Ford Nationals bursts into Norwalk like wildfire!

Smoke, speed and dazzling color!Kennady and Ryan Jones chase after their drag racing grandpa.

NORWALK, Ohio – Pristine and bad on the track, Ford racing machines smoked, roared and delivered excitement on the first day of the McLeod Clutches NMRA Ford Nationals on Friday, June 14, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

These cars and trucks slam colors, kick up the wheels, and crank the quarter mile elapsed times down to the sevens, such as in the AFCO Street Outlaw class, with Phil Hines, Lebanon, Ohio leading the qualifiers in a 2001 Mustang with a 7.308-second elapsed time at 194 mph.

Pure bad.

Get a taste for the talent at this event just from the rest of the AFCO Street Outlaw qualifiers: 2. Andy Manson, Woodbridge, Va., 1996 Mustang, 7.315 seconds, 191 mph; 3. Chip Pike, Hot Springs, Ark., 2000 Mustang, 7.467, 172; 4. Jason Lee, Maumee, Ohio, 1986 Mustang, 7.519, 188; 5. John Urist, Albequerque, N.M., 1993 Mustang, 14.218, 84.

Other towns and states sending their best in Ford mean machines to the contest include: Racine, Wisc.; Delphi, Ontario, Canada; Houston, Texas; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and most states in between. We thank you kindly.

In the Dial In for Dollars race on Friday, Jim Roberts showing the grandkids how it's done.Sam McGrew, Elyria, Ohio mashed a 406 cu. in. engine in his 1995 Mustang to an elapsed time of 9.621 on a dial in of 9.62 for the winning cash.

Ford loyalty reigned in the staging lanes.

For 48 years Jim Roberts paved the way for his granddaughter, Kennady Jones, 16, Seminole, Fla. at dragstrips across the country.          

February held double anticipation for Kennady, who earned a Florida license to drive a motor vehicle about the same time as an NMRA license to line up against the big boys.

“This is my fourth race,” said Kennady Jones, a high school junior, staging a 2001 Ford Lightning pickup truck sponsored by SCT. “Mom doesn't race. I'm the only girl in my family who races, and I'm the first girl in the Truck and Lightning class.”

A message scribed on the tailgate of Kennady's truck says, “You've just been beaten by a girl!”

Kennady Jones' truck makes a statement.For one pass during Friday evening qualifying rounds, Kennady Jones logged a 13.60-second quarter mile and 100 mph in the truck with a 5.4 cu. in. motor and a special SCT tuner.

Thirteen-one is the fastest I ran it,” said Kennady Jones. “It's a lot of fun. It's a big rush. I like it.”
At school, Kennady Jones learned to hone a competitive edge through running cross country to stay in shape for the track team short distance racing.

Part of Jim Roberts' further track preparation for Kennady and her brother, Ryan Jones, 14, included hauling them to his events as youngsters.

“The last time I came to this track, I was 10 years old. I don't really remember it as much,” Kennady Jones said, “But now that I get to do it myself, it's a lot different.”

Somehow a view from the tree creates a larger perspective.

“I would encourage more girls to come out,” Kennady Jones said. “Racing gives you a sense of power and authority. Anyone can do it, so they shouldn't think they can't.”

Angie Nine crews for her husband, Kent Nine.Kennady's goals agree with her philosophy.

“I want to be a psychologist,” Kennady Jones said. “And I'm going to keep up with the racing.”

Jim Roberts, Largo, Fla., says he's been drag racing since he was “knee high to a grasshopper.

“I've had great succcess over the years,” Jim Roberts said, “and good sponsors. Ford Racing, SCT and JMS have always been there for me since day one.”

Find out more about Jim Roberts on He teams up with his wife, Linda, who he married 39 years ago.

“My wife thought this track was so family oriented,” Jim Roberts said. “It's a pleasure to be back.

“I have three grandchildren,” Jim Roberts said. “Ryan is going to take this truck over in a year and a half. He will be 16. And then of course Grandpa will have to get a new one. I start training Ryan this winter.”

Staging a 2003 Lightning in the same class as Kennady, Jim Roberts delights in sharing his racing passion with his grandchildren.

“I love it. I love it,” Jim Roberts said. “It's a dream, you know?”

Valerie Clements snatches win lights from her big brother, Alton.* Kent and Angie Nine, Pierceton, Ind., staged a Brenspeed 2013 gotta-have-it green Mustang with a stage 3 Rousch Super Charger for the Rousch Super Stang class.

* Valerie Clements, 20, Clemson, South Carolina, the 2012 NMRA Rookie of the Year, lines up in the Edelbrock Renegade class in a 2006 Mustang GT sponsored by SCT Electronics with a 306 cu. in. engine.

Just off her first event win four weeks ago, Valerie Clements takes on her brother, Alton Clements Jr., 25, a commercial and industrial electrician at a family business, Clements Electrical, owned by their father, Alton Clements Sr.

“Dad doesn't race,” Allton Clements Jr. said. “He's just the mastermind behind it all. He raced way back in the day.”

By “way back in the day,” Allton Clements Jr. means before he climbed into a Junior Dragster at age 10.

Alton Clements Jr. won the 2009 NMRA Renegade Championship, he said, adding he competes now in a blue 1989 Mustang with a Ford 310 cu. in. engine.

Valerie Clements appreciates a push from her family.“I've just always loved Mustangs, and Dad's always loved them,” Alton Clements Jr. said, “because it's fun. When it stops being fun, we'll stop doing it.”

A Clemson University engineering student who's thinking about switching majors, Valerie Clements first hopped into a Junior Dragster at age eight, and now drives an eight-second quarter mile, doubling her speed.

“I didn't expect to go this quick from Juniors,” Valerie Clements said. “But it's exciting. It puts you back in your seat.”

Tending to details in Valerie Clements' Mustang, which is red lower with flames in the middle and black upper, Bill Gillen, Gainesville, Georgia, serves as crew chief.

“I've been to a zillion race tracks,” Bill Gillen said. “And this is the nicest one.”

After one round of qualifying in Edelbrock Renegade, Adam Arndt, Orefield, Pa., piloted his 1988 Mustang to the number one position with an 8.365-second elapsed time at 163 mph; Alton Clements Jr. notched third in an 8.590-second effort at 158 mph; and Valerie Clements, fifth, at 8.648 seconds and 159 mph.

Jon Pickering marbelized his Mustangs.* In Bracket I, purple merges into blue on a 1974 Mustang II with a 514 cu. in. engine owned since 1991 by Jon M. Pickering, Troy, Ohio.

“It's House of Color paint, and it's called, 'marbelizing,'” Jon M. Pickering said. “You put on a base coat, like black or blue, then you take Saran Wrap and dab on the other color, like they do in houses.”

Jon M. Pickering started with purple in the front, and used the same wrap when he changed to blue, so the purple shows up in the blue, too.

* Kevin Allen, Beaver Falls, Pa., lined up for his first NMRA event in a Grabber Blue 2011 California Special Mustang.

“I've had it since December of 2010,” said Kevin Allen, a distributor for Little Debbie Snack Cakes. “I've been racing about 10 years.

“What's interesting is, what I do makes people fat, and gives them tooth decay,” Kevin Allen said. “My wife, Bonnie, works for a dental office.”

Kevin Allen's grabber blue California Special Mustang races next!

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