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Bench Racer—With Steve Turner

Posted By: Steve Turner
Bench Racer
Back & Forward
Written by Steve Turner
Photography by BFGoodrich
As I navigated the crowded aisles of the 2022 PRI Show in Indianapolis, Indiana, I joked several times that I missed the days when there was a true off-season. There was a time before trade shows became more important and racing events were more spread out that the break between the finals and the openers was much wider. 
The truth of the matter is a break in the action can make you appreciate it all the more, but the second season of trade shows offers a different kind of satisfaction. From learning about a massive number of new products at the SEMA Show to homing in on the hardcore gear at the PRI Show, it is a blast learning about the innovations that drive the industry.
More importantly, however, these massive gatherings allow the opportunity to catch up with people in the industry that we might have been too busy to see while the cars are blasting down the track. While many of them are at the races and we get to chat briefly, there are others that we missed or haven’t seen in a while. Running into them between the trade show booths is always a treat.
Not only was this year’s PRI Show full of positive energy — highlighted by the NMRA, NMCA, and Chevrolet Performance awards ceremonies — but I ran into a few racers from the old days and struck up conversations regarding the coming NMRA 25th Anniversary celebrations, particularly those in Florida and Ohio. 
It’s cool when you bump into people you haven’t seen for years and pick up in conversation as if you had just seen them. That was the case as I crossed paths with Lidio Iacobelli of Alternative Auto Performance. He is the owner of an iconic 1993 Mustang LX sprayed in rare Tropical Yellow. It is so memorable because it graced the BFGoodrich drag radial ads and posters back in the day. 
Upon catching up, I asked Lidio about bringing the car out to either or both events. His daughter, JoAnna, had already been in his ear, but when I described them, he said he was bringing the car and he wanted to run it as well. I could see that sparkle in his eyes. We reflected on the good old days, and it brought me right back to those formative years.
Later in the show, I was debriefing JC Cascio in the Strange Engineering booth regarding the company’s new low-drag braking system, and suddenly there was another blast from the past. None other than Matt Scranton of Scranton Brothers racing fame was standing there. It had been years, and I learned he was no longer in the home elevator biz, but working as a fire inspector after fulfilling his dream of becoming a firefighter. 
Matt is back in the racing game helping out with a Pro Mod car, but as we discussed the events he got more excited, saying that some of those early days of Mustang racing were the best times of his life. He said he’d reach out to the famed Keen brothers to see if they were game as well. It was great to see Matt and so cool to see him get excited, just as Lidio had.
Not that I wasn’t excited for next season, but the excitement was rubbing off on me in a big way. Probably most jacked about next year was Tony Gonyon of HP Tuners. He was hyped before I saw him. He had already been working on bringing Pro 5.0 legend John Gullett out to the track in Orlando with his Fox Mustang daily driver.
Along the way, I chatted with Chris Johnson from JMS, who still has a Renegade car from back in the day in his collection. He may be a mad scientist of automotive electronics these days, but he’s always been a racer at heart. His wheels got spinning right away about making his car ready to run by Orlando.
At this point, I was getting hyped and we still had months to go. It was a bit like getting really worked up for Christmas and opening a few presents early. There is still time before next season, but did I leave Indy revved up and ready to go. Not only was it great to see those people and many others, but I am looking forward to taking a trip back in time for the NMRA 25th Anniversary.
One of the many cars I am looking forward to seeing during the NMRA’s silver anniversary season is Lidio Iacobelli’s Tropical Yellow 1988 Mustang LX coupe. It was immortalized in this BFGoodrich poster and companion ad campaign. Seeing it will always brings a smile to my face.

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