When I ask you what an Outlaw 10.5 driver, a Canadian driving a Mini Cooper, a controversial No Time car, and a National Event Championship NHRA Pro Stock driver have in common, what would the right answer be? The correct answer is that they are all Lights Out X Champions!
Lights Out at South Georgia Motorsports Park has become arguably the largest and most prestigious door car race of the year. While yes, there are plenty of other door car races, and plenty of other radial races throughout the country, there are very few that draw the attention, fanfare, and payout that Donald Long’s Lights Out race does.
This was the Tenth Anniversary of the historic race, and it very well might have been the best yet. Imagine back to ten years ago when David Wolfe from Texas was dropping mid 4.40’s in RvW and constantly resetting the World Record. Now we are all itching to see who will be the first to light the boards with a 3.5x elapsed time. We didn’t see any of those times at SGMP this time around, but what we saw was killer racing, and huge crowds.
Headlining the action over the weekend was of course Radial vs. The World. Didn’t matter if you were in a steel body car or a pro mod, if you had radials on it, you were allowed to send it. Drivers from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, and the U.S. came to compete for that $50,000.00 payday. Drivers from NHRA, PDRA, MWPMS, NMCA, and just about every other series you can think of rolled though the gates at SGMP.
In the end though, it turned out to be an NHRA National Event Champion Alex Laughlin with his Speed Society backed, Frankie Taylor tuned, blown Corvette that took home the payday when he defeated championship radial racer Daniel Pharris in the finals. Alex took advantage of those Pro Stock tree skills and dropped the hammer on Daniel at the tree. Daniel wasn’t too far behind, but it was Alex that make it to the stripe first.
Once that was settled, it was time to move into the RvW Second Chance race. In what could only be described as a pleasant shock, it was Brian Chin that defeated Greg Henschell. Brian, who is also known as a grudge racer with his other car, made his radial tire debut over the weekend and proved to everyone that he, along with his lead man Joe Albright were consistent and able to set new personal bests while taking home the class victory.
Pro 275, while still and up and coming class, has some of the heaviest hitters in the radial industry competing in it. Names like Don Lamana, Greg Powrie, Dr. Dan Boyko, and Brian McGee. These are 3 second capable cars, and in the end, it was Dr. Dan Boyko with Josh Ledford behind the keyboard that took home the Pro 275 payday and cowboy hat by defeating Greg Powrie.
Calling LDR (Limited Drag Radial) to the lanes. If you were sitting in the lanes, the stands, the tower, or along the wall, you couldn’t help but notice the performances being laid down in LDR last weekend. Justin Martin might be the record holder at this time, and still left the event with the record, but you can bet your ass he has got some serious competition this season. It wasn’t just one car that was dropping ridiculous times though. Shane Stack, Daniel Pharris, Chad Henderson, Lyle Barnett, & Paul Gargus. All of them were in the low 4.teens and knocking on the door of 4.ohs. When Sunday afternoon rolled up on us, it was G-Body on G-Body crime as Shane “ThrillBilly” Stack faced off against another G-Body OG Chad Henderson. Both drivers had run personal bests over the week and it was fitting that they faced each other at the end of the day. The ThrillBilly Shane Stack took home the victory on Sunday, but you can bet that these two Alabama G-Body hotrods will see each other again soon.
Go out and measure the tires on the sedan in your driveway. Chances are those tires are larger than then ones run on the cars in X275, DXP235, and Ultra Street. First one that we have to talk about is X275. The field was a who’s who in small tire racing, and the excitement was at a fever pitch. Andrew DeMarco was coming off some intense testing at Orlando, Nick and Rich Bruder were coming back with a Procharger combo, former nitrous superstar Kenny Hubbard was debuting his new Procharger setup, and Mark Dykeman pulled in with his new Procharged Camaro. It was two Garrett powered Mustangs that faced off in the finals though. Charles Hull from Georgia faced event winner Manny Buginga from Bridgewater, Mass. Manny stole the light outta Charles’ life with an .021 to Charles’ .072. Manny took it with a holeshot.
Ultra Street is coming off a record setting event at Bradenton Motorsports Park, during the U.S. Street Nationals. Joel Greathouse lowered the record E.T. at that race. Though the race wasn’t completed due to weather, the talk around the Ultra pits was whether that record would fall yet again. I spoke to Joel early in the week and he was confident that there were plenty of racers that had the ability to run a 4.5x and that it was going to be a tough road over the weekend if he wanted to win. It should come as no surprise that we saw two of Ultra’s heaviest hitters, Joel Greathouse and Brian Keep in the finals. Brian handed Joel the win before the throttle blade opened on Joel’s car. Brian went -.022 red while Joel ran a 4.672.
The smallest of the radial tires is the DXP235. Not sure how I can even describe to you how small these damn tires are though. Now imagine sending gobs of power to those tires and not go sky high or up in smoke. That is exactly what these drivers and tuners are attempting to accomplish. There were twenty-two cars that made it onto the ladder for round one of eliminations, with Kentucky’s own Martin Connelley leading the field. While Martin did make it to the semi-finals, he ran into a buzz saw named Danny Niceley and his Vette. Danny had a terrible light, but still got the win when Martin had issues. So, in the finals the fans got to witness Danny Niceley and Jason Anderson face off. Another red-light handed a victory to a competitor in the finals though. This time it was Jason Anderson with a -.056 light handing Danny Niceley the win on Sunday.
In the south, Outlaw 632 is one of the best things going, and at Lights Out X was no exception. Drivers like Jim Aldous, Ken Quartuccio, Dillon Voss, and many more. If you like nitrous purges, and ear rattling engines, then Outlaw 632 is your class. Round after round, it was two Florida teams that were slicing their way through the competition. Jim Aldous and Dillon Voss were the last two standing on Sunday afternoon. Jim was sporting a Scotty G Racing Engine, while Voss was sporting their own Voss built engine. In the finals, Dillon got the jump, but Jim was able to drive around him to take the win.
While there are a lot of N/T drivers, owners, and cars out there that aren’t overly fond of the media, or the attention that the big stage brings, it’s hard to avoid the publicity that comes with winning a class at Lights Out. This weekend was no exception to that mindset, but the racing was so amazing that you couldn’t not talk about it. If you grew up in the 80’s you knew exactly who the hell Bowser was. All you had to do was know about Super Mario Bros was. Originally seen in 1985, the McCain family has taken the moniker and named their Datsun, which we featured last week on E3xtreme, after the nemesis of the Mario Brothers. It was that little Datsun that managed to overcome issues throughout the week and face off against Florida N/T racer Troy Pirez Jr. in his red S10. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the top-end for this heavyweight match, but from what I hear, the margin of victory was slimmer than the room Mario had sliding his ass down those green tubes in the 80’s. Bowser was the one to take the victory with D.J. McCain behind the wheel and his brother Ryan handling the tuning.
Wrapping up the event were the two index classes. At Lights Out X we run both 6.0 and Open Comp. Most seem to think that these are just filler classes, while I look at them as classes that are just as important as RvW or LDR.
I can’t even begin to tell you how tight the racing was in these classes. While trying to stay neutral (yeah right), it was tough as hell not to root for Ken Hebert and his Mini Cooper. Ken and I got to hang out for about a week and a half as he came down to Emerald Coast Dragway to test before LOX. I should also say that Ken happens to be from the great white north of Canada. Ken told me that he put over 180 passes on the Mini last season. It was certainly a challenge for him to even get to the finals. After the quarter-finals Ken got a front flat tire on the way back to the pits. They were able to make a quick repair and pulled off a 5.618 on a 5.61 dial in the semi-finals. In the finals they faced off against a drag racing legend Troy Pirez Sr. Troy had just a touch better light, but it was Ken at the top-end that took the victory when he ran a 5.626 on a 5.61 and Troy had a 5.824 on a 5.85. Means that Troy broke out and Ken took the win. Sunday night I sat down and asked Ken where this win ranks in his racing career. He said that it was #2 on the list. The only win that ranked higher than this was his first Iron Man trophy.
Lastly is the 6.0 class. Another class that had an unbelievable turnout over the weekend. These drivers don’t see themselves as fillers, they see the opportunity to race on such a huge stage with a great audience. After five rounds of racing there were only two drivers left standing. It was Ken Grant and Ausby Brewington that were set to face each other. Both drivers are from the south, where index racing is a staple almost every weekend of the year. Ausby hailing from Tennessee and Ken from its neighbor Georgia. The final was actually a double breakout that saw Ausby with a .008 tree and a 5.982 stripe charge to Ken’s .012 tree and a 5.980 charge. It meant that Ausby was heading back up the staging lanes to collect his winner circle photos and check.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about all the happenings that were LOX. We will be covering some more happenings from this event over the next couple of days as well.