A year ago, Billet Atomizer Injectors founder Jack French was putting the finishing touches on a sleek 2017 Dodge Challenger for Radial vs The World competition intended to, among other things, serve as an in-house research and development testbed for his company’s injectors. In addition to a state-of-the-art chassis, French had procured a potent Disomma Racing Engines twin-turbo Hemi for power and partnered with X275 superstars Rich and Nick Bruder — Rich to drive, Nick to tune — making for a certifiable player in the radial arena. But just one race in, a phone call from a friend and customer changed the trajectory of French’s racing endeavors.
“We debuted the car at the Yellow Bullet Nationals, and afterward decided we were going to make some changes for the winter because James Goad [Street Outlaws’ “Reaper”] had called me up and asked if I’d be interested in running no-prep with the car. I told him it wasn’t really set up for no-prep; we didn’t have any provisions for wheelie bars, it didn’t even have tabs on the rearend for them, but I did have big enough tubs to put the big tires on it. I told him we’d try it, and he asked if we could make it to the Tucson, Arizona Street Outlaws: No-Prep Kings race in January,” French explains.
French and the Bruder’s competed at the World Cup Finals in Maryland on radials and French then tabbed the crew at Carroll’s Rod and Racecraft to do the conversion work. While they were unable to wrap up the project in time to make the Tucson filming, they were extended an invitation to the next event at Orangeburg Dragway in South Carolina. French and the Bruder’s showed promise right out of the gate, defeating Ryan Martin in a grudge race before minor mechanical woes cut their weekend short in round one of eliminations.
The team then trekked from their home-base in Virginia to Tulsa, Oklahoma at the close of the season, where Rich took a grudge match with series heavy-hitter Larry Larson and advanced to the quarterfinals in eliminations, losing a super-tight race to Martin but providing the trio with plenty of confidence going forward.
This spring, French updated the exterior of the car, coined “Vixen,” from an R/T to a Hellcat, with a Hellcat hood and SRT graphics in preparation for the coming second season of No Prep Kings. With Nick at the wheel, French confirmed the team will contest each of the events on the schedule that don’t conflict with a major X275 points race.
“I can jump in and drive the car, but I won’t be able to accumulate points toward Rich’s total. I need a little more seat-time, so what we might do is go to some of the other races they can’t go to and get some testing done in between and I may just run those events anyway, if my schedule at the shop allows it,” French shares.
French and the Bruder’s tested on Monday at the Maryland International Raceway, where they were greeted with a 140-degree track temperature. Despite the greasy conditions and lack of any appreciable prep, Nick guided the car to a series of straight and true laps, as documented by the crew at TheRacingVids.
“It was smoking-hot up there. We got about six or seven attempts in and it ran decent, in light of how bad the conditions were. It was a full-blown no-prep track, and we got down it pretty good on the last couple of laps, so we were happy with that,” French notes. The car was loaded up at the Atomizer shop Wednesday morning for its trip to Topeka, Kansas, where Rich will take on the nation’s best at the No Prep Kings season opener.
“We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. The car has less than 25 no-prep attempts on it, and we’ve already gone rounds with it.” French confirms the car is unlikely to see any further Radial vs The World action, adding “we’re going to continue to focus on no-prep.”
“We really like this no-prep deal. It’s a lot more fun … you go out to the races and you don’t sit in the staging lanes for long periods or time, you don’t have to qualify, you pull chips out of a hat and you go racing,” French says. “You just don’t waste a lot of time, and it’s fun. You get a lot of exposure and a lot of passes in against some big-name guys, and that’s why we love it. It’s the best racing I’ve ever been involved with. And a lot of my customers are actual competitors of ours — Ryan Martin, James Finney, Brent Austin, Dave Comstock, Chuck Seitsinger — they all run our injectors in their cars, and it’s really cool to have that camaraderie and competition at the same time.”
While a fresh slate for the Bruder brothers as much as it is for French, the no-prep venue is likely to come to the formidable duo just as radial-tire racing has over the years. “Those guys are great. Nick is a killer tuner and Rich can drive his butt off. I’ve learned a lot from those guys, and they’re good ones to have in your corner.”