Michael Galimi
April 1, 2007
Photos By: Frank Cicerale
Number-one qualifier, Peter Champani, clashed with Gutridge in the semifinals and lost. Champani's coupe had been running 7.70s throughout eliminations, and he turned it up for the much-anticipated battle. Smoked tires were the result as it was too much power and not enough traction-the essence of Drag Radial racing.

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.

Manny Sirris was packing a pair of 88mm turbochargers that breathe into a Dave Kogan Racing-built engine. The small-block Ford engine measures 427ci and has run close to the 6-second zone. Sirris ran 7.12 at only 182, a run where he knocked out the head gaskets. Due to the tight racing schedule, Sirris wasn't able to fix the car in time for eliminations.

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.