Twenty years after Bill Kuhlmann made the first 200-mile-per-hour pass in a doorslammer over the quarter mile, Jason Scruggs repeated the feat in half the distance. Just after 2 p.m. on Sep.15, 2007, in the opening round of qualifying for the ADRL Pro Extreme race at Rockingham Dragway, Scruggs steered his family-owned ’63 Corvette to a 3.80-seconds blast at 200.86 mph to become the first doorslammer driver to exceed 200 mph over just 660 feet. He later improved those benchmarks to an incredible 3.70 seconds and unreal 205.22 mph.
His day ended on a sour note, however, as Scruggs fell in the final round to Joshua Hernandez when his engine’s blower belt let go as Hernandez streaked to a career-best 3.78 at 197.80 to take the win. “I just hate to get all the way to the final and not get the job done,” Scruggs said at the time. “We’ve had a good weekend, I’m not complaining, but we had the faster car and it just didn’t work out today.”
Scruggs lives with his wife, Alice, and three children in Saltillo, MS, “not far from Tupelo,” where he farms 18,000 acres of cotton, soy beans and corn alongside his father and crew chief Mitchell Scruggs. The record-setting, father-and-son duo also own and operate two cotton gins and a retail home improvement store that includes a John Deere dealership, as well as keep two house-building crews on the go. Scruggs recently took time out of an obviously busy schedule to discuss with DRO his recent performance successes, racing with the ADRL and plans for the future.
Let’s start by talking about your recent heroics at Rockingham. Did it take some time for the significance of your 200-mile-per-hour run to sink in?
Scruggs: Yeah, I guess it did. You know, I had a lot of people calling me the next week to congratulate me and I realized it was a pretty big deal, I guess, once it was all said and done. I had a lot of friends like Rex Kelley and Hugh Scott call, friends that I talk to on the phone anyway, but I’ve also had calls from people in Saudi Arabia that follow drag racing on the Internet. And Victor Bray, from Australia, he called and told me congratulations; I mean, we’re not great friends but we're friends through racing and I appreciated him calling.
Once we ran the 200, you know, I had to concentrate on trying to win the race, so it really didn’t hit me ‘til we got home. I’ve also been so busy I really haven’t had time to have racing on my mind because as soon as we got home I had to hit the farming pretty heavy.
Could you feel the expectation rising as each race passed while you were closing in on the record?
Scruggs: Well, yeah, as we were getting closer and closer it was definitely getting to be more of a big deal. When we were going 194, 195, I really didn’t pay much attention to it because it was still a long way off, but as we got closer to it and Flowmaster put up more money, it started to become more and more of a challenge. It’s something that can only happen once for the first time, so we’re ecstatic that we were able to do it—but at the same time; it’s just a number, in a way.
That may be true, but it also set a new standard for all time.
Scruggs: Actually, Bill Kuhlmann came up to me last year and I had just went 197, and we were talking in the staging lanes and he said, ‘You know, if you do it, this 200 will be a pretty big deal.’ He told me, ‘People will remember it 10 years down the road, where they won’t remember who won each individual race.’ And when you think of it like that, that’s when it really sinks in that this was something special.