News flash! FFW held an event in Orlando , FL and it wasn't rained out. Actually, the weather was absolutely beautiful with a lot of sun and 85 degrees - just what the racers and fans living in the Northeast and Midwest were looking for.
The event went off without a hitch. If the Spring Break Shootout, presented by Muscle Mustang & Fast Fords magazine, is any indication, the 2004 season will be a humdinger. New cars, new racers, old friends, new records; what a way to get started. The spectators were three deep at the fence on both days. Let's jump right in and do a recap.
Everybody knows that the FFW Events always have great looking cars in the All Ford Car Show. This year, FFW has a new Car Show Class Sponsor, UPR (Unlimited Performance Racing Products) out of Lake Worth , FL. There were over 160 Fords in the UPR Car Show between Saturday and Sunday.
The Riley's Nostalgia winners were Jim and Wanda Ring. Mike Showhill was the Manufacturer's Choice. The Track Choice and People's Choice was Stephen Snyder. The Promoter's Choice was Marcio Silva. The MM&FF Editor's Choice ('78 and earlier) was Ashley Weiss, ('79 and later) was Michael Kidd. The Turbo & High Tech Performance Editor's Choice went to Hector Navarro. The Mustang Brand Team Award and Best Engine went to Steve Procko. Mark Bender took the Best Interior. Best Paint went to Sam Richards and the Best Mustang ('94 and later) went to Lee Dixon. The Class Winners will be listed on the FFW website (funfordevents.com) in a day or so.
Another new sponsor this year is Roush Performance. Roush is the sponsor of the three FFW Bracket Classes, Fast Fords, Quick Fords and Street Fords. The Bracket Classes always have an abundance of super cars and dedicated racers, making it a real accomplishment to take home the bacon. This event had a first. One racer, Wayne Bunker, was the Quick Ford winner on both Saturday and Sunday. Quick Ford is a foot-brake class, and to win both days is no small feat (no pun intended).
As usual, the first race of the new season has the Spring Break Shootout class, presented by MM&FF magazine. This class (sponsored by Pro50.com) is similar to True Street (without the 30-mile cruise), except the format is “heads-up”. There were 22 entries, with Mike Wadsworth holding the #1 Qualifying position with an 8.376 at 166.20. Unfortunately for Mike, he went down in the first round. The eventual winner was Glenn Adams. Glenn saved his best run for last with a 9.043 at 153.13. The runner-up was Bill Kieler with his unbelievable '89 Lincoln , which ran in the 9's all weekend long.
Now, on to the FFW Showdown Classes.
Starting with the Mr. Gasket Pro Class, Joe Dasilva's twin turbo Mustang from Toronto , Canada was the #1 Qualifier with a 6.526 at 220.42. The Pro class had a field of nine racers, with every different kind of engine combination. There were turbo cars, twin turbo cars, nitrous big block and mountain motor big block cars. John Gullet and Chuck Samuel entered their single turbo Mustangs. Ben Hopko ran his twin turbo '96 Probe (with a paint job that must be seen to be believed). Chuck Simons pulled his nitrous big block out of his Probe and installed it into a beautiful new Cougar. Tony Gillig (last year's Pro Champion also had a new car, this time with an 800+ inch big block engine. And Pete Berner, John Nobile and Chuck Demory were also at Orlando running in IHRA Pro Stock trim.
With the sun beating down on the track all day, Eliminations were going to be tricky. In Round-1 it was Samuel over Hopko, Gillig over Demory, Nobile over Berner, Gullet over Simons and Dasilva on the bye run.
Round-2 had Nobile on the bye, Samuel over Gullet (red bulb) and Dasilva over Gillig (broken sprag in the trans).
In the Semis it was Dasilva over an oh-so-slow staging Nobile and Samuel on the bye.
And in the finals it was Samuel with a 6.588 @ 216.97 over a slightly quicker and faster Dasilva, with a 6.570 @ 218.81. Joe was just a tick slower (.033) on the tree.
A little added excitement this year in the Pro class is the Pro Challenge Lottery. At this event, the PCL was sponsored by fordpartscheap.com, one of the largest all Ford parts dealers in the country. The PCL awards the Pro Class winner a $1000 bonus, if he was also the #1 Qualifier. At this event, the #1 Qualifier (Dasilva) was the runner-up, and so, the $1000 purse gets rolled-over to the next event, in Atlanta , at which time the PCL will be worth $2000.
Moving on to the ProCharger Street Outlaw Class. A lot of pre-season attention has been focused on the S/O class this year, probably because of the return of Billy Glidden to FFW competition. Everybody knows that BG is tough to beat, and only the most serious racers are up for the challenge. Because the Spring Break Shootout is the first event of the season, and because the track had a ton of heat on it, the racers needed to be on their game to make some good numbers. Some of the racers had trouble hitting their previous best times so it may take an event or two before we see the ET's and speeds that we saw during 2003. Glidden took the #1 Qualifying spot with a 7.364 @ 185.18. Other S/O qualifiers included (in order) Dan Bills (beautiful new Mustang), Mike Calvert (new paint job with a “battleship” motif), Chip Havemann (a little weight reduction for 2004, the car, not Chip), Tim Essick (another super looking Mustang), Terry Strange (an '84 FOX chassis turbo combo), Tony Watkins (Oh too cool Mustang) and Travis Franklin with his red ProCharger Mustang).
In Eliminations in Round 1, it was Franklin over Havemann ( Texas match-up), Calvert over Watkins ( Georgia match-up), Strange over Bills and Glidden over Essick (broke).
Round 2 was exciting (a little too exciting). It was Franklin over Strange and Glidden over a spinning Calvert. Calvert had Glidden out of the gate (.481 vs. .519) but had the misfortune of having the throttle stick open and did a complete 360 degree loop (in the opposite lane). No damage luckily. On the other hand, Glidden's winning run was not without incident as he had his driver side door blow off at about 1000 feet.
After the usual thrash to refit the door (lots of duct tape), it was Glidden over Franklin in the finals. This match-up could have gone either way too. For some reason, Franklin could not get the boost up to where he wanted it to be.
The consensus of opinion from the Street Outlaw crowd is that Glidden had better be ready for Atlanta .
Here's news. Dwayne “Big Daddy” Gutridge was the #1 qualifier in the BFGoodrich Tire Drag Radial Class. Ten D/R cars came to send Big Daddy back to New Jersey without the winner's check. It didn't happen. In the finals on Sunday, it was Big Daddy over Michael Dees, 8.377 @ 174.48 to Dees 's 8.887 @ 160.71. However, Big can see that it isn't going to be an easy season for him this year. He is on everybody's “most wanted list”.
Here is another shocker. Not only did Chris Little miss the #1 Qualifying position in the ProCharger Street Renegade Class, (#3) he didn't win it either. Terry Cain was on the pole with an 8.404, 159.06. Twelve racers qualified for S/R, including (in order) Ronnie Wilson, Manny Geno, Jason Ardrow, Aaron Archer, Scott Pennington, Tommy “Superman” Smith, Hale Cameron, Maurice Banks, and Joe Robinson and Dan Schoneck (both with back-up street cars). In the finals it was Wilson over a hurt Cain.
Eleven racers qualified for the Edelbrock Street Bandit Class. Ken Compton led it off with an 8.890 at 153.06. Charlie Booze was right behind with an 8.952, 150.47 and then Matt Jones at 8.967 at 151.89. Other qualifiers (in order) included Kevin Toothman, Cale Aronson, Kurt Neighbor, Brad Brand (yes, that Brad Brand), Tim Eichhorn, Ryan Mally, John Sommerfeld and Rod Houck on the bottom (what?).
Between Saturday Qualification and Sunday Eliminations, it seemed like every other run was a record setting run. The #1 Qualifier, Compton went down in the Semis to Matt Jones, who in turn went down to the Class winner, Charlie Booze in the finals. Nobody could say that the track wasn't “working” given all of the 8-second S/B runs.
The Probe Forged Pistons Street Warrior Class had some heavy hitters for the opener. Rich Groh qualified #1 with a 10.232, 132.10. The 9's are just around the corner. Other qualifiers (in order) included John Scaro, Gene (I'm not cheating) Hindman, Kinson Cook, everybody's favorite cop, Officer Ron Bradley, Jeff (2-pedals only) Chambers, Darrell (nitrous?) Peterson, Bruce Bell and Kenny Gallman.
In the finals it was Peterson 10.294, 131.32, over a broke Groh.
In the Superchips Street Stang Class, “Mr. S/S” Tony Whetstone qualified on the pole with a 13.100 at 106.01. Right behind was Larry (I'm too old for this) Felts in a “rebuilt Mrs. Jones”. Larry qualified with a 13.172 at 109.01, which of course, upset everybody else in the class. With many of the S/S competitors running in the very low 13's, it was just a matter of time until someone dropped into the 12's. That honor, for now and always, goes to Whetstone with a 12.936 in the Semis. In the finals, Whetstone was the winner with William Edwards the runner-up.
The Vortech Focus Frenzy Class (Small Car; Big Attitude) had Hector Navarro qualified #1 with a 12.985, 107.25 (very big attitude). There were ten cars in the Class, and on Sunday, it came down to two (and Hector was not one of them, having gone down in the first round). The Class winner was Brandey Burd over Owen Spry. All you need to do to win is to be good. Brandey's best time during eliminations was 17.45 at 77 MPH.
The JDM Engineering Tough Truck Class had a whopping 33 qualifiers. That's a lot of tail gates. The huge fields in this class at all of the FFW events is a testament to the effort put forth by the Class sponsor, JDM. The JDM owner (and truck guru), Jim D'Amore is personally at all of the events, working on everybody else's trucks. At Orlando , Jim must have spent some time on his own Lightning, because he was the Class runner-up, to the eventual winner, Don Justus.
So, this leaves only the Steeda / Hyland Modular Motor Class. This Class had 51 qualifiers on Saturday, and after six tough rounds of competition, it was the Tennessee Tickler, Robert Hindman winning over runner-up Ozzie Alvarez.
This wraps-up the FFW Spring Break Shootout. And now it's on to Atlanta , GA for the 14 th Annual Peach State Nationals, April 16, 17 and 18.