It wasn’t all that long ago — November of 2015, to be exact — that Radial versus The World competitors were stunning, well…the world…by venturing into the 3.8-second zone for the first time over the super-sticky 1/8-mile. While the premier radial-tire eliminator was gobbling up the headlines and filling the grandstands to capacity, the equally talented Pro 275 brigade was casually chipping away at things on their march to the threes.
A 3.99 on the 9.8-inch tread width tire, once thought inconceivable, quickly became a reality.
Last April, Ziff Hudson made history by recording the first known sub-four-second pass on 275 drag radials. Seventeen months later, South Carolina’s Jeff Miller advanced the class into further uncharted territory with a stunning, record-breaking 3.898 at 194.97 mph at the Darlington Dragway during a mid-week test session behind the wheel of his famed “Bumblebee” supercharged Chevrolet Camaro.
“It’s pretty impressive that these cars run this quick,” Miller quips. “Those 275 tires can hold far more power than I ever would have thought. And they’re so much smaller than the 315 … nobody realizes it until you put them side by side.”
Miller had been into the mid-3.80s on the 315 Mickey Thompson in Radial versus The World trim and 3.91 on the smaller 275 previously, leaving him confident the 3.80s — and even 3.70s — were not just a possibility, but a given. Ready to prove it, he returned to Darlington on Wednesday, August 22nd, for the Throwdown in D-town 28/275 no-time shootout. On a competition single, he and 22-year-old son and tuner Patrick threw caution to the wind with the setup in the Bumblebee, blasting down the legendary 1/8-mile to the tune of a 3.856 at 196.51 mph. Although a no-time event — where elapsed times traditionally aren’t shown or shared publicly — Miller was too pleased with his cars’ performance to keep the numbers under wraps.
We had a bye run so we kind of took a swing at it, and it was just one of the smoothest passes.
The Bumblebee, typically in the 1.04 to 1.05 range to sixty-feet on its high 3.8- and low 3.9-second laps, went a crushing 1.00 on the record-resetting 3.85 lap, illustrating the mind-boggling capabilities of the 275 ET Street Radial Pro.
As Miller has discovered, the tire, albeit smaller in width and circumference, is hardly the limiting factor it’s been made out to be.
“When we switch over, we just change the gear ratio and put the smaller tires on. Originally we thought there would be a bigger change in approach with the 275, but as we’re getting faster and taking bigger jumps at it, it doesn’t seem that there is. We’re leaving with almost the same tune-up as we do with the 315…it’s really close,” he shares. “We started with more weight in the back and a little slower up front, but as we got a little more used to the tire and took a stab at it, we wound up right back where we were with the 315.”
“We knew we could run a 3.85, but we didn’t expect it to do it on that pass,” he continued. “We had a bye run so we kind of took a swing at it, and it was just one of the smoothest passes. It gave us a pretty good indication that it will go 3.70s … no doubt.”
Miller concluded what was a rather interesting week of racing — “that’s one way of putting it,” he exclaimed — as he took flight in spectacular fashion at the Mike Hill Night of Fire no-time race.
“We were a little too slow early and just got after it. I kind of stretched it a little too far … usually it will set itself down. We’ve made some changes in the transmission because it used to shift and set the front end down, but instead it shifted and tried to flip over backwards. I found something that’s going to make me faster, but I have to pay attention to the front end a little more,” Miller shares. “I’ve had it up decent, but I’ve never had it off the ground like that. I fly airplanes, so it wasn’t that different, except someone opened a window” he exclaims.
Fortunately, despite the wild excursion the Camaro came away unscathed and Miller was able to return to competition the next day.
The Bumblebee is powered by a screw-blown, electronically fuel-injected, 521 cubic-inch Brad Anderson Hemi with Noonan cylinder heads, backed by a two-speed Turbo 400 and ProTorque converter. Miller, in a lot of ways, is an underdog in the radial world, noting “people don’t realize we run used pistons from from guys like Carl Stevens to Kevin Mullins. We ran all of Kevin’s used, leftover parts out of his red car all last year … pistons, valves springs, rings. He patched our old block back together, and every time we brought it up there he asked, ‘man, how are you running so well with this old junk?’ It just shows you don’t have to spend a lot of money, that’s all I can tell you.”
Hopefully before the end of the year we can get a .79 on the board … that would be awesome. We were in 2600 to 2700 feet of air both times we went .80s so far, so we’ll put a little more weight on the car and we’ll see what we can do.
Miller has been able to step up the program with a new block and cylinder heads this season, allowing him to run at the level he’s at — “but we still haven’t put new pistons in it,” he says with a laugh. “So when it gets a little oil down the sides, you’ll know why.”
Miller and company are headed to this weekend’s Yellow Bullet Nationals to compete in Outlaw 10.5 — on the 275 radial, naturally — and intend to run at No Mercy 9 next month to take a crack at the official Pro 275 mark.
His goal before the close of the year: the 3.70s.
“Hopefully before the end of the year we can get a .79 on the board … that would be awesome. We were in 2600 to 2700 feet of air both times we went .80s so far, so we’ll put a little more weight on the car and we’ll see what we can do. I’m confident we can go .70s, especially when the air gets better.”