What do you get when you combine all-Ford drag racing, drifting, autocross, and more in one four-day event? The 22nd Annual NMRA World Finals and Holley Intergalactic Ford Festival was arguably the greatest Ford event of the season, and it took place this past weekend (October 1-4, 2020) at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky. With a wooden rollercoaster as its backdrop, Beech Bend Raceway Park hosted hundreds of Fords and thousands of Ford fans for the adrenaline-packed weekend.
In addition to tons of drag racing action, Vaughn Gitten Jr. and Chelsea DeNofa were on-hand to tear up the tarmac during drifting exhibitions. There was a burnout competition, Grand Champion competition, and Cleetus McFarland put on a Festival 50 Crown Victoria race. Bigfoot 5 was on display, as was Ford’s all-electric Cobra Jet 1400. There was certainly no shortage of things to see and do.
If you’re an NMRA fan, we know what you’re here for. Here’s the race wrap for the World Finals!
A rookie in the VP Racing Street Outlaw class, Steve Halprin demanded attention all weekend, running in the ballpark of 4.3-seconds in the eighth consistently. Qualifying in the number one spot was Tony Hobson with a 4.26, but Halprin skated through eliminations to match up against Dom DiDonato in the finals. Haprin was victorious, gaining his first NMRA event win!
In Edelbrock Renegade, veteran Joel Greathouse took the number one qualifying spot in his Fox-body with a 4.58. In the final round, Greathouse would find himself pitted against Eric Bardekoff’s 2016 Mustang, which unfortunately encountered technical difficulties, giving Greathouse a broke bye to the winner’s circle.
Bill Putnam has become a bit of a legend in JDM Engineering Limited Street with his quarter-mile times consistently at the top of the class charts. Putnam once again found himself at the top of the qualifying sheet with a 8.300 pass, advancing to the finals against Chad Wendel. He was victorious with a 8.33 to Wendel’s 8.43.
G-Force Transmissions Coyote Stock is always a class to keep your eye on, and this weekend was no different. Kevin McMullin brought his SN95 Mustang up on the bumper before landing on top of a retaining wall during eliminations (the video of this wild pass is a must see!). In the top qualifying spot was Chester Drake with a 9.98. He met Drew Lyons in the final round, where Lyons would clinch a .006 reaction time and run down the track on two wheels. Drake managed the win with a 10.02 to Lyon’s 10.48.
John Leslie Jr. took the top qualifying spot and the “W” in Richmond Gear Factory Stock! His 10.12 was enough to top the qualifying sheet, and when he went up against Justin Fogelsonger in the final, Leslie beat him off the tree for a 10.15 to 10.17 victory.
In Exedy Racing Clutch Modular Muscle, it was Gary Parker and Jason Henson in the final round. Parker was quicker on the tree, granting him a win light.
ARP Open Comp is a super popular class in NMRA, and each race, it’s anyone’s game. This time, it was Greg Cole and Chad Scholten in a Fox-body final round, and Cole was the winner.
The top qualifying spot in Detroit Locker Truck and Lightning was a 0.002 reaction time belonging to Dave Cole, who advanced all the way to the finals to meet Fred Wade. Wade would get the better of Cole to take the win.
The street car belonging to Kevin McKenna pulled off a win in ROUSH Performance Super Stang this weekend, after turning out low 10-second runs throughout the event. He defeated Pete Espeut in the final round before driving the Mustang back home to Indiana.
In Fastest Street Car Magazine Ford Muscle, it was Clyde Dunphy’s 1972 Mach 1 that would reign victorious over Lloyd Mikeska in the final round.
The NMRA World Finals features two special shootout classes: the Mickey Thompson Cobra/Terminator vs. GT500 Shootout and the Hellion Turbo Battle. In the first, Ryan Aycock posted the quickest qualifying time with a 7.56. Aycock advanced to the finals to battle Dwayne Hickman’s supercharged GT500, and Hickman’s holeshot advantage handed him the trophy, even though he ran a 7.75 to Aycock’s 7.68. Meanwhile, in the Hellion Turbo Battle, Donato Sierchio’s street registered 7-second Mustang qualified at the top with a 7.31. He defeated James McCord in the finals with a 7.28 to McCord’s 7.44.
QA1 True Street always draws Ford street cars out in droves, and it was no different in Bowling Green. Over 140 cars teched in for competition, from 7-second and 8-second cars to your run-of-the-mill and stock street cars. Many of the quickest cars bowed out early, and it was Jason Wagoner who took the overall win with an 8.964 average. A 2011 Mustang GT driven by Dan Saitz took the runner-up position with a 9.019 average. Daniel Rosner tackled the 9-second time slot win, with Bob Myers’ Mercuri Capri named the 10-second winner, Tim Apple was the 11-second winner with an 11.043 average, and Gary Johnson went 12.005 to win the 12-second slot. Clint Plummer’s 13.015 average was just the ticket for the 13-second win, Richard Shannon Doyle brought home the trophy for the 14-second category with a 14.009, and Brian Flanagan averaged 15.026 for the 15-second win.
From QA1 True Street came two additional classes for the quickest of the quick. GForce Performance Engineering King of the Street brought together the overall winners from each True Street competition, the winner of the Spring Break Shootout, and the runner-up from True Street at Bowling Green for the ultimate head-to-head throwdown. In the finals, Spring Break Shootout winner Donato Sierchio and St. Louis True Street winner Randy Thomas faced off, but Sierchio would seize the win in his turbo Fox-body (for his second win of the event). The second class, the TREMEC Stick Shift Shootout, pitted the eight quickest manual cars from True Street against one another. This year, Tim Casto would win the title over 2019 winner Mike Niehaus.
Chris Rolls drove himself to a win in brackets over James Meredith when Meredith turned on the red light. The two were competing in brackets with the Capri Club of North America.
The NMRA champions are usually honored at a special award ceremony during the PRI Show in Indianapolis each year. Unfortunately, the tradeshow is cancelled this year, so NMRA compromised by honoring the champions in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle at the end of the day on Sunday. The 2021 season will kick off at the 27th Annual NMRA Spring Break Shootout at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida from March 4th to 7th, and we’re already counting down. See you there!