It was an intense round of competition this past weekend at Bradenton Motorsports Park, where the NMRA kicked off its 2014 season in style. With the beginning of the racing season upon us, several competitors came loaded for bear in their respective classes and turned in performances of note, setting class records in the process.
John Urist, winner of the ATF Street Outlaw class, put up a huge run during qualifying on Saturday night from his turbocharged, Nitto tire-sponsored machine. The air was there, the track was there, and Urist responded with the best performance of anyone in the class with a 7.042 at 200.71 MPH to top the qualifying ladder heading into Saturday. There, he took his best shot at the track again, but was unable to put complete runs together, leaving Friday’s performance as the one to beat come Sunday. With Ronnie Diaz as his first-round opponent, Urist went one tick better, closing out the first round with a quickest-ever Street Outlaw-record blast of 7.032 at 197 MPH before cruising through the next two rounds, eliminating Tony Alm and taking the competition bye before facing off with Phil Hines in the final round. Urist took out Hines in the process of going wire-to-wire with a 7.10 to Hines’ 7.15 hit in the late-afternoon Florida sun.
Also turning in a “quickest-ever” pass for his class was Brian Mitchell in Edelbrock Renegade, where Mitchell put everything together on elimination day in securing his first win of the season. After doing some maintenance on Saturday morning, Mitchell’s Wizard II machine clipped off an incredible 8.211 at 167.47 MPH to land the top spot on the ladder at the end of the day, just ahead of Bart Tobener’s 8.264.
He had an easy go of it in the first round on Sunday when Alton Clements didn’t make the call, then took out JD Coon in the second round before taking the third-round bye afforded to the top qualifier. The final round saw Mitchell chop the tree down and leave it in Johnny “Lightning” Wiker’s lap before crossing the finish line with an easy 9.04 to Wiker’s 10.26 pass. The multi-time Renegade champion attempted to sell his car in the offseason with no success, so he’s back at it this year – and from the looks of it, he’s set the rest of the class on notice. There are other cars that didn’t make it to the event, and perennial contender Alton Clements suffered breakage that took him out of contention, but Mitchell seems to have the upper hand in the class at this time.
The NMRA decided to bring back their limited-modification, naturally-aspirated ACT Pure Street class for the 2014 season after a one-year hiatus. Six competitors showed up, highlighted by the 2001 Mustang owned by Virginia’s Teddy Weaver. Over the offseason, Weaver enlisted Ron Sharp at Roush Competition Engines to go through his engine, which had last been touched by the Roush team in 2009. New pistons featuring the newly-legal gas porting were installed, which Weaver credits as the largest improvement the team found in the engine’s performance. He went out and proceeded to crush the number, running an awesome 9.67 at only 133.98 MPH to take the top qualifying spot over Scott Barker’s Modular-powered ’97 Cobra.
On Sunday, Weaver became the third racer to go wire-to-wire, winning over CJ Reese in round one, taking the semifinal bye. and cruising to victory over Jimmy Wilson in the final despite giving up the holeshot on the tree. Nobody came within two-tenths of his performance all weekend – that’s a dominating performance if we’ve ever seen one.