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Outlaw Class Drag Racing - Shakedown Breakdown
Outlaw Street-Legal Drag Racing Invades Englishtown, NJ
The end of 2006 marked the third season in which Englishtown Raceway Park and Outlaw 10.5 racer David Hance combined to throw an end-of-the-year bash that had the hottest Outlaw racers competing for $10,000 in cold cash. Shakedown At Englishtown '06 offered three classes-Outlaw 10.5, Outlaw Drag Radial, and Pro Modified. The Outlaw 10.5 and Outlaw Drag Radial classes were slammed with Mustangs (and a few other Fords) that represented the Blue Oval quite well. MM&FF was there in force, and here's what we found.
Caldwell Construction Outlaw 10.5 presented by Landy's PerformanceOutlaw 10.5-style racing fosters the notion of run-whatcha-brung drag racing-a concept that only seemed present a generation ago in the early years of Pro Mod racing as well as Top Fuel/ Funny Car racing in the '60s. Competitors are fueled by the glory associated with going fast with no dial-ins, plus something out of the ordinary-a pair of 10.5W tires, a race weight minimum of 3,000 pounds, a back-half-style chassis setup, and real cars. Fans pack the stands to watch them succeed, as well as to witness them fail in the form of smoked tires and sideways action.
The Shakedown race was the site of the first 6-second Outlaw 10.5 run two years ago when Tim Lynch and Steve Petty ran 6.93 and forever etched themselves in the history books of Street Legal drag racing. Last year, Lynch pushed his career-best performance to the 6.86 mark, setting the standard once again for 10.5W-tire racing. The Georgia-based team has spoiled the Englishtown fans with record-breaking performances, and this time was no different. Lynch, the undisputed King of the Outlaws, was in good company with the likes of Bad Brad Brand, who also made the trek to New Jersey from the Peach state.
The Southern racers were joined by local talent including David Hance ('05 Mustang GT) and Manny Sirris ('90 Mustang LX) to battle back against the Brand-X racers. The first two years of the Shakedown resulted in a DNF for the event as weather and a slew of oildowns hampered the outcome each time. The '06 event had clear weather, the event staff kept the program moving along efficiently, and the result was a completion of all eliminations.
Lynch and Petty knew the General's soldiers were out for blood after they had rained on the parade of nitrous-gulping, big block Chevy-powered race cars for the past two years. That prompted the Georgia crew to fire back with a monster combination that would have would-be competitors staring at the taillights of their '02 Mustang GT.
Petty built a 604-inch big-block Ford engine, then topped it with a pair of Precision 91mm turbochargers. Estimated output is somewhere in the 2,800-plus range at 32 psi of boost. Brand was another turbo player who looked to larger cubes for a big increase in horsepower. His coupe throws down the gauntlet with a 706ci bullet and a pair of Turbonetics 91mm whistlers. It almost seems like the Outlaw 10.5 class encourages and promotes this wild behavior when selecting engine combinations. Tire limitations are said to be the equalizer, and time played out that notion at the Shakedown-more on that later.
Lynch and Brand gave the competition a glimpse into the awesome turbo power on Saturday night's test-'n'-tune session. Lynch unloaded a 6.72, while Brand knocked down his first 6-second run with a 6.86. Blue Oval fear was injected into the field of competitors.
As everyone celebrated, the Lynch Mob's smiles turned into frowns when they realized the engine dropped a valve that resulted in a damaged piston and a roughed-up cylinder head. The team spent the night fixing the carnage, as it required a 70-mile trip to Pennsylvania, where a shop stayed open all night so they could repair the cylinder head and install new valves. Twelve hours later, the bullet was buttoned up and fired up before the first lane call for qualifying.
Two rounds of qualifying ensued, and Lynch knocked down both ends of the world record and sat on the pole with a 6.66 and a top speed of 223 mph. It was nearly a tenth-and-a-half quicker than Chuck Ulsch (6.80/206 mph), who was driving one of the Gil Mobley-owned Camaros. Brand failed to qualify due to a broken Lenco/Bruno transmission. Petty backed down the Lynch car for eliminations since they outran the field with ease. After three-straight round wins, they found themselves in the finals facing Ulsch. The silver Camaro sports a Gene Fulton-built 762ci engine with four stages of nitrous and checks in around the 2,000hp mark.
A few accidents throughout the day pushed back the schedule, and the Englishtown staff was fighting the city-mandated curfew as they called the finalists to the lanes. The final round took place right at the curfew-one hiccup or delay in the show and the police would arrive to shut down the action. Running late in the day also meant nighttime had fallen on the New Jersey quarter-mile track. The legendary racing surface cooled off, and the final round didn't produce the side-by-side 6-second slugfest the fans were hoping for. Instead, both racers left the starting line smooth, but as the power came on, the 10.5W tires showed their limits and started to break traction. It was Ulsch who was able to get to the finish line first with an 8.42 at 151.97 mph to Lynch's losing 10.51 at 85.31 mph.
Drag Radial presented by P.M. Construction and Maintenance ServicesThe Outlaw theme carried over to the Drag Radial category as it featured a wide-open set of rules with minimum requirements. Competitors had few restrictions for a powerplant, and the limiting factor in performance came from heavy minimum weights, stock suspensions, and a pair of drag radial tires.
Those who think today's drag radials are nothing more than slicks with grooves can think again. The popular drag radials benefit from racing rubber compounds, but their construction is that of a passenger-car tire. That means a stiff sidewall and many grooves to make them DOT-legal. It might meet the minimum requirements for street use, but the tires are not the same as slicks. They require different chassis adjustments than on slick-tire cars. Combine that with stock suspension and heavy minimum weights and these hot rods become a handful. The engines have yet to become as radical as the Outlaw 10.5 racers, but some combinations make 1,700-plus horsepower.
Mustang racers were in abundance at the event, and the number-one qualifier was Peter Champani (7.72 at 187). Mustangs made up seven of the top 10 qualifying positions. The sleeper in the group was Dwayne "Big Daddy" Gutridge who has a proven mid-7-second chariot, but played it conservatively and hung back in qualifying with an 8.26 effort.
Once eliminations got underway, it quickly became clear that Champani and Gutridge were the front-runners. Champani ran 7.71 at 188 in Round 1, and Gutridge answered back with a 7.70 at 193-both advanced to Round 2. Champani got into the semifinals by way of a 7.76/189-mph performance. Gutridge dropped a 7.55 at 194 mph to firmly announce his presence in the field. That run would stand as low e.t. and top speed of the event.
As luck would have it, Gutridge and Champani met in the semifinals, removing the drama of the two quickest cars meeting in the final for all the money and glory. Champani knew he needed to step up his program, so he went into the Big Stuff 3 fuel injection system and added some more timing. He then reprogrammed his multistage boost controller to dial up the boost some more. If the silver coupe's tires held, then Champani would make a race of it. Things didn't go as planned, though, and the M/T tires started barking for mercy as the Turbonetics 106mm turbo came on strong. Gutridge won the semifinals with a 7.65 at 194 mph.
Facing Gutridge in the finals was Scott Bitzer and his wheelstanding '81 Malibu. The Bow Tie featured a monster 632ci engine that was enhanced with a few hits of nitrous oxide. Bitzer was a model of consistency in eliminations as his first-round win came by a 7.91/176-mph blast. He followed that up with a 7.91/176-mph in the quarterfinals. The semifinal win over Mike King came from a 7.93/175-mph run.
Gutridge proved that Ford is better than Chevy in the Drag Radial final, as he took the win over Bitzer with a 7.66/194-mph run to Bitzer's 7.93 at 177 mph. Like so many times before, Gutridge was in the winner's circle at Englishtown. It was only fitting as he was one of the pioneers of radial-tire racing, and it all began at Englishtown's Friday Night Mustang Shootouts.