Jackson, Cerminaro, Keep Lead Winners At No Mercy 10
Steve Jackson scored his second major triumph in the last six days on Sunday when he outlasted a field of 32 radial versus The World competitors on his way to winning No Mercy 10 and the $50,000 that went with it. Jackson, who qualified No. 1 with a 3.60, defeated Tim Slavens in the finale, 3.69 to a tire-spinning 5.43 by a long overdue Slavens in his twin-turbo Camaro. Jackson is fresh off of winning the NHRA Pro Mod championship and the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Monday. “I’m just gonna’ stop racing the rest of the year and only come out in October,” Jackson joked with tuner Billy Stocklin and his crew after the victory.
Mike Cerminaro earned his first career DuckX event in X275, piloting Bruce Meichle’s 2002 Pontiac Firebird. Cerminaro was impressive in victory, upsetting Rich Bruder in the opening round, Tim Dutton in round two, Shane Fisher in the quarters, and top qualifier Ducky Johnson in the semis to earn his final round berth. There, he was away just .001-seconds behind Charles Hull and was never headed, as Hull struck the tires and slowed; Cerminaro, for his part, went 4.355 at 164.53 to close out the event.
In perhaps the most unlikely of winners, Texas native J.D. Campbell drove his X275-legal ’68 Camaro to victory in Pro 275, defeating a slowing David Pearson, who had earlier set the class record at 3.90, in the final. Campbell never ran quicker than 4.377 in the five rounds of competition. His 4.388 in the final bested a tire-smoking Pearson, who coasted to a 7.02.
In Limited Drag Radial, Tennessee’s Jim Howe was vying to run the table in the category’s point series event, as he was undefeated to this point. But his 4.20 in the final round was no match for Eddie Harrison, whose twin-turbo Camaro has shown a performance edge throughout the late rounds. Harrison gave up a couple of hundredths on Howe at the line, but his 4.134 at 185.92 drove around and away from Howe’s 4.207 at 172.01.
Florida’s Brian Keep was .001 on the tree in the Ultra Street final, and that was all he needed to defeat Joel Greathouse; the final numbers a 4.681 at 156.63 to a close 4.687 at 149.83. Keep was consistent throughout the day, running 4.650 in the first round, 4.681 in the quarters, and 4.686 in the semis.
In DXP 235, Kentucky’s Martin Connelly defeated Jason Riley in matchup of Fox body Mustangs, his .022 reaction time and 5.002 At 140.58 MPH ousting Riley’s .088 and 5.088 at 139.10.
Former No Mercy champion Ron Hamby remains alive in Pro 275 eliminations behind the wheel of Jimmy Boyd’s brand new 1964 Chevrolet Nova. The car, with just five passes on it — all of them here this week — is powered by a 959 cubic-inch Billy Albert-built mill with a unique eight-stage nitrous oxide system devised by Boyd, Hamby, and the rest of his team.
“It’s got eight stages of nitrous…a setup we’ve had now for two years. It’s a natural progressive, it’s a way to repeat progressive, whereas in the old days we ran progressives and they didn’t repeat very well. you couldn’t get repeatability because you were using an injector to pulse. Well now we just turn one on, you’re not pulsing the injector, pulsing the nitrous solenoid. You just turn it on. We run very small jets…. .018, .020, .022, up to a .29. With four system we’d be in the .028 to .034 range, whereas we hit smaller systems and we can control them better. It’d power management, and repeatable power management.”
“People say, ‘eight systems, oh my God, how can you put that much nitrous in it?’ No, we’re putting the same amount of nitrous, but each stage we’re cutting it in half.”
All eight dry-fogger systems are plumbed into the intake manifold runner, and all eight are in by around 2.2-second into the run. Boyd utilizes an R8 from EFI technologies, which allows the eight-stage system to work. “It’s the only computer system now that runs that, that gives us the ability to turn the systems on.”
Boyd owns a total of four different big-block nitrous engines of varying bore spacings so the car will fit a range of rules packages; this weekend he has both the Albert 959 and another of the same displacement from Pat Musi.
Robert Hayes Motorsports built the Chevy II, utilizing an original 1964 steel roof, cowl, and quarter panels. Cameron’s Converter Services built the non-lock-up Turbo 400 two-speed transmission and converter. A Davis Profiler assists with wheel speed management. With Shannon Davis’ input, Hamby clicked off the best run yet on the car at 4.08 on Friday. “We’re hoping to go 3.80s with it,” Boyd adds.
Boyd, who doesn’t have children of his own, says his entire crew are his like step-kids to him. Through the week he works on the racecar, and on the weekend they go racing as a family. “These guys show up, and they all know exactly what they need to do. That’s what makes a great team.”
“At 65 years old, I live vicariously through these guys, and they live vicariously through my money,” Boyd quips of Hamby and his crew, which includes crew chief Jason “Red” Hall. “They’re a great team,” Boyd says proudly.
Hamby has a potential date with top qualifier and new record-holder David Pearson in the semifinals, should they both advance. Pearson has been a 3.96 best in eliminations, so Boyd, Hamby, and Hall are aware they’ll need to get after it this afternoon to visit the winner’s circle.
Eliminations As They Stand
Tropical Storm Nestor has, as predicted, made its presence known in South Georgia today, bringing rainfall through the night and into today that is expected to continue through this evening. Event promoter Donald Long, in an effort to get ahead of the weather, concluded qualifying on Thursday evening and went directly into eliminations on Friday morning. Both the Extreme 28/275 No-Time and Small-Block No-Time shootouts were run to completion, and the heads-up eliminators, including Radial versus The World and X275, were paired down to eight cars or fewer for racing on Sunday.
The headliner, Radial versus The World, has been a knock down, drag out affair thus far. Two supercharged cars, one twin-turbo, and one nitrous car remain in the semifinals, as Stevie Jackson will take on no-time racer turned clock-racer Timmy Meissner in a supercharger battle, and Tim Slavens, the only steel-body car remaining, will square off with nitrous heavy-hitter Jamie Hancock.
Florida’s Ducky Johnson, who qualified No. 1 in his Dean Marinis-tuned, nitrous-assisted Mustang, remains alive in the quarterfinals of X275 after resetting the big-block nitrous record with a stout 4.245 at 168.62 MPH. Rob Goss, John Keesey, and Shane Fisher are Mong those still in contention.
No Sleep ‘Til Georgia
Just three short weeks, competing at No Mercy y 10 appeared to be in peril for Justin Martin, one of the nation’s perennial contenders in Limited Drag Radial. The Oklahoman was testing close to home when an unfortunate excursion sent his twin-turbocharged Nova into the wall — the car turned a complete 360, crumpling all four corners. that sent he, his crew, and countless supporters into thrash mode to get things turned around in time for this race.
“It was a three week turnaround,” Martin says. “We went to a local track to do some testing and the car we were running got loose and drove in front of me and it of course tore up both cars pretty bad. We brought the car back, looked at it, and my chassis guy decided that it didn’t look too bad. So in a matter of three weeks we got everything freshened…the motor, the transmission, the axles, repaired all of the suspension stuff, all the sheet metal. Companies like Unlimited Products got us a new carbon-fiber nose in three days, which is unheard of; Turbos Direct got the turbos freshened, and Pete [Harrell] got the engine freshened in three or four days. It was just a lot of guys coming together to make sure thing came to this race.”
Martin estimates 12 to 14 individuals were directly involved in getting the car turned around for arguably the second biggest radial-tire race of the year. “Motion Raceworks, Menscer Motorsports, TBM Brakes all stepped up, Josh Hamming was able to get me a good deal on a set of Weld wheels…it was just a lot of companies putting us up in front of the line to make sure we made it here. That’s what it took, without that we’d just be watching the live feed at home.”
Small-tire drag racing has seen some interesting, unique, and downright crazy creations over the years, but arguably none top the four-wheel-drive GMC pickup of Florida’s Bobby Dodrill.
Dodrill has been campaigning the 1976 model 4×4 for the better part of two decades, gradually creeping up on things as finances allow and knowledge is gained. Dodrill has, as you might surmise, the only such vehicle in the world — a screw-blown big-block with drag radials and axles under power on all four corners — and so he has no-one to turn to but himself to learn what the combination likes and doesn’t like.
The classic pickup has changed a bit over the years, progressing, of course, from the slicks to the radials, but has been lightened nearly 1,000-pounds through various transformations, all of which has resulted in a 3-second capable pickup like no other. And this week, Dodrill clocked his quickest-ever run, a 4.088 at 177.58 mph.
“We went testing in Orlando last weekend and had our best 60-foot with a .958. We came in here as the third quickest full-size truck in the world and 4.08 put us at number two. Now we’re just two-hundredths behind the record. We really want a 3.99…we’re 100-percent confident that we can get it. We got a little too aggressive on our next run after that 4.08 and it murdered the tires. We knew it would either run 3.90s or kill the tire, and it went with the latter. But if we can go 3.99, we will have accomplished every goal for this car we have ever set.
One of Dodrill’s challenges for so many years was handling — an issue he was able to resolve as he gathered data and endured some trying and metal-bending trial and error.
“The biggest problem that we encountered when it was legal for Outlaw 10.5 was weight; it weighed 3,800-pounds, it was really heavy. Back then we ran slicks, and we ran the same gear ratios front and rear. When we got away from the ORSCA rules it allowed us to move the engine back and down, which helped change the center of gravity a lot. Then, the radial almost corrected the handling entirely on it own. We did figure out, too, that we have to stagger the gear ratios,” he explains.
“Through the beginning years, we thought, like everyone else, that you had to run the same gear ratios — same size tires and same ratios. Well, that is the furthest thing from the truth. What happens is as the truck progress and goes faster, the rear tire grows more than the front tire, so the rear gear gets taller and the the truck is trying to do a 180. It would get up around 160 MPH and it would start fish-tailing and try to kill me. We were in our infancy of learning curves and what it took to make the gearing and stagger work,” he adds.
With the running gear to be competitive in Radial versus The World — he only missed the qualified field this weekend by two spots, or just four-hundredths of a second — why would Dodrill not alter course and park his GMC for a lighter, more aerodynamic chassis car? It’s a point of pride, he shares.
“One of the reasons why I stick this out is because of the people that tell me, ‘why don’t you just take that engine that’s 3.60-capable and the converter and transmission and put it in a car?’ In a matter of about four or five months me and my guys could build a 3.60-capable car, but that’s not what we want. We built this because it’s what we wanted to do, we didn’t want to be like everybody else in the class. We wanted to stand on our own two feet and not be monkey-see, monkey-do Anybody can take a pencil and put 4,000 horsepower in it and go 3.60s, but taking a four-wheel-drive box and going 180, that’s a bit different.”
Tommy Youmans, took an unfortunate excursion into the guardrail in round two of Pro 275, doing extensive damage to what is unquestionably one of the nicest small-tire cars ever built. Youmans, on a competition bye, spun the tires around the 150-foot mark and quickly turned across the centerline, sliding hard into the guardrail. Youmans climbed from twisted Pontiac GTO and declined medical treatment.
“Please don’t hit anything,” Youmans says he was thinking during his long slide across the SGMP racing surface, before making impact with the wall. “When it hit with the front end, I was just hoping it wouldn’t come around and hit the quarter panel. That was the point in the run where we really apply the power; it didn’t top the shock out or anything, it just lost traction and went around.”
Youmans says the damage was, upon initial inspection, confined only to the body. We asked if he would take the rest of the season off to make repairs, to which he empathetically responded, “well, hell no.” Youmans already has plans to drop the car off at chassis builder Mod Rods on Monday, and will ship the 11-inch Mark Williams housing back for inspection. He’s set to source another GTO nose from VFN Fiberglass and will have it all repainted, he hopes, in time for the World Street Nationals in Orlando next month.
California Roger Holder, driving his twin-turbo Hemi-powered Chevrolet Nova, drove to a surprise victory in the 28/275 Extreme N/T shootout, defeating heavy favorite David Reese in an upset in round one and disposing of each and every opponent on his way to the crown. In the semifinals, Holder’s gorgeous machines shed the passenger-side door and the rear window at what was likely 190-plus MPH, leaving shards of carbon-fiber and lean all over the racing surface. Not one to throw in the towel this late in the game, the team taped the door — broken in two pieces — back together, and did the same on the shattered rear window and pulled to the starting line. Holder defeated a red-lighting Jason Richards in the final.
Moving On Up
Pro 275 star and former record holder Don Lamana is but only a spectator this weekend at No Mercy 10, but it’s certainly not for a lack of effort.
With a desire to step his program up to Radial versus The World, Lamana, the owner of Pro Fab Performance in Florida, purchased a 1963 split-window Corvette chassis and body from Jason Enos, which had been partially completed at Skinny Kid Race Cars in Michigan. Lamana acquired the chassis late last year and spent the last six months working to complete it, adding in the remaining bars, mounting the body, and fabricating all of the interior parts and pieces.
Lamana partnered with Texas-based Frankenstein Engine Dynamics on the program — evidenced by the familiar Frankenstein scheme on the split-down-the-middle paint scheme — which provided a set of its billet aluminum Hemi heads and a first-of-its-kind billet aluminum intake manifold for supercharged and turbocharged engines. Out front is a gear-driven ProCharger F-3-140. The entire package, as you can see, shimmers like a diamond.
“We did really well with the 275 car, but Pro 275 was really only run here, two times a year, and the only thing we could that was similar was Outlaw 10.5,” Lamana shares. “We could run decent there, but we’d probably tear some stuff up trying to run it that hard. It ran 3.90s, but those guys were running 3.70s and 80s and last time we ran with them we broke some parts. I decided I’d put the car for sale and if it sells, I’ll build a new car. Frankenstein wanted to be onboard with us, and they told us we could run their program in a new car or use the old car, but we couldn’t really run Radial versus The World with the Mustang. With this car, we can race eight times a year within four hours of our shop.”
Brandon Pesz assembled the engine, the first ProCharger-Hemi combination that Frankenstein has done. FuelTech has been tabbed for engine management and fuel system duty with its FT600 and coil-on-plug FTSpark. And M&M three-speed lock-up converter and transmission package transfer the power.
“It’ll be competitive right away,” Lamana says without hesitation. “We know what the motor is capable of, so we just have to get some data and get out there and make it all work. If we didn’t have what it takes to go fast, we’d get it. But everything is here as it should be to really run strong.”
Lamana and company have to wire the car yet and intend to work out the new-car-blues on FuelTech’s hub dyno in the coming weeks before a planned debut at the Snowbird Outlaw Nationals in December.
Brad Edwards has made a living proving the impossible as possible with his stock-style suspension 1997 Mustang Cobra, most notably when he became the first drag radial racer in history to break the 3-second barrier, in 2014. Edwards coaxed an eye-opening 3.69 out of his familiar blue-and-black Mustang at the Sweet 16 earlier this season, but with the evolution of the Radial versus The World category, it was clear he’d need to adequately arm himself in order to remain competitive going forward. And that ammo has been provided to him through a friendship — and now racing partnership — with Pro Modified racer Neal Wantye.
“I’ve been working on this for a while. I was introduced to Neal through Shannon Davis and I drove for Neal in 2016 at one event in this car,” Edwards explains. “I kept in touch with him and the way the class has gone, I’ve been wanting to get into a better car. So I talked with him — and Neal really loves racing and he likes to be a part of racing — and I told him, ‘hey, let me take a shot at it. You’ve got to let me try it…I can make the car fast.’ He’s not from this world, and when I told him what I thought I could run with it, he thought I was crazy. I told him, ‘trust me, I work with junk compared to what you’ve got.’ ”
Last fall, Edwards and Wantye struck a deal, and Wantye provided Edwards with the oldest of the cars in his fleet, a former PDRA/ADRL Pro Extreme Mustang, complete with running gear — a ProCharger-boosted Hemi. “He asked what I needed to go fast and I reeled off a list of what I needed, and much to my surprise, orders started happening,” Edwards says.
“When we get things sorted out, we’ll hopefully come out in February and be able to romp and stomp around and make a point. It’s gonna’ be fast. We finally have a gun for the gunfight — we already know that. Just what the car has done with what I’ve asked it to do…this is what racing is supposed to be. This thing is going to be stupid fast, and it’s very consistent. But I just have to learn the Hemi and the ProCharger. I think Neal has six or seven cars in his camp, and I might end up tuning some of his other cars for him. But right now we just want to get one full run in and get it running strong,” he adds.
Perhaps as impressive as the numbers that he willed from his Cobra, was how Edwards went about it: operating on a budget, relatively speaking, he utilized a big-block Chevrolet engine and a plethora of worn-out parts, which forced him to operate in a more conservative fashion in one of the more non-cost-conscious eliminators in drag racing. And just because he access to an array of parts doesn’t mean he’s going to adjust course.
“I try to run this car just like I run mine — don’t break it, don’t tear it up, don’t push it until we have to push it, no full passes until we need to. I really treat it like it’s my car. We’ve got spare motors and transmissions and parts, we’ve even got spare cars, but I’m not going to run it that way. I’m going to treat his money like it’s my money, and respect him as a person.”
Alex Laughlin has continually proven himself a once-in-a-generation type of racer, willing and able to climb behind the wheel of anything, anywhere, any time, in an any type of pressure situation. And this weekend he’ll further his growing legend as he attempts to compete in two places, some 900 miles apart, on the same weekend. Laughlin, driving his familiar screw-blown Corvette, will compete in Radial versus The World here at South Georgia Motorsports Park and in Pro Stock at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in his home state of Texas. Currently seventh in the Pro Stock standings and still with a legitimate shot at a championship with three races remaining, he insists Dallas is his priority this weekend. But that isn’t going to keep him from attempting a wild across-the-country-and-back-and-then-back-again adventure this week the likes of which drag racing rarely witnesses.
“I’ve said countless times that I’d rather be at one of these than at a Pro Stock race, but because of the points championship and my sponsor commitments, I’m going to race in Dallas. My sponsors are really cool with me being here, they think it’s exciting and it’s different and they support me whether I want to run this car, a Pro Stock car, a monster truck, or whatever. They’re behind me with whatever I want to do,” he says.
Laughlin has been working on the logistics for this attempt for weeks, for now relying solely on a limited number of commercial flights that exist to and from Dallas.
“I have been texting back and forth with a pilot out of Houston to try working something out. At this time, I just have commercial flights booked, which are totally going go be a pain….doable, as long as it all works. If anything slips, I’m going to be in trouble. I’m trying to get a backup plan together, because if I can fly private, then it’s obviously a lot more lenient. Right now I have a couple of fights booked out of Valdosta and Jacksonville each day, so that it gives me some options. But there’s no real point in getting stressed out, because it is what it is.”
Laughlin will fly out of Valdosta at 6 a.m. Friday morning and head to Dallas for the first two sessions of qualifying, arriving at around 10:30 a.m. The plan is then to fly back to Valdosta Friday evening, in time to potentially make the late-night Radial versus The World qualifier. He would then, barring inclement weather on Saturday, compete in eliminations at No Mercy and then return to Dallas on Sunday in time for the opening round of Pro Stock eliminations.
“I’m just going to have to play it by ear,” he says. “If it rains here all day Saturday, then I may not be able to come back.”
Race promoter Donald Long has agreed to contest Radial versus The World eliminations on Saturday and continue as long as Laughlin remains alive. As a backup plan to all of this, tuner Frankie Taylor has his helmet and apparel with him here in Georgia and could qualify and race the car in the event that Laughlin cannot return or weather forces adjustment to the schedule. Taylor, one of the most decorated Pro Modified racers in history, is the man Laughlin trusts most to step in.
“Everything is already here, so if the car can race, with or without me, it needs to race. If there’s anybody that I would feel comfortable about driving the car, it would be Frankie.”
One of the most striking cars on the property is this 1970 Pontiac GTO owned by Georgia native Tommy
Youmans, a Pontiac fan to his very core. Youmans tabbed Todd Dobson of Mod Rods to construct the car.
“We wanted to build something that could compete in multiple classes, where we could run a big tire on it all the way down to a 275. Primarily, we want to run in Pro 275 and 275 Extreme classes.”
Power is supplied by a Kaufmann Racing Equipment 505 cubic-inch bullet, featuring a billet Pontiac block and cast aluminum Warp 6 cylinder heads and fed by a pair of 98mm Garrett turbos. A FuelTech FT600 and FTSpark system control the engine and ignition, all wired by Michael Bunton. An M&M transmission puts to the power to a Mark Williams 11-inch full floater rearend housing.
The GTO is all steel, save for the nose, doors, and deck-lid. Not one to molest a perfectly good classic
Pontiac, Youmans sourced quarter panels and a roof from Classic Industries. “I’m a Pontiac fan, so I didn’t want to destroy a car,” he quips.
Menscer shocks are on all four corners; the car utilizes A-arm uppers and lowers and is factory in wheelbase so it adheres to any and all class rules.
“The car is coming together good and it’s been making some good passes. We’ve been low 4.0s, and we haven’t really tuned the car up; we’ve been on moderate boost, and if we can get down the track and get qualified, we’re prepared to turn it up,” Youmans says.
The most distinct feature of Youmans’ GTO is its strikingly low roofline, but contrary to popular belief, he insists the roof has not been chopped.
“Everybody swears up and down the roof is chopped, but it is not chopped. I’m not a fiberglass man, my body man is not a fiberglass man. We did not want to have to contend with messing with the doors and all that stuff; the only thing we did — and it makes it look chopped — is we raked the bottom of the windshield 1.25-inches. We got oversize Optic Armor glass and raked it out, and that dropped the top about half an inch. The way we fabricated the hood to clear the intake, it comes up in the middle, it makes it look like the windshield is short. It looks like we chopped the crap out of fog it, but we didn’t at all. It made thew car look good, in my opinion. It’s my car, and I like it.”
“We just wanted a good looking car and wanted to stay all Pontiac,” Youmans adds. “I want to go fast in a Pontiac. I’ve been a Pontiac guy all my life, and nothing matches their torque. When you have your fist car, whatever it was, it’s kind of got a place in your heart.”
That Won’t Buff Out
Kentucky-based racer Tom Blincoe went for a ride in the third session of Radial versus The World qualifying when his ProCharger-boosted ’63 Corvette struck the tires and sent him careening across thew centerline and into the opposing guardrail. Blincoe crossed directly in front of Adam Preston, who had to climb on the brakes and come to an abrupt stop to avoid making the situation even worse. Blincoe’s car, fortunately, had scrubbed much of its speed before impacting the wall and confined the damage largely to the carbon-fiber nose and the driver’s side quarter panel.
Mark Rogers Stun In Ultra Street
North Carolina native Mark Rogers obliterated the Ultra Street field in the opening session of qualifying on Wednesday with a world record lap of 4.538 at 154.97 MPH. Rogers positioned himself more than a tenth of a second ahead of No. 2 qualifier Rodney Ragan, who carded a 4.64. His 4.53 also supplanted the incoming world record of 4.59, held by Steve Beaston , Jr., by a rather wide and unexpected margin.
Rogers’ 2003 Mustang Cobra is powered by a 283-inch Modular with a three-valve block and Ford GT cylinder heads, topped with a custom billet/sheet metal intake and fed by a 76mm cast-wheel turbocharger. A Greg Slack torque converter and Proformance 3-speed Turbo 400 send the power to a Customs by Bigun 9-inch rearend. Eric Yost at Bigun did all of the roll cage, chassis work, headers, and other fabrication work. A Holley EFI system serves as the brains of the operation.
“We had run 4.70s for years with the combination, and we just decided to see how fast we could go, and some people stepped up to help us. So we changed to the 9-inch to get the car down, switched to the three-speed transmission, and I think we’ve had six different converters in it this year. Over the winter we changed the heads,, intake, turbo placement, header size, and added the dry sump,” Rogers explains.
In prior testing in Virginia, he clicked off runs of 4.58 and 4.56, giving him all the confidence he needed in his program that sub-record elapsed time were there, but noted some durability issues, mentioning, “we broke the block both times we did it.” The three-valve block, he feels, still offers more strength than the Teksid blocks he used previously, allowing him to lean on the combination for numbers like those witnessed on Wednesday.
While Rogers is certainly pleased with his performance, he believes there’s a bit more to be had this weekend if the weather cooperates.
“I think we can go faster today, but we’ll see. The air is going to affect a lot. We’ve got all the boost in as fast as we can get it right now, so the air is going to have to change for us. But we don’t have enough data with his combo yet to know..every time we’ve run .50s it’s broken the block, so we just need to see if it’ll stay together.”
Final Qualifying Results