Edelbrock Pro Nostalgia
John Gifford, of Naples, Florida, had the rare opportunity of being a one man show in Edelbrock Pro Nostalgia competition at No Problem Raceway Park. The only racer to make the long haul to Louisiana, Gifford did the class proud as he ran his pristine "Elias & Gifford" SS/AA '68 Barracuda hard and put on a great show for the fans jamming the stands, complete with photogenic wheels-up launches. He laid down a pass of 9.216 to officially qualify the car, and then later staged a one-car final, running out the back door at 9.256, 144.57 to earn his trophy.
Nitrous Express Nostalgia Pro Street
In Louisiana, the popularity of Nitrous Express Nostalgia Pro Street was boosted even more as fans were treated to the sight of some serious race machinery making a surprise eight-mile cruise over the road course at No problem Raceway Park. In keeping with the original Pro Street concept, class rules allow for random cruises to be staged in order to prove the "streetability" of the cars. Other than a few minor problems, all cars completed the run, and got down to the business of slugging it out for the title.
Among several new and updated cars in the Nostalgia Pro Street pits was the sleek orange 2002 Camaro of White Lake, Michigan's Rob Golobo, which had one of the most successful competitive debuts in NMCA history. The recently completed car showed no signs of the "new car blues" that so often plague others of its type. After a couple of cautious shakedown passes down the quarter-mile, Golobo proceeded to dominate qualifying, finishing at the top of the list by virtue of a pass of 7.563, 166.10.
In the first round of eliminations on Sunday, it was Golobo facing off against the '79 Camaro of Louisiana's own Mike Hill, of Prairieville. In spite of being left at the line, .113 to .017, Golobo took the win light with a mark of 7.793, 151.78 to Hill's off-pace 11.268, 101.46. Another of the regulars back on the tour for the first time in 2003 was Canadian Ellen Pavao, who made the long trip from Toronto with her distinctive pink trimmed '67 Camaro. After a marathon rewiring session in the pits on Saturday night, Pavao, who qualified No. 5 with an 8.305, 170.45, lined up against the '69 Ford Torino of No. 2 qualifier Mike Foulk, of Plainfield, Illinois. Foulk grabbed a .033 to .147 advantage off the line, and went on to win, 7.774, 173.07 to 7.972, 176.93. The third pair featured the mean green '66 Chevelle of Bruce Polous, of Palatine, Illinois and another Louisiana car, this one the '78 Camaro of Baton Rouge racer David Beeson. Polous got a free pass to the semifinals when Beeson lit the dreaded red bulb.
In the next round, Golobo got the bye into the final while Polous did his best to survive the round despite an obviously ailing powerplant. Foulk didn't cut him a bit of slack, however, and nailed a brilliant .008 light to take the victory, 7.751,173.32 to 8.738, 126.44.
Unfortunately, Foulk's magic touch at the tree abandoned him in the final, as his -.002 foul made Golobo's big weekend complete. He put an exclamation point on the experience by running through at 7.586, 193.84.
Ramchargers Super Street
In the highly competitive and entertaining Ramchargers Super Street class, five top drivers put on a great show for the southern fans. In the preliminary sessions, Brooksville, Indiana's Doug Smith paced his '96 Olds Achieva to the top qualifying spot on the strength of a 7.568, 188.54 blast. Just behind him was street legal legend Nick Scavo, of Elk Grove, Illinois, who ran his immaculate turbocharged '69 Camaro to a mark of 7.627, 187.68.
During Sunday's elimination rounds, Scavo faced off against the '97 Dodge Avenger of Indianapolis-based Bill May in one of the best matches of the day. Leaving the line together, Scavo prevailed at the end of the track, 8.505, 182.33 to 8.808, 175.50 to move on. With Doug Smith earning the bye, thanks to his top qualifier status, Jimmy Blackmon, of Rockmart, Georgia, rolled his '92 Trans Am to the line to duel with the '93 Pontiac piloted by Ed Grisez of Oberlin, Ohio. Blackmon overcame a slight holeshot applied by Grisez and motored past for the win, 7.840, 183.94 to 8.585, 149.31.
In the semifinals, it was Scavo with the single while Blackmon took out a red-lighting Smith to set up an exciting final round shootout. At the green, Blackmon was .030 quicker off the line, and he held off a rapidly closing Scavo to cross the stripe first and claim the title, 7.907, 182.90 to 8.000, 175.98.
Drive Train Specialist Super Modified
The Drive Train Specialist Super Modified trophy was another hard-won piece of hardware at No Problem Raceway Park, with an international group of drivers contending for top honors.
Leading the qualifying sessions on Saturday was well-traveled Canadian competitor Emidio Catalano and his dedicated crew. Catalano's high-powered '68 Camaro was the quickest in the preliminaries, posting a best of 7.785, 178.73 to lead the rest of the pack into Sunday's money rounds. Thanks to his qualifying performance, he earned the bye into the second round.
Among those having to fight their way into the semifinals, defending champion Jim Huber, of St. Leon, Indiana, put his 2000 Chevy S-10 pickup up against the '79 Trans Am of Washington, Illinois-based Keith McCoy. McCoy cut an unearthly .001 light, but Huber had more than enough power under the hood, and his 7.851, 174.98 easily handled McCoy's 8.442, 156.61. In an all-Illinois, all-Camaro match-up, Johnny Baio staged his '69 model up against the '68 of Jim Roggling, and moved on when Roggling left too early.
In the second round, it was Baio with the complimentary ticket to the final, leaving Huber and Catalano to go toe-to-toe for the chance to meet him at the big dance. Both obviously wanted to be there in the worst way, based on the great side-by-side battle they waged. At the stripe, Huber's 7.808, 176.12 just outpaced Catalano's game 7.967, 178.00 effort. In the final, Baio redlit his chances away with a -.335 foul, only to have Huber get out of shape and lift for a coasting 16.698, 71.50 victory.
Corteco Limited Street
Lebanon, Ohio's Phil Hines was on his game in Belle Rose, qualifying for Corteco Limited Street in the No. 1 spot again, just as he did at every NMCA race held in the U.S. in 2002. Hines' '86 Mustang accomplished the feat this time around on the strength of a solid 8.249, 166.54 pass.
On Sunday, Hines, who gained a bye into the semifinals, watched as a tough group of competitors went into the first round of what would turn out to be a "foul-fest" before the day was over. Bartlett, Illinois-based Bob Curran slashed the tree to the tune of .009 behind the wheel of his '96 Corvette, taking out the '84 Camaro of Melbourne, Florida's Frank Mewshaw, 8.983, 151.12 to 9.171, 166.03, in what would be the only clean race of the round. Tony Orts, of Oswego, Illinois, advanced when Mandeville, Louisiana's Gary Turner's '72 Olds tripped the beam too early. In the third pairing, Todd Mayer, of Pasadena, Texas, got the freebie when opponent Cuy Richardson edged his '86 Mustang too close to the ragged edge and also fouled out.
In the semis, Mayer returned his gift from the previous round when his '92 Camaro went red, followed by Curran's "Vette which did the same. In the final, it was Orts in his '68 Firebird against the Mustang of Hines, and with no red lights in sight, Hines strapped a stiff .047 to .096 holeshot on Orts, and run it through for the victory, 8.315, 166.01 to 10.468, 97.42.