NMRA at Bradenton, Florida

Charlie Cooper was the Street Outlaw winner.

For the twenty-third time in a row, Mustang drag racers converged on Bradenton Motorsports Park to shake the winter blues and kick-off the NMRA Keystone Drag Racing Series. The annual pilgrimage from parts across North America, and even Germany, is for the Nitto Tire NMRA Spring Break Shootout, presented by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords. The first event of this six-race series for 2017 was nothing short of fast fun with record-breaking performances on the drag strip, as well as in the spectator stands with a near capacity crowd on Saturday, March 11. The kick-off event always features many specialty shootouts including the historic JLT Performance Spring Break Shootout—home of the wildest Mustang street cars.

The quickest and fastest cars on property belong in VP Racing Fuels Street Outlaw, as a wild assortment of small-tire heroes made up an 11-car field. The number-one qualifier was Manny Buginga, who set the all-time quickest run in class history with a 4.33 elapsed time at a questionable 177 mph, a high speed mark that was never run again. He finished runner-up to Charlie Cooper in an anti-climatic finale—Buginga spun the tires and Cooper ran 4.369 at 169.68 mph to take his first career NMRA victory.

The next step in the heads-up lineup is Edelbrock Renegade and Frank Varela and the Hellion Racing B-Team announced their return to competition in a big way. First, he set the category’s record with a stout 7.411 at 183.03 mph, qualifying at the top of the 15-car field. But it was Dom DiDonato and his 2008 Shelby GT500, tuned by Triangle Speed Shop and built by C&D Auto Tech that got quicker and quicker with each passing round. A massive holeshot in the final allowed the turbocharged, Modular-powered machine to stay in front and win the class with a 7.653 at 178.18 mph to Varela’s 7.500 at 180.46 mph.

Another first-time winner at Spring Break Shootout was John Kauderer in ProCharger Coyote Modified with his iconic Cobra Jet Mustang. The turbocharged, JPC Racing sponsored, factory hot rod unleashed record runs and consistent 7.80s at 174 mph to score the victory. He beat teammate David Witt on his way to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle. It was the quickest G-Force Racing Transmissions Coyote Stock field in NMRA history and the defending champion Drew Lyons struck first with a class win over Darin Hendricks. Lyons won the battle, but it was Hendricks who walked away with the quickest run in class history with a 10.075 performance.