Several Pro Drag Radial and Radial vs the World cars made the trip to Bradenton Motorsports Park to get in some testing prior to the 2015 U.S. Street Nationals with excellent results, both before, during and after the season kickoff event.
We’ve been covering the testing at Bradenton since last week with several updates on performances from various racers in attendance, including a few new combos on the Mickey Thompson Drag Radial tire for the first time; Rick Thornton, Dave DeMarco and Nick Agostino. While tracks such as Cecil County, South Georgia Motorsports Park and Maryland International Raceway, Holly Springs and now Huntsville have been known for some time as being friendly to the radial tire, Bradenton has quietly been working on their prep with little fanfare or notoriety. That was, until late last year, when Keith Berry traveled south and put up the right numbers.
Brad Edwards put up the first three second run at Huntsville running a 3.99 in the final against Jamie Hancock and shook up things in the Drag Radial world, with some proclaiming it was some candy wrapper phantom pass. There certainly is no consensus on the legitimacy of said performance but what happened next is also quite interesting. Berry and the Wooo! Crew rolled into Bradenton and started testing, walking away with a 3.97 after the session to conclude the year and stir the pot for the next season. Soon after Edwards went back to Huntsville running a best of 3.94 at 193.13 which fed the fire further.
With Berry helping to put Bradenton’s face on the Radial map and the U.S. Street Nationals being the 2015 season opener and running a Pro Drag Radial at the end of January it only made sense for some teams to come on down to try their luck due to the newly credentialed capabilities. Paul Major, Dave Demarco, Nick Agostino and Rick Thornton coming to town to test last week along with Keith Berry and other racers planning to attend the event.
Four-teens came easily for Dave DeMarco, running a 4.16 on just his third pass. Berry ran a 3.99 and Thornton was right in there. Agostino was impressed and shocked, having run on the 33 x 10.5W tire for several years. He already scored a 1.08 sixty on his first day on the “little tiny tire”. What’s an Outlaw 10.5 racer to do when in one day he’s knocked on the door of his personal best numbers to date on a new tire? Roll with it…that’s what. In fact, by the time qualifying was over Saturday night, Berry had the top spot with a 4.047 with the out-of-towners, Agostino, DeMarco and Thornton rounding out the top four, respectively, with a 4.053, a 4.104 and 4.141.
Once in eliminations, Agostino set low elapsed time for the first two rounds with a best 4.073 at 192.96, then a 4.102 at 192.55. In round three, Berry took a holeshot win over Thornton who set low elapsed time of eliminations with a 4.043 at 192.96 to Berry’s slower 4.074 at 190.03. Not bad for his first week on radials. Thornton and Grant McCrary plan to run select events with the Fast Forward Innovations ’65 Corvette, including some NMCA Pro Drag Radial action. The final match would be DeMarco and Berry, with Berry getting the win, running a 4.063 at 191.12 in his Bell Chassis-built, LS-powered Corvette to DeMarco’s DMC Race Cars-prepped Grand National, running a game 4.123 at 184.65.
This past Monday Rob Valden and DeWayne Mills rolled in to Bradenton for some testing of their own. Mills and the Proline Racing crew outfitted the car with a Fuel Tech engine management system last week and spent some time Monday getting that set up and working properly. Tuesday morning he came out and promptly snapped a 40-spline axle ending, their day. But replacements were sourced and arrived Wednesday in time to get some more runs in.
As Pro Line Racing’s Steve Petty, Jeff Miller and Bradley Nagel got Mills ready, Valden was busy running 4.0’s easy-as-pie, later pulling out a 3.98 at 200 mph. Then on Wednesday, he ripped off a staggering 3.96 at 201.70 and followed it with a 3.978 at 201.43.
For his share, Mills put up a 4.067 at 198.19 then a 4.048 at 199.24 while struggling to keep the Golden Gorilla’s tires planted properly. Actually both cars were chattering the tires some, but Mills has some sixty-foot to gain to catch up, as his best has been a 1.10 He, or anyone else will need better than that to get to the later rounds this year at many events.
Rob Valden drives for car owner Andrew Alepa using a Pro Line Racing 481X-3 fed by a pair of Precision 98MM turbos backed by a two speed TH 400 from M&M Transmissions and a Pro Torque converter. The Billett Atomizer3 700 injectors provide the fuel with Big Stuff III engine management. Alepa, Brandon Stroud and Valden handle crew duties.
DeWayne Mills also runs the 481X-3 engine with an M&M two Speed 400 and Pro Torque converter with Fuel Tech now on board for engine management and oil and trans fluid from Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants. Crew for Team Mills is Tim Davis (crew chief), Josh Watson, Jamie Miller, Steve Petty and his wife, Tara Mills.
I got with Brad Edwards for a comment being his “Huntsville Roll” performance has garnered so much controversy and promotional value, he had this to say:
“I’m glad to see our performance has put life back into this class. I think everyone has learned it’s not as easy as they thought it would be to match our numbers…..even with big hp to weight advantages or just raw hp and big mph. We’re looking forward to sorting out our new combo and hope to push the limits even further at SGMP.” – Brad Edwards
With such performances so early this year, it’s already shaping up to be an exciting season and Track Prep Man Jeff Miller and the rest Bradenton crew are very pleased with the performance of the surface so far. They have worked hard in the shadows getting things in top condition and the performances in the past week shows they’re indeed are a top-class facility, right along with the tracks that seemed to get so much attention last year. One thing is clear, the season starts and end at Bradenton with more than plenty of action in between January and December, and the folks that tested here in Bradenton have a leg up on those that haven’t, for now. We will be covering Lights Out 6 from start to finish beginning Thursday February 19th until it’s done so be sure to stay locked in for the latest news and coverage.