The War For the Victors Starts Now
The 6th Annual Nitto Tire NMCA Spring Nationals on March 31-April 2, 2017 kicked off the first of four battles in the VP Racing Fuels NMCA West Drag Racing Series where racers will fight for event wins and valuable points towards class championships. This season, the NMCA West added the Ultra Street Category to the championship roster, Limited Street was renamed Outlaw Street, and the usual array of heads-up and index classes was again joined by the Hotchkis Auto X presented by Nitto Tire giving spectators a variety of racing to take in.
The ProCharger Outlaw Street championship will go undefended for 2017 as last year’s winner, James Lawrence, sold his ride and plans to changes classes for 2017. Commandeering the field this weekend was Johnny Coleman who qualified on top with a 4.51 at 167 mph. He would fend of competitors for two rounds of eliminations before being matched up with Ryan Jones for the final. When it was time to run, Jones was broke and Coleman simply took the light for the win.
It was old-school muscle versus late-model power in ARP Outlaw 8.5 as George Raygoza and Tim Schmackpfeffer, number one and two qualifiers respectively, met up in the Nova-versus-Mustang final round. Just like a replay for the final qualifying numbers, Raygoza just barely edged out Schmackpfeffer for the win, 4.87 to 4.99.
Mike Silva looked to have an increasing amount of competition for 2017 as the undefeated 2016 Fastest Street Car Ultra Street champion qualified in second place with a 5.39 to newcomer Dan Dagata and his 5.27. Dagata would falter in the second round, however, while Silva cruised to the final and faced Brian Greenberg who had swapped his Ford Fairlane for a ’67 Mustang. The race was close with a 5.40-to-5.43 final round, and Silva continued his undefeated streak by treeing Greenberg, .121 to .361, and clicking off the slightly quicker elapsed time.
Less than a hundredth of a second separated Lucas Oil NA 10.5’s top qualifier, Ryan Bell, from his nearest competition after he clocked an 8.05 on Saturday. The surprise of the class, however, was Joe Keurjikian who qualified with an off-pace 9.42, but gathered his ’69 Firebird together for eliminations and a final-round appearance against Bell. The Corvette of Bell took a slight starting-line advantage, but Keurjikian’s Firebird motored past for the 8.04-to 8.13 win.
Regular Meziere Top Sportsman racer Troy Williamson had a great weekend in Fontana as he drove his 2000 Dodge Dakota to a final-round appearance against Bill Knudson and his ’82 Camaro. Both drivers left the starting line on kill, with Williamson clocking a deadly .001 reaction time, but Knudson was a little too quick with a -.029 red light that handed Williamson the event win.
The Champion Cooling Pro Comp final round came down to Matt Treadway’s ’63 Corvette squaring off against Kenny Snow’s dragster. Treadway went 9.901 on his 9.90 index and Snow was 8.901 on an 8.90 bid. The race result was therefore decided at the start, and it was Treadway who left for the win with an .037 light versus Snow’s slower .064 leave.
2016 NMCA West Open Comp champion Brent Calvert picked up where he left off in the class last year, as he achieved another final-round appearance at this first event of 2017. Squaring off against past NMCA West champion Greg Dreher, Calvert was .017 to Dreher’s .024 on the tree, and took the double-breakout win with his 8.673/8.68 performance compared to Dreher’s 9.910/10.00 effort.
Another 2016 champion that was again on top of his game was Jan Vanderpool, who found himself once again in the final round of the TBT Racing Products Street Comp category. There, Vanderpool faced Mike Sayle in a classic Mustang-versus-Nova battle. Sayle was quicker on the tree, but broke out of his 10.90 bid with a 10.86 elapsed time, while Vanderpool drove to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 10.45 on a 10.44 effort.
The final round of Edelbrock Super Quick was a nail biter for sure with Jay Shelton and Greg Hicks making their first appearance of the NMCA West season. Hicks was off the tree first by six thousandths, but his 7.828 on a 7.82 dial in wasn’t enough to overcome Shelton’s dead-on 10.700 on a 10.70.
After five rounds of tough competition, Marvin Roles was once again in a championship-winning form. In the final round of Calvert Racing Quick Street, Roles was .001 on the tree, which had Kelly Davis chasing him down the rest of the way down the track and eventually, but just barely, breaking out with a 10.058 run on a 10.06 dial in. Roles followed up his .oo1 light with a 10.148 on a 10.14 dial in for the win.
If one thing was apparent at this first event of 2017, it’s that the previous year’s champions were targeting backup championships as many of them took home wins, including Brent Calvert who grabbed a class win in Open Comp, as well as in Mustang Madness. In the final round of competition, Calvert’s Cobra Jet Mustang left with an .015 reaction time, which lead to a double breakout with Gary Moreno. Moreno was .073 at the hit, and his 10.828 on a 10.92 was deeper than Calvert’s class-winning 8.668 on an 8.67 dial in.
Classic Performance Products Nostalgia Street Car is always a tough class to be in, and the difference between winning and losing is usually determined within hundredths or thousandths of a second. In the final round on Sunday, Merle Williams pulled his shoebox ’55 Chevy into the beams to face Mike Nordahl and his ’64 Chevy II. Though the previous four rounds may have been tough, it was an easy win for Williams as Nordahl went -.007 red at the hit.
Gear Vendors True Street had a lot of quick car at the NMCA West Spring Nationals, and none was quicker that Bill Fowler, whose 1987 Mustang averaged 9.42 for the overall win. Dan Geis in his white Chevy II saw improvement in its quarter-mile performance, averaging a 9.71 for the runner up spot, and Morris Coleman grabbed the 9-second award with a 9/79 average. Taking home the 10-second plaque was Donald Halm in a 2016 Hellcat with a 10.26 average, Gary Goodner went 11.27 for the 11-second award, and Nick Cuaresma averaged 12.12 in his 1972 240Z. Slotting in for the 13-second win was an off-pace Mike Santa Cruz at 13.04, while Melanie Green drove her ’06 Mustang to a 14.05 average and the 14-second win. Rounding out the True Street prizewinners was Efren Himenez of San Diego, who averaged 15.11 in his Mustang.
In the Edelbrock Bracket Showdown on Saturday, Will Mangrum took the Super Pro win, Daniel McClelland grabbed the Pro award, and Charlie Allen grabbed the trophy in Sportsman. Sunday’s winners were Greg Hicks in Super Pro, Kelly Davis in Pro, and Frank Malone in Sportsman.
Just a stone’s throw from the dragstrip is where you’ll find the Hotchkis Auto X presented by Nitto Tire. The autocross, run by Rob and Trish of Racing Byrds, is chock full of American iron as well as a few imports and the competition is friendly, but fierce. Saturday Winners include: Sports Car Class – Steve Abbott 2004 Corvette Classic Muscle – Chad Ryker 1968 Camaro Modern Muscle- Greg Nelson 2015 Camaro Z28 Compact -Eric Sheely 2016 Ford Focus Truck -Wes Drelleshak 1959 Apache. On Sunday, the winners were: Sports Car Class -Jordan Priestley 2017 Corvette Grand Sport Classic Muscle -Mike Cuthbertson 1968 Camaro Modern Muscle -Greg Nelson 2015 Camaro Z28 Compact -Eric Sheely 2016 Ford Focus Truck -Brandy Phillips 1972 Chevy C10 Hotchkis Cup Winner -Greg Nelson 2015 Camaro Z28.
The championship chase continues in June when Auto Club Dragway in Fontana hosts the second round of the VP Racing Fuels NMCA West Drag Racing Series, the 7th Annual Lucas Oil NMCA West Coast Shootout.