The latest Roadkill Nights event had an all-new idea for street-car drag racing eliminations, a $19,000 purse for just four cars, and 11,800 people through the gate! It was all on Saturday, June 18, as the Roadkill video series hosted the first-ever drag races on pit road at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. The event was Roadkill Nights, powered by Dodge—a follow-up to the first event of the same name that ransacked the parking lot of the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, in August 2015. The Roadkill Nights events include a general car show, a Dodge-only car show, and Dodge Thrill Rides in new Hellcats and Vipers, but the main attraction is street-style drag racing.
The Roadkill Nights drags at the Silverdome had basic eliminations on a track that had a fresh, prepped, 60-foot concrete launching pad leading to a whoop-de-doo of a torn-up parking lot. At Kansas Speedway, pit road was swept and dragged but not glued, so it was pretty close to a no-prep deal. Both tracks were about 620 feet long, limited by the available runoff. The Silverdome race had a flashlight start, but Kansas City ran regular staging and a Pro tree.
The big new deal at Kansas City was the eliminations program. Let’s call it Roadkill Style, because it’s fast and abusive. First, there was qualifying all day long. In the evening, the quickest four cars were chosen for a four-car shootout that was really a battle of survival, because every car had to race every other car, which means heads-up pairings of every car, leading to 12 total runs and 3 passes for each car. (To be even more specific, 1 raced 2, 3, and 4; 2 raced 1, 3, and 4; 3 raced 1, 2, and 4; 4, raced 1, 2, and 3.) A win was scored as 5 points and a lose was 3 points. At the end, points are tallied, and any ties are set by yet another runoff.
For racers, this is brutal round-robin racing and a test of longevity with only 10 minutes of cooldown between rounds, and nitrous cars are at a disadvantage as bottle pressures drop with each pass. For fans, it means a whole lot of heads-up racing with the quickest cars on site, but ever-changing odds that the leading cars can maintain their pace. Both the racers and the fans benefit from a huge payout: $10,000 to win, $5,000 runner up, $2,500 third, and $1500 fourth.
At Roadkill Nights KC, the quickest qualifier was Troy Aves in a 1967 Dodge Dart (with a ’68 grille) powered by a turbo late-model Hemi. He ran the 620 feet in 6.48 seconds. Next came Doyle Hanvy’s 1970 Challenger at 6.69, Randal Andra’s 1970 Challenger at 7.13, and Jim Sams’ 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat at 7.17. The final win order fell into the exact same ranking, but only after ties in points led to a head-to-head showdown with the two Plum Crazy 1970 Challengers with the winner earning the right for the final match with Troy’s turbo Dart. Struggling with an overheating transmission, Troy beat Doyle by half a fender in front of a wild crowd.
It was in interesting test of the Roadkill-style eliminations format, and one that revealed a little more thought needs to go into the run order and perhaps the scoring system in order to perfect what seems to be a pretty thrilling new test of speed, endurance, strategy, and showmanship.