When the 2013 Muscle Car Series kicked off Memorial Day weekend during the Street Car Showdown, one thing was for certain: The points standings for the Pro Outlaw and Outlaw classes were going to look a lot different than from the two previous years.
Gone were the father-son combination of Mike and Dean Bauerly, who were dominate in the Outlaw and Pro Outlaw classes, respectively. Gone was their teammate, Luke Volk, who tied for the Pro Outlaw championship last year. Gone was Eric Wourms, who won the Outlaw Class two of the last three years. That opened the door this year for other drivers to step up and make a run for a series championship in the fastest two classes of the series.
In Pro Outlaw, Craig Braun was a favorite entering the season after tying Volk last year for the championship. But Braun missed the first race this year – the Street Car Showdown – and finished third. Bill Krech and Ray Fuchs surfaced as the main contenders as they slugged it out during all three series races, with each winning one race and finishing second and third behind Braun in the final race: the Muscle Car Shootout. The difference was that Krech and his 1969 Camaro finished second in the finale, which was just enough to edge Fuchs out for the championship.
This year was the fifth year for the three-race Muscle Car Series, which includes the Street Car Showdown Memorial Day weekend, the NAPA Auto Parts Show & Go the Fourth of July weekend and the Muscle Car Shootout Labor Day weekend. At center stage are the seven Heads-Up Classes, where both cars get the green light at the same time, and the fastest car to the finish line wins. There are 15 other “handicap” classes each race.
In the Outlaw Class, Jake Delmonico swept the three races, taking the championship in his 1968 Camaro. Delmonico never had the fastest car in the class, running 7.7 seconds and about 175 mph, but he was the most consistent, which was the secret to this success, he said.
“The car was really consistent all year,” Delmonico said. “It’s like a perfect bracket drag racing car, not a heads-up car. But I let everyone else throw the power at the track.
“It’s a tough class to win. It was definitely a high note, a great year.”
Like Delmonico, Brian Mahnke credits consistency as the main reason for his success again in the King Street Class, he said. In a class with 29 other drivers chasing the championship, Mahnke also credits luck as playing a major role in winning his fourth straight series championship.
Mahnke and his 1972 Camaro swept the series again this year for the second time in three years and has become one of the toughest drivers to beat in the Muscle Car Series. Since the series started in 2009, Mahnke has 10 finals wins and one runner-up finish. He didn’t make it to the finals only four times.
There was no repeat in the Real Street Unlimited Class but the 2013 series resembled last year’s series for Jim Ripley, only with better results. Last year, Ripley and Tom Jones ended up in the finals of all three races, with Jones winning the class by beating Ripley in two of them.
This year, Ripley and his 1972 Nova found himself in the finals of the first two races with Jad Carlson, with each racer walking away with a win. In the Muscle Car Shootout, Carlson lost in the semifinals and Ripley went on to win the finals – and the series championship.
A fierce rivalry ended in the Real Street Natural Class as well, when Todd Malik left for the True Street Class. Malik and Matt Sathre were in the finals in all three races last year and the last two races of 2011. They split in 2011, when Malik won the series championship, but Sathre, who races an ’89 Mustang, got his revenge last year by beating Malik in all three finals for his first series championship. This year, Sathre swept the series again, extending his winning streak to include seven straight races and two championships.
“You’ve got to get lucky and have a car that’s reliable and has the right set-up,” Sathre said, regarding the streak. “You can’t red line and you can’t break. Repeating was more exciting than the first championship because it’s harder to do, to keep that streak alive. We’ll see what happens next year.”
Malik’s move to True Street this year turned out to be a good one. Driving a 1968 Camaro, Malik was off to a slow start when he didn’t make the elimination rounds in the Street Car Showdown, but rebounded by winning the next two races and the series championship.
New to the series this year was the 660 Outlaw Street Class, and Lucas Mlinar started his own streak by claiming the inaugural championship. For 660 Outlaw Street, BIR shortens the drag strip to an eighth mile and adds tire restrictions that level the playing field for the cars in that class. Mlinar won the last two races with his 2001 Trans Am that was running 4.8-second times at 157.48 mph.
The three Strip Eliminator classes all have new champions this year, partly because of the large number of racers in each class. Strip Eliminator 1, for example, had 39 racers chasing the series championship. Charlie Odden and his 1968 Camaro outlasted the field by winning the second race and losing in the semifinals of the last one to place first.
The field for Strip Eliminator 2 included 82 racers this year, including Gary Olson, who raced his ’79 Camaro to one win and a runner-up finish, which was good enough to earn him a series championship.
Strip Eliminator 3 had 32 racers, including Gary Tesar who won the series championship in his 1987 IROC Z with a win and a runner-up finish.
The series also has 10 Index classes, the winners of each get paired up for a run-off to determine the Index Class Champion at each race. The racers in those run-offs also earn points toward a series championship. Mike Hammerstrom had two runner-up finishes, which was enough for a series championship.
Below are the top three places in each class:
Pro Outlaw – sponsored by Gizmos
1. Bill Krech of Inver Grove Heights
2. Ray Fuchs of Bowman, N.D.
3. Craig Braun of Hampton
Outlaw – sponsored by K.T.R.E.
1. Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park
2. Brian Carpenter of Forest Lake
3. Jason Rolow of Anoka
King Street – sponsored by TNT Speed Shop
1. Brian Mahnke of Proctor
2. Evan Boettcher of Andover
3. Mike Sterling of Oak Grove
Real Street Unlimited – sponsored by Modern Automotive Performance
1. Jim Ripley of Duluth
2. Jad Carlson of Hermantown
3. Clint Warpula of Chisholm
Real Street Natural – sponsored by Rushio Farmers Insurance
1. Matt Sathre of Brooklyn Park
2. Kelly Rutz of Randall
3. Jerry Stellrecht of Goodhue
True Street – sponsored by Norm’s Tire Sales
1. Todd Malik of Andover
2. Jason Nelson of Champlin
3. Zack Novak of Sauk Rapids
660 Outlaw Street – sponsored by K.T.R.E
1. Lucas Mlinar of Winnipeg, Manitoba
2. Nick Strohbeen of Roseville
3. Jim Friendt of Cottage Grove
Strip Eliminator 1
1. Charlie Odden of Pine Center
2. Jesse Haugesag of Prior Lake
3. Jeff Weston of Champlin
Strip Eliminator 2
1. Gary Olson of Sartell
2. Warren Anderson of Cambridge
3. Lonnie Ellenson of Park Rapids
Strip Eliminator 3
1. Gary Tesar of Medina
2. Kirk Leith of Prior Lake
3. Gordon Hanson of Iron
1. Troy Anderson of St. Paul
2. David Adams of Brooklyn Center
3. Jerry Jablonski of Duluth
1. Chris Moorman of St. Michael
2. Sheldon Lee of St. Peter
3. Larry Jarosiewicz of Hugo
Index Class Championship
1. Mike Hammerstrom of Bemidji
2. Kevin Sand of Cambridge
3. Bruce Morley of Brainerd