The Lady in the Pony Takes the NMRA Superbowl!
JOLIET, Ill. – Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois was the scene of an excellent performance by the ROUSH® Drag Racing Team this past weekend, and especially that of Susan Roush-McClenaghan who became the first female to not only compete in, but win the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing.
In the NMCA, Susan Roush-McClenaghan races in the McLeod Open Comp class, typically in the same car that she utilizes in NMRA competition. But since the organization has a rule that the same car cannot be used to compete in both series’ at this event because of the competitive advantage it would give, Susan was piloting the 2003 Mustang that SheDevil Motorsports campaigns on occasion. In a tough field of 25 competitors, Susan landed in the ninth position on the qualifying ladder with a .047 reaction time after the two sessions were complete. Her first opponent was Missouri’s Patrick Nothdurft, who ended the race before it even started, carding a -.026 reaction time and moving Susan on to the second round of competition.
Dave Davis and his ’31 Hemi-powered Ford were next up, and Susan earned nearly a one tenth-advantage at the starting line, allowing her to ease into the stripe and take the win at the top end, running an 11.78 on her 11.70 dial. In the third round, Susan met up with Mike Roup; while he uncorked a .014 reaction time, Susan was hot on his heels with a .018 light of her own. At the top end, Susan pushed just hard enough to force Roup to break out, running an 11.09 on his 11.13 dial, while Susan turned in an 11.73 on her 11.70 number. In the fourth round of action, Susan found herself paired up with Indiana’s Clarence Harding and his nine-second ’69 Chevelle. After seeing Susan’s prior-round performance, Harding knew he’d have to be on his game, and he pushed too hard on the starting line with a -.005 reaction time, moving Susan to the semifinal round, where she’d find class stalwart Chuck Hockenberry waiting for her. Hockenberry also turned himself inside-out on the starting line, a -.002 reaction time ending the race before it started and sending Susan on to the final round.
In the finals, she’d meet up with Jacksonville, Florida’s Joe Parisi, who found himself a victim of the same circumstance with a -.004 reaction time ending the race before it even got started and handing Susan her first win of the season in this class. After her Open Comp win was complete, Susan had the opportunity to compete in the NMRA/NMCA Shootout portion of the event, where she would face off against the NMRA’s Open Comp winner, fellow Michigan resident Paul Leaman. Yet again, Susan turned up the wick on Paul and took home the win, making her the very first female Super Bowl winner after seven rounds of competition during an incredibly exciting weekend.
Team patriarch Don Bowles races in the NMRA Edelbrock Hot Street class which features cutting-edge small-block Ford engines that race on a small 28×10.5 tire. Don debuted a gorgeous yellow Maverick chassis earlier this season, and the team installed a brand-new engine just prior to this race. Don qualified fifth with an 8.81, and the team prepared for eliminations, which began on Saturday night. In the first round, Bowles had to face off against fellow ROUSH Competition Engines customer Robbie Blankenship. Don got out of the gates first with a .093 reaction time on the .400 Pro Tree, and at the top end he would earn the win as Blankenship couldn’t get it done. The second round found him at the line opposite Max Gross; though Gross got out of the gates early, Don’s newfound engine made enough power to pull him through on the top end with an 8.65 to Gross’ 8.77.
This sent Don on to the final round against three-time class Champion Charlie Booze Jr. When the lights came down, Booze took a slight holeshot lead as the pair powered out of the gates. Bowles fought a wheelstand, getting slightly out of the groove at the 60-foot mark, and handing Booze just enough of a window to take the win at the stripe, 8.64 to Bowles’ 8.68, giving Don the runner-up finish and moving him ahead of Max Gross to second in the season point standings.
ROUSH Performance sponsors the Modular Muscle class in the NMRA, and both Susan and Donnie Bowles line up against some of the best competition in the country in this Open-Comp style eliminator class. Susan qualified fifth with a .024 reaction time, while Donnie had a .053 reaction time to sit in tenth out of 27 competitors, once the qualifying sessions were complete.
In the first round of competition, Susan faced off against Jeff Stafford, a wickedly-consistent Modular Muscle racer who finished sixth in points last season. The pair left the starting line with almost identical reaction times, Stafford’s .050 bettering Susan by .001, but at the top end of the track, Stafford broke out, handing Susan the win and moving her to the next round of competition. There she’d face off against Ontario’s Randy Mounce, who also fell victim to the SheDevil Motorsports machine of Susan, breaking out just a hair through the traps and moving Susan to round three, where she’d face Scot Mistro. When the tree dropped, Mistro got out first with a .036 reaction time, forcing Susan to press him at the top end and causing her to break out, running .02 under her dial and ending her weekend in this class.
Donnie’s first round found him racing against Tony Lindahl, and Donnie earned an easy win when Lindahl slept on the tree with a .794 reaction time, making the move to round two an easy one. There, Donnie would come up against Tennessee’s Shane Williams, a consistent racer who has won multiple championships in this racing format. Williams got out of the gates first with a .019 reaction time, but Donnie was hot on his heels with a .021 leave. At the top end, Donnie stayed into it just a hair too long, breaking out with a 9.55 on his 9.56 dial and ending his weekend.
The ROUSH® Drag Team carries sponsorship from 3M, Valvoline, MickeyThompson and ROUSH. The next event on the NMRA schedule will take place August 6-9 at ZMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.