Two worlds collide every year when the NMCA-Edelbrock Drag Racing Series and the Mustang circuit, dubbed the NMRA-Keystone Ford Nationals, invade Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. The parent company for both racing sanctioning bodies, Pro Media Events, calls it the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing; Nitto Tire is the primary sponsor for the extravaganza. This year marked the fifth run of this shootout as racers and fans from across the USA and Canada packed the famous dragstrip. Several Chevrolet vehicles made quite an impact in the NMCA series, and we were there to capture the action.
The Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing is a simple concept; both racing series compete separately with all of the heads-up and index categories and runoff eliminations as normal. Once all the class winners are decided, the Pro Media officials then pair up the categories in a prearranged order for the Shootout. Each win earns that particular team a point and the team with the most points wins the collection of Nitto Diamond Tree gold rings, one for each driver on that particular team. In addition to the rings, NMCA/NMRA hands out cash bonuses to the winner of each pairing. The winners in the index and a few of the heads-up pairings receive a $500 bonus while the top-tier heads-up categories take home a $1,000 cash bonus per Shootout victory. This year, Team NMRA took the overall win but it was a hard-fought battle as the NMCA went toe-to-toe with the Mustang ranks. The final tally was seven Shootout wins for the NMRA over the five for the NMCA.
Outside of the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing, the NMCA featured one of the wildest Nostalgia Pro Street (NPS) fields we’ve ever seen. The NPS category is reserved for heavyweight cars that feature back-halved and full tube-style chassis construction with big tires in the back. Underhoods reside engine combos up to 640 ci with various restrictions to prevent Pro Modstyle engines in the category. The entries are either nitrous oxide assisted or naturally aspirated. Those who choose to run nitrous are restricted to a single stage and a specific nitrous jet limit, as determined by the NMCA tech staff. We watched 20 entries slug it out in the mid 7-second range at 190 mph; nearly every run featured tight side-by-side action.
Dave Beeson continued to have a leg up on the competition by taking the top qualifier spot with a 7.24 at 197-mph pass in his ’79 Camaro. It’s equipped with a 640ci Chevy engine with a controversial, but legal, nitrous system custom-built by Kenny Lafferty. Unfortunately, engine troubles prevented the team from advancing past round one. That opened the door for points leader, Kevin Parent and his ’69 Nova to take his second straight win. Parent worked his way through the field and met Jim Jarrett and his ’69 Camaro Z/28 in the finals. Parent was packing a Dart-built 528ci with a single NOS fogger nitrous system. Jarrett relies on 639 ci from B.E.S Race Engines and an Induction Solutions single-stage nitrous system. Both cars are capable of running in the 7.30s; Parent took the class victory with a 7.41 at 186 mph over Jarrett’s 7.56 at 184 mph.
Other Chevy vehicles to make it to the winner’s circle were Joe Dunne in Pro Street, Skip Baskin in Pro Stock, Don Baskin in Mean Street, Andy Warren in Nostalgia Muscle Car, and Dave Hounsell in Late-Model EFI.