$10K Drag Shootout 2 Episode 8: The Race

The seventh episode of the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 featured Team Enemies Everywhere, Team Bigun, and The COMP Cams Dream Team rebuilding their cars after the devastating trailer fire that occurred last fall. This season of the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 has been eventful, to say the least, but it’s not even close to being over yet. Each team has dug deep to overcome adversity on their journey to South Georgia Motorsports Park (SGMP) for the opportunity to race for pride, a kick-ass trophy, and $10,000 during Lights Out 11.

Time To Pick Up The Cars And Go Racing

The original goal was for the teams to square off at No Mercy 10 in October of 2019 to determine the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 champion, but the thermal event that occurred while the vehicles were originally being transported to Georgia killed that plan. After the cars that needed to be repaired were finished, all of the vehicles were again shipped to Summit Racing Equipment’s Atlanta, Georgia retail location and were put on display before the big race at Lights Out 11.

The teams arrived at the same time to inspect their machines inside Summit’s retail store and make sure they were in good working order. Thankfully, this time there were no issues when the vehicles were transported and they all were delivered just as they left Horsepower Wars HQ in Southern California. The first qualifying session was slated for Wednesday, so each team quickly loaded up their car and made the three-hour drive south to SGMP so they could prepare for the race.

Setting The Table For The Shootout

The build process of the $10K Drag Shootout is stressful, and when the teams arrive at the track the intensity of the competition only grows. Each of the cars have a limited amount of run time and haven’t been pushed to determine their true health, save for a handful of quick dyno pulls. With no time to shake the cars down, there’s a high probability of a team having issues, however, they did have access to a small repair budget to address any problems at the track.

Each team’s car would need to meet a specific weight based on the combination they decided to use as outlined in the $10K Drag Shootout rules. Just like any other heads-up race, the teams would have to cross the scales at SGMP to confirm their car was at the correct weight.

  • Team Bigun’s Granada Wagon had to weigh in at 3,350 lbs.
  • The COMP Cams Dream Team Mustang had a 3,478 lbs. minimum weight
  • Team Midwest Mayhem’s Cutlass had a minimum weight of 3,375 lbs.
  • Team Enemies Everywhere won the burrito-eating contest and earned a 25-pound weight break and had to weigh 3,350 lbs. in full race trim.

Each team was limited to using specific spec fuels from VP Racing Fuels; the teams could use either C16 or X85 from VP, however, if they went with X85 they were prohibited from using an intercooler with their turbo system.

The $10K Drag Shootout is set up just like any other race where competitors get a few shots at the track during qualifying to sort out their car. For the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2, there would be a total of five qualifiers on the docket to set the field for eliminations. After qualifying the teams would be paired up on a pro-style ladder, so the number one qualifier would take on number four, while numbers two and three would square off.

Qualifying

Any team that decides to participate in the $10K Drag Shootout must not only possess top-notch mechanical skills, but also be ready to fight through challenges at all times. During the racing portion at Lights Out 11, every team had to deal with some type of mechanical issue that led to major thrashing in the pits.

The only team that was ready to go when racing began at SGMP was Midwest Mayhem. The Junkyard Dog Cutlass was the first to fire during the build portion and was the first on the dyno to make a pull, as well. When qualifying began, Team Midwest Mayhem was the first team in the staging lanes to make a hit — but it wasn’t perfect. The Cutlass’s turbocharged mill experienced a fuel pressure issue that kept it from making a strong pass, but it did light the boards with a 6.112 at 111 mph.

Team Bigun brought the Moonshine Missile up for the first qualifying run but the car was far from ready. Before the first qualifier, the team discovered an ignition issue and had to spend $858 of its budget on an MSD 7AL ignition box and HPC2 coil. The new parts didn’t seem to quite solve the Ford’s ignition gremlins entirely. To make matters worse, Team Bigun also discovered an issue with the Granada’s fuel pump that caused them to miss their first qualifying attempt. This would require surgery to keep the pump alive for the rest of the competition. 

For Team Enemies Everywhere, making the first qualifier just wasn’t in the cards with the Turbo Roo. The team never made a full dyno pull after the car was complete due to a transmission issue (eventually fixed using part of their repair budget), so they had to install the repaired transmission at the track. To compound their issues, the Australian team had to replace two of its team members that weren’t able to make the trip to Lights Out 11.

After the transmission was installed, Team Enemies Everywhere ran into another problem: the Camaro developed a wiring issue that caused it to nose over when the throttle was depressed. To address this roadblock, the team used its remaining repair budget to purchase an MS3 Pro wiring harness and completely rewired the car. As a result of all these troubles, Team Enemies Everywhere missed the first round of qualifying.

Mother Nature stepped in to make things even more interesting for the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 teams at Lights Out 11. The first day of racing was cut short due to rain, and that caused racing to be delayed on the second day before it was ultimately canceled due to the weather. With the weather forecast taking a turn for the worst, promoter Donald Long decided to cut the final day of racing from the event, so that meant the $10K Drag Shootout teams would lose two of their qualifying sessions. That ratcheted the pressure up more for each of the teams and dramatically increased the importance of each run.

The second round of qualifying would prove to be the most dramatic and costly for nearly every team of the $10K Drag Shootout. Team Midwest Mayhem had no experience racing on radials or on a track that was as heavily prepped as SGMP, and that proved to be a major issue. During its second qualifier, Midwest Mayhem failed to make a clean pass, threw the alternator/water pump belt off the engine, and had a head gasket failure, so the Junkyard Dog was only able to record a 8.029 at 119 mph. The team thrashed through the night and used $200 of its repair budget to get the car ready for racing the next day.

If there’s anything that can be taken away from the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 it’s the fact that the COMP Cams Dream Team never gave up, even after the devastating effects of the fire. When the team picked the car up from Summit Racing in Atlanta there was still some work that needed to be done, so the team arrived at the track and dove right in.

All of the work put in by the COMP Cams Dream Team paid off as the car made it to the line for a pass during the second qualifier — but it came at a heavy price. During the pass, a freeze plug pushed out of the cylinder head and watered down the track when the boost hit 30 psi instantly at the hit. That failure caused team driver Keith Berry to slowly roll to a 14.691 at 39 mph. The Mustang also spun the tire on the wheel, causing catastrophic damage. After looking at the wheel and tire the team decided to use its remaining repair budget to replace the wheels with a set of Enemies Everywhere beadlock wheels.

Team Enemies Everywhere was the biggest question mark coming into Lights Out 11, since its Camaro never made a full pull on the dyno due to transmission issues, and the fact that they were chasing issues with wiring as soon as they arrived at the track. That question mark was quickly turned into an exclamation point of joy for the team when driver Jamie Farmer sent the Turbo Roo right down Broadway during the second qualifying session to the number one spot with a 5.596 at 124 mph.

Returning $10K Drag Shootout champions Team Bigun found themselves in a difficult spot coming into the second qualifier. The Moonshine Missile was giving the team fits, plus the strain of running two different cars at the event was beginning to take its toll on the team. Before the second qualifier the Granada didn’t want to start, so Team Bigun had to thrash to get the car started in the staging lanes.

The situation was made worse when COMP Cams Dream Team watered down the track and there was a miscommunication between the track staff, leading to driver Lyle Barnett pulling into the water box and idling the car for an extended amount of time. The team shut the car off when it became too hot, but they weren’t able to get the car restarted and had to push it back. Bigun was ultimately allowed to make a run, however, it didn’t count towards qualifying.

The third session of qualifying provided the same results for Team Midwest Mayhem as it struggled with gaining traction, mustering a 5.903 at 121 mph. Team Enemies Everywhere showed why they went from dark-horse to frontrunner yet again by making a strong pass, a 5.588 at 126 mph. Team Bigun finally made a pass down the track, but it was clear the Moonshine Missile was still suffering from ignition and tuning issues, as the car only recorded a 6.174 at 85 mph.

The second qualifying session put the COMP Cams Dream Team in a significant hole and things were looking pretty grim. To solve the freeze plug situation the team rigged up some washers and a small wrench to keep them in place and prevent any more issues. When driver Keith Berry released the transbrake on the third qualifying run, disaster struck again with the freeze plugs backing out — but this time the cylinder head itself was damaged and dumped a significant amount of water on the track.

Eliminations

The first round of eliminations matched Team Enemies Everywhere against the COMP Cams Dream Team in the first pair. The Australians proved they were the best of the group by making it down the track on every attempt, while the Dream Team had nothing but issues. Since the Dream Team couldn’t find a replacement cylinder head and the integrity of the head on the car was questionable, it had to make a tough choice. The team unplugged the injectors and coils on the damaged cylinders so they could get the car to run and take the tree in the hopes that team Enemies Everywhere would make a mistake. That scenario didn’t happen, and Team Enemies Everywhere took the win and punched its ticket to the final round with a strong 5.69 to the Dream Team’s 10.57.

In the other first-round matchup, Team Midwest Mayhem was hoping to unlock the secret to getting the Junkyard Dog down a radial-prepared track against Team Bigun. To add even more drama, Team Bigun discovered another issue with the transmission in the Moonshine Missile that was causing the transmission fluid to get alarmingly hot. In the end, Bigun outmuscled Team Midwest Mayhem with a 6.03-second run to earn a spot in the final round of the $10K Drag Shootout for the second year in a row.

The final round of Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 displayed exactly what the competition was all about: teams fighting through considerable adversity to prove they built the best machine. Team Enemies Everywhere came to life during the second round of qualifying and showed they were the team to beat coming into the final round. Meanwhile, Team Bigun had been battling an array of issues but appeared to be peaking at the right time and was ready to challenge for the title.

As soon as the final round began there was on-track drama that would set the stage for an epic race. Team Bigun’s transmission issues roared back to life when the Moonshine Missile wouldn’t go into Reverse after Lyle completed his burnout. This also disabled the transbrake, so Lyle would have to footbrake the Granada. Meanwhile, in the other lane, it was business as usual for Team Enemies Everywhere.

When the green light dropped, Farmer cut a .107 light to Lyle’s .115, grabbing a slim .008-second advantage as the rear hatch on the Moonshine Missile flew open. The cars rocketed down the track and were welded together the entire 1/8-mile in a tight race. When the scoreboards lit up it was Team Enemies Everywhere and its turbo combination charging to the win with a 5.721 to a right-there 5.722 from Team Bigun. It was truly an epic finish to the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout 2 that couldn’t have been scripted any better.

The $10K Drag Shootout 2 is made possible with the support of a number of industry giants, including Summit RacingCOMP CamsMickey Thompson Performance Tires & WheelsTCIK&N Filters, MAHLE MotorsportsDyna-BattWeld RacingCorsa PerformanceFragolaHolleyDiabloSport, NOSE3 Spark PlugsTotal SealMoser EngineeringBMR SuspensionMiller ElectricAerospace ComponentsVictor ReinzMorosoUS GearHawk PerformanceLucas OilPRW IndustriesWeld RacingVP RacingProCharger, and ARP.

About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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