MSD True Street Challenge - One True Street-Car Drag
The One And Only MSD True Street Challenge Hits Maple Grove, Pennsylvania.
From the February, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Johnny Hunkins
If you consider yourself a street-drags expert, you get extra credit if you can answer this question correctly: Over the past 11 years, what drag-racing class has featured licensed, insured, street-legal cars that drive 30 street miles, then crank out three back-to-back quarter-mile passes without the aid of tuning to achieve a three-run average? If you guessed MSD True Street, give yourself a pat on the back. First held at Norwalk Raceway Park in the summer of 1994 by Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine (where your author was tech editor), True Street has grown to encompass more than just Mustangs, and as the old saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Unlike other magazines' events however, MSD True Street cars actually use street gas from the pump--as much as they wanna' carry. The promoters at PRO correctly ascertained that car owners and drivers actually do know how much fuel they need and what kind to use--a task drag racers have successfully performed since the second car was built. And there are real cash prizes too: $250 for the car with the fastest average and $100 for each car coming closest, but not over, each 1-second index break. Class sponsor MSD also liberally sprinkles prizes throughout the field, and who doesn't need quality ignition products? But the best part is that True Street is open to all comers--no invitation required.
That kind of fun combined with those prizes was all that was required to fill the True Street field last August 27 at the Pro Edelbrock Drag Racing Series. Street cars came from as far away as Florida and Missouri to converge on the beautiful Maple Grove Park near Reading, Pennsylvania, but the weather gods had other plans.
While race steward Ron Ward guided each of the 35 entries through tech inspection, angry weather threatened. Fortunately, rain drops held off long enough for the field to transit the 30-mile street loop around the countryside. When the tour ended, all bets were off as the sky opened up and unloaded on the festivities. Drivers and crew members scrambled, dodging rain drops the size of quarters. Hours later, and with a dry track, cool evening temperatures conspired with a green track to provide plentiful horsepower and diminished grip--a recipe for plenty of on-track shenanigans.
Over the next 45 minutes, street-car fans were treated to a spectacle that even the most hard-core late-night street race in Chitown or Newark would be hard-pressed to beat. Pennsylvania's own Mark Schankweiler (of Douglassville) fittingly took home the title of King of Pennsylvania with a three-run average of 9.095 seconds. Schankweiler's bonzai-blue metallic '66 Nova is packed with 421 inches of small-block thunder. The SB2-headed bullet gets help from a 300hp Gene Fulton 300hp fogger and a outhouse-solid Powerglide from Dynamic. Schankweiler's best pass, a 9.017, even eclipsed his previous best of 9.03/150. In all, eight cars posted averages in the 9-second range, with four more in the 10s.
To make things interesting, POPULAR HOT RODDING chooses one car from the field to receive a special award: the Editor's Choice. This is a car that combines excellent craftsmanship, drivability, performance, and appearance. It's the car we would most like to own for True Street work ourselves. We select one car from each of the four events we cover (for 2005, that's Bradenton, Florida; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Maple Grove, Pennsylvania; and Memphis), and this time we chose the black '70 Nova of Mark Mutert. This Nova screams "drive me" with a spot-on 383, a T-56 six-speed manual trans, Baer brakes, and Budnik Gasser wheels. You will see exactly what we mean when we feature this baby in an upcoming issue. Our thanks go out to all our competitors, but especially to Mark for driving his Nova all the way out from Missouri.
Next, we're off to Memphis and the PRO Edelbrock World Finals on October 6. Will anybody knock Schankweiler off his throne? Will the ranks swell to over 40 cars? Find out in the February issue of PHR.
Participants lined up for...
Participants lined up for tech at 9 a.m., but the weather soon became ominous. Here, race steward Ron Ward techs in the '85 Monte Carlo of Jason Robertson. Robertson's Monte features a 383 small-block built by Maximum Race Engines. A 200hp shot of juice has pushed the G-body to a best of 9.91/138, but Robertson's day would be cut short after breaking on the first run.
Ron Ward instructs the drivers...
Ron Ward instructs the drivers before departing on the 30-mile drive. The bottom line: "follow us, don't stack up your car, don't break down, and don't get a ticket!"
With all 35 cars tanked up,...
With all 35 cars tanked up, they rolled out of Maple Grove Park for the mandatory 30-mile drive. True Street has long been a fixture at this venue, especially for Mustang racers, but they would not be redeemed on this day.
Frank Calicchio of Lynbrook,...
Frank Calicchio of Lynbrook, NY, told PHR: "another magazine recently wrote some crap about me street racing, which wasn't true. It made me look bad in my town, which really pissed me off. If you could set the record straight, I'd appreciate it." No problem, Frank. Calicchio's '81 Malibu has run a best of 8.71/158 in sanctioned competition, thanks to a 509 big-block Chevy running a 350hp dose of juice.
The husband and wife team...
The husband and wife team of Brian and Michelle Cantrell (Port Deposit, MD) found themselves in opposite corners this day. Hubby's black '87 hatchback LX Mustang took home the honors with a 10.497 average while Michelle's admiral-blue '90 LX notch suffered problems after the first run and did not finish.
All cars are sequestered in...
All cars are sequestered in the True Street pit area between the 30-mile drive and qualifying. No hoods are allowed open, but nitrous hookups are. Here, Craig Cusamano fortifies his patriot-blue '70 Chevelle with the big blue bottle as friends and fellow racers look on. Cusamano finished a stout eighth with a 9.525 average. A 505-inch big-block motivates the heavy Chevy.
Jeff Moyer of Bally, PA, was...
Jeff Moyer of Bally, PA, was packing a Scott Shafiroff-built 434 small-block, which Shafiroff himself was there to witness going deep into the 9s.
If it wasn't for overheating...
If it wasn't for overheating early on the 30-mile cruise, Paul Ferrucci's '81 Malibu had the potential for placing in the top five (with an all-time best of 8.94/154). Paul asked us nicely, so we let him run it anyway, but it didn't count.
We have to give props to Robert...
We have to give props to Robert Wilson of Parrish, FL. Wilson has managed to make several MSD True Street events with his 15-second '65 Impala--and not all of them with this particular '65 Impala, either. The last time we saw Wilson he was packing a four-door. Nice to see he's moved up!
Mustangs are always contenders...
Mustangs are always contenders at any True Street event, and Brad Barshinger's rebodied '82 Mustang was in the hunt until the end with a 9.25 average. Barshinger's LX sports a 430-cube 351 Windsor with a 300hp hit from Wilson. A Powerglide gets the power to the ground without drama.
Mike Cerminaro had his '68...
Mike Cerminaro had his '68 Nova running well all day. A 540-inch carbureted big-block with a Vortech blower is good for over 1,000 hp and a best-ever ET of 8.84/156, but a 9.149 average on this day was only good for Second Place. Cerminaro's Nova is incredibly straight and could easily take top honors in a car show.
The Popular Hot Rodding Editor's...
The Popular Hot Rodding Editor's Choice Award went to Mark Mutert's '70 Nova. It features a naturally aspirated 383 small-block and a six-speed T-56 manual gearbox, making it more ideal for street use or open-track work than the other cars in competition. (It ran a best of 13.73 before encountering mechanical difficulties.) Look for Mark's Nova in an issue coming soon.
Sometimes you have a great...
Sometimes you have a great day, and sometimes you don't. Jason Robertson (on top of box) broke his Monte Carlo, but he did have a good time anyway, thanks in part to the beer that we bought for him. The important thing is to remember to have fun--win or lose--and this was not lost upon this bunch of racers.
|Results - MSD True Street, Maple Grove, PA |
| || || || || || |
|1. ||Mark Schankweiler ||Douglassville, PA ||'66 Chevy II ||9.095 ||King Of PA |
|2. ||Michael Cerminaro ||Newark, DE ||'68 Nova ||9.149 ||RU |
|3. ||Adam "On-It" Esterlund ||Audubon, NJ ||'93 Mustang ||9.185 || |
|4. ||Brad Barshinger ||Red Lion, PA ||'82 Mustang ||9.253 || |
|5. ||Garry Willders ||Dover, PA ||'67 Camaro ||9.342 || |
|6. ||Frank Calicchio ||Lynbrook, NY ||'81 Malibu ||9.440 || |
|7. ||Jeff Moyer ||Bally, PA ||'85 Camaro ||9.455 || |
|8. ||Craig Cusamamo ||Norristown, PA ||'70 Chevelle ||9.525 || |
|9. ||Glen Powell ||Wilmington, DE ||'91 Camaro ||10.228 ||10-sec. WINNER |
|10. ||Brian Cantrell ||Port Deposit, MD ||'87 Mustang ||10.497 || |
|11. ||Doug White ||Hockessin, DE ||'41 Willys ||10.649 || |
|12. ||Scott McCrory ||Plainville, CT ||'87 Mustang ||10.960 || |
|13. ||Laura Bello ||Bernville, PA ||'02 Trans Am ||11.024 ||11-sec. winner |
|14. ||Robin Geiser ||Barto, PA ||'95 Mustang ||11.433 || |
|15. ||Tim Rock ||Gettysburg, PA ||'70 Camaro ||11.502 || |
|16. ||Michael Chiofolo ||Smithtown, NY ||'66 Mustang ||11.806 || |
|17. ||Jeff Fazip ||Cressona, PA ||'91 MR2 ||11.878 || |
|18. ||Chris Langford ||Fairview, NJ ||'89 Mustang ||12.260 ||12-sec. winner |
|19. ||Bob Lyons ||Philadelphia, PA ||'79 Camaro ||12.747 || |
|20. ||Brian Hine ||Birdsboro, PA ||'71 Nova ||13.145 ||13-sec. winner |
|21. ||Tom Guellich Jr. ||Schwenksville, PA ||'86 Monte Carlo ||13.169 || |
|22. ||Richard Bechtold ||Manheim, PA ||'99 Lightning ||14.234 ||14-sec. winner |
|23. ||Steven Critchlow ||London, Ont. ||'93 Mustang ||14.727 || |
|24. ||Robert Wilson ||Parrish, FL ||'65 Impala ||15.165 ||15-sec. winner |
|25. ||Brian Clark ||Bean, DE ||'69 Nova ||n/a ||DQ |
|26. ||Michelle Cantrell ||Port Deposit, MD ||'90 Mustang ||n/a ||DQ |
|27. ||Lenny Mockalis ||Melrose, CT ||'69 AMX ||n/a ||DQ |
|28. ||Paul Ferruci ||Waterbury, CT ||'81 Malibu ||n/a ||DQ |
|29. ||Doug Oswald ||Brockport, NY ||'64 Dart GTS ||n/a ||DQ |
|30. ||Mark McCabe ||West Palm Beach, FL ||'66 Chevelle ||n/a ||DQ |
|31. ||Mark Mutert ||Moscow Mills, MO ||'70 Nova ||n/a ||DQ |
|32. ||Jason Robertson ||Freeport, NY ||'85 Monte Carlo ||n/a ||DQ |
|33. ||Tony Mungin ||Douglassville, PA ||'84 Buick GN ||n/a ||DQ |
|34. ||Dave Campbell ||Bell Air, MD ||'67 Camaro ||n/a ||DQ |
|35. ||Jennifer Shaffer ||Sykesville, MD ||'98 V-6 Firebird ||n/a ||DQ+ |