At Roadkill, we aren’t really about who won a race so much as who bled all over the place while doing the sort of hacked-up repairs that would embarrass an aboriginal bush mechanic in the Australian outback. However, we’re hoping you watched HOT ROD Drag Week 2016 on the live feed and saw how much bleeding and mechanicking was needed for these folks to get to the winner’s spot. Earlier in the week we gave you a quick look at what to expect on the final day of HOT ROD Drag Week™ 2016 and the nearly 300 finishers delivered on one of the most riveting final days of racing we’ve ever seen at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio. Jeff Lutz turned up bright and early to National Trail—He was the first car waiting at the gate in the morning—and the former Drag Week winner was eager to seal up his second win. His “Mad Max” Pro Mod ‘69 Camaro only needed to make an eight-second pass to seal the overall win, but it’s not Lutz’s style to run safely. He clinched the win with a 6.256-second pass at 235.19 mph.
That gave Lutz a five-day average of 6.1918 seconds, which is by far the quickest Drag Week ever recorded. The next-closest, Tom Bailey’s 2015 win in his own Pro Mod-style Camaro, was more than a half-second slower. Lutz gave one final crack at a five-second pass but came up short, though we hope to see Bailey, Lutz, and maybe someone new and insane giving it a go at Drag Week 2017.
After coming up one timeslip short last year, Bryant Goldstone sealed up just the fourth all-six-second week in Drag Week. His Big Block Chevy-powered, all-steel 1973 AMC Javelin bossed its final-day run with a 6.8574-second pass to clinch second place overall. It also makes him the only driver to win the Ultimate Iron class, having defended his 2015 class win in the all-steel class.
Glenn Hunter rounded out the Overall top three with his turbocharged Big Block-powered ‘56 Chevy Belair with a 7.614-second run. His 7.5842-second average also gave him the class win in Pro Street Power Adder over three-time class winner Mike Roy. Pro Street Power Adder was by far the quickest it’s ever been with four cars averaging seven seconds all week and three of those going quicker than the best weekly average ever recorded in the class. Glenn is coming back from a heartbreaking DQ in 2015, so this win means a lot to him.
This year also saw the first six-time HOT ROD Drag Week™ class winner when Curt Johnson cinched up the Street Race Big Block Naturally Aspirated category in his Big Block Chevy-powered Ford Mustang. He’s won that class four years running and his 8.9928-second average was the quickest he’s ever gone. Another car he built, also a Fox Mustang, drove to the class win in Super Street Big Block Naturally Aspirated with Sean Powers behind the wheel.
Several additional classes came down to incredibly tight battles through the day. In the A Gasser class, Jim Forbes entered the day with a relatively safe margin in his nose-high ‘62 Chevy II. However, Forbes’ first run broke second gear in the transmission and allowed Bill Alexander to sneak into the lead. Forbes pulled every loose part he could from the car and made a pass shifting from first gear to third. It was properly Roadkill and it was also just enough to put him back ahead of Alexander’s Willys Coupe by 0.0092 second.
The highlight of the day might have been the hammer-and-tongs battle between Ray Meyers’ 1967 Plymouth Barracuda and Jeff Sias’ 1990 Ford Mustang in Super Street Small Block Naturally Aspirated. Meyers entered the day about 0.02 second ahead of Sias, though the Mustang had ultimately gone quicker during the week. Both drivers made tons of passes: Meyers to give himself a bit of breathing room and Sias to nip Meyers’ advantage. Sias made gains but just couldn’t leap past the classic Mopar. Meyers won the class by 0.0074 second.
The Street Race Small Block Power Adder class is, by design, the closest Drag Week. Cars are limited to 8.50-second elapsed time based on their NHRA safety tech. With many of the cars capable of quicker e.t.s, that left the front of the class nipping hundredths and even thousandths off subsequent runs. Chris Bishir entered the day with a narrow lead of John Dodson; a banzai 8.505-second pass from Dodson in his ‘80 Chevy Malibu put the pressure on Bishir to perform. He needed “only” an 8.550-second pass to clinch the win, but he instead decided to best Dodson with an unreal 8.501-second run. That gave Bishir his second consecutive win in the class and two wins in a week after a victory in True Street at Holley LS Fest the previous weekend.
In Street Machine Eliminator, the Quick 32 from the class were put on a bracket-race ladder. Last year, David Burke was a last-minute addition to the Street Machine shootout and he went all the way to the final before losing to Jeremy Wilson. This year, Burke again barely made the Quick 32 from the bubble in his 1979 Pontiac Le Mans. He faced Jeremy Wilson in the quarterfinals and this time, Burke got the best of the rematch on the way to the final. There, Burke pulled off this win this time for his first Street Machine Eliminator win.
After running the quickest-ever small-tire pass (7.533 seconds) in HOT ROD Drag Week™ on Day 1 at National Trail, Rick Prospero needed an even better pass in his Big Block Chevy Mazda RX-7 to overtake Dan Saitz’s orange Mustang for the Modified Power Adder win. We spotted Rick in the entry lanes to the track on Friday morning changing gears in hopes of improving his time. Prospero ripped a 7.596-second pass to narrow the gap, but Saitz responded shortly with his best time of the week, 7.576 seconds, to seal up his first win. Saitz also managed his 7.76 average with no more carnage than a few bad rocker arms and a single valve spring.
James Karger needed to run 8.567 seconds or better to guarantee a win in the 8.50-limited Street Race Big Block Power Adder class. His ‘79 Mustang ran 8.563, which beat out Mark Vinson’s ‘70 Monte Carlo. The two later raced each other in an exhibition grudge match with Vinson beating Karger straight-up by just 0.001 second. We hope to see this become an annual rivalry.
The best story for any winner might be that of Jason Tabscott. Last year, his ‘76 Camaro came in runner-up in the Street Race Small Block Naturally Aspirated class and the day after his second-place finish, his car and tow rig were stolen while he was at lunch. Tabscott returned this year with a ‘70 Camaro and on the final day, sealed the win in a rematch with last year’s class winner, Danny Roberts.
Elsewhere in the classes, several drivers buttoned up wins with relatively safe passes: Jeff Atkinson (1969 Chevy Camaro) in Pro Street Naturally Aspirated, his first win; Brad Dyer (1972 Chevy Nova) in Modified Naturally Aspirated, his second win; George Gallimore (1970 Chevy Monte Carlo) in Super Street Big Block Power Adder, his second win; Clark Rosenstengel (2010 Chevy Camaro) in Super Street Small Block Power Adder, his first win; Dan Chisholm and Ken Stasiak (1955 Chevy 210) in B Gasser, their third win; and Tim Hall (1947 International KB-1 Truck) in Hot Rod, his second win.
Head over to HOT ROD’s Drag Week™ page for full results and even more stories. You can also watch the entire live stream from the final day (and all five days, actually) on the MotorTrend YouTube Channel here, and if you take your motion-sickness pills, get the stories straight from the racers on the Roadkill Facebook page, which is full of live interviews from the pits.