Lights Out 10 Radial Tire Racing Coverage From South Georgia

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Winnipeg, Canada’s Dr. Dan Boyko drives the Lanap 2000 Firebird in Pro 275 where he qualified third. Boyko and Zack Park in the White Rice 240SX were the first pair out in round two with Boyko advancing with a 4.12 at 192, the number would hold for low ET in the round. The build was started back in 2010 and updated at RK Racecraft in 2018 with power now coming from a PLR 481X. Dan plans on following the LDR series this year, he told us, “We were just out in Orlando and did a 3.92, we just wanted to see what we could do on these 275’s this weekend. I think at Bowling Green we are gonna launch, we have all the weight bars to add in, I think there is two races in April we are planning to go to those and do the series this year.”

Dan’s father bought a new 68 GTO when they lived in California and when he was sixteen he fixed that up so he has been around racing for a long time, the family still has the car which has been restored back to original. He had a 68 Firebird later then a Super Stock 4th Gen Firebird he got from Mike McCinney. Mike actually bought the car back from Dan and now his son is racing in it. This car still has the stock type suspension with the torque arm and has been a 1.05 60 on the 315 tire and 1.09 in the 275 and will make a run for the threes at some point although today’s weather conditions may not be favorable to achieve that here. Proline Racing’s Craig Pettis services the car and acts as crew chief for the team with Josh Ledford doing the tuning to the Fuel Tech engine management.

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“Hot Rod Cool Cat” Adam Hodson is the owner and driver of the “Corporate” 1973 Camaro entered in DXP 235 again this year. Many will recall the car’s catastrophic flamefest engine failures here last year from the SBE LS turbo combo. The team is back at it for 2019 with a new engine and we got the updates from Nick Taylor, the head fabricator/tuner/crew chief of the team based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have a new engine this year from Northwest Automotive with Wagler Rods and Weisco pistons swinging on a stock crank and topped by a pair of Mike Duke Racing prepared 317 heads and a Holly Hi Ram intake pressuring by a Bullseye 75MM turbo. Taylor told us “The car weighs 3700 pounds and we are allowed 3250 but we are just out here trying to have a good time. We do have a PA Racing tube front end coming when we get home to get some weight out of it but Adam won’t cut his car up so we will get a little here and there where we can. We are planning to do Rocky Mountain Race Week this year and Drag Week again. This class is awesome because is gives us a class we can be somewhat competitive in and not have a huge budget to go racing.”

im Essick made the trip down south with his “Brown Sugar” 2018 Mustang and is testing the big Procharger this weekend. He ran a 3.96 at 185 last night and is looking to better that today with the team creeping on on the tune with the new blower. Tim owns Essick Motorsports and pretty much builds and maintains the car himself with Dan Whetstine as his partner in crime crewing on the car and doing PR/Marketing for the Maryland based team.

“I think the biggest thing we can take away from this weekend is that radial racing is alive an well…” X275 Motorsports’ John Sears told us this morning when we spoke. “The first few events really set the tone, and the standard and it’s just escalated from there, then with Lights Out VII being just a phenomenal event and it’s just continued on in grown and become what is the pinnacle of radial racing and set the standard for other promoters in this arena.” John got started racing in South Florida and raced with the National Street Car Association in the BFG Street Eliminator class with his 1969 Chevelle. With no small tire racing locally he eventually traded the Chevelle off for a big tire car but soon found that type of racing “Wasn’t what we were about, and we got back into small tire racing in 2003 after I came home from a two year deployment.” John said. Sunshine Dragstrip in St. Pete had an established Heads Up Madness series featuring a Stock Suspension Shootout class, Pro Mods and OL 10.5 along with some index racing and Ralph Hestor opened a dragstrip, Immokalee Raceway, on an dormant airport runway giving a chance to some new ideas.

At that time Donald Long was a local racer recently graduated from the street and grudge scene and was heavily involved with Sunshine’s series and that is how Donald and John met. They both were looking at some things from the same direction and John had worked with Troy Pirez and Big Daddy and Carl Weisinger trying to drum up interest for radial tire racing which has been a long time passion. Sometime in 2007 Donald jumped in and promoted a $5,000 to win Radial Tire Class at Sunshine Dragstrip that brought out a lot of out of town cars including Shane Stack and David Reese who were racing with the ORSCA series at the time. I shot video and photos at that event with borrowed equipment and soon after founded Devastation Motorsports and began covering the local events at Sunshine, Bradenton Motorsports Park and Immokalee. With the growing popularity of radial racing more racers wanted in and was apparent some type of tiered class structure was necessary to even out the competition and a discussion of a new class, Real Street, began with rules developed around small block nitrous combo and it is that class that evolved into X275 as part of the Radial Tire Revolution that evolved into the grand spectacle it is today.

All the rules that are currently in place in X275, Ultra Street and DXP 235 come out of X275 Motorsports. John and the team involved have tried to create diversity and parity in the classes but it’s been tough for the small block nitrous cars in X275 and Ultra and that is something that they will be evaluating after the event. “We have the data from two years of the Ultra Street series and one year with X275 and we can work with the Pro Media brands NMCA and NMRA and are trying to work Xtreme Street and Street Outlaw rules to sorta parallel with what we have to make sure these guys have a place to race.”

New for 2019 is a DXP 235 Championship Series sponsored by Haltech in development that will feature five races for it’s inaugural year and will run along with the established Ultra and X275 series events. Nitrous Express has stepped up to be a sponsor at each of those and some more companies like Ultimate Converter Concepts, Forced Induction, Vortech Superchargers, Team RC Components Wheels, Team Z and Jeff Salvato Designs. “We want to see that entry level class with limits to keep somebody that may not be able to continue racing with Ultra Street and give them a place to fall back into.”

Deda Ford Minor is driving PTC’s newest race car to the stable this weekend in 6.0 Index.The car was finished up enough the day before coming here to bring it and they are still working out the kinks with the new car. PTC has been the Radial vs the World sponsor from the beginning and earned a reputation in the the racing community as being a family friendly, racer friendly supporter of sportsman racing in their twenty plus year history having grown to nearly thirty employees in the shop. They have been working to develop a lock up converter for some time which has been delayed somewhat due to the very busy but small shop but we can report Chad Henderson will soon be testing the first unit. From right to left is Deda Ford Minor and her mom LaGail Ford.

There are many people and companies who have been a part of this event and radial racing, since the early days and there is one that stands above all others and that is Mickey Thompson Performance Tires. Truly, none of this amazing spectacle would be possible without the innovations they have brought to the sport, developing the tire that started this Radial Revolution. At first it was banned from competition at the established series but the outlaw racing community took the ball and ran with it forcing the hand of the promoters to allow it in. We dropped into chat with Mickey Thompson’s Tom Kundrick. “I think we started with eighty cars and eighty people in the stands at the first event in Bradenton, the Outlaw Radial Tire Championship. There were three of four sponsors back then, actually Donald got money from the racers to put in with $500 and a free entry is how this all got started and look what it’s become today., that’s how it got rolling. Friday and Saturday this place was packed, Lights Out VI there was no place to park in the county, they closed the highway so many people were trying to get in.” Kundrick told us.

The event has balanced out somewhat and the racing it tighter than ever across the classes, and as it’s grown it’s also spread out as the performance progressed and various racers were priced out or performed out and Ultra Street, then DXP 235 were born. There have been an assortment of classes here thought the years with some being phased out and/or developed into something new like Pro 275 evolving from Outlaw Drag Radial and Leaf Spring. “They had probably fifty true RVW cars here this week, I was lucky, I think I was one of the very first sponsor in and to be here ten years later is huge. Mickey Thompson R&D man Jason Moulton was the driving force behind the development of the first ET Street Radial.” Tom said. When asked about the performance achievement and records we talked about how there was Boost and No Boost and Team North vs Team South. Folks like Alex Vrettos, Dave Hinzman and Richie Stine traded it back and forth with Tony Ridenour, Troy Pirez, Shane Stack and others. Hinzman set the quarter mile record at The Shakedown at E Town with a 7.18 though I forget which year. The winners faced off in special quarter mile finals until it was apparent the boosted cars would dominate and the rules were adjusted accordingly.

The technology surrounding power management for the various engine combos took a while to catch up since the early days of digi set timers to control nitrous delivery and boost curves to companies like MSD developed products and new concepts. “Riding the dots” was a term widely used as acceleration curves were plotted to keep the tires hooked up. The best racers stayed just off the dots because really it was a bit of a crutch and was not the fastest way to go A to B. Before Tom’s time at MT the original ET Street was designed on a nine second street car, and that same design wound up going a 3.89 on DeWayne Mills car before the Pro 275 was developed.

“We want to be the baddasses in radial and we will push and fight to do it, you look out there and it’s a sea of Micky Thompson, you wanna go fast you have to have our stuff, we thrive on that and we love it. It’s been near and dear to my heart, Jason who is head of R&D, my motorsports guys work closely with him. We lost the 275 market for a year or so to Hoosier and Jason had the idea for some new concepts and once that Pro tire came out we had the market back in a week. The development of the Pro 315 was delayed for a bit as the cars kept getting faster and there came a time when it needed to be put out with the crazy fast runs the guys were making and now the guys are running sixties and knocking hard on the next barrier. I said a couple of years ago I think 40’s are possible but I think it’s gonna take something pretty substantial to get the cars through the middle faster cause the splits guys are getting now are just sick, .919 60′ now on a 30 in DOT tire you can drive on the street is pretty sickening,” Tom Kundrick.

Chad Henderson Rebounds At Lights Out 10

Radial tire veteran Chad Henderson has experienced some consistency issues the past few seasons but those troubles seem to be in the past now. Bringing on Steve Jackson and the Killing Time Racing crew to help with tuning Henderson has seen a resurgence in his performance at Lights Out 10. Henderson is now a player in the Limited Drag Radial class with a string of low four-second passes in his nitrous-fed Buick.

To run at the front in radial tire racing it requires a very detailed approach to make sure everything is working correctly across the racing operation. Henderson has augmented his already great team by enlisting the help of one of the best nitrous tuners in the game.

“We got a really good crew and we can’t do anything without the people around us. My wife and my son, along with all of Stevie Jackson’s team help make this happen for us. A good team effort is what it takes to make these cars work and Stevie is a huge asset,” Henderson says.

Figuring out how to go fast may seem like it’s all about cubic dollars, but it also requires the ability to know what works. Henderson saw an opportunity to improve his program with an engine change and the new bullet between the fenders of his Buick is working out well.

“We changed engine combinations from a five-inch bore space to a 5.3-inch engine because we needed something different and the horsepower to keep up with the class. That has worked out well because we went a 4.102 this weekend, our best pass ever. The class record is a 4.09, so we are right there with the fastest in Limited Drag Radial,” Henderson explains.

Lights Out 10 hasn’t been a complete drama free picnic for the Henderson racing team. Making a ton more power is great for elapsed times, however, it also finds a way to break parts. Henderson and his team had to pull an all-nighter after the Buick ate a transmission and gear set during eliminations on Saturday.

“We broke an intermediate shaft in the transmission and were up all night working on getting that fixed. The transmission was in and buttoned up around five in the morning. Then we figured out the ring gear was broken as well. We got a lot of help from some nice people to give us parts and assistance to stay in the hunt,” Henderson says.

The outlook for things in 2019 is positive in Henderson’s eyes when it comes to racing. Things are starting to come together and he feels their team could be a significant threat to win the Limited Drag Radial championship this season

“With all the changes we think we can compete with everyone. When the heat and sun comes out it will tighten the times up. With the rules that are in place, we think this combination will do well during this year.”

About the author

Rob Cossack

Rob has had an interest in photography since he was young, but didn't get started until 2007, when he started shooting at the local tracks. After that, he started doing local video coverage of heads-up events and began working with Power Automedia shortly after.
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