McCAIN TAKES McFLIGHT - Back in 2010, Dennis Bailey became the first to earn "Home of the Flying Cars" honors for Duck X Productions events at South Georgia Motorsports Park. Since that time, drag radial superstars Steve Jackson, Roger Holder, DeWayne Mills and Marcus Birt, among others, have joined the questionable club, with D.J. McCain becoming the latest reluctant inductee at this weekend's No Mercy 12 event.
Already qualified number-one in Limited Drag Radial, McCain launched hard from the left lane in Saturday's third-and-final qualifying session. Within the first hundred feet the front wheels of his Musi-powered 2014 Cobra started lifting from the SGMP racing surface and by halfway down the eighth mile the car's nose was pointing skyward and starting to climb.
"We just went up there to make a pass in the heat of the day and see what it could do and then the wind got up under it and before I knew it, it took flight," the Lexington, SC-based driver recalled.
"I felt the front end start coming up, but then it just took off. At first I thought I was gonna' be fine and I got my foot off the gas and it felt like it turned almost sideways and I knew then that I was flying. I hit the parachutes on the way down, but by then I had already crossed the lane. It all happened pretty fast."
Fortunately, Georgia racer Luke Smith in the opposite lane immediately recognized what was happening and also threw out the laundry and hit the brakes in his '93 Mustang to avoid McCain's errant ride.
"I was worried about the other car, but I want to commend (Smith) on doing a great job and not running into me," McCain said. "It was an awesome driving job by him; he was very aware."
Both cars eventually came to a stop in the left lane of the shutdown area, with both drivers quickly out and examining the damage.
"It could've been a lot worse," McCain observed.
Within minutes of arriving back in the pits, his crew led by team owner Ira Mack and McCain's brother Ryan as tuner, had the car up on jacks, scraped body panels coming off and measurements being taken to assess potential chassis or suspension damage. Meanwhile, McCain took a few minutes to relax and collect his thoughts in the team's nearby RV.
"I hurt my neck a little bit, got a little whiplash, and I have a headache right now, but other than that I'm feeling a little sore but nothing too bad. I'll probably go and get checked out here later, but I really think I'm okay," he said.
"I have a great team behind me and they're gonna' try and fix it. It's a shame because we had a fast car and I think we had a good shot here this weekend. But I know they'll do whatever they can to get us back out there."
PRI PRESENTS 'MAGIC 8' SHOOTOUTS - The Performance Racing Industry (PRI), best known for its annual, all-encompassing motorsports tradeshow each December in Indianapolis, stepped up to the plate at No Mercy 12 as title sponsor for the four "Magic 8" Shootouts for the top eight qualifiers in each of Duck X Productions' Radials vs. the World, Limited Drag Radial, Pro 275 and X275 classes.
"We can have an impact here. This is our crowd, these are the people we need to reach, and that's why we're here," PRI ambassador and advocate Tom Deery explains. "These Duck X events are legendary and it's great to have the opportunity to be involved as a sponsor.
"We're also here to educate people on the RPM Act--Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act 2021--which is a bipartisan effort to protect all Americans' rights to modify and convert vehicles that have an original VIN (vehicle identification number) to race-only vehicles," he continues. "That includes of course many, many drag racing vehicles and affects the people who sell the parts, build the cars and race them the most."
Duck X founder and promoter Donald Long admits he wasn't aware of PRI's RPM initiative, which so far has attracted more than 1.5 million supportive letters to government leaders, but of course he is well familiar with the annual tradeshow.
"What's really cool, though, is that they reached out to us, and I really haven't heard of PRI directly supporting racing events like this before. To me that's probably the coolest, most important thing," Long says. "We're honestly really thrilled to have them here and I hope everyone supports the RPM program."
PRI MAGIC 8 QUALIFIERS
RADIALS vs the WORLD
1. Bryan Markiewicz3.60/204.14
2. Norm Bryson3.620/203.06
3. Taylor Lastor3.671/198.76
4. Ken Quartuccio3.682/200.29
5. Calvin Franco3.695/200.80
6. Tim Meisner3.720/200.38
7. Jamie Hancock3.751/191.46
8. Ev Bernardo3.827/201.46
* Original Nos. 8-10 qualifiers withdrew
1. Mo Hall3.753/197.88
2. Manny Buginga3.782/195.65
3. Ken Quartuccio3.785/196.87
4. Jeff Miller3.810/203.43
5. David Reese3.810/193.24
6. Eric Dillard3.820/197.68
7. Mark Woodruff3.826/208.23
8. Brian Anderson/3.843/206.16
LIMITED DRAG RADIAL
1. D.J. McCain3.962/180.77
2. Neil Hawkins3.984/185.59
3. Matt Bell3.989/190.30
4. Andy Manson4.002/190.86
5. Shane Stack4.017/189.31
6. Paul Gargus4.019/192.41
7. Eddie Harrison4.027/188.86
8. Justin Martin4.043/187.26
1. Rob Goss4.226/170.84
2. Ron Rhodes4.234/169.78
3. D.J. McCain4.263/163.91
4. Frank Mewshaw4.275/170.45
5. Brian Brooks4.310/169.72
6. John Urist4.324/166.66
7. Alan Felts4.326/166.29
8. Tony Hobson4.331/166.17
RED LIGHTS RULE ROUND ONE FOR PRI MAGIC 8s - Of the 16 pairs involved in round one of racing for the PRI Magic 8s at No Mercy 12, more than half were decided at the tree as drivers left too soon.
Radials vs. the World saw Taylor Lastor run an off-the-pace 4.52 to advance his C7 Corvette over Timmy Meisner, who left .047 too soon from the right lane, while Norman Bryson next committed the crime in the left lane against Jamie Hancock, who set low ET for the round with a 3.63 at 199.73 in his nitrous-breathing '69 Firebird.
Next up, polesitter Bryan Markiewicz, caught a huge break when his '69 Camaro lost traction at the hit and coasted to an 11-second win after last-minute replacement Ev Bernardo threw away his effort by leaving just seven-thousandths of a second too soon in the right lane. The final pair of RVW Magic 8 entries had Ken Quartuccio going red by .044 in the left lane to negate a 3.72 pass against California's Calvin Franco, who advanced to the semis with his '70 Camaro.
The Pro 275 class featured just one false start in round one as Mark Woodruff went .172 too soon in the right lane against second-place starter Manny Buginga. Also advancing to the Magic 8 Pro 275 semis were Jeff Miller, who overcame a holeshot leave by David Reese, Ken Quartuccio, who survived the same way after Eric Dillard lost traction, and top qualifier Mo Hall, who set low ET for the round with a 3.79 run in his 2007 Vette.
Limited Drag Radial saw two out of four runs decided at the tree, again splitting the bad starts between the two lanes. Andy Manson won first in a pair of clean runs against Shane Stack, then Eddie Harrison left .026 too soon in the right lane against Neil Hawkins.
Up next, Matt Bell threw away a solid 4.08 run with a .003-too-soon start from the left lane against Paul Gargus, and the final pair of the round saw Justin Martin set low ET for the round at 4.07 in his Oklahoma-based '72 Nova when top qualifier DJ McCain had to pedal his wheelstanding '14 Mustang Cobra off the start.
Finally, the X275 Magic 8 opened with an upset win for eighth-place starter Tony Hobson, who overcame a .025 holeshot by polesitter Rob Goss and his '09 Hemi Challenger. Next, Ron Rhodes turned on the red bulb by .007 in the left lane to hand a 9-second win to Kentucky racer Alan Felts.
The red light again came on in the next pairing, but it switched over to the right lane for John Urist, who left just five-thousandths too soon against D.J. McCain, who ran low ET for the round with a 4.25 in the "Bowser" '93 Datsun. The final pairing in X275 then saw Frank Mewshaw advance over Shane Heckel, the ninth-place qualifier who was inserted into the Magic 8 as the replacement for fifth-place qualifier Brian Brooks, who was unable to answer the call.
Final score: right lane, five false starts; left lane, four.
PRI PRESENTS MAGIC 8 SEMIS - In stark contrast to the opening round, just one race in all eight PRI Magic 8 semi-final pairings at No Mercy 12 was decided by the dreaded red bulb.
The first race of X275 semis saw Tony Hobson throw away a quicker 4.26 pass against the 4.28 by Frank Mewshaw with a .005-too-early start. On the other hand, D.J. McCain negated a .028 holeshot by Alan Felts to advance to the X275 final with a 4.21 for lane choice against Mewshaw.
The Pro 275 final will pit Mo Hall with lane choice over Ken Quartuccio after Hall downed Jeff Miller and his fan-favorite "Bumblebee" Camaro, while Quartuccio overcame a significant holeshot by Manny Buginga, who lost traction down track.
In the Limited Drag Radial semis, Paul Gargus relied on a big .070 advantage off the line to beat Neil Hawkins, while Justin Martin took the same route to the LDR Magic 8 final with a .063 holeshot against Andy Manson.
And in Radials vs. the World, Jamie Hancock left first on Taylor Lastor, but lost traction early while Lastor drove to a 3.65 to set up a final-round date against Bryan Markiewicz, who secured lane choice with a 3.64 win over Calvin Franco.
MARKIEWICZ LEADS PRI MAGIC 8 WINNERS - Friday's final day of qualifying for No Mercy 12 at South Georgia Motorsports Park (SGMP) also included the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Magic 8s, a winner-take-all shootout for the top-eight qualifiers after three of four qualifying rounds in each of the Radials vs. the World, Pro 275, Limited Drag Radial and X275 classes.
When the tire smoke finally cleared, it was Bryan Markiewicz taking the win in RVW, Ken Quartuccio prevailing in P275, Paul Gargus going the distance in LDR, and Frank Mewshaw winning the X275 final.
Starting from the top spot courtesy of a 3.60 at 204.14 mph in qualifying, Markiewicz dodged a bullet in round one when his Procharger-equipped '69 Camaro lost traction at the hit and coasted to an 11-second win after Bristow, VA's Ev Bernardo turned on the red light by just seven-thousandths of a second.
A come-from-behind win came in the semis for Markiewicz, after California's Calvin Franco left with a sizable .045 advantage off the start, but his nitrous-fed '70 Camaro slowed to a 6.81 pass while Markiewicz blasted through the SGMP eighth-mile in 3.64 seconds at 204.82 mph.
On the opposite side of the ladder, number-four starter Taylor Lastor (3.67/198.76) also benefited from an early leave by Georgia's own Timmy Meisner to reach the final with lane choice after a 3.65 at 202.85-mph pass.
In the money round, Lastor left first with a sizable .051 advantage off the tree, but a quick burst of flame from beneath the hood of his nitrous-huffing C7 Corvette signaled the end of his chances before even reaching the 60-foot marker. Meanwhile, Markiewicz blasted to a 3.61-seconds pass at 203.37 mph to take the win home to Largo, FL.
"I felt like we had it covered, but I didn't want to be arrogant. Obviously, we'd seen a lot of red lights tonight, so I got it in my head to just chill out," Markiewicz said in victory lane.
"And then Josh (Ledford) came in at the last minute and put a different tune up in. He says, 'I don't want to get greedy,' and I agreed. We felt like if we went a low, solid .60 that we would have it in the bag, I just didn't need to beat myself at the light. So that's what we did."
Pro 275 polesitter Mo Hall was going after his third-straight Duck X title in 2021 after winning the Sweet 16 and Lights Out events early this year at SGMP. He almost made it, too, reaching the PRI Magic 8 final, but throwing it away with an overly cautious .132 leave.
Racing from the third-place qualifying position, Ken Quartuccio was the beneficiary, as he took P275 Magic 8 honors by posting a significant .070 advantage off the start that led to a 3.83 pass at 193.54 mph to beat Hall's quicker and faster 3.76 effort at 197.54 mph. It marked the second win in as many outings for Quartuccio's Skinny Kid-built '69 Camaro after it recently was fitted with a Procharger-equipped Hemi from Proline Racing.
"We won the Shakedown in Virginia about a month ago its first time out. I'll tell you, this car, it just loves to get its picture in the winner's circle," Quartuccio said. "And we beat Mo in the semis there, too, so I was nervous about racing him again here. I just had a feeling that he was going to get me back, because the way this always seems to work with him and me. For years it's been he wins one and I win one, he wins one, I win one.
"So I went to him in the staging lanes, and shook Mo's hand and I wished him the best, told him to be safe. And then I went in my car and wanted to throw up, I was that nervous," Quartuccio admitted.
"I went up there and did my burnout and he did his burn out. And then we staged. Mo never plays games, which is what I respect the most about him. And he takes a win like a champion, or he takes a loss like a champ. So anyway, we both rolled in, lit our first bulbs pretty quick. He lit his second bulb and I went in there right behind him. And then I was able to just holeshot him, but he still turned it into a pretty close race. He is by far the class of the field here, so it always feels good to beat him. It's not easy."
The Limited Drag Radial PRI Magic 8 final came down to a battle between sixth-place qualifier Paul Gargus and his bright white '69 Camaro and the orange '72 Nova of eighth-place starter Justin Martin out of Pocola, OK.
Gargus reached the final by beating heavy hitters Eric Dillard and Manny Buginga, while Martin made it there after going through D.J. McCain and Andy Manson.
The final was over before it started, however, as Martin's Nova left .025 too soon, while Gargus waited with a solid .016 reaction time leading into a 4.01 at 192.28-mph winning pass.
"I didn't even see his light. When he was out on me I was just hoping I could pull back up with him, but about that time I looked down track and saw that my win light was on, so I knew he must have went red," Gargus recalled.
The win marked the second-straight Duck X win for the Remlap, AL-based racer as Gargus also prevailed in LDR early this year at Lights Out 12.
A best pass for the car propelled Frank Mewshaw into the X275 PRI Magic 8 winner's circle Friday night at No Mercy 12. Mewshaw placed his '89 Mustang fourth after running 4.27 at 170.45 in qualifying, but improved to a 4.23 at 170.84 in the Magic 8 final against D.J. McCain.
"Terry Ryan from Oregon owns the car and I just drive it," said Mewshaw, hailing from Melbourne, FL. "So Terry's got his own crew and I just come up, hop in and get to do the fun part. It's a lot easier that way."
Mewshaw, the number-three starter, defeated Shane Heckel in round one of Magic 8 racing, then benefitted from a .005 early start by Tony Hobson in the semis. McCain in the "Bowser" Datsun, meanwhile, made it through a redlighting John Urist in the opening round, then overcame a holeshot by Alan Felts round two to reach the final against Mewshaw.
"We saw he had a 4.21 in the semis, so we knew we had to step it up a bit for the final," Mewshaw said. "And yeah, he got us good in the 60 foot, but then we were close at the 330 and then I went by, pretty much exactly how you're hoping it to play out. I mean, I was really nervous when he went that .21 the round before. I really thought we were in trouble.
"I saw him 80 percent of the way. And then the last little bit we snuck by and I saw him start to go away. That's when I knew we had them."
Eliminations for the main event, No Mercy 12 at South Georgia Motorsports Park, are scheduled to begin Saturday morning and will conclude this Sunday.
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK - MO HALL SETS THE PACE IN DAY TWO QUALIFYING
There's no such thing as a sure bet in drag racing. However, based on Pro 275 racer Mo Hall's track record at South Georgia Motorsports Park, he's pretty darn close to this status.
Hall, who entered this weekend's event undefeated at South Georgia Motorsports Park, continued his dominance by blasting out a 3.753 elapsed time at 197.88 miles per hour. Hall has two wins at SGMP with Lights Out 12 and Sweet 16 titles under his belt. Hall was second in Wednesday's provisional qualifying with a 3.810, 195.65.
His secret? Give the Gene Fulton-powered engine in his Corvette as much nitrous as it can take.
"It just likes nitrous," Hall admitted. "It likes a lot of air, a lot of nasty water. Brandon's [Switzer] just doing a better job than everybody else. That's all."
While the 3.753 was impressive, Hall believes it could have been better.
"We were probably hoping for a little bit better net," Hall said. "I think it's just what it gave us. I mean, you've got to be happy it went A to B. So tickled pink that it went down the track."
Even though the conditions are much different than Hall and his fellow Pro 275 racers will see tomorrow, Hall believes Thursday's stout performance has its benefits.
"It gives us a lot of information," Hall explained. "It's like this [testing] run this morning. The run that we made this morning was better than that run. So both of them, they weren't good. It gives Brandon a lot of information to work from, lets us know where our weight control is, and it gives us a lot of data."
Wednesday's leader Manny Buginga failed to improve and dropped to second in the field with his 3.782, 195.65. Ken Quartuccio jumped up to third with a 3.785, 196.87. Jeff Miller (3.810, 203.43) and David Reese (3.810, 193.24) rounded out the top five.
Rob Goss jumped to the front of X275 qualifying as his late-model Dodge Challenger blasted out a 4.226, 170.84. Wednesday's leader Ron Rhodes improved but dropped to second with a 4.234. DJ McCain, who led qualifying during the Q-2 session, ended the session third with a 4.263.
Radial vs. The World qualifying remained unchanged at the top as Bryan Markiewicz remained as the top runner with his Thursday 3.601, 204.14. He came close in the second session with a 3.604. Taylor Lastor did step up with a 3.671, 198.76 but remained second. Ken Quartuccio was third with a 3.682.
DJ McCain (Limited Drag Radial 3.962, 180.770) rounded out the top qualifiers in a day plagued with delays from attrition.
Competitors get one more qualifying position before the fields are set for the PRI Magic Eight, a race-within-a-race for Radial vs. The World, Pro 275, and X275 divisions during Friday's qualifying.
WEDNESDAY QUALIFYING - MARKIEWICZ, BUGINGA SET THE PACE IN FIRST-DAY QUALIFYING
For the last few seasons, Radial vs. The World racer Bryan Markiewicz began making his case for frontrunner status in the class. Wednesday Night, at the Duck X Productions No Mercy 12, the Largo, Florida-based driver provided a stunning testimony with his actions.
Markiewicz laid down a superb eighth-mile 3.601 elapsed time at 204.12 miles per hour to provisionally lead the field.
"Nice and clean. A to B," Markiewicz said. "Put us on the board at number one. We'll sit there for now. I owe a big part of this to Proline and my team. I mean, without those guys, I wouldn't be where I'm at, no way. Proline's definitely a big part of my game."
Taylor Lastor was second with a 3.678, 199.11, while Ken Quartuccio landed third with a 3.682, 200.29.
Pro 275 racer Manny Buginga fired a monster shot in the opening session of Pro 275 qualifying. The W. Bridgewater, Mass.-based Mustang driver, reeled off a 3.782 elapsed time at 195.65 miles per hour to claim the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot.
"We loaded up for a 3.78, and that's what it ran," Buginga said. "The track looks good, but it being a race within a race, you're not going up there as aggressive as you normally would. This means I got a hell of a team, a hell of a crew chief, and a great car, and the driver is mediocre."
Right on Buginga's heels was Mo Hall, who turned in a 3.810, which edged out Eric Dillard's 3.820.
Other provisional No. 1 qualifiers included Ron Rhodes (X275, 4.268), Neil Hawkins (Limited Drag Radial, 4.001), Brian Keep (Ultra Street, 4.575), and Bill Kubiack (DXP Street, 5.179).