10-26-06-orlandostreet.jpgIt's a virtual "Hot Rod Reunion" in Orlando for each of the REAL World Street Nationals events.  

Everybody that's anybody in fast door slammer drag racing shows up in Orlando and then a hard core, hammer down, wide open, drag race explodes into action.  No jets, no circus acts, no throttle stops or delay boxes.  No bracket racing, no "boom box" contests, no bull, no "test runs", no dragsters, no practice and NO CRYBABIES!  Every run counts at the big dance. Every run counts at the big dance.






Gillig, Ulsch, Berney, and Keenan Collect Championships in Orlando


300 cars, 21,000 spectators, and the best - bar none - heads-up, street-legal doorslammer racing in the world. That in a nutshell is a recap of the just-completed event simply known as “Orlando.”

Technically it’s called the Real World Street Nationals, and this year’s version, the 14th annual, was an unqualified success. Well, the racers who crashed, broke, or failed to qualify may have a problem with that assessment, but the vast majority of fans and racers who jammed the tight confines of Orlando Speed World Dragway likely have a positive response if asked to evaluate the event.

The number of race vehicles on hand is even more impressive considering that there are only four classes – Super Pro Street, Outlaw 10.5, Heavy Street, and Radial Tires.

In Super Pro Street, the premier class of the RWSN, 2003 winner Tony Gillig returned to the winner’s circle at the expense of fellow Illinois resident Chuck Samuel, himself a former winner in Orlando.

Gillig, who is stepping away from his team’s 2004 Mustang after this weekend, took the win when Samuel got out of the groove and lifted.  




In Outlaw 10.5, consistency won the weekend for Maryland’s Chuck Ulsch, who parlayed a string of 6.90s into a trip to the final and a classic Ford versus Chevy confrontation with Brad Brand.

Ulsch lined his 2002 Camaro up beside Brand’s 1992 Mustang in the final stanza, which came to a sudden end when Brand pulled the trigger way too early and left a glowing red bulb in his wake.




The Heavy Street battle was a true classic, and in the end it was the all-steel, 3,500-pound ’55 Chevy of California’s Monty Berney taking a very popular win over Philadelphia’s Marino Cintron.

Berney’s “shoebox” Chevy put on an amazing show all weekend, running a jaw-dropping 7.177, 199.95 in the semifinals. In the final, Cintron’s ’68 Camaro lurched, lit the red light and then died at the line, allowing Berney to collect his first Orlando victory. He took an easy 7.984, 197.10 jaunt to the finish line.

The last of the four showdowns took place in Radial Tires, where another Ford versus Chevy battle was waged between New Mexico’s Mike Keenan and Floridian Tim Murray. Keenan, who paced his 1999 Ford Mustang to the No. 1 qualifying spot on Saturday, completed the weekend sweep by taking out Murray and his 2000 Camaro 7.861, 191.61 to 7.934, 176.09.







frank_gugliotta_02.jpgThe meatball rolls – Fans of IHRA Pro Stock know the name Frank Meatball” Gugliotta, but it’s a safe bet that the street-legal faithful may not be too familiar with the driver from Mount Airy, Maryland.

Gugliotta, known in IHRA circles as “The Flying Meatball,” finished third behind Pete Berner and Tony Gillig in a tight season-long championship battle.

But just a week removed from last weekend’s tension-filled IHRA season finale Gugliotta is having some fun for himself here in Orlando. He’s not here to watch, though. No, he’s here driving a turbocharged ’89 Pontiac Trans Am in Outlaw 10.5 for his friends Robert and Steven Criskfulli.

“I’m just out playing for the weekend,” Gugliotta said. “Robert and Steven asked me to drive, so here I am.”

Gugliotta qualified the unusual looking Pontiac in the No. 25 spot with a best pass of 7.387, 194.21. As for a possible future in the street car ranks, Gugliotta said with tongue firmly planted in cheek, “yeah, we’ll see about that!”   


Scharles_carpenter_02.jpgpreading the nitrous gospel - The doorslammer world is well represented in Orlando, and one of the true pioneers of the Pro Modified category is in the house.

Charles Carpenter, driver of a 1955 Chevrolet that is arguably the most recognizable “shoebox” in the sport of drag racing, is taking a busman’s holiday here in central Florida this weekend. It’s not a true vacation by any stretch of the imagination, though, as Carpenter explained. 

“We’re here with Steve Paulauskis and the WFO Racing team this weekend,” he said. “They run a 2004 Cavalier in the Pacific Street Car Association, and they’re the current point leader in their class. The car has been running real well this year – it ran 6.41 at 218 at Las Vegas in 4,500-feet of air, so it can run. They’ve done real well, and Steve’s a good driver.

“I’ve sold Steve a couple of engines,” said Carpenter.” In fact, they have the engine that ran 6.22 in my car at Martin, Michigan, earlier this season. It’s a good piece, and it gives these guys great potential. 

“My son Michael and I came here to help them out this weekend, and we’ve been having a big time. It’s been kind of a relaxing weekend but also a stressful one in some ways. We’ve got to watch a lot more racing then we normally do at the IHRA events.

“I wouldn’t mind trying this type of racing,” said Carpenter when asked what he thought of the brand of competition on display this weekend. “We’ve never run weight in our car like this, but we’re learning stuff out here. We’ve got to kind of cover all our options because you can never tell. With the way the nitrous deal is going in IHRA this is looking better every day.”



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Steve King - Super Pro Street
Tim Lynch - Outlaw 10.5





 Mike Keenan - Radial Tires


  Bill Lutz - Heavy Street







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Shufflin’ Off – The Real World Street Nationals always draw the who’s who of fast doorslammer drag racing to sunny Florida. Most come for the racing action, and others come for the weather, but one guy in particular was there for both reasons.

Engine builder and two-time IHRA Pro Modified champion Mike Janis took advantage of the scheduling this year to escape from his snow-covered hometown of Buffalo, New York, and head south.

Just one week removed from the final race of the IHRA season in Rockingham, North Carolina, and a tough fight for the Pro Mod championship, Janis reflected on his 2006 campaign and his third-place finish. “We missed being runner-up by eight points, but we’re real happy with the way our new car and engine program worked out. We’d like to find a little more power, but in general we had a great year and we hope next year is a little bit better.”

Janis ended up in the pit area of Super Pro Street competitor John Stanley, and he was happy to be there. “I came down here to get away from the snow in Buffalo and to check out the cars down here,” he said. Janis also mentioned that maybe he could help Stanley “run some 6.0s like the Pro Mods are running,” to which John’s dad Camp replied: That would be right down John’s alley, I believe, although it’s a little far-fetched.”

Bringing a bazooka to a gun fight –
In the world of Outlaw 10.5 racing it’s widely recognized that the quickest, fastest, and toughest of the breed are two hard-chargers from Georgia. Tim Lynch, of Woodstock, and Steve Kirk Jr., of Monroe, have developed a rivalry of legendary proportions, and fans wait with bated breath to see the two go head-to-head out on the racetrack.

Orlando has been a showcase for Lynch and Kirk for several years, and this year’s edition promises to be one for the books. Just to be sure it is both drivers have brought their biggest guns to their personal war.

In an effort to gain an advantage over his adversary, Kirk has a new Gene Fulton-prepared 870-cubic-inch beast under the hood of his 2000 Camaro. “We actually did a lot of homework just to do this race,” Kirk said. “We’ve got the new 870-inch Fulton engine in there. We tested with it in Valdosta and had some excellent results.”

Kirk may have rolled out the heavy artillery, but Lynch doesn’t appear to be intimidated. With one qualifying session remaining, Lynch is the provisional No. 1 qualifier, his 6.934, 212.26 holding sway over – guess who – Kirk, who has posted a best effort of 6.938, 208.57.

dan_parker.jpgThree For All – There are turbocharged cars in abundance here in Orlando this weekend, but three of the coolest are the 2001 Mustang of John Gullett, the 1986 Thunderbird of Erica Ortiz, and the 2004 Escort wheeled by Dan Parker.

The trio have joined forces to mount a three-pronged attack on the Super Pro Street class this weekend, and so far the strategy seems to be paying off. After two qualifying sessions Gullett sits sixth, Parker is 22nd, and Ortiz is just outside in the No. 36 spot.

The three-car approach has long-range implications, however, as Parker explained: “We’re trying to evolve a team for next season. We’re really hoping the IHRA will allow the turbo combinations to run [in Pro Modified next season] and that’s our plan for ’07. John has a new car, and we’re going to re-skin Erica’s car to an ’05 Mustang over the winter.”

As a rookie, Ortiz finished second in Fun Ford Weekend Pro 5.0 points this season, and was the first woman in FFW competition to run in the six-second zone at over 200 mph. We’re excited about being here,” said Ortiz about her first trip to Orlando. “We’ve been improving slowly but surely, and we’re just taking it one step at a time.”

tony_gillig.jpgChange of scenery – A week ago Tony Gillig was in North Carolina, slugging it out for the IHRA Pro Stock championship. After leading the points for most of the season, Gillig lost his bid for the crown to Pete Berner on the final weekend of the season.

“Rockingham was pretty disappointing for us, but to finish number two with a three-year-old race car and one motor in the trailer was pretty good,” said Gillig. “We gave it our best shot, but we caught some bad breaks along the way. We’ll take number two. Racing is racing, so what are you going to do?.

To help put the disappointment of the previous week behind him, Gillig has returned to the familiar confines of OSWD, where he has enjoyed success in the past. In 2003 the Lake Bluff, Illinois, resident took out Pro Street icon Tony Christian in the Super Pro Street final.

“We’re here to knock these guys around a bit and win this thing again.” Gillig said. “It’s a cool deal. We won here with the blown small block car in ’03, and last year we finished runner-up to Shannon Jenkins. I’d bet on the red car in the final over here.”

The return of Marc Dantoni – After winning five NSCA Pro Street championships, three consecutive Real World Street Nationals titles, and taking a shot at Pro Modified competition, Marc Dantoni disappeared from the racing scene.

His hiatus is about to come to an end.

AT – We hear you have a new car; we hear it’s in the paint shop. What’s the truth?

MD –
The new car, a ’67 Camaro, will be out a month from now. We’re going to be doing a lot of testing with Vinny [Budano] and Scott [Shafiroff]. It looks like next year whatever class we pick to run will be a tough class.

AT – Nitrous Oxide?

MD –
Nitrous oxide, and two cars probably.

AT – Clutch?

MD –
Big clutch.

AT – Of course.

Watch the Video





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An overnight rain soaked the environs of Orlando Speed World Dragway, but breaking clouds and brightening skies indicate that it’s full steam ahead for day two of the 14th annual Real World Street Nationals.

Once track drying is completed, the second qualifying sessions for Heavy Street and Radial Tires will get under way. Competitors in Super Pro Street and Outlaw 10.5 had their second shot at their respective 32-car fields last night, but the late hour forced postponement of the other two categories.

In last night’s second session, there were no changes in the Super Pro Street rankings, with Tony Gillig holding on to the top spot, followed by Annette Summer, Steve Paulauskis, Kevin McCurdy, and Ed Thornton.

There were, however, some significant changes among the top five racers in Outlaw 10.5. The top three names on the list remained the same, but all three improved upon their initial results. No. 1 was Tim Lynch, who went from 7.005, 209.49 to 6.934, 212. Second-seeded Steve Kirk Jr., improved from 7.069, 202.88 to 6.938, 208.57, while Chuck Ulsch also bettered his first run and held on to the No. 3 spot, going from 7.076, 202.24, to 7.001, 190.59.

The fourth and fifth spots did changed hands, however, with Jeff Naiser displacing Charlie Dolbin, and Todd Moyer moving up at the expense of Rick Thornton.  




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Orlando, Baby!

It’s hot, hot, hot, and the air temperature is up there, too! If it’s October and we’re in Orlando, then we’re at the biggest and baddest outlaw street car race on the planet.

The 14th annual Real World Street Nationals at Orlando Speed World Dragway kicked off at high noon Friday, and some impressive numbers have already been posted.

Unfortunately, the first of two planned qualifying sessions was delayed for well over an hour after Eddie Timal, of Toronto, Ontario, got out of shape while on a single run. His 10.5 ’74 Pontiac GTO went air born before rolling, flipping, and landing on the far side of the guard wall.  Timal jumped out of the car and gave a thumbs-up to the crowd, but his car was heavily damaged.

There were 59 cars attempting to qualify for the 32-car Super Pro Street field, and after the first session on Friday IHRA Pro Stock regular Tony Gillig led the way. Gillig, who finished runner-up in the IHRA championship chase this season, paced his mountain motor-powered 2004 Ford Mustang to a pass of 6.548-seconds at 215.10 mph to claim the provisional top spot. 

Annette Summer, who qualified No. 1 at last year’s version of the Real World Street Nationals, held the position again for most of the session until Gillig made his pass. Summer, who has her turbo-powered ’57 Chevy here in Orlando this weekend, is currently in the No. 2 slot on the strength of a 6.577, 218.71 effort.

Rounding out the top-five are Steve Paulauskis (6.690, 211.41), Kevin McCurdy (6.694, 212.41), and Ed Thornton (6.710, 213.77).

66 Outlaw 10.5 racers jammed the staging lanes for today’s first qualifying session, and since more than half of them will be going home early or watching from the stands after the 32-car field is set, the competition is understandably fierce. 

As has been the case so many times in the recent past, two heavy hitters from Georgia dominated the action. Tim Lynch took the top spot with a pass of 7.005-seconds at 209.49 mph. Right on his heels was Steve Kirk Jr., who ran through with a mark of 7.069, 202.88 for the No. 2 position.

The third, fourth, and fifth runners were Chuck Ulsch (7.076, 202.24), Charlie Doblin (7.156, 197.06), and Rick Thornton (7.158, 195.35).

The biggest turnout of the weekend has been in the Radial Tires class, with 83 entrants lining up to do battle. Some impressive performances were turned in by the top runners, with Paul Major clicking off the best of the best, a class-leading 7.788, 185.56. He was followed by Mike Keenan (7.813, 190.71), Victor Spires (8.004, 177.09), Tim Murray (8.028, 174.52), and Dave Buckley (8.043, 175.60).

The fourth class of competition here in Orlando is Heavy Street, and there are 60 cars in the pits. Leading the way after the first session is veteran doorslammer competitor Monty Berney, who put his California-based, all-steel, supercharged ’55 Chevy in the No. 1 spot with a solid 7.401, 191.32 blast. The No. 2 man was Bill Lutz, who took the position with an effort of 7.520, 193.29.

They were followed in the order by Sam Gottier (7.577, 180.43), Heath Johnston (7.631, 186.18), and John Schroeder (7.666, 180.79).




Top five after first session of Super Pro Street:


Tony Gillig, 6.548, 215.10

Annette Summer, 6.577, 218.71

Steve Paulauskis, 6.690, 211.41

Kevin McCurdy, 6694, 212.41

Ed Thornton, 6.10, 213.77


Top five after first session of Outlaw 10.5:


Tim Lynch, 7.005, 209.49

Steve Kirk Jr., 7.069, 202.88

Chuck Ulsch, 7.076, 202.24

Charlie Doblin, 7.156, 197.06

Rick Thornton, 7.158, 195.35


Top five after first session of Radial Tires:


Paul Major, 7.788, 185.56

Mike Keenan, 7.813, 190.71

Victor Spires, 8.004, 177.09

Tim Murray, 8.028, 174.52

Dave Buckley, 8.043, 175.60


Top five after the first session of Heavy Street:


Monty Berney, 7.401, 191.32

Bill Lutz, 7.520, 193.29

Sam Gottier, 7.577, 180.43

Heath Johnston, 7.631, 186.18

John Schroeder, 7.666, 180.79


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Eddie Timal had a bad day during the Friday's qualifying for the Orlando World Street Nationals. Torco's CompetitionPlus.com photographer Kelly Pelrine captured the Toronto-based 10.5 Tire driver and his mishap. He was uninjured.

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