We know we’re riling up the Woodward natives with that headline, and we’re doing it on purpose because we want someone who tested a nitro rail on Woodward in the 1960s to write in and tell us about it. You’d pretty much need to have run an all-out Funny Car to claim a faster pass than the 160+mph run that Tom Bailey made in our 1/8-mile shutdown of Woodward Ave for Roadkill Nights. Bailey’s “Sick Seconds” 1969 Chevy Camaro, which won HOT ROD Drag Week™ 2013, took on all comers at the Roadkill Nights races held just days after we went cruising with Bailey in the car down Woodward. The racing wasn’t easy for even for Bailey, as he had to defeat 2015 Drag Week runner-up Bryant Goldstone and his Chevy-powered AMC Javelin twice to win the event.
Roadkill Nights’ racing format brutally tested the mettle of Bailey and his battle-hardened Camaro more than anything they’d been through. In addition to the surface quality of unprepared public roads, Bailey also had to contend with narrow lanes, the crown of the road in one of the lanes, and having to rip off run after run with no downtime. It was a unique challenge that Bailey relished.
“It was great,” he said. “Obviously, my car is on the edge of what you’d call a street car, so it was a lot to ask for three eighth-mile passes back-to-back…That was the truest test on a street car that I’ve ever been under in race conditions.”
The ground-pounding Steve Morris Engines twin turbo 515 cubic-inch V8 normally puts down 3,000 or more horsepower, but the “track” surface was sufficiently grip-deficient that Bailey launched with only a single pound of boost and then only fed it six pounds through the end of the eight-mile course. It was enough to get the job done in the All-Run Final Four and to hold off Goldstone, who was also running minimal boost on his own Big Block Chevy twin-turbo setup.
The path to the Final Four wasn’t easy for Bailey, who almost lost it twice on his first run down Woodward. That dicey pass led him to turn the boost even further down to hook up and throw down a huge trap speed in his second pass.
The most memorable part of Roadkill Nights for Bailey, however, wasn’t the racing but rather the fans and the atmosphere of racing down one of the world’s most iconic streets. “It was crazy how many people came out and it was just an awesome thing that hopefully we’re able to do again.”
While Sick Seconds looks every bit a purpose-built race car, Bailey drives it on the street regularly. He estimated that he puts about 2,500 miles on it per year, which is more than the typical show-only ‘69 Camaro would get. So how did Bailey celebrate his victory? He took both of his Sick Seconds Camaros—including the Pro Mod-style Sick Seconds 2.0 that won Drag Week™ last year—out to Colorado to shoot some footage for a possible TV show (!), then took the Roadkill Nights-winning Camaro out for a drive in the Rocky Mountains near Denver with his son, Ayden.
Bailey will return to HOT ROD Drag Week™ competition in just a couple weeks to defend his 2015 overall win with Sick Seconds 2.0. That Camaro now has a new 3,500-horsepower engine, which was installed just before he headed out to Roadkill Nights in his older Drag Week winner. This year, Bailey has his sights set not just on a third overall win but also on the first five-second timeslip ever in Drag Week.