Decision Time at Orlando
The Real World Street Nationals at Orlando Speed World Dragway has inarguably become the premier event for fastest street car-type racers, but this year’s version tested the patience of everyone who made the trek to the central-Florida speed plant. Intermittent rain and several track clean-ups for fluid spills and minor crashes meant just two of four scheduled qualifying sessions made it into the record books and raceday eliminations were cut short by rain. Worse yet, the wet stuff continued to fall the next day, preventing the race from being completed and prompting the decision to finally send everyone home.
Essentially, it was a typical, frustrating weekend where Mother Nature had the last word, but a lot has been said about track operator and race promoter Carl Weisinger’s decision to determine “winners” for each of the event’s four classes based on whoever ran the quickest elapsed time in the most recent completed round. For Super Pro Street and Outlaw 10.5 that meant after the second round pared the field down to eight, while the Heavy Street and Drag Radial classes managed only to cut their 32-car fields in half before the race was called.
No word on what teams in the other three classes wanted, but I know at least the remaining Outlaw 10.5 guys got together shortly after it rained on what would have been their quarter-finals parade and approached Weisinger Sunday night with a proposal to split the purse and call it a wash. Weisinger listened, but ultimately said no, he wanted a winner for the fans to point to when it was all over, so they’d finish up on Monday. Steve Kirk Jr., one of the remaining entrants who preferred to go home, but a race promoter himself, later said he understood Weisinger’s position and didn’t blame him one bit for seeking an on-track conclusion.
Shortly after learning Sunday night’s racing at the Real World Street Nationals would end prematurely due to rain, Tim Lynch (right) and crew chief Steve Petty (left) conferred with fellow Outlaw 10.5 racer Grant McCrary about what their next course of action might be.
In hindsight it’s easy to say getting the race in was a long shot, but with racers still in the running from every southern state you can name and as far away as Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Connecticut and Texas, few wanted to make the long haul home without at least taking their shot at a prestigious Orlando win. Unfortunately, with persistent showers Monday morning, the forecast looking grim and a Speed World track crew exhausted from long hours in the sun and rain, Weisinger finally had to pull the plug.
Knowing, however, that getting just three racers to agree the sky is blue can be an exercise in futility, Weisinger didn’t solicit opinions from the 48 remaining contestants before decreeing Annette Summer the Super Pro Street champion, Richard Sexton the Outlaw 10.5 winner, Sam Gottier the Heavy Street champ and David Wolfe the top finisher in Drag Radial, all based on them running the quickest in their most recently completed elimination round. It may not have been the most satisfying result, but at least Weisinger employed performance-based criteria and it was a simple and tidy way of wrapping things up.