Lights Out 11: “Magic Tires” Same Day Coverage From South Georgia!

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The inclement weather is giving us a reprieve today as we roll into eliminations during the break in an effort to get the full event in before we run out of time before rain again rolls through Adel, Georgia. The weather this morning is at negative 743 feet, mine shaft conditions. If the racers can put the power down today it’s likely records may be reset once again.

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X275 is led by Manny Buginga’s 2003 Cobra with a record setting run of 4.22 at 173 MPH using a Disomma Racing Engine fed by the newest turbo from Precsision Turbo and Engine. In fact the top five cars were in the 4.20’s, a feat considering the tricky track surface here this weekend.

Ev Bernardo was matched up with Melanie Salemi and lost traction, crossing in front of her and going pretty hard into the wall in the final session of Radial vs the World. She struck the tires before the 60' and was able to avoid contact and get stopped without making contact with Bernardo.

Also in last nights session Marcus Birt was on a pass and carrying the wheels early in the run. The car got airborne for a long time and landed hard but right side up and skidded to a stop near the quarter mile mark. Marcus was out of the car quickly and was not injured thanks to a well built car out of Jerry Bickel’s shop and proper safety gear. He was up early this morning and posted a video to his Facebook page doing his morning cardio routine and thanking every one who called and texted to see if he was Ok. They will be back as soon as possible after assessing the damage and looking for team mate Steve Jackson to bring home the win after earning top qualifying position with a 3.55 at 215 MPH.

 

Josh Klugger is behind the wheel of Chad Opaleski’s 66 Chevelle this weekend fulfilling a desire to drive a screw blown car before he got out of drag racing. Josh and Chad have been friends and competitors for years racing the Outlaw Radial circuit and since Josh sold his operation a year ago the two have talked it over on a more serious note. The move will allow Chad to get a new perspective on hos the car works and tuning under the tutelage of noted Top Alcohol racer and tuner Bob Newberry. Bob came on board while Chad was still running a Procharger combination on the Hemi to address some oiling issues he was having with the engine and it was not long before he sourced a PSI C rotor screw blower from Frank Manzo off his Outlaw Pro Mod car than saw limited use in Qatar.

The Chevelle started live in the family as his high school driver when Chad was 16 years old and once retired from street duty has been worked on exclusively by Dan Neumann Race Cars in Ocala and has undergone many updates over the years along with thirteen different engine combinations, from small block nitrous to running Outlaw Drag Radial with a nitrous huffing 632 around various Florida tracks and now a screw blown Hemi. Chad's mother was the inspiration for the blower after Chad became frustrated with the Procharger combo and was considering getting gout of racing, a call to Bob was made to source a blower and just two days later he called back and told Chad to “Go get it.”, they spin it 128% over making between 3,500 – 3,700 horsepower at 60 pounds of boost, a sold 500 horse more than a TAFC combo that uses a D rotor at 92% overdrive. From left to right Chad Opaleski, Bob Newberry, Natalie Opaleski and John Klugger. At left is Johnny Drama and Bob prepping the car before the next run.

Chad recently made the switch to Pro 275 at the US Street Nationals and has just five runs on the new tire. The car was also converter over the winter from stock suspension to a full 4 link by Neumann along with some weight reduction. Klugger piloted the car to a 4.11 at 180 in qualifying, landing tenth in the Pro 275 field and more left as it wasn’t a clean run due to the lean out system not working. He later attempt struck the tires near the 60′ but was on a pass prior to that. If the car sticks today he should be in the 3.90’s come first round.

“I got out to focus on my business as a custom home builder with Center State Construction and spend more time with my son after getting divorced, I’m by no means saying I am done for good and it sure feels great to be behind the wheel of this monster.” Josh told us. “It’s very different from the turbo combos I was driving before. I’m really enjoying this experience driving a screw car and working around Bob Newberry, he wants you to learn and is great at explaining things, he’s a great teacher. As a small tire racer I have a lot of experience and I can share those insights to Bob and help the Chads program advance. Bob is teaching Natalie how to tune as well, and with me driving it gives them a new perspective to watch the car and learn some different aspects you just can’t get behind the wheel cause you can’t see what the car is doing. It’s a whole lot easier to drive than a turbo combo with the staging procedure, building boost and bumping into the beams. It’s basically like an NA car, just super loud and tons more power.”

“I could tell on that last hit Josh was getting comfortable, the way he did the burnout, how he caught it when it spun, Josh got it. I would only trust two people to drive the car and Bob won’t drive it so Josh got the gig. It’s definitely a little weird being behind the car and watching it leave. It’s so loud outside the car, I was a little shocked at that cause the pipes point away so the sound don’t come in the car like you might think.” – Chad Opaleski.

The first pair out today in Radial vs the World was Brad Edwards and Marty Stinnett. Stinnett would push the tree a little too much going -.003 red ending his day early as Edwards score3d a 3.80 at 195 as the two went side by side with Stinnett scoring a 3.82 at 197 setting the pace for the day as the track has come around and the racers apply the power.

Melanie Salemi set low ET and took over the record in Radial vs the World with her 3.546 this morning coming from the number three qualifier position. The top teams in the class are throwing the kitchen sink at their cars this weekend as they search for ET by small increments in the race to the 3.40's. Her run tied Steve Jackson's ET from the US Street Nats in January but took the record based on speed of 213.57, just edging out Jackson. Odds are the record will fall again as Jackson scored a 214.01 MPH blast as part of the next pair.

Tommy Youmans is making progress now scoring a 4.00 and a 4.02 at 186 in his GTO after repairing the boost leak. His four flat makes him the quickest Pontiac powered door slammer in the world and he is not done yet.

Josh Klugger is doing just fine piloting Chad Opaleski’s screw blown Hemi powered Chevelle scoring a 4.10 at 172 to get by Jody Voyles. He will face Chris Alston Jr. in round two who has struggled making clean runs this weekend. His car is fast when it goes down so they should not take his 5.83 performance lightly.

The crew in Fletcher Cox pits had some work to do between rounds making repairs to the Liberty transmission to replace a broken shifter fork.

Round One Elimination Results

The last completed class eliminations at this time are Radial vs the World, DXP Street, Pro 275 and X275, the Small block nitrous N/T and the Carolina N/T Boost classes.

Ultra Street, Limited Drag Radial, , Limited 235.

DXP Street racer Shawn Pevlor qualified number two in class and set the record with a 4.99 and improved in round two to a 4.97 at 140 but went red against John Paterno’s 67 Nova by -.012 to end his weekend early.

Dallas, Georgia based Peter Rogowski brought home the $2,500 Door Slammers 2 wheelie competition within the DXP Street class in his 1992 Ranger. “I tightened up the front end near as tight as I could but the track is so phenomenal right now right, it happened so fast I just couldn't react to it.” Peter told us. He pulled off to the side in case it was leaking any. It bent one of the bars but he has plenty of cash to make any small repairs and some left over after that monster wheel stand.

Martin Connelley has not broke into the fours yet in DXP Street but he is going rounds and being consistent. He ran a 5.05 in round two to earn a win over Michael Walker to advance to round three. The tech department has been crawling over Martin’s entry this weekend and he was the first to have hit plate swapped out for a “house unit” to ensure rules compliance in this new class, receiving plate number 007, which he picked in honor of his father who is a big James Bond fan. The car is group effort between Martin and his cousin Jason Waterman, aka Cheeseburger who loaned his engine and transmission to the cause. They have been discussing the class since November with Eric Mitchel. Dalton Winfield and Tony Bischoff was recruited to be a part of the program and they did some dyno testing before putting the engine in the car and testing. They changed a few things to run the SS tire which is similar to the Pro Drag Radial and also has a different street compatible tread pattern.

They worked with Josh Lindsey to get set up with the suspension, shocks and springs. They are using a VMS Haltech box to control the nitrous power management instead of a stand alone progressive controller. The rules mandate a distributor so it limits what can be done with the new style coil on plug ignitions found in other classes. They were allowed to check the flow pattern in a bucket before installation and Martin was very appreciative of that. Martin uses Trick Flow cylinder heads and RPM Transmissions, Mencser Motorsports shocks and struts, BES Racing Engines and topped by a Bob Book carburetor and an MSD Ignition box to control the spark. The crew from left to right are Eddie McCarty, Brent Daniel, Cory Brooks, Dalton Winfield, Martin Connelley, and Jason Waterman who was in the lanes and not pictured.

David Farlow is entered in both X275 and the Carolina N/T class featuring boosted small blocks this week. It’s definitely a little strange to see a car run no time in one class and turn around at the same event and post times on the board but times they are a changing as they say and the no time grudge game is changing right along with it. In fact several cars over the past year or so have transitioned from clocks off racing to class racing and as the times have leaked to the general public it’s created quite a stir among the grudge racing community and arguably, upset the apple cart. Justin Swanstrom and Jack Green are two notable examples of this trend and after speaking with Carkey Mims here today the N/T game may be in store for major changes as more people exit the game and come class racing as the secretive grudge world isn’t quite a secret any longer and it’s become harder for bigger players to find action.

Farlow qualified 20th in X 275 with a 4.61 at 155 with the class legal turbo, he did not disclose any numbers or specs on his clocks off ET or turbo specs besides telling us he runs a 5.4 based modular Ford engine displacing 350 cubic inches topped with navigator heads built by TKM and backed by a Cameron Torque Converter Services transmission and converter. Modular Head Shop assists with some parts and knowledge. “ We have had good luck with the combo and are just trying to go some rounds and win some money here this weekend.” Farlow told us.

Radial vs the World is down to the finals now after an unfortunate round for Melanie Salemi. Her car shut off after the burnout and the team pushed it back, with David Reese waiting as the opponent broke signal was given and he rolled into the beams. He ripped off a 3.580 at 205.91, lowering the small block RVW record a little more.

Steve Jackson faced off with Shawn Ayers in the other pairing and the two were locked at the tree but again Ayers had trouble keeping the front end planted as Jackson motored on to another 3.56 to set up the final with Reese. That is surely to be one for the record books with the Killin Time Racing entry with having lane choice which could be a deciding factor later tonight as we roll into the small hours of Sunday morning.

X275 completed round three about 11 PM with Manny Buginga going low ET with a 4.22 1t 172.45 to drive around Brendan Mills 4.30 at 169 effort.

Rob Goss faced off with Charles Hull with Goss taking a small advantage on the tree. Both racers were off pace dropping back to the 4.60’s with Hull forced to pedal the car down from a wheel stand and Goss working the throttle early in the run and earning a well fought round win with his 4.62 beating Hulls 4.67.

Earl Stanley and Justin Palmer was a tight match with both racers scoring 4.30’s, Stanley was .038 on the tree and held the advantage to the stripe running 166.39 out the back to earn the win.

Final Results

It’s been an epic event that lasted until nearly well after 3AM, thanks to a lot of hard work by the staff and racer cooperation we made it through and set some records in the process. We will have the class round by round results coming later Sunday along with a recap of the later elimination rounds.

Radial vs the World was off the chain once we going going in good weather on Saturday and the track came around we had eleven runs in the 3.50’s and some very stiff competition. It would come down to the top two qualifiers in the finals with David Reese taking the starting line advantage in his Reher Morrison powered small block screw blown Camaro with an .025 reaction time. Jackson put the coals to it for the final scoring his best run of the weekend with a 3.548 at 213 to get by Reese who slowed a bit from his last round to a 3.594 at 205.88. An amazing showing for the second race for his new car and proving that small blocks can compete at the top level in Drag Radial racing. This makes the second win for the KTR team in as many races, a great way to kick off the 2020 season.

Limited Drag Radial saw a string of 4.0's this weekend with Paul Gargus scoring low ET of 4.057 during his semi final loss to Shane Stack who scored the whole shot win on his 4.073 at 189 to earn his way to the finals to run Andy Manson's Procharger equipped 96 Mustang. Eric Laferriere had ran a 4.14 in the Wasabi Supra to take out Eddie Harrison in round two but had trouble keeping the front end down on the short wheel base Hemi powered machine.

Despite that he made it past top qualifier Norman Chang’s Turbos Direct backed Mustang but was unable to make the call for the semi final with Manson, who struggled staying hooked in later rounds as the heat was gone from the track. The final round saw both racers off pace and Shane Stack earning the win coming from nineteenth qualifier position with a 4.80 at 147 after very close reaction times for the two veteran racers.

X275 round four had top qualifier Manny Buginga earning his way past Eric Moore with a 4.25 at 171 with Moore swinging hard to run with Buginga and coming up short with a 5.30 after an early wheelie forced him to lift. The other half of the ladder was Rob Goss and Early Stanley with Goss back in form after a difficult round three with Hull, scoring a 4.26 at 168 to Stanley's game 4.35, also carrying the wheels past the 60'.

The final saw Buginga take the holeshot over Goss, but again bother racers struggled and slowed into the 4.50’s and Goss edging out the Bridgewater Mass. Racer with his BES powered Hemi Mopar, his 4.53 at 166 was good enough to earn the “W” to Buginga’s 4.59 at 167 and score back to back wins after a fantastic showing at Bradenton’s US Street Nats last month.

Ultra Street once again saw Brian Keep as the top qualifier and going rounds and once again having issues on the starting line taking a round three loss to number nineteen qualifier Walter Drakeford after a .381 reaction time. Drakeford was prepared and was in the beams early scoring a 4.71, giving him lane choice over Nitro Dave Vasser in the semi final. US Street Nats winner Kirt Sanders came from the number four position to meet up with Louis Fillippdes’ Procharger equipped American Racing Headers backed entry but faltered to a 10.74 after striking the tires early as Fillippdes went on to a 4.61 at 152 to set the final.

It would be Fillippdes away first with a .008 reaction with Drakeford’s transmission letting go at the 60′ ending his effort with a runner up finish and Fillippdes earning the Ultra Street win. Fillippdes runs an LME LS based engine with help from Cam Motion, Frankenstein Engine Dynamics and, Jesel valvetrain, the Driveshaft Shop and RPM Transmissions and built by Farks Supercars. They got a late start on the 2019 season debuting the new engine after rewiring the car and switching to a FT 600 Fuel Tech engine management and converting to a solid rear axle from TRZ Motorsports prior to the Yellow Bullet Nats last year. Plans for 2020 including racing Ultra Street at Cecil County and hitting up some of the Ultra Street Series and perhaps one or two NMCA events.

Pro 275 has been the class to watch for 2020 with a hand full of new entrants into the class from the No Time and Outlaw 10.5 ranks. Russell McManious is one racer moving over from the N/T side telling us he tired of keeping so many secrets to their program and performance. It was his first time running the class and he landed number eleven on the ladder, making his way to the final to meet twentieth qualifier Brian Anderson in an all 1993 Mustang battle. The semi was eventful with Tommy Youmans losing traction early and Anderson scoring low ET with a 3.88 at 205, the other pairing was Frank Meshaw, who had run a personal best 3.89 at 194 the previous round but leaked some fuel during his burnout and was DQ'd. Neither racer made the trip on the now cold track in the final but it was McManious who would take the victory, capping off an outstanding week for the new to clocks on racing team.

“It’s really hard to not talk about what it runs..” He said. “The car has been extremely fast, especially for what it is and we just decided that we didn’t want to keep it under wraps any longer. Paul Curry owns the car and lets me drive and we have some great folks behind us, James Nutter, Kenny Power, Dave Hanlon tunes it for us and my father comes to every race with us. We run a small block Ford single turbo combination from Anthony Disomma with a 106 MM Precision turbo. Henry from HFR Fabrication is the car builder.”

 

DXP Street is off to a fantastic start with Martin Connelley leading the pack scoring number one qualifier and and low ET for the event and marching his way through the field to meet Jonathan Insley in the final. He had the tough side of the ladder running a string of 5.0’s in qualifying and through round two before dipping into the four second zone with a 4.98 in a round three win over Austin Pruitt. He put a 4.97 up against David Pearson to earn lane choice in the final against Insley, who was also carding 5.0’s and met with John Paterno’s 67 Nova in the semi finals, dispatching him with a 5.02 at 137. Insley was away first when he needed it but slowed to a 5.18 at 136, no match for Connelley’s record setting 4.92 at 140 MPH run.

Limited 235 also featured Mr. Connelley and crew as top qualifier and here he ran the table again scoring low ET and top MPH for the class with the Procharger fed, trusty orange Mustang. Austin Keen was his opponent in the final with the 1984 Buick Regal dubbed Da Fridge. Keen dipped into the 5.0’s in round two but it was Jason Terell with lane choice in the semi based on his 5.005 run over Ty Chaney. He would take the starting line advantage and never look back with another 5.08 to set the final round with Connelley, pitting the top two cars in the final round. Connelley laid the smack down on the tree with an .015 reaction and 4.93 at 143 to earn the Lights Out 11 win.

Flaco took the win in Carolina N/T small block boost class this week in his Chevy S-10 pickup. The team started off on Tuesday with issues and struggled through testing with fueling issues. They had to modify the fuel tank repeatedly and got it fixed on Friday and began making sold run. The pair were locked to about the 330 where Flaco started pulling away and was first to the strip earning the win. “I want to thanks to all my team and everyone back home cheering us on, we are going to do our best to keep on trying to do the same thing” – Flaco

Small block No Time featured DJ McCain and Bowser in the final round facing off with John Bonner’s Raiden. McCain was ahead early in a back and forth match with Bonner scoring the win in a tough close match.

 

Six Oh Index featured a wide mix of cars with Craig Miller putting his 48 Anglia in the winner circle after five rounds of racing. He met with Dustin Rowland’s 1988 Chevy Celebrity in the final scoring a .030 reaction and 6.03 at 102 to earn the win. The Open Comp winner was Joe Soucek who defeated Ken Herbert twice after a tree malfunction resulted in them re running the final round.

 

PTC/Fuel Tech Radial vs the World

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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