By Ian Tocher Wed, 2018-10-24 22:52
The South East Gassers Association (SEGA) brought its traveling road show of period-correct drag racing to Carolina Dragway Oct. 20, but a lengthy track-drying effort after occasionally heavy rain showers eventually ran out the clock in the face of a midnight curfew. With the semi-finals about to begin for all three SEGA classes, a decision was reached to finish the race Nov. 3, within regularly scheduled qualifying for the series’ season-ending Showdown at Shadyside in Shelby, NC.
“I hate to leave a track without giving the fans their winners, but there’s just no way we’re gonna’ get it done in time,” SEGA owner and promoter Quain Stott lamented in the pits shortly after Barry Lynn crashed and wound up on his lid about 11:30 p.m. in the final pair of A/Gas quarter finalists.
“Thankfully, Barry is okay, but by the time we get his car off the track and everything cleaned up it would already be past curfew. I mean, we probably could push it a few minutes, but that would just take too long.”
So, heading to Shadyside Dragway as semi-finalists from the “House of Hook” will be Shannon Smith, Alan Gaulden and Kenneth Phillips in A/Gas; Todd Blackwell vs. Tim Bailey and Danny Byrd vs. Doug Dobbins in B/Gas; and again with only three semi-finalists due to bye runs created by an odd number of racers on the original ladder: Josh Pruitt, Leslie Horne and Larry Noel in C/Gas.
With a save that would make Marc Andre Fleury proud, former SEGA A/Gas champion Donovan Stott narrowly kept his “White Trash” Anglia off the wall at Carolina Dragway. While racing Doug Oden in the opening round of eliminations, Stott got loose approaching halftrack and appeared well on his way to a certain collision with the right guardwall when at the last millisecond he wrestled the car around and hit the gas. With its rear tires spraying dirt from the grassy strip that lines both sides of the old-school eighth mile, only the wheelie bars made brief contact with the vertical concrete before Stott brought the car to a stop sideways across his lane. After that he slowly pulled away, opened his car door and waved to a highly appreciative crowd lining the top end of the track. “I got lucky,” an overly humble Stott said afterward. “That was 90-percent luck, 10-percent talent.”
Shannon Smith of Landrum, SC, put his Pale Rider ’55 Chevy on top of the 17-car A/Gas qualifying list, then made a first-round bye run before defeating Robert Frazier and Barry Lynn, who crashed in the quarter-finals. Smith will be going after his fourth-straight SEGA victory when the Carolina race resumes with its semi-finals Nov. 3, at Shadyside Dragway.
Rejoining the South East Gassers after surviving and recovering from a devastating antique motorcycle racing crash early this year was Josh Owens from the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” reality TV show. Owens, qualified his unique Ford-powered, four-door “Sour Mash” Chevy ninth in A/Gas, but fell to Robert Frazier and his “Black & Blue” ’66 Barracuda in round one of racing.
Despite breaking his right foot in a trip while running a couple of weeks earlier, Tony Turner of Cumming, GA, was at Carolina Dragway Oct. 20, signing autographs prior to climbing into “Quick and Dirty,” his Hemi-powered ’39 Dodge. Turner qualified an admirable 11th in the 17-car A/Gas field, but lost in round one to Ken Phillips in the “Silver Streak” Corvette. “It hurt a little more than I expected,” Turner admitted later. “But yeah, I’d do it again. It wasn’t that bad.”
Just one run after making a career-best pass in round two of A/G racing, Barry Lynn crashed his “Lil’ Red Wagon” Oct. 20, at Carolina Dragway. “It just sort of got a little loose and hindsight now says I probably tried to drive it a little too long, I guess,” the Greer, SC-based racer said. “I kept chasing it, but right at the end it come around one last time and I knew, alright we’re done now, and it was just time to hang on.”
The car struck the left guardwall nearly head on about the eighth-mile finish line and immediately turned over on its roof and quickly slid to a stop.
“I had the clutch in and the car was still running when it stopped, so I had to reach up and shut it off – or reach closer toward the ground, however you want to look at it. After that I just made sure I still had all my parts and got out pretty quick.”
Todd Blackwell qualified his “Sling Shot” Nova atop a 14-car B/Gas field at Carolina Dragway. After preceding a bye run with a win over Gary Smith in the “Chicken Bones” Henry J, Blackwell will face Tim Bailey’s “Alley Cat II” Corvette in the semis when the race resumes Nov. 3, during SEGA’s Showdown at Shadyside.
The “Atomic Hillbilly,” Todd Napier of Oliver Springs, TN, qualified eighth in B/Gas and won over seventh-place starter Dean Harris and his “Gray Ghost” Chevy II in round one of racing, but fell to Danny Byrd and his “Junkyard Dog” Nova in round two.
After number-two qualifier Leslie Horne set a new C/Gas elapsed-time record in Round 2 of eliminations, SEGA officials tore down the 292 c.i. engine in his Nova Wagon Saturday night at Carolina Dragway. With several competitors looking on, the “Stud Muffin” was checked for correct displacement and the presence of any illegal enhancements and passed all tests with flying colors. Horne remains one of three C/G competitors still in the hunt for the Carolina victory when the race resumes Nov. 3, at Carolina Dragway.
“Young Blood” Josh Pruitt of Inman, SC, took the top spot in C/Gas qualifying at the “House of Hook,” then defeated Justin Moses in round one, made a bye run in round two, and beat Todd Oden in eliminations. He remains among the semi-finalists who will determine a race winner when eliminations resume Nov. 3, at historic Shadyside Dragway.
Hailing from just down the road in Aiken, SC, current C/Gas points leader Larry Noel was surrounded by family and friends from all across the country at Carolina Dragway, including his daughter in a surprise visit from her U.S. Coast Guard station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Noel and his “Crazy Horse” Tri-Five rewarded their presence with a third-place start and reached the semi-finals before running up against the track’s midnight curfew.