I cannot stress how much of an understatement saying that the first day here for the Sweet Sixteen was of epic proportions. MPH record was CRUSHED and we have already seen three cars break into the 3.60 zone.
Today was the first day of Donald Long's presentation of the Sweet Sixteen. This is a $101,000.00 to win, best of the best, radial race. The biggest radial names in the world put up their $2000 entry for a chance to take home the largest single door slammer race prize in history. This event is not for the faint of heart though. You are going to have to get through a long list of who's who in radial drag racing. Stevie Jackson, Dewayne Mills, Paolo Giust, Jeff Naiser, Mark Micke, and about 30 more.
Thursday had three rounds of qualifying, and round three made everyone stop and pick up their jaw pass after pass. In one of the very first pair out in Q3, it was Dewayne Mills that became the first ever radial car to light up the boards with a 3.60's pass, and before the round was done we got to see Mark Micke, along with Stevie Jackson follow suit.
Dewayne's three second pass was a solid 3.696 at 212.69. We certainly didn't think that by the end of the qualifying round it would only be good for third on the sheet though. After seeing that, it was Stevie's turn, and he dropped the bar to a career radial best of a 3.686 at 202.42. And then there was one. That one is none other than the blue Malibu owned by Jason Carter and driven by Mark Micke. Mark had shown earlier this year that the G Body can rip off stupid MPH numbers. This was a pass that was going to set the pace for the rest of the world to aim for. Mark was in the lane opposite Frank Soldridge and Frank's Mustang. I turned around after photographing Mark's car to watch the boards and it happened...a 3.677 at a earth shattering 221.20 MPH. You didn't read that wrong, Mark not only reset the ET record, he surpassed the MPH by 6 MPH.
The bump after three rounds of qualifying is already down to a 3.869, with NHRA 2x National Event Winner, and Pro Stock Superstar Alex Laughlin sitting at number 16. There are more RvW cars rolling onto the property Thursday night and Friday morning.
In a terrible turn of events, Mark's pass was overshadowed by the fact that Frank Soldridge suffered catastrophic mechanical failure that created a situation for Frank. Frank ended up in terrible accident. At one point the entire rearend assembly was on the track. While I have not had a chance to speak to Frank or his fiance Amanda, Frank was able to get out of the car himself and sit on the wall. He was transported for evaluation, and if or when Frank feels up to addressing the accident, we will then speak to him and Amanda.
Another iconic car scrubbed the wall today as well. Marty "McFly" Stinnett and his gorgeous foxbody Mustang had a steering column issue that created an inability to steer the car. Marty did a great job of getting the car slowed down, and prevented a terrible impact. From what we have heard, Marty has gotten the parts that he needs to repair the damages and will be back out there to compete this weekend.
In the N/T class, we only saw a handful of the drivers make passes today as some are still on their way here, but what we saw was mighty exciting. Marcus Thompson, in his updated DMC Racing Mustang had a tough time keeping the car on anything but one tire at about 200' out. Lil Country had a rough go, but will get it figured out. Jack Greene made one hell of a pass this evening as well. Should be one hell of a fight in N/T this weekend as well.
If you are wanting to see this absolutely historic event, click on this link and make sure to order the PPV for Friday and Saturday!!