Muscle Cars at the Strip go ‘downtown’ for entertainment

If you don’t get enough action with muscle cars dragging down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, perhaps a quarter mile of them on a street in downtown Vegas will add to your enjoyment. Add in a couple of bands and plenty of parts and pieces and you have ‘Muscle Cars Downtown’ on April 27-29. 

Musi and Edelbrock strengthen partnership; Lizzy will add NHRA

After a highly-successful 2017 PDRA season that included back-to-back victories to end the campaign and a third-place finish in Pro Nitrous, Lizzy Musi will try to claim her first PDRA world championship in 2018. She will also debut a new Frank Brandao-owned Dodge Dart, aptly named “King Kong 7,” in PDRA Pro Nitrous, with plans to debut that car at the end of April.


Additionally, Musi will make her NHRA Pro Mod debut at the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in June. She will run that race and the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, which is near Pat Musi Racing Engines’ shop in Mooresville, NC, in October. The plan will be for Musi to drive “King Kong 6” with a new 903-cubic inch engine that her father, Pat Musi, is currently building. Along with Edelbrock, Lucas Oil will also continue as a primary sponsor on Musi’s car.


Pat Musi Racing Engines will also continue to design parts and perform extensive research and development for Edelbrock.    

Haney wins Radial Revenge with Tulsa track record

Veteran drag racer Keith Haney saved his best for last Mar. 31, during Radial Revenge Tour 2018 at Osage Casino Tulsa Raceway Park. Driving “Enigma,” his nitrous-boosted 2016 Camaro, Haney covered the eighth mile in 3.75 seconds at 197.86 mph to set a new track elapsed time record while leading stripe-to-stripe for the win over Tim Slavens in the Radial vs. the World final.


Slavens ran 3.78 at 212.26 in his twin-turbocharged ’69 Camaro for a close runner-up finish. The track ET record prior to the Radial Revenge event was 3.79 seconds, with Slavens and Haney trading it back-and-forth five times throughout qualifying and eliminations.


Despite securing championships in both Pro Modified and Radial vs. the World last year with the Frankenstein Engine Dynamics Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS), the Tulsa triumph marked Haney’s first drag radial race win. It was the second win for Enigma, however, after Haney’s co-crew chief Brandon Pesz drove it to victory lane last August in the MWPMS event at St. Louis.


Both Keith Haney Racing cars will return to the track with Haney behind the steering wheels Apr. 20-21, as the MWPMS competes within the Outlaw Street Car Reunion at historic Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, KY.    

Brown vs. Papa John at Vegas

Last year Leah Pritchett, driver of the Papa John’s Top Fuel Dragster, drove a Drag Pak Challenger against her sponsor’s Camaro. 


Antron Brown will make his debut in the Papa John’s Charity Challenge this week. Brown will drive a 2015 Toyota Camry against “Papa” John Schnatter to benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation and Overcome Academy, both organizations for military veterans.  

Leah, Brittany are ready for four-wide challenge

Although zMax has been a four-lane track for some time, this week marks the first time racers will have to face the challenge of four lanes running at the same time in Las Vegas. Some racers have voiced their frustrations with the format, but some take a more pro-active approach.

Leah Pritchett 


“There are currently no ‘four-wide’ practice trees to help prepare, so I’ve been watching replays on tape and through my mind, to make the four-wide become as real today and next week as it was almost a year ago in Charlotte,” Leah Pritchett explained.


“Some drivers feel strongly one way or another towards four-wide racing as a whole, but for me, I take the approach of, ‘How you can excel at something you don’t embrace?’ Can it throw all of us off our very much dialed-in precision routine? Yes. Are there larger chances for error? Yes. Does race-day mentality change once past the Christmas tree? Yes. Does it require a maximum level of focus? Of course. But that’s what the four-wide racing brings, beyond just the cars being physically lined up four-wide across.”

Brittany Force 


Brittany Force, the only woman to win a four-wide event, has a plan to get comfortable with the new venue.


“I definitely go into the four-wide races with a different mindset. The races are completely different,” said Force, who won the Charlotte Four-Wide in 2016. “I will get in my Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster and go through my routine, but I will also spend some time on the starting line. I want to stand in each lane and look down the race track to prepare for each run no matter which lane I might be in. I want to look at the Christmas Tree and figure the visuals out before we get to race day. We have had some success racing four-wide and this is the first one in Las Vegas. It will be pretty exciting.”  

Silvey adds tech knowledge to DRO

We are happy to announce that veteran drag racing journalist Todd Silvey will be adding his expertise to the pages of DRO.


In a career of nearly 30 years, Silvey created Drag News Magazine, served as Managing Editor of IHRA’s Drag Review magazine and was Editorial Director at Xceleration Media’s Drag Racing Scene. He is a third-generation drag racer.


He will be contributing technical articles and other news, beginning with the following note to Agent 1320.  

Could ‘Test & Tune’ events come under fire from insurance carriers?

The sport of motorcycle road racing has recently come under fire due to a multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed by an amateur sportbike enthusiast. In March of 2015, Daniel Kim lost control of his bike resulting in a crash that broke his leg. Fast forward to 2018 and the lawsuit is entering the trial phase led by a prestigious San Francisco law firm going after the event promoter among others for an initial $15M in damages for the rider’s broken leg.


How does this concern drag racing? In the eyes of motorsport insurance carriers, subjects like this can blanket multiple genres of motorsports depending on the issue at hand. In this case, the suit specifies negligence on the promoter’s behalf for not “especially repurposing a professional race track for amateurs to ride in a racing fashion.” This example is where similarities to other sports such as dragstrip test & tune nights may come into play.


The key argument predicted for court involves a small sandbag located away from the racing tarmac that the biker came into contact with after losing control of the bike of his own accord. The suit states promoters were negligent for not predicting and revamping the track to accommodate crashing amateur motorcyclists.


Many current motorcycle industry articles attest this suit could potentially wipe out track day operators with rising insurance costs or possibly eliminating their insurability.


To draw a parallel between motorcycle track days and dragstrip street racer/grudge nights is real. A longtime track operator responded to our inquiry and said, “Insurance companies have historically reacted to claim issues and their related rate hikes across different forms of racing. This is a real threat to all amateur racing performed at a so-called professional track.”


We’ll be watching the outcome of this lawsuit.  

Smith takes the plunge into TAD divisional competition

Dave Hirata (left) and Will Smith.


Marketer and longtime driver Will Smith has teamed up with Hirata Motorsports to compete in the Top Alcohol Dragster category this season. Smith will compete in the NHRA North Central Division, also making national event appearances at the U.S. Nationals in Indy, among others.


This season marks Will Smith’s 20th year behind the wheel of a race car. He began his journey in the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League and went on to graduate from Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and drive various machines, bracket racing around the country and even getting some seat time on a Pro Stock Motorcycle.


For the last two years he has served as Marketing Director for the Professional Drag Racers Association, a role that he plans to continue as he furthers his driving career.


“This year is the start of my 20th year racing as a driver, and I'm excited to make the step into the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster category,” said Smith. “I'm honored to team up with and drive for Dave and his parents, Ken and Chiyo, who have had such a successful career in drag racing. They are true legends of the sport. I know Dave and Kenny have high expectations, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of trying to not only meet but exceed those expectations.”  

Torrence father and son to drive four-wide at Vegas

Steve Torrence is ready for four-wide racing, although it remains a challenge. He is one of only six Top Fuel drivers to have won in that format.


“These are 10,000 horsepower race cars that accelerate to 330 miles an hour,” he said. “You don’t want to have to think about what you’re going to do when you’re strapped in there. You want to have trained yourself well enough to just do it, but when you go four-wide, you change the normal way you do thinks. You just don’t feel totally comfortable.”


Torrence’s father, Billy, will have that experience for the first time this weekend. It will be his first NHRA national event since he reached the semifinals at the Arizona Nationals in February.


“My dad and I have raced together since I was a teenager,” Steve said, “and racing him in the semifinals at Phoenix was one of the great moments of all time. And he tried to kick my butt!”    

Gilbert will drive own Top Sportsman Camaro at PDRA season opener

The Virginia-based team of Gilbert Motorsports has been involved in the PDRA for years, running Top Sportsman and Junior Dragsters. When the opportunity arose to get involved on another level, owner Kris Gilbert jumped at the chance. Gilbert Motorsports will present the Top Junior Dragster class this season.


While the organization was officially founded in 1996, owner Kris Gilbert has been in one form of motorsports or another since the late 1980s. He began in motocross before transitioning to drag racing and adding driver Quentin Metheny. The team added a pair of Junior Dragsters in 2015, driven by Gilbert’s sons Jacob and Chase. This season, Gilbert himself will take over full time driving duties in the team’s ‘69 Camaro.


Continuing their diverse interests, Gilbert Motorsports purchased the Virginia Giant Monster Truck team in 2014. Then in 2016, the team added a second monster truck, Toxic.


In addition to all their racing endeavors, Kris, along with wife Danielle, and their team keep busy with Fairfax Towing and Recovery, plus a full-service performance shop, junkyard, auto body repair shop, ice cream shop and more.  

Weather postpones Gateway season opener

One thing you can bet on is that in the Midwest the weather will be unpredictable. After sunshine and temperatures in the 60s on Friday, a couple of inches of snow on Easter Sunday (April Fool!), the snow is melting but cold temperatures remain with probable precipitation and the season opener at Gateway Motorsports Park  scheduled for this weekend has been postponed.


The new opening weekend for the Gateway Motorsports Park Dragplex will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 13-14. Friday, April 13, will feature street-legal racing and drifting: Midnight Madness fueled by NOS energy drink. Saturday, April 14, will feature GMP’s first Shakedown Saturday event with open Test ‘n’ Tune, a bracket gambler race and grudge drags from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.


The JEGS Super Quick Series event and bracket racing season-opener scheduled for this weekend at Gateway has been postponed to April 20-22.  

‘Search for a Champion’ contest winners announced

Mason Ludwig, a 15-year-old rising star in Late Model class racing, and Jon Corral, a radio producer and hot rod restoration enthusiast, are the grand prize winners in the 2018 “Search for a Champion” sponsorship contest from Federal-Mogul Motorparts’ iconic Champion® brand of automotive products.


Ludwig, a ninth-grade student from North Branch, MI, will receive the $50,000 (USD) grand prize in the Search for a Champion “On the Track” category, while Corral, of Washougal, WA, won the $5,000 grand prize in the new “In the Garage” category for do-it-yourselfers.


Over the first seven years of the Search for a Champion contest, Champion has awarded nearly $900,000 to grassroots racers, do-it-yourselfers and maintenance enthusiasts who have best demonstrated their passion for engine-driven performance. This year more than 700 participants competed for sponsorships, advancing through the contest’s two rounds based on votes received at www.SearchForAChampion.com. A record of nearly 190,000 votes were received.


In addition to the two grand prizes, Champion is awarding $5,000 (USD) to each of 10 runners-up in the “On the Track” category and $500 (USD) to each of 10 “In the Garage” finalists. Each of 30 finalists in the “On the Track” category received $500 (USD) Champion sponsorships.  

New Product of the Day


CD-5 Carbon Digital Dash from AEM

AEM has released its Carbon Fiber Composite CAN Dash 5” (CD-5) and CAN Dash 5” Logging (CD-5L) Super Bright digital dash displays. CD-5 Carbon Digital Dash Displays feature a full-color, daylight readable screen surrounded by a tough, lightweight flow-molded carbon fiber composite housing. Seven ultra-bright LEDs span the top of the display housing for RPM and shift light indication. Users can program them to ascend in specific increments based on RPM range, and flash when it is time to shift. Brightness is user programmable on the fixed color LEDs. Two large buttons are included on the face of the display, allowing easy page changing and memory resetting even with driving gloves on. These button functions are included in the supplied rear connector, allowing the user to mount remote buttons. Two additional programmable LEDs are located above the toggle buttons on the top of the housing on either side of the integrated LED shift lights. Four packages are available.



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