Veteran doorslammer racer Marcus Birt became what is believed to be the first nitrous racer on drag radial tires into the 5-second zone in testing at the Orlando Speed World Dragway on Monday. And while it wasn’t planned, it got the job done nonetheless, making the Gray, Georgia native just the fifth radial-tire racer into the fives.
Birt, driving his Pat Musi Racing Engines-powered, Jerry Bickel Race Cars-built C7 Corvette, acquired the tuning consultancy of former ADRL Pro Nitrous champion Steve Jackson for the post-World Outlaw Nationals test, which resulted in a stout 3.690 at 200.17 mph, compliments of a .945 short time and a 2.472 to the 330-foot mark. Birt noted the throttle hung on the Corvette out to near the 1,000-foot mark, giving it enough momentum to cross the 1/4-mile stripe in 5.946-seconds at a slowing 202.06 mph.
The record-setting run (for a nitrous car) was just the fourth of the day and the only carried out to the 1/8-mile mark or beyond, giving some indication of what his car is capable of with more laps on the combination. In its debut at Lights Out 10 last month, Birt struggled in qualifying and failed to make the 32-car field. He closed the weekend with a 3.85-second best elapsed time.
While others were fixed on the 3.69 — the second 3.6-second nitrous Radial versus The World pass second only to Jamie Hancock’s 3.68 at last year’s Sweet16 — it’s the numbers at the bottom of the time-slip that got our attention.
While other 5-second runs that haven’t been publicized are possible given the 1/4-mile potential of the top-running Radial versus The World cars, only five are known to have been sub-6.00: Kevin Fiscus, Dave Adkins, Ken Quartuccio, Dale Collins, and now Birt. Intriguingly, Birt only missed the record of 5.864-seconds, held by Quartuccio, by a mere .082-seconds — and did so scrubbing off, conservatively, 45-46 mph.
How quick could he have gone?
Last October, Rickie Smith recorded the quickest nitrous Pro Mod run in competition with a 5.711 at 251.77 mph in Charlotte, North Carolina. Smith was .958 to 60-feet, 2.534 to 330 (.062 in favor of Birt), and 3.762 at 201.52 to half-track (.077 in favor of Birt). Smith’s 1,000-foot clocking of 4.820 and Birt’s 4.863 confirms he was off the throttle by that point. Smith went 251.77 mph on his run, which is 49.71 mph faster than what Birt coasted across the stripe at. Given the transmission, gearing, and tune-up all catered to the 1/8-mile, it’s unlikely the car would have made it to 1,320-feet under power (perhaps without all of the rods and pistons still in it), but if it could — that’s a big if — it was heading into the mid-5.60s. Even thinking conservatively, a nitrous car the likes of Birt’s with a 1/4-mile combination could very likely oust the 5.86 world record.
What’s that tell us? Nitrous cars ain’t dead.