HOLLEY EFI OUTLAW STREET CAR REUNION - EVENT NOTEBOOK
FINAL NOTEBOOK -
DEFENDING THE HONOR - By the time the parachutes trailing behind his '68 Firebird collapsed on the shutdown lanes at Beech Bend Raceway Park, doubters and naysayers were already taking to the Interwebs to question and downplay Jamie Hancock's heroics.
In rounds three and four of Radials vs. the World qualifying for promoter Tyler Crossnoe's 6th annual Outlaw Street Car Reunion, the popular Alabama racer ran consecutive passes of 3.60 and 3.59 seconds, both representing the world's quickest elapsed times ever achieved by a nitrous-assisted doorslammer on the eighth-mile--regardless of tire choice--though for the record, Hancock was riding on radials.
That Hancock ran fast was no surprise. As the youngest-ever champion of a major, touring drag racing series (17 when he won the 2007 ADRL Pro Nitrous world title), a past winner of the No Mercy radial fest at South Georgia Motorsports Park, and a winner of many local and regional events on both slicks and radials, Hancock's drag racing pedigree is beyond reproach as he follows in the footsteps of his father and crew chief, James Hancock III.
Still, the .890 and .894 incremental times to 60 feet on both record runs Apr. 12, drew immediate disbelief from the always outspoken drag radial faithful. The car had to be dragging low through the starting beams, they said; there had to be something wrong with the clocks, they said; the starting-line rollout might be too long, they said. It didn't help, too, that the OSCR tech crew had already tossed a couple of runs from the left lane that just didn't add up.
And surprisingly, at first at least, Hancock might have agreed.
"When we ran that .60 in the left lane I told my dad, 'Let's not get too excited yet, because you don't know for sure whether it's right or not.' But then we move over to the right lane and do pretty much the same thing; I mean, to me it's gotta' be right," he said. "And then even the other cars, the Pro Mods, they're running their usual 60-foots in both lanes, their normal numbers, so there was that, too."
His dad was way ahead of him. James Hancock said he headed straight for the tower after watching 3.603 at 198.15 mph flash across the left lane scoreboard.
"We were definitely going after a number," James revealed later, "but I figured a .64, maybe a .63, so when that .60 came up I wanted to see the 60 foot as soon as possible. And when I got in the tower they all said, yeah, that's a good run, congratulations."
Still, Crossnoe and his tech team knew they had to check out the fire-breathing 'Bird's underbelly.
"The couple of instances we had yesterday where the numbers looked weird, our tech officials went and checked the cars and in both instances, the (engine containment) diapers were dragging and affecting the beams. Both of those drivers agreed with our tech inspection and recognized their data didn't support the run and both agreed to the runs being thrown out," Crossnoe said.
"Hancock's car was also checked. That car has a belly pan and he also has a diaper on the motor, and everything was contained inside both. Nothing was loose; nothing was low; he passed tech one-hundred percent.
"Jamie and them also opened up their computer, showed all of our technical team the data and their data matches the run. The numbers match the live feed and the finish-line camera, too. The runs stand up," he added.
Hancock said his car was outfitted with an engine diaper exactly as it appeared just last month in Georgia at Donald Long's Sweet 16 event, where Marcus Birt lowered the previous all-time nitrous doorslammer record to 3.608 seconds.
"The car is the exact same as it was at Sweet 16," Hancock said the morning after his record resetter. "Nothing on it has been changed as far as the way it's set up under there."
Regarding criticism of the facility in Bowling Green, KY, Crossnoe was adamant about its timing accuracy and integrity.
"I've bracket raced here for years. My dad and I used to come here when I was younger and even last year I came here and ran my car and I know the track is very legit and the timing system's legit," he stated.
Hancock understands his reaction times (approx. .120s at OSCR) have come under fire, too, as some suggest he's too good as a drag racer to be that "slow" on the tree.
"It's true that my reaction times were slow, but if you look back in qualifying you'll see that I usually have slow reaction times. At Sweet 16 you'd see I was slow in qualifying, too, but when I have to race someone I approach it differently.
"We'll see at the next race for sure. We're going to Huntsville in two weeks, but of course they'll probably say the same thing about us being there. I guess we're just looking for tracks with long rollouts so we can look like we can run fast," he added with a laugh.
Crossnoe confirmed he also checked Hancock's reaction times over the entire OSCR weekend and found they were consistent and well within reasonable expectations.
"I pulled his test runs, pulled all his qualifying runs, and all of his reaction times were within two hundredths this weekend. Jamie's an excellent driver and if he wanted to go up and push the tree that's what he'd do. But he was doing what any good driver in his situation would do," Crossnoe explained.
"If he's gonna' run a number, he's going to put that thing in as shallow as he can and get as much of a run at that scoreboard as possible. That's what he did and that's why he's running big numbers."
Despite suffering the slings and arrows of Internet criticism, Hancock said he understands the skepticism, understands the desire to hold him accountable, whether deservedly or not.
"I get it. I mean, an .89 60-foot is really fast. But we also went .91 at Sweet 16 in the heat of the day and the air was better on this pass, the track was better, the motor was better, everything was just better, so I don't think an .89 is impossible. I mean, it's hard to say anything is 100 percent, but I feel confident in what we did here."
Crossnoe was more definitive.
"There is no question the runs are legit," he concluded. "No question."
RAIN SINKS THE SHOW - "The plug has been pulled on this event."
With these words, Tyler Crossnoe confirmed early Saturday afternoon (Apr. 13) in front of hundreds of drivers, crew members and race fans gathered near the starting line of Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, KY, that the 2019 version of his Holley EFI Outlaw Street Car Reunion had come to a premature end.
After qualifying rounds for all OSCR heads-up classes were completed on Friday, time trials for Super Pro bracket racing began as planned at 9:30 a.m. However, mid-morning rain showers and severe thunderstorms forecast for southern Kentucky after nightfall ultimately forced Crossnoe's hand.
With his voice at times cracking with emotion, Crossnoe explained just the shutdown area would take more than three hours to dry, leaving only about a five-hour opportunity before heavy rainfall was expected to return.
"We wouldn't get all the way through even one full round," the clearly dejected 28-year-old promoter said. "Six years of this event and six years that weather has messed with us in some way, but this is the first time we've really had to cancel from the get go. We did have to cancel one year after going deep in rounds, but even with another window possibly opening tomorrow, more rain is gonna' come, so we don't want everyone to sit around here getting rained on while we know we have deadlines that we're not going to be able to meet.
"So, out of respect for the fans and crews and vendors and media and everybody that's come to this deal, we decided to pull the plug early this time knowing that we don't have a window to get it done. We wanted to be respectful of the racers and fans that did come out even in the face of an unfavorable forecast that did seem to have windows, but we know now that we're just not able to pull it off this year."
Making the decision even more disappointing was the history already made at OSCR VI. The quickest 16-car, eighth-mile Midwest Pro Modified Series Pro Mod field ever assembled was established Friday afternoon, with Jason Hamstra's blown Hemi-powered '69 Camaro holding the final position at 3.73 seconds, while the 3.61 posted by number-one qualifier Ali Aryan set a new elapsed time record for roots-blown entries.
Meanwhile, running on drag radial tires, Jamie Hancock set the drag racing world ablaze with the world's first nitrous-assisted pass in the 3.50s--regardless of tire type--and fellow Alabama racer Paul Gargus steered his '69 Camaro to a pole-sitting 4.08-seconds pass that also set a new Limited Drag Radial record.
"The three rounds of qualifying we were able to get in, one on Thursday and two on Friday even with a weather delay, man, that was the best three rounds of qualifying we've ever had at this event," Crossnoe stated.
"I was really looking forward to eliminations and really hated to make this call, but at the same time I know it's the best call for everyone when we know there's no way we could get this thing done. I mean, we're all in business or we work hard for somebody, so we didn't want to string this out all weekend long. We all have to go back to work on Monday."
NEWCOMER TOPS OSCR VI PRO MOD QUALIFYING - By just two-thousandths of a second, Ali Aryan held on to the number-one starting spot for Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS) eliminations on Saturday over Justin Jones at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion VI (OSCR) in Bowling Green, KY.
Driving a supercharged, ex-Jason Scruggs '69 Camaro, Aryan covered the eighth mile at Beech Bend Raceway Park in 3.61 seconds at 207.98 mph in Q2 early on Friday afternoon, then opted out of running the third and final evening session. That's when Jones, who already sat second with a 3.64 after round two, stepped up with his blown, Brandon Pesz-tuned C7 Corvette and posted an oh-so-close 3.612 run at 208.46 mph.
"We knew we had a good position no matter what happened, but we are very happy to qualify number one," said Aryan, who hails from Manama, the capital city of Bahrain.
Aryan and team co-owners, his brother Ahmad and their close friend Hussain, arrived at the track via a 36-hour journey that initially took them to the United Arab Emirates, followed by flights to New York and then Nashville before a short trek north by car to the historic race track in southern Kentucky.
"I'm very excited, very delighted, especially for me being just the second time in the car and my second time racing in the United States," Aryan said. "I raced here last December in Bradenton (FL), but the car is kept here in South Carolina with my good friend, Lee White, who is also our crew chief, and with the support of Hank and Spencer, who have been really helpful to take care of the car for me."
PDRA Pro Nitrous star Tommy Franklin, who led the way after Thursday night's lone qualifying session, improved to 3.64 at 203.98 to slot his nitrous-huffing '69 Camaro into third, with Jeff Jones just 5-thousandths behind at 3.649 and 205.98 mph in an almost identical Corvette to his son's. Filling out the top five was MWPMS regular Aaron Wells, who leaped up all the way from 29th before the final qualifying session with a 3.65 at 206.35 in his supercharged '67 Shelby Mustang.
Each of the top eight qualifiers ran 3.60s and the entire 16-car field was covered by just a little over 12-hundredths. Jason Hamstra and his blown Hemi-powered '69 Camaro anchored the group at 3.73 seconds and 204.23 mph.
"That makes it the quickest true Pro Mod field ever assembled by any sanctioning body," said an excited Keith Haney, owner and promoter of the Mid-West Pro Mod Series. "And that 3.61 by Ali Aryan is a record for a roots-blown car, too. Come getcha' some of that!"
Other top qualifiers heading into OSCR VI eliminations in Bowling Green are Jamie Hancock in Radials vs. The World with a new nitrous world-record 3.59 at 198.17 mph in his '68 Firebird; Madison, AL's Neil Hawkins at an impressive 4.06 at 177.84 to lead Limited Drag Radial with his '02 Mustang; and Rich Bruder of Edison, NJ, who lowered his number-one qualifying effort in X275 to 4.23 at 165.09 with his ProCharger-equipped '88 Mustang.
Joel Greathouse from Oakland, KY, also lowered his Ultra Street qualifying effort to 4.63 at 147.55 mph in his '87 Mustang, while Salyersville, KY's Martin Connelley took over the DXP 235 lead with a 5.03 at 140.96-mph effort in his '86 Mustang.
EAST VS. WEST PRO MOD SHOOTOUT - Late Friday night, following the third and final round of qualifying, 10 Mid-West Pro Mod Series racers participated in a unique competition that pitted East- vs. West-based competitors in a $10K-to-win team format.
Five Eastern drivers: top qualifier Ali Aryan (Bahrain, Middle East); third-place qualifier Tommy Franklin (Fredericksburg, VA); seventh-place Melanie Salemi (Buffalo, NY); second-alternate David Monday (Louisville, TN); and 22nd place Jeff Byrd (Maryville, TN) took on five MWPMS regulars, including: second-place man Justin Jones (Weatherford, TX); his father, Jeff Jones, from fourth place; fifth place Aaron Wells (Oklahoma City); Randy Merick from sixth (Bismark, MO); and Daniel Pharris rounding out the top half of the raceday field in eighth (Sikeston, MO).
The East-West Shootout featured 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2 and so on, with the first team to secure three wins earning a $10,000 purse to be split evenly among teammates.
The opening pair saw Pharris and his twin-turbocharged, late-model Mustang easily handle the blown '70 Cuda of Jason Kalso from Clarkston, MI, who substituted for Byrd. Next up was Merick and his supercharged C3 Corvette going up against Jason Collins and his Southside, AL-based '68 Camaro, who subbed for Monday and took the first win for the East when Merick had mechanical trouble on the line.
The red light told the story in a blower battle between Wells and Salemi, as the blown Mustang left a little too soon, allowing Salemi and her supercharged '68 Firebird to put the East back in front. Next up was Jeff Jones and his supercharged C7 Vette vs. the nitrous-boosted '69 Camaro of Franklin, with Jones tying it all up again at two apiece.
That fittingly left only the top two qualifiers, Aryan and Justin Jones, to settle the score and bring home the team win. Unfortunately, this one too was settled on the starting line, as Aryan went red and the West prevailed, much to the delight of the MWPMS stalwarts, led of course by Haney.
"Man, what a great idea this was. I have to give credit to (OSCR promoter) Tyler (Crossnoe) for coming up with this," Haney said. "It was so much fun and it got guys rooting for cars and drivers that they usually focus 100-percent on beating. Heck, I was up there kissing a car that I hate to race against. We're definitely going to have to do more of this in the future."
HANCOCK HITS HOMER WITH WORLD-RECORD NITROUS PASS - Friday night's on-track action for Outlaw Street Car Reunion VI was capped off by a fourth qualifying round for Radials vs. the World, the only class in the event to exceed three qualifying sessions prior to Saturday's elimination rounds. It also featured a special Home Run Derby paying a bonus and awarding a certified, pro-level Louisville Slugger baseball bat to the driver who posted the quickest run of the bonus round.
After already making the world's quickest pass by a nitrous car--regardless of tire type or size--to take over the RvW qualifying lead at OSCR VI with a 3.603 at 198.15 in round three, Jamie Hancock was the clear favorite to knock another one out of Beech Bend Raceway Park.
Running in the right lane as part of the first pair out, Hancock lived up to the hype. After leaving with an impressive .894 60-foot time, which remarkably was four-thousandths behind his short time in the opposite lane on the previous pass, he then ran 2.37 to half track, exactly matching his Q3 time before posting an unprecedented 3.599 at 198.17 mph on the scoreboard.
After becoming the first nitrous-boosted driver to reach the 3.60 zone just over a year ago, it seemed only fitting that Hancock would claim first-to-the-3.50s status, too. That it stood up as the home-run winner for the round was just icing on the cake for the 29-year-old, second-generation driving star.
"I couldn't do this without my team, especially my dad, James Hancock. He's the one who makes all the final tuning calls and gives me a great package to race with," Hancock said while holding his latest prize. "I just feel lucky that it's all come together like this, but really, the credit all belongs to my team."
As a small, family-based team with limited resources, Hancock also explained how they're still able to make record-setting runs and contend for wins in the highly competitive RvW arena.
"Instead of running it out the back, we try to run as hard as we can to the 330, because this is all about acceleration and how fast you get there," he said. "I mean, we're as fast as most Pro Extreme cars to the 330, but if you look at our back-half and compare it to other cars in this class, it's pretty slow, no doubt. But at the same time, it'll make that same run 10 passes in a row without us tearing the motor apart."
A lengthy wait in the staging lanes prior to Q3 also played into Hancock's favor, he added. His father confirmed they were looking only for a 3.63--which still would have been a new personal best, by far--but as dusk turned to dark and the air cooled, the track also got better for the radial tire.
"We were up there for nearly two hours and it all just came together. The air was almost perfect and the track has been great all weekend," Hancock said. "It didn't bother me none. We were going to be just sitting around and waiting anyway, so why not sit around up there and watch some racing and talk to racers? That's how I always feel."
With the record-setting 3.59 firmly in hand, Hancock said he and his teammates will turn their attention to what it takes to also bring the OSCR VI trophy home to Opelika, AL.
"We want to win this race and records don't win races," he stated. "So if winning the race takes a 3.70, then that's what we'll run tomorrow. If it's going to take something a little quicker, well, we know we can do that, too. We'll just gauge it as we get to each round."
Presently, the overall elapsed-time record for RvW is 3.57 seconds and belongs to Daniel Pharris and his twin-turboed 2018 Mustang.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK - FRANKLIN FIRST IN EARLY PRO MOD QUALIFYING AT OSCR VI
PDRA Pro Nitrous star Tommy Franklin made a memorable Mid-West Pro Mod Series debut Thursday night by capturing the number one spot in the opening round of qualifying at the 6th annual Holley EFI Outlaw Street Car Reunion in Bowling Green, KY.
Franklin and his nitrous-assisted '69 Camaro from Fredericksburg, VA, covered the eighth mile in 3.67 seconds at 203.61 mph to lead a pack of 24 MWPMS entries, though more than 33 Pro Mod teams turned in tech cards at historic Beech Bend Raceway Park.
Right behind Franklin in second with two more qualifiers to go on Friday was Texan Justin Jones with a 3.68 at 201.64 in his blown 2018 Corvette, followed by the '69 Camaro of Ali Aryan from Taylors, SC, at 3.69 and 204.35 mph. Missouri racers Randy Merick with his blown '79 Corvette (3.70/203.95) and Daniel Pharris with a twin-turboed '17 Mustang rounded out the top five, with Pharris holding top speed of the meet so far after going 3.70 at 214.96 mph.
Stephan Stringer was on the 16th-place bump spot after running 3.82 at 191.62 mph in his Somerset, KY-based '69 Camaro, but it was the 7th-place qualifying pass of MWPMS owner and promoter Keith Haney (3.72/200.98) running beside Stringer that provided the highlight reel moment of the session.
Almost immediately after throwing out the chutes on "Notorious," Haney's nitrous-fed '14 Camaro, the Tulsa-based driver struggled to maintain control as the car's brakes locked up and it slid wildly back-and-forth, touching both lanes of the Beech Bend shutdown area.
"It got dead sideways looking at the wall, then sideways looking at the other wall and all I could think about was the guy next to me in the other lane. I was just thinking, where is he at and when is he going to hit me? I wasn't even thinking about the wall!" Haney said.
Stringer said his lengthy experience running on short outlaw tracks all over the Southeast paid off--for both him and Haney.
"Fortunately, I'm used to hitting the chutes about 600 feet out," he said. "I always do that no matter where we run, just so I do things the same way every time. He (Haney) took a little while longer to hit his, so I saw him out in front of me and I saw both sides of his car, so it was a hairy ride for sure. I was nowhere near him, though, so we were both lucky for that."
Haney later explained he initially thought he'd hit fluid on the track, "but looking at the brake pressures it looks like I rode the brakes a little too hard and they locked up," he admitted. "I always ride the brakes a little after the finish line and I don't know if it hit a bump and bounced my foot or what, but this time they just got hotter and hotter until they got stuck."
Other top qualifiers after the first round in Bowling Green are Jack Greene with his nitrous-fed '68 Firebird from Knoxville, TN, with a 3.73 at exactly 198 mph to lead Radials vs. The World, the '02 Mustang of Madison, AL's Neil Hawkins with a 4.13 at 178.92 to lead Limited Drag Radial, and Edison, NJ's Rich Bruder and his ProCharger-equipped '88 Mustang at 4.29 and 163.73 in X275.
Kentucky's own Joel Greathouse holds the top spot in Ultra Street with a 4.66 at 152.14 effort from his '87 Mustang, while Austin Keen and his '84 Buick from Potomac, IL, has the early lead with a 5.11 at 135.14 in DXP 235 qualifying.