9-11 at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, with the 13th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals. For more information and to purchase tickets in advance, visit NMRAdigital.com.

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About the author

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff got her start in automotive media while attending Rutgers. She worked for Roush Performance for a while, before eventually landing here at Power Automedia. Her Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox-body drag car is her prized possession.
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