The radial-tire racing community has been embroiled in controversy since the early hours of Saturday morning when Alabama native Jamie Hancock recorded the first 3.5-second run in history by a nitrous oxide-assisted entry during the Outlaw Street Car Reunion VI at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
No sooner than the parachute blossomed on Hancock’s Pontiac Firebird at the conclusion of the 3.599-second blast, the public was equal parts ecstatic and skeptical. Hours earlier, Hancock had recorded the quickest nitrous pass of all-time — regardless of tire type — with a 3.603, doing so with an eyebrow-raising .890 60-foot time. On the subsequent pass, Hancock all but backed up the lap, going .894 on his way to the 3.599-second elapsed time, giving event promoter Tyler Crossnoe and technical liaisons John Sears and Lonnie Grim nearly all of the proof they needed to approve the run. After further evaluation of Hancock’s data, the run stood, bringing to a close the red-hot race to the 3.50s among the radial-tire and PDRA Pro Nitrous contingent.
Hancock’s run received additional scrutiny by the racers, the fans, and those at home as it followed a handful of other questionable passes earlier in the day. Fellow nitrous runner Jack Greene had a career-best 3.65 nullified by officials after reviewing the .869-second 60-foot time. Another Radial versus The World competitor, Paolo Giust, had an off-the-throttle 3.78 at just 159 mph voided as a result of an .833 short-time. Pro Modified competitor Stephan Stringer also had a run disallowed, according to Midwest Pro Mod Series director Keith Haney.
Unexpected rain showers on Saturday morning brought the event to an unfortunate conclusion before eliminations could be contested, forcing Crossnoe to make one of the toughest decisions and subsequent announcements of his professional career as he pulled the plug on the sixth edition of the event and split the purse money among the qualified participants. But the controversy that began the day prior didn’t end there.
“Over the past 24 hours, I have received phone calls and messages receiving death threats, wishes of me dying in my sleep, hopes that I will have to file bankruptcy over the event this past weekend. I’m deeply saddened that something that I tried to do nice for people and had some issues has come to this,” Crossnoe shared in a statement.
Other competitors, respecting Crossnoe, his team, and the Beech Bend facility, addressed the situation but did not explicitly denounce any of the numbers. Team owner Corey Swanstrom, who campaigns the nitrous oxide entry driven by son, Justin, and Mike Stavrinos, shared his onboard telemetry on Sunday evening via Facebook Live, stating that he ultimately did not believe his car clocked the 60-foot times at Beech Bend that the time-slip displayed. Swanstrom also noted the considerably slower reaction times of each of his drivers, which might indicate a timing system issue that was permitting cars to delay the breaking of the beams and subsequently gain a running start at the clocks.
Hancock noted following the historic pass: “I was ecstatic when I saw the .59 on the scoreboard from in the car, especially after all the controversy of the 3.60 in the other lane and thinking it wasn’t right, and then doing it again in the other lane made it even better. We struggled at the Sweet 16 t0 keep the front end on the ground — it was doing big wheelies every run and we couldn’t make any good runs…we didn’t get into the field until the final attempt. We finally figured out how to keep the front down to apply the power the way we want to, and that’s been the biggest difference,” he explains.
“Do I believe a lot of the runs from this weekend’s event? Yes. Were there were a handful of runs that made me question what is going on? Yes,” Crossnoe continued.
“I checked the timing system when I arrived. Everything appeared in working condition and the settings in the computer were correct. There is no way possible that I would alter a system to create false information. Yes there were some odd runs but we did the best we could with the situations we were put in. No one person is perfect. No timing system is perfect. No racer is perfect.
“There are plenty of runs that were legitimate but there were also a number of question marks that we all wondered about, even in-house. There are a number of question marks in certain class rule books that do not outline maximum overhang, maximum stagger and minimum ride heights. By having gray areas like this, it opens the legality of runs to an even deeper chapter. Going forward, for any event that I’m involved with, rulebooks will be more detailed than ever to eliminate all gray areas like this,” Crossnoe stated.
“I’m going on the record as of right now, as event owner and director, and negating ALL runs from the 2019 edition of the Outlaw Street Car Reunion. I know 95-percent of those runs were legit. But the other 5-percent will continue to raise question marks.”
Haney confirmed that only Stringer’s lone run was negated; the remainder of the runs, including Ali Aryan’s 3.61 and the 3.600 set by Justin Jones in the East vs West shootout — which marks the quickest PDRA Pro Boost-legal run in history — all checked out and would stand.
“If I ever decide to do this again, I am now expected to change and put new timing system sensors and photocells in wherever I go because of people trashing my name and reputation,” says Crossnoe. “This will also add thousands of dollars to an already quarter-million dollar event. I’be had the worst 24 hours of my life aside from when I lost my father. Those who have tried to keep me positive, that you, it means more than you know. All racers were paid for their time by the promotions company. Fans, if you want a refund, I’ll pay it out of my personal pocket. I just need to know where it needs to go. I care more about the respect of the racers and the sport as a whole than I do the records. Records will change hands next week. Respect lasts way longer.
“There will be some mad people about this but this is the only way that I feel like is fair to everyone in the public eye. Data doesn’t lie. We all know what happened. I would rather have the respect of all knowing myself and my team did it the right way than have a number with our name beside it.
“End of the story, the 2019 Outlaw Street Car Reunion by the numbers never happened.”