OUTLAWS AT DARLINGTON
Words and photos by Ian Tocher
There may not have been a great turnout of racecars for the Inaugural Southern Outlaw Nationals at Darlington International Dragway May 25-26, but those that made it put in some stout performances.
Track operator Larry Hensley posted more than $50 grand in prize money for Outlaw Pro Mod, Outlaw Pro Street, Outlaw Pure Street, and Outlaw 10.5 classes, but none drew enough cars to fill the planned 16-car fields. Regardless, the all-eighth-mile race went on, with Jason Brooks prevailing in Pro Mod, Tony Williams in Pro Street, Scott Winfield in Pure Street, and Bill Rimmer Jr. taking the Outlaw 10.5 honors.
Two Alabama natives squared off in the Outlaw Pro Mod final, as Brooks (above) took on former IHRA champion Shannon Jenkins. "The Iceman" suffered a rare redlight start (.396), however, wasting a 4.124 at 177.58-mph effort and handing the $5,000 win to Brooks, who went 4.352 in the eighth at 146.79 mph.
"I was tired," said Jenkins, who was driving and tuning two cars at the race, but also enjoyed a clear performance edge over Brooks all day. "There was no reason for me to be pushing the tree that hard. I was just too tired and made a mistake."
Brooks said he hadn't realized he'd won until reaching the far end of the track. "I missed the shift to high gear, so I thought that was it," the Huntsville-based racer said. He then gave all the credit for the win to crew chief and engine builder Rick Hickman. "He's the brains behind this operation," Brooks insisted.
Jenkins fired the first shot in the opening session of Outlaw Pro Mod qualifying on a very hot Saturday afternoon (145-degree track temperature) with a 4.10 in his nitrous-assisted 1968 Camaro. He then upped the ante that night with a 4.088-second blast at 178.88 mph.
Not to be outdone, Tommy Mauney (above) pushed his supercharged '63 Corvette to a 4.07 in the afternoon session, then secured the top spot for raceday with a 4.031 at 181.78 mph pass over the eighth mile. Mauney easily got past the 1996 Corvette of Perrerik "Erik" Fors in the first round of eliminations, but fell to Brooks in the quarter-finals.
Number-seven qualifier Brooks had a bye run in the semis,
while Jenkins beat Jimmy Clark, Keith Baker, and Johnny Pilcher on his
way to the final round.