K.J. Jones
March 21, 2008
Photos By: Ali Mansour, Jason Gonderman
PINKS All Out's creator and host, Rich Christensen, uses his signature arm drop starting technique and sends a hatchback 'Stang down the 1,320. Through the entire course of a long, hot day of taping endless pairs of race cars, Rich throws down each and every arm drop with the same enthusiasm and intensity that comes across on the show.

Horse Sense: This just in: Included in this report are rearwheel horsepower/torque numbers for the Big Terry's-built, Paxton-blown 350ci small-block that now motivates our project 'Stang. At the outset of the project, we hoped the big-bore stroker and supercharger would make 650 rwhp. While the engine's performance with race fuel and a hastily made tune for PINKS All Out gave us the pleasant surprise of being more than we anticipated, a post PINKS and more in-depth tuning and dyno session with "Harv" of HMS Performance [(562) 907-7834] left us speechless when 811 horses and 700 lb-ft of torque at 21 psi of boost were recorded at our T-top notchback's back tires. Stay tuned for further developments on this fantastic news.

If you've been keeping track of all things associated with our '86 T-top coupe 'Stang (we know many of you have been diligently following the project and we appreciate all of the positive e-mails and comments we've received), last month we told you all about our successful thrash effort to fully resuscitate the coupe's blown (and we don't mean supercharged) engine, in time to attend a major event that was fast approaching.

Although we've done some track testing, participating in something big with the T-top coupe has long been a desire. Our original intent was to take the 'Stang to Hot Rod's Drag Week in 2006. Unfortunately, time got the best of us and we missed out on attending that event. Schedule conflicts prevented us from giving Drag Week a go in 2007.

Our intent was to leave on Thursday and position ourselves to be among the first racers to enter The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday morning. Unfortunately, we didn't leave Los Angeles until Friday morning, and were greeted at the track in the afternoon by this mile-long line of fellow contestants.

So, when we received word that the All Out version of the wildly popular PINKS reality-television program (www.speedtv.com/pinks) was going to be taped at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we set our sights and efforts on making sure our California-based Mustang would be there.

In the spinoff broadcast, PINKS All Out, the show's creator and host, Rich Christensen, takes his brand of heads-up racing to the next level, as racers flock to dragstrips all over the country to compete for big money, prizes, and best-of-the-best bragging rights that last a lifetime.

While getting to PINKS All Out was a must for us, we also wanted to join the growing fraternity of NMRA racers such as Justin Burcham, Ron Cullember, Troy Hrdlicka, Bobby Sisco, and others who have given PINKS All Out a try. Ron actually made it to the final round of an All-Out event, but lost when his 'Stang's rearend let go.

Before we go any further and contrary to what might be conventional thought, we need to make an important point clear to you all: In our opinion, the 10-grand payout to the winner is not the main reason why PINKS All Out is so popular. Sure, like everyone else, we went to Vegas hoping we would be selected in the Top 16, and of course we were unable to shake the never-ending fantasy of winning it all. While neither of those things happened, our overall experience, the hundreds of smiles we saw, and the positive comments we heard from nearly everyone we came in contact with made it clear that the most important contributor to PINKS All Out's success is the fact that it's probably the most fun a person can have at a drag race.

We relive highlights through the following photos and captions. We encourage you to enter your 'Stang, when PINKS All Out comes to a dragstrip near you.

Tech is one of the most interesting aspects of PINKS All Out. Basically, tech inspection as we know it, which includes a thorough check of the car for its compliance with NHRA's safety regulations, was non-existent. The final round of administrative processing was considered tech inspection for PINKS All Out: Las Vegas. We presented a completed and signed tech card-although our coupe was never looked at-to the folks at the tent. After signing six pages of release forms that we're certain have wording to cover the folks that produce PINKS All Out for the event's lack of formal tech inspection, a Polaroid photo of car and driver was taken, and we were all set to race.

For those of you who aren't familiar with PINKS All Out, it's a for-money derivative of PINKS, the show in which racers put their cars on the line-competitors square off against each other in a best-three-out-of-five drag-race contest for pink slips-that airs each week on the SPEED network. Vehicle titles are signed over to the show at the start of the event, and the winner assumes ownership of the loser's car at the end.

Unlike the original PINKS event, PINKS All Out is a runoff between a field of 16 cars that in two rounds of qualifying seem to be the most closely matched based on e.t.'s that are within one-tenth (or closer) of each other. For the first round, cars are run in groups of 50, with the first hit run on a 0.400 pro Tree and a timeslip is presented at the end. The second timed run is started by an arm-drop from host Rich Christensen; timeslips aren't provided for that one. As it's television we're talking about, a car's and a driver's on-camera appearance also has at least a small impact on the selection process.

The e.t. range for each event is unknown until after qualifying has ended, which is why all-out racing is a must for each competitor. The idea is to weed out the sandbaggers and go with a group of cars that will consistently run the number and make for four rounds of close, exciting, heads-up races.

The top 16 racers are paired and run heads up, and winners receive $1,000 for advancing. E.t.'s are first verified by the casting director, Nate Pritchett, and his brother, Adam, using each racer's qualifying e.t.'s to ensure games aren't being played. Unfortunately, there's no consolation round for the losers.

Stakes get higher once the field is cut to eight racers. Just before each pair runs, racers are asked if they would like to bet some or all or none of their $1,000 winnings. Round winners keep the wagered money, as well as whatever he keeps in his pocket if he doesn't risk the full amount. For the Las Vegas event, drivers agreed prior to the runoff that the wagers would stand at $1,000 for each round.

The final eliminator is a best-two-out-of-three affair (engines are required to stay running throughout the finals), that's stacked with excitement and drama. In the end, one lucky racer goes home with $10,000 cash. NAPA also sweetens the pot with a cache of mechanic's tools worth about $8,000.