Tocher talks again w/Ian Tocher

‘Sweet 16’ a Personal Pursuit for ‘The Duck’

Donald “Duck” Long (left) and “Lenco Jim” Taylor.


I was speaking with Donald “Duck” Long recently about his latest venture, the unique Sweet 16 event scheduled for March 22-24 at South Georgia Motorsports Park (SGMP). Essentially, only 16 entries will vie for a $101,000 winner-take-all purse in Radials vs. the World (RvW), Long’s self-created class for the quickest and fastest radial rides worldwide. There also will be a 16-car event for RvW non-qualifiers, plus a 16-car No Time race, but Long estimates no more than 50 to 60 cars will be on the property.


It’s a bold attempt at trying something different in drag racing, but here’s the kicker: in addition to allowing a driver and two team members per car entry, Long made only 500 spectator admission tickets available. However, most tickets were quickly snapped up by the teams, which means probably less than a hundred “fans” will be on hand to personally witness what’s shaping up to be an epic show.


Consider, though, Long’s longstanding Lights Out race each spring and his No Mercy race each fall draw up to 500 entries and 20,000 spectators to SGMP over the course of each race week. But success breeds stress, as Long has discovered since getting into the race promotions game more than 10 years ago. What once were personally manageable events have morphed into logistical and managerial challenges involving finances, racer demands, parking nightmares, crowd control and security issues.


It does sound a little far-fetched, maybe even crazy, but when Long insists he’s doing Sweet 16 for his and longtime promotions partner “Lenco Jim” Taylor’s sanity, I believe him.

During the Real World Street Nationals in October 2007, Donald “Duck” Long (red cap behind car) attended as co-owner of a Pro Mod entry, but also crew chief on Tony Ridenour’s Drag Radial ’94 Camaro. Long says he took notice of the disparity in how competitors in each class were hosted by Orlando Speed World Dragway and that experience inspired him to create drag radial-focused events to showcase his favorite racers’ talents.


Essentially, Long wants to return to a simpler time, one in which he can be “The Duck” again, donning his fur coat, oversized sunglasses, leather cowboy hat and gaudy gold chains, while “Lenco” breaks out his green sport coat and the two hold court in the midst of high-horsepower mayhem on the SGMP eighth mile. Yes, he knows there will always be problems or issues that crop up, but Long says he wants to be able to have fun with his racer friends again without having to worry about anyone stealing money (all payments are being collected online, no cash will change hands at the SGMP gates), or fights in the stands, or parking, or … whatever.


To aid in the adventure, Lights Out/No Mercy announcers Brian Lohnes and Lee Sebring will be back for Sweet 16, with “Willie Dog” joining the announce team for the No Time portions of the event. And with two rounds of qualifying scheduled for Thursday, five (yes, five!) rounds of qualifying on Friday and eliminations set for Saturday (Sunday is available as a rain date), there will plenty of on-track action, I’m certain.


Significantly, from his very beginning as a race promoter, Long has embraced the power of the Internet, social media in particular. His online videos as Duck, often costarring Lenco Jim, are must-see fodder among drag radial competitors and followers, so it’s no surprise to me that Long promises an entertaining and spirited show for distribution online via a live feed ($9.95 for full weekend coverage), with special features and guests, plus extensive driver and crew chief interviews scheduled for downtime between rounds.


Admittedly, it will be strange to see 2018 Lights Out 9 RvW winner “Stevie Fast” Jackson and runner-up Keith Haney, along with drag radial stars DeWayne Mills, Daniel Pharris and Jamie Hancock, among others, duke it out in front of empty grandstands at Sweet 16, but I have to credit Long for having the gumption to try something new and daring. He does know his audience, though, and if anyone can take something out of the drag radial box and make it work, it’s The Duck. You can bet I’ll be watching. 


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