race reports

Outlaw Street Car Reunion IV at Memphis


After Saturday rain, Mother Nature smiled upon Memphis and racing was finished on Sunday.


The Outlaw Street Car Reunion IV event (OSCR-IV), held March 24-26 at the Memphis International Raceway was a modern era drag racing event with a touch of old-school style that rocked the house complete with a little Memphis Blues. Had Mother Nature not given everyone a case of the Blues on Saturday, via a total wash out for racing, the event would have rocked for three consecutive days and easily met all expectations. Early testing Thursday, pre-event, showed the track was there and so were the bad boys with all their bad toys, if only Mom had not rained on everyone’s parade, throughout Saturday.


On Thursday, a test and tune day was set aside for racers and the track prep by Kurt Johnson, Tyler Crossnoe and their support staff was just spot-on. No better testament to this than the performance of the Pro Street bikes that were in attendance to this event for the first time. Pro Street motorcycles, by their very nature, are extremely track surface dependant machines to produce to their performance potential. With only one DOT-type tire in contact with the racing surface, trying to hold close to 700 ponies, that will vault a glorified street bike from zero to over 200 MPH in about six seconds, these extreme race bikes require a very tight race track to do their thing.

Rodney Williford


Coming into the OSCR IV event, the Orient Express Official G.O.A.T. list (Greatest Of All Time) showed that a 6.70 and 220 MPH were the top numbers for a Pro Street motorcycle. Seven-ohs are expected, 6.90’s the norm, 6.80’s are where they all want to be, 6.70’s are a wow. First pass off the trailer, Rodney Williford of Rougemont, NC, power wheelied through a 6.79 elapsed time with a speed of 217 MPH, to open the testing for Pro Street bikes. Two hours later he drops a bomb: 6.68 at 221.20 MPH. No doubt about it, they had a serious race track on Thursday.


For the car crowd, their premier class of Radial Vs World, heavyweight Barry Mitchell came out and posted a 3.80 pass at 198.61 mph to confirm the race track was definitely a good one with plenty of bite.

Travis Esselman


In Limited Drag Radial, Travis Esselman’s 4.16 elapsed time confirmed it: Memphis International Raceway had both the bite and the beat to present a great race to all. But they really had to work for it.


On Friday, when the racing officially got under way, a weather front was moving in that greatly impacted everything. In a way, it brought out the best in the racers and the racing. It began on Friday morning with twice as many grains of water in the air and double the humidity of Thursday. Due to this shift in the weather pattern, the whole race tempo changed accordingly to meet the conditions.


The Friday racing schedule was originally set for two rounds of qualifying, but knowing a serious threatening weather front was closing in, Friday qualifying was bumped up to three rounds of qualifying for all classes, just in case Saturday was a rain-out. All three rounds of qualifying were completed between 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for the eight classes of OSCR IV - Radial Vs the World, Limited Radial, Ultra Street, MX235, X275, Pro Street Motorcycle, 7.0 index and 6.0 index. What happened next was a great tribute to the racers who race Drag Radial events.

Richard Reagan, of Rutledge, TN, qualified middle of the pack with his ’91 Mustang, posting a 4.34 elapsed time. At night he was sporting wild nitrous flames to the 660-foot mark.

VOLUME XIX,  NUMBER 3 - March  2017

Saturday’s rain out began in the early morning hours and the deluge included high winds and a torrential downpour that flooded everything. The sun did try to poke through several times during the day and every reasonable effort was made to dry the track; then, of course, it rained again. In the afternoon, around 4 p.m. on Saturday, the track was close to race ready enough that announcements were being made by Al Tucci and Brian Lohnes to get the racers ready to fill the lanes. Then it rained again – hard this time.


By the time the third round of rains had pounded the event, everything was saturated, including the layer of rubber coating the race course. So, the call was made to cancel racing for Saturday and begin preparing the race course for Sunday. It was a very important, good, call by the event promoters.


Before nightfall, as twilight began, so too did the all-night preparations begin in completely resurfacing the race track. The entire race track was scraped for 1320 fett as the layer of rubber would just hold the moisture over night. Racers pitched in and started doing whatever they could, sweeping with a broom, pushing a scraper, doing whatever it took, to get the track ready for racing on Sunday.


“That’s when I lost it,” commented event promoter Tyler Crossnoe. “Sometime after 11:30 p.m., just out of nowhere in the pits, racers just started showing up to help out. At one point we had close to one hundred people on the track just doing what they could to get the track ready for tomorrow. I lost it, I cried like a baby.”

At 5:12 in the morning, Kurt Johnson was out running the track dragger laying down fresh rubber to start the day of racing on Sunday, March 26, 2017. The headlights (white streaks) and tail lights (red) show the course of travel for the dragger over 32 seconds.


At 3:50 a.m. I was woken at the track by the sound of the machinery at work. Kurt Johnson (no, not Warren’s son) was out on the track with the dragger laying rubber down. Tyler Crossnoe joined him before 4:30 a.m. and began working the sides of the race course. They were spraying and doing final preparations right at sun up. Everyone busted their behinds to get the track ready, sleep-be-damned, they had a race to run, and run that race they did, start to finish, on Sunday.


Racing began on the final day with the 7.0 index cars, followed by the 6.0 cars, then Pro Street motorcycle class. Ehren Litten was first out on a solo shot; his 6.99 at 213.37 MPH indicated the track was ready to hold some horsepower. Justin Doucet’s 6.82 at 212.26, was proof the track was coming around nicely. All 24 Pro Street bikes got down the track early in the morning and the race moved into high gear.

Barry Mitchell


When the high horsepower cars came out, Barry Mitchell’s magnificent, Tim McAmis-built ’69 Camaro, posted a fine 3.91 at 195.34 MPH to start the round. Dewayne Mills was next out with an excellent 3.88/205 and that was it, the track was definitely coming around. As the morning changed to afternoon, everyone’s hard work paid off, the sun came out, and the track just improved as the day rolled on.

Daniel Pharris had the low number for E-1 in Radial Vs The World with an excellent 3.85 at 206.92, setting the pace for the day.


Pharris was the man to beat this race and his 3.79 in qualifying proved that. For the record, no one did beat Daniel Pharris this day; he won the event over Barry Mitchell in the final round of Radial Vs The World. With a 4.112/185.03 to Mitchell’s off-pace 6.845/72.25.


Matt Bell ‘s ’93 Mustang turned in a 4.171/190.32 with a .060 RT to take the win over Travis Esselman’s ’89 Corvette in Limited Drag Radial. Esselman, who qualified #1, had a .141 RT and then ran 4.174 at 186.20 mph.

Shawn Pevlor’S 1988 Mustang took the win over Joel Greathouse in Ultra Street.


MX235: Tim Hendricks, Sterling, IL, ’94 Firebird, 4.744. 149.66 def. Vince Franks, Cameron, MO, ’83 Camaro, 4.796, 148.40.


X275: Clint Downs, Yukon, OK, ’74 Nova, 4.424, 160.81 def. Dean Marinis, Whitestone, NY, 2000 Mustang, 4.613, 157.78.


Pro Street Motorcycle: Rodney Williford, Rougemount, NC. ’17 Hayabusa, 6.825, 217.60 def. Gabe Fredericks, Wooldridge, MO, ’08 Hayabusa,6.943, 183.99.

6.0 Index: Joey Nugent, Sheridan, AR, ’68 C10, .031 RT, 6.067, 105.10 def. Aaron Boehmer, Festus, MO, ’68 AMX, .045 RT, 5.982, 111.50.

David Smith of Batesville, MS, won the class in 7.0 Index racing over 67 other entries with his 1988 S-10 pick-up truck. His .009 RT coupled with a 7.018/96.24 got the win over Bubba Maxx’s .008 RT, 7.025 ET at 98.37 mph.


This is the fourth year of the Outlaw Street Car Reunion and they are already planning OSCR V. The event is put on by Southern Speed Promotions, which is headed up by co-owners Mark Samples and Tyler Crossnoe. Their experienced staff includes such industry heavyweights as John Sears and Lonnie Grim in Tech, Tyler and Kurt Johnson handle track prep. With Brian Lohnes and Al Tucci on the PA system, no one is bored once the microphones are turned on.


In discussing the event with veteran NHRA announcer Lohnes, I asked him how Drag Radial racing is different from NHRA racing and he quipped back, “It’s very unpredictable, you can’t just say this guy will beat that guy round by round. These cars are very unpredictable, so anyone can win any round of racing.”


Brian elaborated, “There is also a much more visceral connection between the racers, their cars, and the fans. The cars the people drive on the street are the same cars you see here on the track: Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, et cetera, and they look like that exact body style. So, the fans recognize and instantly connect with the race cars and the Pro Street bikes as well.”


Another point Brian drove home was the “Tude” that comes with Drag Radial racing.


Drag Radial race cars are not only drag cars that look like street cars, but they are defiantly street/strip cars with an attitude, who don’t give a damn about someone’s Prius getting 43 MPG. If Drag Radial race cars were music, they would sound like Metallica, not something you’d encounter at the Florida Georgia line, I assure you. They have an attitude to them, and the fans love it.


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Drag Radial race cars are not only drag cars that look like street cars, but they are defiantly street/strip cars with an attitude, who don’t give a damn about someone’s Prius getting 43 MPG. If Drag Radial race cars were music, they would sound like Metallica, not something you’d encounter at the Florida Georgia line, I assure you. They have an attitude to them, and the fans love it.

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