A KID WITH A DREAM, SCOTT DUGGINS BECAME A MAN WITH CHAMPIONSHIPS
Scott Duggins had no idea what his purpose in life was in 1977. All the 10-year old understood was that a trip to Bristol Dragway, then Thunder Valley, with his parents Butch and JoAnne, was going to be the time of his life.
Three years later, when his dad strapped him into the driver's seat of the family's six-second Chevrolet Vega, with drag racer Quain Stott in the passenger seat, then he knew.
"I went like 6.90 [eighth-mile], and I knew at that point that's all I was going to do," Duggins admitted.
Saturday Night at the Spartanburg Dragway Reunion held at the Beacon Drive-in Restaurant in South Carolina; event promoters honored Duggins for his accomplishments while racing in the old IHRA.
The pre-teen who helped with the family's car, and used to emulate a fuel Funny Car by stirring up dust with his shoes on the dirt road at the old Spartanburg Dragway went on to become a four-time world champion. Duggins transitioned from a competitor (though he still races from time to time) into a successful engine builder in the fast sportsman drag racing world.
"I was ordering some engine parts the other day, and I mentioned I was from Spartanburg, and the guy on the other end of the phone said, 'You're down there where Bobby Bennett is from," Duggins said with a laugh, at the irony of the situation. "I said yeah, we were all those kids running around Spartanburg Dragway who were just itching to do something big in the sport.
Drag racing was just what Duggins and his family would do every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They'd race at Shadyside Dragway in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, on Fridays and Sundays, depending on the time of year. Still, every Saturday was Spartanburg, located on Old Canaan Road in the Roebuck community.
The second-generation driver immersed himself in the mechanics and operation of the car, becoming as close as to crew chief as a 13-year old could.
"When they finally thought I was old enough to get in the car and I made one lap, I knew then I was going to drive a race car."
Driving a race car seemed natural for the second-generation drag racer at first, and as Duggins admits with a smile, winning didn't.
"I went to the whole first year, once I got my car, and won only two rounds, and both of those times was by default," Duggins admitted. "The other racers red-lighted"
The passion for racing eventually made Duggins better, and the wins followed.
The winning instinct was likely born and bred in him away from the track when he and longtime friend Roger Hill used to ride motorcycles.
"I was always the one that jumped the furthest or who would hit the path going the fastest. I was always the ones where we rode bicycles that would jump the big ramp or jump the big ditch. Even to this day, if I ride somebody else's motorcycle, I keep on getting faster and faster. Everything I've ever driven. I always kept on getting faster and faster and faster and faster. You can't get enough of it, you know?"
The motorcycles led to tinkering, which eventually led to a reputation as a top-notch engine builder with his PAR Race Engines brand.
"Back before and you could Google something and figure out how to fix it, you fixed it by getting the Chilton manual," Duggins explained. "That's kind of probably what's made me successful in doing the engine stuff. "
Duggins had a strong run of success winning consecutive IHRA Quick Rod championships in 1993, 1994, and 1995. He added a fourth in 2000. Twenty years after his last championship, Duggins remains the winningest driver in the division.
Duggins looks back on his glory days as if at 52 years old, one can have glory days and cherishes the memories.
"It's all been good," Duggins said. "I still run some Top Sportsman on the PDRA circuit and going faster now than I ever have my whole life. But I look at things a whole lot in different; I'm testing stuff now to where I used to be more about winning everything than testing.
"I still try to win, but it's just different. If something needs testing, I'm going to test it before I sell it. If you do something you love and you're fortunate enough to be able to do it for a living, that's winning."
And sometimes, finding your purpose in life is the most significant victory of all.
With the Spartanburg Dragway Reunion planned for Saturday Night at the Beacon, https://t.co/Reh86n8GFm founder and publisher Bobby Bennett wrote in 2009 about losing his first true love - Spartanburg Dragway - #DragRacingNews - https://t.co/6VanRrKhFj pic.twitter.com/WFetoIOX1d— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 10, 2020