MSD True Street Challenge - Street Car Shootout
Mix 31 real street cars with Florida's infamous Spring Break, and you've got a recipe for
From the February, 2009 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Johnny Hunkins
The problem with so-called "Street Car Racing" is, well, they just ain't real street cars. Just because a magazine calls them street cars doesn't make them street cars, so they're fooling nobody but themselves. To right this wrong, we've partnered with the NMCA and MSD to co-sponsor the MSD True Street Challenge, which will make its way to seven cities this year.
Here's the deal: Drag your licensed street car to one of our seven events, drive it 30 miles with us watching, then launch it down the quarter-mile three times back-to-back. There's no waiting to be invited by some all-mighty editor, there's no qualifying, there's no eliminations, there's no head-to-head competition, just you against the ET clock. Your three runs are averaged, and then scored according to ET from quickest to slowest.
To keep out the race car pretenders, the rules are simple, yet stringent. All cars have to be street legit, i.e. licensed, registered, insured and inspected. And we check all of this. Twice. You can have any powertrain you want, but the max tire size is 10.5 inches. Back-half cars are OK, but most opt for bolt-in stock-location suspension items. From the start of the 30-mile drive to the end of the three runs, a closed-hood, no-tuning policy is strictly enforced. If you "pop," you loose. And those are the rules.
Our season-opener in Bradenton, Fla., was a doozy. For starters, it's right smack dab in the middle of Spring Break. After the long winter, it's hot--and so are the girls. Mix 31 competitors, a major dose of East Coast cabin fever, great Florida weather, hot girls on Spring Break, lots of testosterone, and a few hundred gallons of high-octane race gas, and, well, you can guess the rest.With few exceptions, the field included well-traveled street pieces. One of those exceptions was the winner, Rodney Meyers of Pinellas Park, Fla., Rodney won with a 9.575-second average with help from a seriously stout '67 Chevelle packing a 540-cid big-block Chevy with a 175hp hit of nitrous. Power goes through a turbo 400 and a scienced-out back-half suspension. Yeah, it's got a 'chute and some other suspiciously non-street-looking stuff on it, but Rodney pulled off the 30-mile drive and three back-to-backs without tuning or any help from a crew. Congrats to Rodney, who won $250 and an MSD True Street letterman jacket. We're guessing that most racers would prefer not to risk trashing a nice race car like this for $250--which wouldn't even cover the cost of replacing a holed piston from a nitrous lean-out.
Finishing behind Rodney were what we would call pure street cars, and you'd recognize them as such at any traffic light on Main Street, USA. Take Charlie Nagy's '87 Mustang GT, for instance, it yanks down 10s with ease using a 331-cid small-block Windsor, a D-1 Procharger and a C4 trans. Then there's David Povio's '87 Buick Turbo-T, which looks like a grandma car. David says he tried to keep it out of the 10s 'cause it doesn't have a rollbar, but he let a few 10.40s rip in time trials just to let us know the deal.
And then there's our Editor's Choice Award, which we give to the car we would most want to own and drive every day. There was absolutely no question in anybody's mind that this belonged to Trev Jordan and his '77 Trans Am. Trev's T/A is the ultimate true street bruiser, with a 511-cid, 532hp Pontiac mill, which cranks through a TKO-600 five-speed and a 9-inch rear with 3.50 gears. Trev did all the work himself, including the trans install and the rack-and-pinion steering conversion. This thing is set up to corner and stop too, making it an all-around performer. Trev admitted he'd never drag raced the car before, and didn't want to get in trouble with officials. With that in mind, he ran a 12.92 best, getting off the throttle at the 900-foot mark. (You can check out Trev's Poncho on page 32 to get the gory details.)
Regular guys also came out on top, with $100 prizes awarded to runner-up, 10-, 11-, 12-, 13-, 14-, and 15-second index winners. These are folks whose three-run average came closest to (without going over) those respective ET breaks. MSD also awarded a new set of spark plug wires to each of these competitors. All True Street cars were also invited to participate, without additional charge, in the open bracket race the following Sunday.
By the time you read this, we should be preparing for the MSD True Street Challenge at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, which happens Saturday, June 3. If you're not big into drag racing, but want to see what you're street car will do on the track, this is the place to show us. Remember, it's not about beating the other guy, cutting a good light, or dialing in--it's just you against the ET clocks with our cameras locked and loaded. Come out and show us whatcha got. To check out the MSD True Street rules and schedule up close, visit the NMCA at www.nmcadigital.com.
Warren "Don't call it a Neon"...
Warren "Don't call it a Neon" Fulmer checks the tire pressure of his SRT-4 before the first round. If you live in Zephryhills, Fla., be forewarned, Warren's SRT-4 has run a best of 11.74/119. On this day, however, the little Dodge mustered a best of 12.64.
The '87 Corvette of Michael...
The '87 Corvette of Michael Pervetich (Fort Meyers, Fla.) is fairly typical of the legit street cars populating True Street. Michael drives it on the street every day and it has run a best of 11.79/115 with a naturally aspirated 383 and EFI.
David Jennings of Miami, Fla.,...
David Jennings of Miami, Fla., recently picked up this '93 Mustang GT and ran it for the first time the night before True Street. At that time he became acquainted with the weakness of the stock 8.8-inch rear when he broke an axle. Jennings had it replaced just in time to make the lane call for the street cruise.
David Povio has discovered...
David Povio has discovered the allure of the Turbo Buick with this mint '87, which runs 10s. Mods are minimal and include a MAF Translator, Precision Turbo GT6152 turbo, big-mouth stock-location intercooler, bigger injectors and a built 2004R trans. Povio hails from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
True Street race director...
True Street race director Damon Rivetti conducts the driver's meeting before the 30-mile cruise. Rivetti makes sure everybody knows the rules, especially about not falling behind or doing tune-up work after the cruise and between drag strip runs.
C3 Corvettes are plentiful...
C3 Corvettes are plentiful and inexpensive, and George Wallace (Sarasota, Fla.) shows just how fun they can be while pounding out 12-second ETs in street trim with a Vortech S-trim blower and a 377-cid small-block.
Eventual runner-up Charlie...
Eventual runner-up Charlie Nagy poses with his son Sean. Nagy runs an effective combination known to many Mustang aficionados: a stroked 331 small-block Windsor inflated by a potent D-1 Procharger. The combo works through a CRT C-4 trans and has gone as fast as 10.45/130.
Out on the cruise, Curtis...
Out on the cruise, Curtis Gingerich stretches the legs of his '73 Camaro. Second Gen Camaros are inexpensive to buy and easy to mod. This one has gone a best of 12.41/107 with its original 350, ported stock-style heads, 3.73 gears and a worked turbo 350. Gingerich ran a best of 12.95 during True Street competition.
Greg Whitaker was looking...
Greg Whitaker was looking forward to running high 9s with his '95 Firebird. It's been visually and mechanically upgraded to 1998 vintage by way of a stroked 12.2:1 compression 383-cid LS1 and a nitrous kit. On this day, however, Whitaker's orange bird puked as it pulled out of the track for the 30-mile cruise.
Another sweet Malibu--this...
Another sweet Malibu--this one a '78--belongs to Bob Walsh, Jr. of Bradenton, Fla. Walsh, whose dad won this same event last year in a Mustang--averaged 12.125 with a naturally aspirated 383 and a turbo 400 trans.
You think we'd let 31 hooligans...
You think we'd let 31 hooligans loose on a 30-mile cruise without supervision? Not a chance. Bearing an eerie resemblance to Primedia senior vice president, Doug Evans, Manatee County Sheriff's sergeant Steve Becker kept a lid on all the shenanigans. Come to think of it, that's another scary similarity.
The innocuous-looking '70...
The innocuous-looking '70 Challenger of Floyd Warren is anything but passe--under the hood at least. Floyd transplanted the late-model 5.7L hemi in his garage over an 18-month period ("nights and weekends..."). The toughest part? Swapping in the five-speed automatic from the donor car. According to Floyd, the trans is huge and the only way to do it without cutting up the floor was to carve some of the reinforcing ribs off of the transmission case. The powertrain is completely stock and has propelled the E-body to a best of 13.66/101.
The '81 Chevy Malibu is the...
The '81 Chevy Malibu is the quintessential affordable street bruiser, and Doug Juhrend (teamgbody.com) proved it once again by laying down an 11.90 three-run average. Juhrend's 'bu packs a Magnacharged LS1 that puts out 535 hp to the wheels. It's gone as fast as 11.44/115.
Every dog has its day, and...
Every dog has its day, and on this day it was Paul Kwiatkowski's turn. "I was looking for a nine, and I got greedy, I think..." A little too much nitrous through Paul's '74 Nova bent some pushrods and burned the number seven plug. "I suspect I put a hole in the piston too."
Felix Garcia and Paul Buchanan...
Felix Garcia and Paul Buchanan field this sweet '69 Camaro, which ran 11s all day. It relies on a 468 big-block mated to a Turbo 400. BMR suspension pieces and a TrueTrac rear bolted to 3.73 cogs help this beast launch.
Stacey Rockey operates BMR...
Stacey Rockey operates BMR Suspension with her husband, Brett Rockey, but still finds time to race her brand new Trailblazer SS. With only a boost of nitrous, it squeaks into the high 12s.
Nothing beats the smooth lines...
Nothing beats the smooth lines of a '67 Impala. Owner Jon Sweiger says a stock Impala like his in good condition can be had for about $15K. This one runs 14s and has the added economy of an overdrive 700-R4 trans. Sweiger took home $100 and a set of MSD plug wires for averaging 15.062--the closest average to 15.00.
Editor's Choice winner Trev...
Editor's Choice winner Trev Jordan won a lot of people over with his home-built '77 Trans Am. A 511-cid Pontiac uses an Indian Adventures block and belts out 523 hp at 5,200 rpm. It's got a Keisler TKO-600 five-speed, custom front K-member, Flaming River rack-and-pinion conversion, Baer disc brakes, and supportive Corbeau seats, so you could say it's designed to do everything.
Tibe Larson usually runs high...
Tibe Larson usually runs high 12s in his mildly modded '94 LT1 Camaro. The F-body gets by on ported stock heads, a mild cam and headers, but uses a turbo 350 and 4.10 gears to trade off some drivability for better ET.
Michelle Slatker (Tampa, Fla.)...
Michelle Slatker (Tampa, Fla.) leads the pack with her '03 Mustang Cobra as the gang heads out on the 30-mile cruise. Her pony runs bottom 12s with simple bolt-ons like underdrive pulleys, cold-air induction kit, exhaust, and Mickey Thompson ET Streets.
About two seconds after this...
About two seconds after this photo was taken, Brian Kohle's '84 Mustang erupted in a nitrous fireball, ending his day abruptly. Under normal circumstances, Kohle's Fox Mustang runs low 10s with a carbed and nitrous-assisted 306 small-block Ford.
Rich Perry's '66 Chevy II...
Rich Perry's '66 Chevy II Nova runs an open rear end with 2.73 gears, yet it still knocks down high 11s with a built 383 and an Edelbrock nitrous kit.
We caught Tarynn Jojola (Sarasota,...
We caught Tarynn Jojola (Sarasota, Fla.) basking in the Florida sun. Cars were there too.
Like most girls, Hadley Shahinian...
Like most girls, Hadley Shahinian of Bradenton couldn't resist the urge to shop in the NMCA tent, but enjoyed the hot street car action too.
When 19-year-old Emily Lewis...
When 19-year-old Emily Lewis isn't driving her 2000 Camaro SS, she's beating the crap out of boys in her 555-cid big-block Mullis dragster. It runs mid 7s.
When Brittany Castellano (Tampa,...
When Brittany Castellano (Tampa, Fla.) walks by, grown men turn into blathering idiots. She favors El Caminos for their large, utilitarian beds.
April Mazzie (Tampa, Fla.)...
April Mazzie (Tampa, Fla.) and Christina Szaloczy (right, Lutz, Fla.) ham it up for the camera in the staging lanes.
|Driver||hometown||car||run 1||run 2||run 3||ave.||notes: |
|1.||Rodney Meyers||Pinellas Park, FL||Chevelle||9.807||9.869||9.048||9.575||winner |
|2.||Charlie Nagy||Riverview, FL||Mustang||10.914||11.064||10.857||10.945||runner-up |
|3.||John Walker||Palmetto, FL||Capri||11.397||10.621||10.975||10.998||10-second index winner |
|4.||David Povio||Port St. Lucie, FL||Turbo Buick||10.987||11.404||11.124||11.172||11-second index winner |
|5.||Pete Lima||Miami, FL||Camaro||11.913||11.793||11.477||11.728 |
|6.||Doug Juhrend||Wadsworth, IL||Malibu||11.729||11.754||12.233||11.905 |
|7.||Felix Garcia||Largo, FL||Camaro||12.387||12.357||11.124||11.956 |
|8.||Rich Perry||Tampa, FL||Nova||12.112||11.493||12.330||11.978 |
|9.||Bob Walsh, Jr.||Bradenton, FL||Malibu||12.280||12.084||12.011||12.125||12-second index winner |
|10.||George Wallace||Sarasota, FL||Corvette||12.247||13.367||12.532||12.715 |
|11.||Herman Hernandez||Denedin, FL||Mustang||12.235||12.523||14.012||12.923 |
|12.||Warren Fulmar||Zypherhills, FL||SRT-4||13.010||13.131||12.646||12.929 |
|13.||Michael Pervetich||Ft. Meyers, FL||Corvette||13.043||12.899||13.194||13.045||13-second index winner |
|14.||Stacey Rockey||Seffner, FL||Trailblazer SS||13.001||13.090||13.150||13.080 |
|15.||Chris Downie||Sarasota, FL||Silverado||13.043||13.105||13.146||13.098 |
|16.||Curtis Gingerich||Sarasota, FL||Camaro||12.953||13.310||13.084||13.116 |
|17.||Michelle Slakter||Tampa, FL||Mustang||12.521||14.655||12.771||13.316 |
|18.||Trent Thomas||Bradenton, FL||Camaro||13.566||13.624||13.566||13.585 |
|19.||Angela Zamboni||Dade City, FL||Mustang||14.005||13.735||14.187||13.976 |
|20.||Floyd Warren||Sarasota, FL||Challenger||13.418||13.385||15.129||13.977 |
|21.||Bob Walsh, Sr.||Bradenton, FL||Mustang||11.853||13.441||17.435||14.243||14-second index winner |
|22.||Wilghem Irizarry||Miami, FL||Mustang||14.378||14.917||14.394||14.563 |
|23.||Trev Jordan||Englewood, FL||Trans Am||12.922||16.917||14.899||14.827 |
|24.||David Jennings||Miami, FL||Mustang||15.113||14.643||15.039||14.932 |
|25.||Jon Sweiger||Brandon, FL||Impala||14.597||15.057||15.533||15.062||15-second index winner |
|26.||Tibe Larsen||Fort Meyers, FL||Camaro||15.034||15.113||15.076||15.074 |
|27.||Robert Wilson||Parrish, FL||Impala||14.945||14.841||15.628||15.138 |
|28.||Paul Kwiatkowski||Gary, IL||Nova||DNF |
|29.||TJ Fox||Annapolis, MD||Mustang||DNF |
|30.||Greg Whitaker||Davenport, FL||Trans Am||DNF |
|31.||Brian Kohle||Margate, FL||Mustang||DNF |