That's right, I have decided to put together a list that is sure to create some banter and as always a list that not everyone will agree on. There are always going to be ones left off the list that some feel should be on there. Below is a list that I created based on my personal experiences.
Let me start by saying that I am a Ford guy. Been bleeding Ford Blue for since the late 80's and early 90's. I started racing Mustangs in the mid 90's and continued to do so until the end of 2008 when I parked my car. In 2010 I started concentrating on the media side of the sport. So this list is coming from a fan, a racer, and a media member. This list is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER!
The fact is that I made some glaring missteps with the original list and have decided to expand the list to include five more. This was my 4AM mistake and to those that we left off I apologize.
Don Walsh Jr. - 3X Champion, more wins than I can count, successful performance shop, successful Pro Mod driver. That's right, Don is someone that should be and is looked upon by me as one of the best ever to wheel a car. His shops, D&D Performance & Walsh Motorsports have been a staple of the industry for many years. He continues even to this day to be one of the most feared drivers in the country. After stepping out of the PTE Pro Mod, he takes some time to drive the Skinny Kid Olds at more local events so that he can concentrate on family and his business as well.
Dan Millen - With the explosion of high horsepower street cars, there were still an original. That original was Dan Millen. He won races, caused controversy, and even took his outlaw Mustang to the BK Drive Through. Dan's shop Livernois Motorsports was at the front of serious evolution back in the day and continues to be a go to spot for late model EFI.
Tim Lynch - Let's face it, there wasn't a time in the 2000's that we didn't talk about Tim and either the Foxbody or the New Edge car before going to the dark side with the Vette. Whether it was opening a magazine and seeing him plastered all over the UPR ad's or whether it was Tim and Steve setting records all over the country, we as Ford fans couldn't get enough of Tim and his cars. Now a days, Tim is working on high end supercars like Lambo's and GTR's
Chris Little - Chris is still making hot laps on the scene with the little green monster. He has been a staple for years and has raced about everyone and everything there is to race. Ranks right up there with the original class of radial superstars as well. Lately Chris has been spending more time on the boat than in the car I think, but you can bet if he's at a race is in one to be reckoned with.
Triple B - That's right the bad bad man. None other than Triple B "Bad" Brad Brand. You cannot look at one of his Mustangs without falling in love. His cars have been works of art. Along with the work of art is the performance to crush just about anyone's soul at any given moment on the race track. Brad made the transition to Pro Mod a while back, before stepping out of the seat and selling the Pro Mod. He does still have the Fox Body, which I personally hope to see in either Outlaw 10.5 or Radial racing again soon.
Bruce Hemminger, Tim Matherly, & Robin Lawrence - My list my rules. The three of these guys were the heart and sole of the NMRA Real Street World for a long time. The fact is that the NMRA was built on classes like Real Street. I couldn't pick one over the other and wouldn't want to honestly. Bruce was a nitrous king with that white four eye and a clutch, while Tim was the first Modular powered Real Street car to go in the 9's. And Robin, he is kind of the father of it all. While yes, Robin moved over to the dark side to race with the other guys for a while, he is still one of the most respected Ford drivers of the last 20 years. Currently Bruce is at home in Illinois working on getting people into the right car at the dealership and helping with other peoples race cars. Tim is currently still cranking out badass cars at his shop MV Performance in Georgia, as well as taking on the Coyote Stock class in NMRA. And, well Robin is playing around with the Holley family and their EFI program that is now in every single NHRA Pro Stock car. These three carried the street scene for a long time during that run and there are a lot of us that are very grateful.
Bill Devine - Some, including myself see Bill, along with a couple others on the list as the OG's of the Ford racing we see today. There was always controversy surrounding Bill. The reason was that turbo's weren't considered legit power adders at one point. They were voodoo and if you ran a turbo you got an asterisk next to your name. You were a sideshow and classes wouldn't let you compete against the blowers and nitrous cars. Bill, along with Racin' Jason's car and Gene Deputy's car were originators in the turbo world. Bill has continued to stay busy within the industry, not only racing, but as the face of Bullseye Turbo, whom he has been with for a long time.
Racin’ Jason & Mike Ragusa - What can I say about these two that hasn't already been said? When you talk about Icon's in Ford racing and turbo cars, these two are at the top of the mountain as well. We lost Jason way too early in life, yet his beautiful white fox convertible has left an indelible mark on us as Ford fans. More recently, the Mustang that a lot of us grew up reading about and admiring was found in a storage unit and eventually ended up in the hands of Joe Caldwell, who took the time to redo the entire car. If not for Joe, there is no telling where this iconic car would have ended up.
Gene Deputy - The Anteater car. A staple back in the day of ingenuity with a touch of "what the hell is that?" He was an innovator when it came to the turbo system and showing the world what it could do.
Bill Glidden - If yo have to ask why he is on this list you might want to stop reading now. The fact is that Billy is one of the most accomplished Ford drag racers over the last 20 years. Whether it was the Black LX that scared everyone the moment it rolled out of the trailer, or the New Edge Pro 5.0 Car, or the Mickey Thompson Pro Mod Mustang, when Billy is on the property you know it. You also know that he is going to have the car to beat. Recently, Billy wentto the dark side and took over the driving duties for Harry Hruska's Precision Turbo Pro Mod Camaro. He also still stays busy back home at the shop in Whiteland, IN.
Mike Murillo - One of the Texas OG's in the Star Car. Mike is known as one of the winningest drivers in NMCA and NMRA. Mike has won more championships than I can count on both hands. He has also moved into the grudge word and other business ventures. As of late he had a new car built by Dennis MacPherson at DMC Racing after having a bad crash last year. Mike with his long time sponsor SCT, have been the car to beat when he shows up at an NMCA race. Keep looking for Mike and all that he is doing.
John Kolivas - I know that some of you new to the game might only know John Kolivas as the man behind tuning record setting, race winning KBX cars. What you are missing is that John is a former multi time NMRA World Championship driver as well. His slick white SN95 turbo drag radial Mustang is actually the one owned by radial heavy hitter Daniel Pharris now. John was a force to be aware of for years in the NMRA before hanging up his shoes and concentrating on the laptop. You will now find him at almost any big radial race working on cars like Joel Greathouse, Ronnie Diaz, Charles Hull, and many others. John has been one to give back to the industry as well. KBX is also a big sponsor at most races.
Dwayne Gutridge - So you think there was no drag radial until about the last 7 years? Don't tell this guy that. Dwayne 'Big Daddy" Gutridge is a true original in drag radial. This guy was destroying FFW drag radial class years before there was ever a big radial race. He was doing it on the original BFG radial tire as well. So when you think of people that started this movement, go back and look at some old BFGoodrich ad's that were a staple on shop and garage walls. Dwayne is still very involved in the radial movement and we expect to see him out again with that sweet black fox soon.
Erica Ortiz - Who? Yep that's right, Erica made my list. Not just to have a lady on the list, but the fact that this lady was one of the best drivers over the last 20 years. Before there was a Erica Enders, a Force, a Puddin', or any of them, there was an Erica. There was a BBF Thunderbird with tiny turbo's running 6's. She was also a drag radial hot shot. She finished #2 in the FFW Drag Radial class back in 2003...yes 13 years ago! Erica has recently decided that she was going to get back into the seat. We hope to see some companies step up and make this happen!!
John Urist - Is Mike Murillo is the king of NMCA, John is the undisputed king of NMRA. Over the last decade there has not been a more dominate driver in any class. John has Also become one of the best, if not the best aftermarket turbo kit company for late model Mustangs in all of the country as seen by the performance of his wife Melissa's late model Mustang. I personally want to see John back out there in NMRA, as well as big time radial races. He is certainly missed this season.
John Mihovetz - Got Modular? If you have a mod motor Mustang than you should already know exactly who John is. He is the one running 5 second passes with a tiny little 281 4V engine and a hell of a lot of boost. He is the main man at Accufab as well. John stays busy racing on the west coast and will also be the main sponsor at the up coming Mod Nationals in Memphis on Labor Day weekend
Steve Grebeck - Most likely the only driver on this list to have their car in a Kid Rock video. Steve was one of the best. You will never find anyone that had a bad word to say about Steve. He was an innovator and an amazing human being. Performance aside, he brought a smile to people's faces. Unfortunately we lost Steve to an accident in March of 2002. I know right now that had we not lost Steve, we would still be talking about him being at the top of whatever class he was running.
Stormin’ Norman Gray - Unfortunately Norman left us in 2013, but before that he was one of the ones that you could count on being at the Mustang vs Buick races back in the day, along with the Stormin' Norman Invitationals. He really was on the forefront of Mustang racing. There isn't much that Norman didn't accomplish during his time, and fact is that without him we might not have a lot of the history or memories that we have when it comes to late model Mustang racing.
Joe Da Silva - The Canadian Guy as some of us fans called him back in day. Joe has been in the game since the early 90's. He was a well know FFW racer and way back when, it was Joe and Paul of J&P Performance. Joe now owns DaSilva Racing in Toronto. He hasn't left all the racing behind though. Most recently I ran into Joe at Lights Out 7 when he was there working with David Wolfe and his Radial vs. The World car. Joe is another that we would love to see behind the wheel of a Pro Mod or RvW car and show these kids how it's done.
Mustang Mike Modest - Quiet Man is what I would call Mike. He is the one that speaks softly and carries a big stick. He is most likely the quietest person you will ever meet at the track. Still running the unique combo of twin "these aren't turbos" Prochargers. Mike is from the east coast and has been the face of drag racing in that area for a long time. There are times that you won't even know Mike is there until he pulls up in the box. He is a staple of performance, professionalism, and winning. For that reason he makes the list without any question.
David Pearson - The fact is that Dave is not new to the drag racing world and neither is his teal colored Fox Body Mustang. In fact, he might be the craziest man in all of drag racing. He has managed to lay down jaw dropping 4.10-4.11 passes in his radial equipped car. One might not think that's a big deal, until you realize that he has been doing it on a tiny little 275 tire. That's right...huge numbers and small tires. His Procharged blown SBF, UPR suspended hot rod is the baddest man ever on a 275 tire in my mind. He is the only man that I think could qualify and would qualify for RvW on a 275 tire. Dave has laid low this summer while spending some time with the family. I am sure we will see him again this fall hurting feelings and putting people on the trailer.
Charlie Booze Jr. - Mr. Perfect would be a great description for Charlie. He showed everyone what perfection was in 2004 when he swept the NMRA Hot Street class, but also won the NMCA Pro Stock Championship. His dedication the the naturally aspirated movement is still in full force. You will sometimes see him competing in Ultra Street with his N/A Foxbody combo. He is also one of the driving forces behind former Coyote Stock World Champion Shane Stymiest.
Bob Hanlon - Mr. 5 Speed Bob Hanlon is the man when it comes to racing a true manual transmission. Bob was a regular in Hot Street with this Tremec Transmissions equipped ride. He might not be racing as much, but if you have a must and you are looking for a well built 5 speed or 6 speed Bob is one of the ones on the top of your list to call over at Hanlon Motorsports.
Tommy Godfrey - Some of my close friends that read this will be absolutely shocked that I have Tommy "Darth Vader" Godfrey on this list. Well the simple fact is that Tommy is a 4x champion and was an absolutely dominate force in NMRA Factory Stock. You didn't have to like him, but you certainly needed to respect his accomplishments. We'd personally like to see Tommy get back out there again and shake things up.
Chuck Samuel - Another old school Pro 5.0 guy. Chuck was and is still a heavy hitter in the game. Instead of driving a Mustang or even and Escort, he is now found tuning Pro Mods. Chuck was a 2x World Champion and it doesn't matter if it was a small block turbo car or a big block nitrous car, Chuck knew how to win.