Describing the 2022 Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival and NMRA World Finals is quite the task to undertake. Imagine a music festival, but instead of musician’s instruments being broadcast through loudspeakers, almost all the sounds are emitted from Ford-powered vehicles. It’s a theme park of Ford’s involvement in motorsports, ironically located next to, well, a theme park. It’s a four-day salute to Ford and the enthusiast who passionately back the Blue Oval.
Depicting this scene in an editorial is like running the gauntlet of ADHD. So, instead of allowing my post-event scatterbrained mind to induce the same feelings of over-excitement, I’ve decided to break up my Holley Ford Fest and NMRA World Finals into where they were held on the grounds of Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Ford engines are known for making fantastic power and what better way to showcase it than racing down the dragstrip. Further pushing the envelope at Holley Ford Fest is the fact it’s run in conjunction with the last stop of the NMRA racing series. Throughout the weekend cars of all classes could be found racing down the well-prepped strip in hopes of taking their respective class titles.
Judging by the stands, everyone loves seeing the VP Racing Fuels Madditives Renegade cars blasting into the mid-four second range in the 1/8-mile. However, it was the TREMEC Stick-Shift Shootout and Suncoast Performance 8.60 Street Race class that were stealing the limelight.
The TREMEC Stick-Shift Shootout boasted an added level of difficulty, as each participant was banging the gears in their TREMEC transmission to the finish line. While Mike Niehaus qualified as the quickest stick car in True Street, it was Skyler Hardy in his Nitrous Outlet equipped hatchback that would take the win in the finals over Niehaus.
The Suncoast Performance 8.60 Street Race class has been the hot topic of NMRA racing in the last few months. This can be attributed to how relatable the class is for the average racer and how many cars entered. This class provided extremely close racing between 26 drivers with the likes of Casey Shotwell, Autumn Schwalbe, Leticia Hughes, Matt Ballard, Terry Reeves, and more. In the end it would be Randy Thomas taking the win over Matt Ballard with an 8.654 to Ballard’s 8.656.
For enthusiasts seeking motorsports with turns involved, the oval arena provided the perfect mix of autocross, 3S challenge, drift, and even circle track racing! Throughout the weekend you could catch the action from all angles with a concrete wall and fencing protecting you.
The majority of autocross racers were also signed up for the Grand Champion competition. The Grand Champion challenge would not only pin the drivers skill in autocross, but also allow them to compete in the 3S and drag racing competition to tally up final scores. In the end it would be Foxzilla’s owner Preston Folkestad that would snag the win in his 7.3-liter Godzilla powered Fox Body Mustang GT.
Every so often a large plume of smoke and the sound of tire squeal would erupt from the arena. Thankfully, it was just the noise of the drift event taking over the large lot. An abundance of Mustangs ranging from Fox Body to S550 would slide across the pavement as the course was adjusted throughout the day. If at any point seeing the precision driving skills of drifters wore off, Vaughn Gittin Jr and crew would bring out the Ford Performance ULTRA-4 Bronco and provide a four-wheel smoke show as the RTR Mustangs trailed nearby
The last attraction to the arena was the return of the Ford Festival 50. A 3/8-mile short course circle track would allow pro drivers to race against local circle track racers in a 50 lap battle only using modified Crown Vics. While this ended up being a demolition derby at some point, seeing the large frame sliding around corners and hauling through straight sections was a spectacle to see. After the smoke and debris was cleared, it was Chuckie Balmer in his dreamsicle orange Crown Vic taking first place.
The Dirt Track
Every year since 2021, Holley has brought out the heavy equipment to clear an off-road section. At the 2021 Holley Ford Fest, the jumps were built with ULTRA4 Broncos in mind and made for some hair-raising moments for those seeking thrills in their lightly modified off-road vehicles. This year the crew mellowed out the jumps which allowed for more a-typical off-road vehicles to enter the course.
As the legendary BigFoot crushed cars and obstacles in front of spectators, the foreground provided an ultimate off-road course that combined steep climbs, banked turns, and jumps. Long-travel Rangers and Raptors railed through the dirt, while the occasional lifted Mustang and Crown Vic hit the trail roosting dirt and sliding sideways. The final section of the course combined a downhill slope before a jump allowing vehicles to catch some air time.
The Holley Ford Fest has always brought out some of the finest cars. If you attend enough events throughout the United States, you’ll begin to see trends that stay with that region. Holley Ford Fest is different though. Throughout the rolling green hills of the Beech Bend Raceway grounds classic cars can be found with unique body work and reach past conventional swaps. The focus on Fox Body Mustangs have migrated from wheels and a supercharger to full concours restorations. Meanwhile, the SN95 is starting to enjoy some of the light being shared by a new generation of enthusiasts.
An Event To Attend
Holley Ford Fest and NMRA is an all you can eat buffet for the eyes and ears of Ford enthusiasts. Almost all motorsports are represented and the best part of it is its Ford engines only. Everything is within walking distance and the weather this time of year provides a cool breeze, plenty of options for food and drink and entertainment for the whole family. If the Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival and NMRA World Finals are not on your list for 2023, you might want to add it.