BFGoodrich American Muscle
Another exciting new class in NMCA competition is BFGoodrich American Muscle, and a number of Louisiana racers took advantage of the sanction's visit to Belle Rose to take on the touring regulars. Among these was Jerry Ferguson, of West Lake, Louisiana, who qualified his J/AM '65 Coronet in the No. 1 spot with a mark of 12.261 on his 12.00 index.
In the first round of eliminations, Richard Mariano, of Saginaw, Texas, ran his K/AM '79 Aspen to victory over John Cox, Jr. of Loganville, Georgia, when his I/AM '67 Tempest fouled at the line. Mike Davis, of Conyers, Georgia, also benefited from his opponent's too-quick reaction time, taking his G/AM '66 GTO to a win over Ferguson. Making it three in a row, another red light situation sent the J/AM '71 Corvette of Pordoche, Louisiana racer Marco Macchra to his trailer early as well, sending Mark Walter, of Warner Robbins, Georgia, and his L/AM '83 Camaro to the semifinals.
Davis took the single to the last round as Walter and Mariano faced off in round 2. Mariano ran closest to his 12.50 index with a pass of 12.514, 106.06 for the win, but Walter gave it a great shot, posting a mark of 12.795, 99.83 on his 12.75 in a losing effort. In the final, Mariano left -.132-seconds too early, handing the big victory to Davis.
Mr. Gasket EFI Eliminator
The third of the NMCA index classes is Mr. Gasket EFI Eliminator, and like the others, it was also the scene of a number of hard fought quarter-mile encounters. The '86 Ford Mustang of Cleveland, Mississippi's John Lovett led the three qualifying sessions on Saturday, finishing up with an 11.516 on his 11.50 index to earn top honors.
On Sunday, as the racing got under way in earnest, Keven Winstead of Falkner, Mississippi, driving a G/EFI '85 Olds Cutlass, won over the F/EFI '95 Firebird wheeled by Baton Rouge native Tim Herrington. Another Louisiana runner, Paul Freeman, of Prairieville, driving an F/EFI '99 Camaro, eliminated Cody Samm of Huffman, Texas and his AA/EFI '93 Camaro. Defending class champion Todd Merkel was also on his game, taking his C/EFI '86 Firebird out of St. James, New York to the next round at the expense of Robert Miller of St. Augustine, Florida, and his I/EFI 2001 Silverado pickup. Frank Benoit, of Houma, Louisiana took his G/EFI '95 Camaro to the quarterfinals unopposed when Floyd Russo broke at the line, and Lovett had a bye run.
In round 2, Merkel took out Winstead, Lovett won over Benoit and Freeman went on to the semifinals with the bye. In the third round, Merkel had the single as Freeman set up a final round encounter with the champ by dispatching Lovett.
The final was a great example of index racing at its best, with Merkel's 10.085 on a 10.00 only good enough for runner-up honors as Freeman cranked out a brilliant 11.509 on his 11.50 index.