Now some of you are going to scratch your head and wonder why I titled this the 8 days of Lights Out 8, and the answer is simple. At E3xtreme we strive to bring you amazing, accurate, and reliable event coverage, so with that in mind, we spent 8 days on the grounds at South Georgia Motorsports Park for the event.
Knowing that there wouldn’t be any on track testing until Tuesday, we made our best effort to arrive early and get set up for what was sure to be an exciting week of racing. In most people’s minds, this is the event that kicks off the entire drag racing season. Yes, there are a couple other events, but this is the spectacle that is Lights Out. This year was no different, and certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw records fall, personal bests set, go to the tape reviews, and so much more. The one thing that I am glad we didn’t see was any injuries.
Sunday afternoon and Monday were roaming days for the E3xtreme team though. As we wandered the pits trying to see what all the news from the event might be. The first person that we ran across was none other than Chris Matters. He was on the property with his X275, modular powered Saleen. Chris and I chatted for a while and that’s when he told me that he had asked Kevin “Flash” Fiscus to drive the car for him this season. They will compete for the first ever X275 points series crown. It looked like the week wouldn’t go as planned though when they ran into issues early in the week. They got all of that addressed and went on to set the modular powered world record in X275 over the weekend. So the team is well on their way to accomplishing the goals set.
By Tuesday morning, everything was in high gear. Rigs were really starting to roll in and the news was following. We had learned that one of the top contending teams had sold their RvW operation and that operation would not be on the property. There was also a rumor that another RvW car had sold and they wouldn’t be on the property either. One of those was substantiated, and the other we could not confirm. Running into the Pearson family while walking the pits is always a great time. David and Tracy are two of the nicest people at the track. They let us in on the fact that David planned on taking the famous Procharger car to NMCA for Radial Wars this season, while the twin car would be competing in Nitrous X all season. Unfortunately for David, there was an issue with the Procharged car, as the engine compartment lit up like a redneck bonfire during a pass, which forced him to scrub the wall to stop the car and get out. We haven’t been able to talk to Tracy or David yet, but we do know that David was ok and got out very quickly.
Fires seemed to be an unwanted theme of the event. On Tuesday, late afternoon, Kevin Fiscus was making a test hit in the Andrew Alepa owned, Proline powered, C7 Corvette, when something happened to the car that created a fire on the top end of the race track. Kevin was able to get out of the car very quickly, but unfortunately the front end of the car was not so lucky. There were damages to the front end that put the Alepa car out of competition for the weekend. While it was a disappointment for the team, everyone involved in it was unharmed and was able to walk away.
The Fiscus/Alepa fire was not the only one that we saw last week. LMR owner Steven Fereday, in his RvW Camaro had a similar fire much closer to the starting line. Steven was able to get out of the car and to safety. The car sustained damages, but it didn’t appear to sustain the amount of damages as the Alepa Vette did. Either way it took Steven out of competition for the rest of the event.
Wednesday night rolled around and it was finally time to start qualifying in RvW. This was the only class that was making a qualifying hit on Wednesday. We saw a total of 42 cars on the ladder make a hit Wednesday night. Of those 42 cars, there were a total of 10 cars that went in the three second zone. That really wasn’t the big news of that round though. The big news unfortunately was the loss of Bugzilla. Ron Clark, while driving Bugzilla had one of the worst crashes I have seen in years. The VW Beetle struck the wall and barrel rolled numerous times, before going over the retaining wall. Ron was ok, but from what we understand, the iconic Bugzilla is beyond repair.
The rest of the week seemed a tad calmer with no epic crashes. There were some epic wheelstands though, along with some great saves and near misses. The crowd really packed the place in for the entire weekend though. It was announced that over 35k people had attended the event, which is a new record for the event.
Radial vs The World saw a first time winner when “Yo, GTO Joe” took out MPH record setter and radial heavy hitter Mark Woodruff in the finals. What you may not know though is that Joe has done mighty well in the past six months. He always won the YB Nats last September and was Runner Up at No Mercy 7 to Dewayne Mills. So far Yo is showing that it isn’t always a world record pass that takes home the loot at the end of the weekend. The GTO looked strong from beginning to end, and running new personal best.
Outlaw 632 is always a highly competitive class, and this season is shaping up to be just that again. Dominic Augustine was the winner on this weekend. He made it through an extremely tough field of competitors that included Ken Quartuccio, Johnny Pluchino, Kenny Hubbard, and a lot of others. It came down to Dominic and Kenny Hubbard in the final. Dominic ran a 4.40 to Kenny’s well off pace 7.59, handing the win to Dominic.
Ultimate Street had a total of 44 cars try to qualify for the 32 car field, which was headed up by Shawn Pevlor and a 4.74 in the nitrous powered Mustang. He was followed up closely by Tony Alm and class newcomer Tyler Crossnoe. This was Tyler’s first race with his new Racecraft updated Mustang, which is powered by a KBX engine and a Procharger F1A bolted on. Most know Tyler as the man behind Outlaw Street Car Reunion in Memphis every season as well. He certainly came out swinging, and made it to the semi-finals, where he lost to eventual event winner Tony Alm. Tony Alm went on to face off against Rodney Ragen in the Ultimate finals. Tony took the win 4.783 to Rodney’s quicker 4.747.
When X275 rolled into the box, we had a whopping 51 cars vying for 32 slots. At the top to the heap after qualifying was the big bad Mopar from Rob Goss. He lead the field with a 4.380 and followed closely by Jamie Stanton’s gold Camaro, along with “Mean” Dean Marinis gorgeous orange New Edge, nitrous powered Mustang. The big talk going into this race was actually one of the worst kept off season secrets, and that was the formidable Bruder Brothers were making the change to an 8-71 roots blower. It was not to be for the Bruders this weekend. Kenny Hubbard, who made approximately 142 passes during the week, found himself qualified fourth and ended up in the finals against Dean Marinis. Dean cracked off a 4.404 to Kenny’s 4.421 in the finals. Was great to see so many cars and such great racing in this class all week.
Nitrous X was the next class on our board and the 14 car field was headed up by Jeff Carpenter and his 4.661. His red, Induction Solutions car is always a front runner, but this time it was Shawn Pevlor that took the event win when he beat out Jeff in the finals. Shawn ran a blistering 4.709 to Jeff’s 4.779. Watch for both cars to be front runners all season.
Pro275 was lead by old schooler Scotty G, and his nitrous huffing Camaro. Scotty also had the wheelstand of the weekend when he stood the car straight up in an attempt to give the crowd a jaw dropping moment. There were 22 cars in the Pro275 class. Times ranging from 4.068 to number 22 at a 5.05. Scotty zoomed through the field to face off against ProFab owner and Florida native Don Lamana and his turbocharged Mustang entry. Scotty ripped off a 4.118 to Don’s 4.167. We have also heard through the grapevine that Donald’s races will be the only we see Scotty’s car at anymore.
And then there was Outlaw Drag Radial, ODR if you will. This class is most commonly associated with the likeness to the new LDR class that most promoters are running now. This class was headed up by Street Outlaws superstar “Daddy” Dave Comstock and his Procharger powered Chevy II when he dropped the hammer and clicked off a 4.210. He was followed up by Nick Yarber 4.228 and VP Race Fuels Jason Rueckert with a 4.234. In the end though none of these three were in the finals. The finals came down to #15 qualifier Tony Ridenour in his green Camaro and #4 Justin Swanstrom in his jet black nitrous powered Mustang. Justin took the win with a stellar 4.202, just barely edging Tony at the stripe when Tony ran a 4.215. Tony was charging at the top end though and had 8 mph over Justin through the traps.
The last heads up class to address is Leaf Spring. This is a class coming in to the week that we had a feeling would be dominated by one specific car. That car is the ’69 Dart of Jason Digby and driven by the one and only Lyle Barnett. Most of you have read on E3xtreme about the amazing performance of the Dart since making the switch to a turbo combo under the hood. We were pretty spot on with our assumption here. Lyle had the field gapped by three tenths in qualifying, but we all know that doesn’t matter on race day. The finals on Sunday, after weeding through the 16-car field featured Lyle Barnett and #6 qualifier John McDonough. Something happened to John’s car at the hit and by 100’ Lyle had shown that he was going to take the win. Lyle ran an off the pace 4.41 to John’s 9.157. It was an emotional win to say the least for all of us there. It was more than a year ago now that Lyle had a terrible fire in his own car that left him in the hospital for months and endless physical therapy. To say even I was a little emotional would be an understatement.
Wrapping up the rest of racing was 6.0 and Open Comp. These classes are always filled with some of the best drag racers in the country and Lights Out 8 was no different. In the 6.0 finals, it was Ricky Pennington and Zane Owen. Ricky seems to be in the finals every time I see him, and he again took the win with a 6.011 to Zane’s 6.071. Open Comp featured Ken Grant and Andre Nunez. Ken took the win in his ’72 Nova when he ran a 6.604 on a 6.654 dial to Andre’s 5.996 on a 6.025 dial.
In closing, it has been days since the race was completed and we got home. There were a lot of armchair QB’s after the event as well. I will not bother giving them the satisfaction of talking about them. Instead I would like to congratulate Donald Long and Duck X Productions on putting on another amazing event. This is, and has been since the beginning, a must attend event for racers and spectators. In 2010 we saw David Wolfe crushing records while running a 4.42, and now we see 3.80’s on a regular basis. Another thing that we saw were a ton of improvements from last year’s Lights Out event. Less traffic issues, less parking issues, and so many other improvements. Something to remember is that a tornado struck the area and the track just weeks before this event as well. We can’t wait to roll in for the eight days of No Mercy 8 in the fall as well. The only thing I hope is that we have better cell service so we can keep you even more updated.