There's no such thing as "liking" fast street cars. You either love them or you don't-there is no middle ground. If you've ever prowled the streets on a Friday night hunting imports; if you've ever been the first one in line for Wednesday night test 'n' tune; if you've ever watched the entire Powerblock back-to-back, both Saturday and Sunday-then the MSD True Street Challenge is your mother's milk. Yes, there is Hot Rod's yearly Drag Week to look forward to, a fine venue in its own right, but the NMCA (promoters of the MSD True Street Challenge) understands that it's not always convenient to pull up roots for a week and tromp cross-country.

True Street isn't your ordinary street car drag race. There's something edgy about racing your daily driver back-to-back three times after a 30-mile heat-soaking traffic loop. Each would-be competitor wonders to himself, Will it break? Will it overheat? Will I hit a deer on the cruise? The rigors of a bona fide street drive coupled with the modest payout plant True Street firmly in the ranks of real amateurs, thank you very much. Shucks, some True Street participants haven't even been down a drag strip before. Simply, this is the playground-the absolute domain-of real regular guys.

True Street is somewhat of a curiosity in the drag racing world. Racers do not race each other, but the clock. The bragging right is for the quickest average of three quarter-mile runs. That's, of course, once you finish the 30-mile street drive. To make things more favorable for real street cars, no one is allowed to do any tuning before or during the drag competition. You can't even pop your hood. Finding out that info is usually the point where pseudo street/race cars push away from the table.

When we say True Street is for street cars, we mean real street cars. It's got to pass muster with working street equipment, a legal registration, current insurance, and a real interior. Back-half cars are OK per NMCA regs, but you had better have all your paperwork for the cops, who inspect all entries under close scrutiny.

So it was with dreams of magazine glory that 14 honest-to-goodness street-car lovers descended upon National Trails Raceway near Columbus, Ohio, this past June 3. The foremost goal of all racers, to have a great time, was easily surpassed. Likewise, we really enjoyed talking it up with the competitors, each of whom told a familiar street tale of hijinks and woe.

Our pre-race trip through the pit area brought us face-to-face with eventual winner, Dave Furedy. We should have known he would win. There was nothing especially bold or clever about Furedy's big-block Chevy-powered '84 Buick. Similarly, there was no ostentatious infusion of cash evident in his car or rig. The telling nod came from Furedy's quiet smile, confident attitude and mechanical awareness. He was as calm as the eye of a hurricane.

That hurricane was subsequently unleashed in the guise of a 9.489-second average ET. When the wind died down, Furedy (the newly-crowned King of Ohio) posed uncomfortably in a costume cape and crown. The NMCA presented him with a check for $250, a certificate for an MSD True Street Champion jacket, a 6-foot high trophy, and yes, Margaret, he gets to keep the get-up. We're sure it will go over well at the next Halloween party.

Furedy, however, wasn't the only winner. True Street has multiple classes embedded within its structure; competitors whose three-run ET average is closest to (but not quicker than) 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 seconds get $100, a plaque, and a certificate for a set of MSD spark plug wires. The overall runner-up gets this as well. It's ironic, then, that no car averaged slower than 13.82 over three runs, as there were two un-paid prizes up for grabs. Perhaps that tidbit will entice the nail-biters in our audience to join the party next time.

Printing deadlines being what they are, you're reading this sometime in mid-September. If you're lucky, you'll still have time to make the Fifth Annual Nitto Tire NMCA Nationals in Commerce, Ga. That's September 15-17. Look for the Popular Hot Rodding staff to be on the story. If you can't make it to the Atlanta area, you'll have one more chance at glory during the Fifth Annual Nitto Tire NMCA World Finals in Memphis, Tenn. That's October 5-8. Check out more information on MSD True Street at www.fasteststreetcar.com.

MSD TRUE STREET COLUMBUS RESULTS
  run 1 run 2 run 3 average
1. David Furedy Pittsburgh, PA '84 Regal 9.387 9.485 9.595 9.489 winner
2. Tony MacDonald Anoka, MN '68 Nova 9.958 9.966 10.034 9.986 runner-up
3. Chad Wade Iowa City, IA '89 Camaro 10.328 10.495 10.613 10.479 10-sec. index winner
4. Rob Lasota Delaware, OH '95 Mustang 10.697 10.895 11.592 11.061 11-sec. index winner
5. Terry Herbert Elizabethtown, KY '84 Monte Carlo 11.172 11.159 10.883 11.071
6. Paul Nau, Jr. Canton, OH '68 AMX 12.863 11.937 11.412 12.071 12-sec. index winner
7. Barrett White Louisville, KY '78 Malibu 12.066 12.265 12.230 12.187
8. John Koenig Columbus, OH '93 Mustang 12.213 12.256 12.260 12.243
9. Mike Rehl Heath, OH '72 Vega 12.986 13.084 12.997 13.022 13-sec. index winner
10. Michael Bennett Bristol, WI '86 Trans Am 13.042 13.075 13.137 13.085
11. Robert Wilson Parrish, FL '65 Impala 13.137 13.217 13.531 13.295
12. Randy Greathouse Proctorville, OH '99 Camaro 13.700 13.723 13.790 13.738
13. Scott Stites Ft. Wayne, IN '65 Mustang 13.569 14.626 13.265 13.820
14. Perry Stanley Johnstown, OH '68 Nova broke 10.188 10.186 DQ