STEVIE "JACKSON" SAYS GOODBYE TO THE SHADOW
Stevie "Fast" Jackson knew the unwritten rule and still defied it.
A drag racer is not supposed to get attached to a race car because it can lead to heartbreak.
Jackson, the two-time NHRA Pro Modified champion, iconic drag radial racer, and outspoken doorslammer racer, watched his Shadow 2.0 leave his Georgia-based shop with its new unnamed owner. Shortly afterward, he went over in the corner and shed a tear or five.
So why get rid of a car with such an emotional bond?
"That's the one question I don't want to answer," Jackson admitted. "The main reason is I think it's time to do something different. The Shadow was built as a versatile car that could run Pro Modified and run Radial vs. The World. I think when you build a car that's extremely versatile like that, that's pretty good at everything; you leave some specialized areas undiscovered.
"I think you can have an elite Radial vs. The World car or an elite big tire Pro Mod, but I don't know that you can have an elite both. So with small tire racing, fewer and fewer races, it just doesn't justify the financial sense of having that thing sit here to run a couple of races a year."
The Shadow 2.0 pulled Jackson's feet out of the fire more than once, most notably at the 2019 NHRA U.S. Nationals. Jackson had crashed his primary Pro Modified car weeks before the marquee event, and with some adjustments to the Rick Jones-built race car, he was able to put big tires on the Camaro and win the prestigious event. The Shadow 2.0, in its last race, won Duck X Productions' Sweet 16 event back in April.
"I feel like I'm kicking myself in the balls," Jackson admitted. "I mean, me and Phil Shuler went round and round and round on this for a long time. And at the end of the day, I don't think either one of us are happy about it, but I think it's one of those things that's tough but it was the right thing to do right now. With a limited amount of places that that thing can run on radials."
Jackson's Strange Engineering-sponsored Shadow was a trend-setter and was one of the first Pro Modified-style race cars built to compete in Donald Long's Radial vs. The World class as well as high dollar grudge races.
"We were getting a lot of grudge races for a whole bunch of money, I mean hundreds of thousands of dollars with the grudge races," Jackson explained. "Now we've grudge raced it once or twice this year, and then like once or twice the year before."
When a car has a reputation like the Shadow, finding work can be a challenging proposition.
"I don't blame them. I mean, I don't think it's ever lost a grudge race, so I don't blame them at all," Jackson said. "At the same time, it's a big financial asset to have sitting over there in the corner. It kills me to sell it. I mean, I'll be straight up with you. I cried yesterday and I cried again today about it. I'm not ashamed to say that."
Unlike its predecessor, the original Shadow, a fox-bodied Mustang, which crashed on its final run, the Shadow had some skirmishes with the wall and even went airborne once but never had an all-out crash.
"We've never flipped it, but it has flown through the air," Jackson explained. "It has wheelstood. It has done more than what you would want to do with a Pro Modified racing car. It slung the driveshaft out and almost killed me. And on the other side of the spectrum, it's set nearly every record that there is in door car racing."
A little-known fact about the Shadow 2.0 is that it was originally built for Clint Hairston and was going to be a turbocharged car.
"We made it a blower car and went out there and started crushing folks," Jackson said with a smile.
Jackson understands today will not be the last time he will see his Shadow 2.0. He said there's a strong likelihood he'll line up against one of his all-time favorite race cars.
"I don't know that I'll be able to stage against it," Jackson admitted. "I think if we come back up against this thing, I think it'll just ... I'll just let it win. I don't know if I can do it. I mean, man, it's emotional. I don't take this stuff lightly. I believe cars have souls, and man this thing, as I watched it go, it's like, 'where am I going? Why am I stripped? Why are you letting me leave?"
"At the same time as a motorsports professional, you got to kind of see where the market's going and anticipate changes and make decisions based on that. This is one of those really, really well thought out, tough decisions that I need to make going forward."