Lucas Oil NMCA West Street Car Nationals
Over the past weekend, the Flowmaster NMCA West Street Car Nationals opened up on June 22, 2o12 with an entire event scheduled at the iconic, Famoso dragstrip. As the event opener, it was the first race of the season. What’s more, with NHRA “Wally’s” up for grabs, each competitor was all-in; laying down impressive runs in each class. While Wally’s were up for grabs, each competitor was also on the chase for points and the coveted title of World Champion.
From Friday through Sunday, racers from the West competed in a multitude of classes, including TREMEC True Street, ARP Outlaw 8.5, ProCharger 275, True 10.5, Drag Radial and the Garrett Turbo Pro Street classes, which seemed to be the highlight of the event. With six-second passes in store, locked up with 240mph traps, it was highly anticipated.
While Friday’s test and tune allowed for racers a chance to stretch their legs and fine-tune their setups, for some it back to the drawing boards.
By Saturday, each class was in full swing while Sunday’s final round of eliminations featured some door-to-door finishes. Of course, the event wouldn’t have been complete without the Jet Car class, which seemed to put everyone on notice. Can you say afterburner?
Not a driver? Not to worry. The Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield also catered to those on the lookout for those unique, hard to find parts and components in the Swap Meet area. What’s more, the event was also supports its racers with a complete Manufacturers Midway.
If you missed the opening event, we’ve got the entire coverage just below, including some backstage access to the pits and a congratulatory mention for our very own Editor, Mark Gearhart, who snagged the win in the TREMEC True Street Class. Additionally, the NMCA West race for the championship has just begun. This means four more events spread out from Pomona, California and finally ending up at the Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, California for the NMCA West World Finals. Sit back and hold tight, the season has just started!
In The Pits
Arguably, the action happening on the track can parallel what’s occurring behind the scenes – in the pits. For some participants, its a teams last-ditch effort to clean up a tune, make a repair or just to perform one last safety inspection on the car before it ever hits the staging lanes.
Case in point, brothers Jeff and Kevin Young who were making a last minute tire alignment on Kevin’s third-gen Camaro.
For others like Artis Houston, it was only a matter of checking some past data-logs to assure a clean run. In the Al Jimenez Racing camp, Eddie Rios was battling a completely new tune after a last-minute fuel swap choice. Unfortunately, other racers like Ryan “Toaster” Jones were practically in the midst of an entire engine teardown. After a blistering bottom 7-second pass, it was quickly realized there was an issue with the engine.
After closer inspection, the engine had eaten its was through a roller lifter, the camshaft and broken the pushrod tip clean off. Luckily, a stash of extra parts, including all of the essentials and some help from fellow racers got “Toaster” back in action.
Friday’s Test and Tune session left a lot of talk in and around the pits. Thankfully, Saturday’s qualifying rounds let us know who to look for in the final rounds. We’ve also got the qualifying results, right here. Luckily, the weather cooperated for the most part. While mid- to high-80 degree temperatures were in store, it left a lot of relieved racers and fans.
The three rounds of qualifying began at 11:30am and 3:30pm with a closer scheduled for early eventing.
The first round of qualifying did not disappoint. Blazing the NA 10.5 class, Ryan “Toaster” Jones went 8.51 at 161.2mph while Joe Keirjikian followed up with a a 9.52 at 115mph. For the 275 Drag Radial class, it was Jeff Young who could of gone bumper to bumper with “Toaster.” Young came out with a 8.51 at 163mph.
Throwing out an impressive qualifying pass was track favorite, Al Jimenez in the TT5 class. Jimenez dominated with a 7.14, though with a low, 184mph pass. True 10.5 also saw Roger Holder take away the top speed in this class with a 213.38mph pass in his 2000 Camaro sporting a 522-inch big-block. Close behind was Terry Barkley with an 8.81 at 179mph in a ’70 Nova with 548-cubes of thrust.
Eighth-mile racing was in full swing as well during the Auto Club Famoso Raceway and the participants were letting it all hang out. Los Angeles, California native, Mark Washington blew out a stunning 5.39 at 133mph in an ’85 Ford Mustang, however, Cedrick Washington did take the top speed in qualifying; edging out Mark out with a close, 5.38 at 136mph.
Not far behind was ‘Frisco-living, Kevin Keller who sucked up a 5.49 at 130mph in 365-inch powered ’64 Nova.
Pro Street’s top ten entries put Mike Bowman in the top ET category with an eye-gouging, 6.183 at 245.90mph pass in a ’68 Chevelle. And no, we’re not kidding. Though, not far behind was Palm Desert California resident, Joe Lepone Jr., who was cut short in his 903-inch, Musi-powered ’70 Duster. Lepone Jr. ended the day with a 6.271 at 228.34mph qualifying pass.
TREMEC True Street
One of the fastest growing classes in the NMCA West Events are the vehicles in the TREMEC True Street category. In short, it’s designed around street legal vehicles. Of course, this means providing proof of a drivers license and insurance papers to assure legality. What makes this class unique is the mandatory, 30-mile cruise, which every participant in the TREMEC True Street class must participate in.
After a 30-mile cruise, each car is put to a grueling three hot-lap round robin, back to back. During the hot laps, hoods cannot be opened and no wrenching is allowed. Only tire pressure checks are prohibited. From there, the fastest (lowest E.T.) average takes the win in each, 9- through 15-second category.
For Saturday’s True Street event, San Diego, California resident, Dan Geis, took the overall win in his Chevy Nova. Geiss’ averaged three passes netted him a 10.146 win. Others, like Brian Rock in a Pontiac GTO took runner-up with a 10.247 pass, while James Alexander took the 10-second winner crown in his Chevelle with an average 10.384 run.
Bringing it home, was our very own, StangTV Editor, Mark Gearhart in his ’11 Ford Mustang. After some third-gear issues, Gearhart still managed to pull the lowest average time in the 11-second category with a 11.529. 12-second category winner, Clyde Alexander took it from Tony De Azevado’s 12.092; edging Azevado by 0.057 seconds. For the remaining results in the TREMEC True Street class, view them, here.
Sunday’s round of eliminations put some of the West Coast’s biggest players through a brutal, fight to the finish. With 1o classes, saying the day was full of racing was a complete understatement. Beginning with the ARP Outlaw 8.5 Elimination round, Mike Orban was paired up with Eric Gustafson, though, Orban became first round duck with a redlight start.
Mark Washington’s ’85 Ford Mustang posted up a first-round win against Jack Avetisyan with the hole-shot, 0.14 against a 0.66, respectively. Washington’s hole-shot proved solid and went through the traps with a 5.613 at 131.39mph.
Though, Mark lost to Eric Gustafson in the second round by a razor-thin, 0.006 seconds. With Mark Washington done for the day, Eric Gustafson was paired with Cedric Washington for the final round of eliminations. Unfortunately, Washington’s Hawthorne, California-based ’88 Mustang couldn’t bring it around Gustafson’s ’69 Camaro. Gustafson’s 412-powered ’69 blew past the traps at 5.394 with a 135.25mph.
First round eliminations in NA 10.5 saw Randy Jones sleeping at the tree against Brad Udell. However, Udell wasn’t able to hold off Jones; losing to a 8.852 at 153.82 against Jones’ 8.349 at 163.77. Jones couldn’t hang on in round two and lost to Daniel Bott II with a 8.436 at 163.45mph and 8.295 at 162.45, respectively.
Making his way to the final round, Bott II staged with Gypsy Mike; Ford versus Ford for a showdown. Bott II took the light (0.034) and beat Gypsy Mike out the back door with a 8.277 at 163.28mph. Gypsy Mike fell just behind and crossed the beams with a respectable, 8.366 at 164.69mph.
ProCharger 275 Drag Radial
With only four participants in the ProCharger 275 Drag Radial class, it was over as soon as it began. Jeff Young’s ’85 Camaro went head to head with Chico Comelman’s ’81 Cutlass Chevy.
However, Coleman shut the pass down early, which led Young to the finish with the win at 7.51 at 189.34mph. Amazingly, brothers Jeff and Kevin Young not only share the same taste in vehicles, but they also saw each other in the final round and went bumper to bumper. Both Young’s cut clean lights, however, it was Kevin Young who pulled in the victory with a 7.44 pass against Jeff’s, 7.562.
Mickey Thompson True 10.5
As the day wore on, the temperature continued to heat up. However, that didn’t seem to matter for the True 10.5 class, which saw Al Jimenez tree Terry Barkley. Barkley couldn’t make up the ground and ended up with the loss.
Jimenez went 7.343 at 163.2mph against Barkley’s 8.344 at 173.09mph. Fortunately, Jimenez got a solo pass for round two and met up with David Bowman after his victory against Johnny Coleman.
For the final round, Jimenez and Bowman squared off but it was Jimenez with the hole shot; cutting a 0.078 light against Bowman’s, 0.095. In the end, Bowman couldn’t bring it around; shutting it down early with a 15.573 at 53.41mph. On the other hand, Jimenez wasn’t leaving anything to chance; scorching the lane with a 7.326 at 205.47mph!
Garrett Pro Street
Pro Street’s first elimination round paired up Mike Bowman’s ’68 Chevelle with a BAE-powered 522ci big-block against Randy Walker’s ’74 El Camino. Unfortunately, a nitrous sneeze on the top end during Walker’s run ended his chance to make any more rounds.
Bowman easily walked away with the win, cutting the beams at 8.518 at 108.18mph. Bowman would see a solo pass in the second Round of elimination ended up losing to Seth-Hunter in the third round.
Round 2 also saw John Durden’s ’01 S10 matched against Joe Lepeone Jr. Durden cut a 0.049 light against Lepeone Jr.’s 0.047 and it looked to be a close haul down the big end. However, Lepeone Jr. couldn’t hang on. Durden’s S10 ended up slamming through the top end with a 7.095 at 170.13. For Round 3, Durden’s single pass solidified his spot for the finals against Greg Seth-Hunter.
Final round eliminations put Chevy versus Ford as Greg Seth-Hunter’s ’07 Mustang was set against John Durden’s S10. Even though Durden cut a faster light for the holeshot, Durden’s 7.073 was not enough. Seth-Hunter’s Mustang managed to walk around Durden with a mind-numbing, 6.619 at 215.41mph.