RVW SEMI-FINALISTS IN AGREEMENT - After 57 entries made qualifying attempts for Radials vs. The World (RVW) at No Mercy 10 and 32 made it into eliminations, three rounds of racing on Friday whittled the contenders down to four semi-finalists: "Stevie Fast" Jackson, Jamie Hancock, Timmy Meissner and Tim "Underdog" Slavens.

Saturday's scheduled action was washed away by off-and-on rain showers that lasted well into the wee hours of Sunday morning, leaving behind a green race track at South Georgia Motorsports Park.

"It rained so much yesterday, they scraped that thing to bare concrete, so it's really going to be a tuner's challenge up there. It could be stellar or it could be a race where you can go 3.80 and win it," said Jackson, who will face Meissner in a battle of screw blowers. "I'm probably going to go swing at it. I'm not gonna' go out and drag something up there that I think is safe and will be close down there. I want to beat him by five cars."

For Meissner, who has plenty of experience racing Jackson on the Southeast grudge racing scene, this will be the first time he's paired up against the newly crowned NHRA Pro Mod world champion in official eliminations.

"This is actually the first time running with the clocks on for me in five years," Meissner said, adding he has two plans in mind for taking on Jackson. "Go for the gusto or just get down the race track. But we can't really make that call until we watch some cars go down the track. Let's see what the starting line looks like first, because it's a different game, you know, after all the rain last night."

For Hancock and his nitrous-inhaling '68 Firebird, sending the Underdog back to the dog house probably will require a similar tune-up to the 3.66-seconds qualifying effort that placed him third in the field.

"After all that rain it comes down to who makes the best guess out there. But we've got a good bit of data on this car so I'm feeling pretty confident," Hancock said. "I mean, we've got a good hot rod this weekend and she's got a lot left in her."

And though Slavens is a self-described "Underdog," at recent Duck X races he always seems to reach the deep rounds. A win for the Missouri-based racer remains an elusive goal, however.

"We've been doing this long enough now that we feel like we deserve to be right there beside them, but you know, everybody's an underdog in this deal because you just never know--especially today after the rain--you never know what's going to happen with the track," Slavens said. "But we're ready. We're pumped up. Win, lose or draw, we're ready to go."




CHEETO THE CHEETAH - The latest addition to the Duck X Productions team at No Mercy 10 is a Cheeto-eatin' Cheetah mascot that's a hit with kids, fans and racers alike.

"The Cheeto thing started after I pictured some of the Street Outlaws and the No-prep people that don't know anything about drag racing, sitting around in their trailers, eating Cheetos and drinking some Chex Cola straight out of a two-liter bottle," No Mercy promoter Donald "Duck" Long said. "So that's where the whole Cheeto thing originated, just from harassing the Street Outlaws and the No-prep guys. 

In addition to the mascot, populated by Danny Wade, a 17-year-old high schooler who also played the national anthem on the trombone prior to Sunday's action, Duck X has Cheetos socks, shorts and even a Cheeto urinal cake on the grounds. Joining him with Hayes the dog at Jeannette DesJardins' Car Chix apparel trailer were (L-R): Rylie and William Sapp alongside Madison and Jaycee Long.

"We've actually got Cheetos on the event T-shirt now, so everyone can start off harassing those guys," Duck said. "It's kind of took a life of its own. You know, we always throw stuff out there and see what sticks. And that's one of those things where people haven't been able to give it up. So we just thought, let's just have a little fun with it. I mean, let's face it, everybody loves Cheetos."

RIP THEIR HEADS OFF - The last thing anyone in the same class would want to face is a motivated Stevie "Fast" Jackson.

That's what the Radial vs. The World contingent got on Thursday, the final day of qualifications for the No Mercy 10 drag radial event at South Georgia Motorsports Park outside of Valdosta, Ga.

Jackson established himself as the quickest Radial vs. The World car on the property with a 3.605 second elapsed time at 212.43 miles per hour.

"We have a new attitude, and Billy Stocklin back on board, and we have a bad hot rod," Jackson said. "We have been very focused this year. I wouldn't want to be in the other lane."

Case in point, Jackson has been so focused that in two of his three qualifying attempts, he has produced .00 reactions, including a .003 on the pace-setting pass.

"I am always trying to tear down the tree every time I go up there," Jackson admitted. "I want whoever is in the other lane to know when we go up there for E-1, I'm going to tear your head off."

The celebration was real for Jackson, who has been on a tear lately, securing the NHRA Pro Modified championship earlier this week, and winning the NHRA Carolina Nationals Pro Modified title.

"It's surreal the way we are running now," Jackson said. "Racing is very streaky when you are winning; you try to race as much as you can. There are times you feel like you can't lose, but when you are losing, you wonder when it will ever quit.

"We got a great group of guys and a bad hot rod; we are going to open it up on race day."

So real, Jackson even had a freelance guitarist in the pits entertaining the multitude of fans gathered to cheer for the fan-favorite. Belting out tunes like Freebird, Brent Saunders, a bona fide "Stevie Fast" fan, was playing the guitar he built for Jackson aptly called "Shadow Caster."

"He's awesome on that thing," Jackson explained. "He might be sight-impaired, but that's the only thing impaired about him. He's an inspiration to me, and a fan for a long time. I told him if he can teach me to play the guitar like him, I might quit racing."

And, somewhere in the South Georgia Motorsports Pits, the competition was cheering for Saunders to move forward with the lessons.

Because of impending weather, eliminations were moved up to Friday with two rounds of Radial vs. The World on the schedule.

Jeamie Johnson topped the X275 division, running 4.272, 166.66.



BROOKE RICE JOINS RARE RVW CLUB - Placing 44th of 56 entries typically wouldn't generate even passing notice, but when Radials vs. the World qualifying wrapped up Thursday night at South Georgia Motorsports Park, that effort gained Jennifer Brooke Rice entry into an elite group. Her 4.33-seconds pass at 180.81 mph at No Mercy 10, made the 23 year old from Springfield, TN, one of very few women ever to attempt RvW qualifying at a Duck X Productions event.

"This is my first experience with radials, that was my sixth pass," Brooke Rice reveals. She also entered the 6.0 index class, strictly for added testing and experience, but her quest was cut short in the opening round of the RvW second-chance race when her twin-turbocharged '09 Mustang coughed flame off the start and silently rolled the rest of the way down the track.

Still, after starting her career in Jr. Dragsters 13 years ago and graduating at 16 to NMCA door car racing, Brooke Rice says she thoroughly enjoyed her radial racing debut and is already looking forward to more in the future.

"At first it left kind of lazy and then all the power came in right after the 330 (foot mark) and it was just that feeling of throwing you back in the seat and it feels like your eyes almost go to the back of your head. You're just like holding on the best you can, but it felt awesome," she declared. "Earlier we went 4.22 at 190 in 6.0 so my goal now is a 3-second pass and 200 miles an hour. I'm pretty excited."

MAKES YOU CRINGE - The weekend started out perfectly for the race debut of Charles "Tommy" Youmans' beautiful new 1970 GTO at No Mercy 10 in the Pro 275 class. The car performed well in front of fans and photographers who immediately fell in love with the bright orange Judge. The good times ended abruptly, however, hard against the right-side wall of South Georgia Motorsports Park.

Youmans stepped up from 20th to sixth in the third-and-final qualifying session with a 4.17 at 181.91 mph on the SGMP eighth mile, then made it past Nigel Alexander in the opening round of racing. The McIntyre, GA-based driver faced a bye run in round two, which turned out to be fortuitous. 

Lined up on the left side, Youmans launched hard, but almost immediately lost traction and made a hard turn into the right lane shortly past the starting tree. His car slid sideways down the track until its nose made contact with the wall shortly past the 330-foot halfway marker, immediately spinning its driver's side hard into the concrete wall where it quickly ground to a halt.

After a couple of anxious minutes, Youmans emerged uninjured from the wreck, but it took some time for track workers to wrestle the battered Poncho from the wall and carry it back to the pits on a rollback wrecker.

"I'm okay, I don't hurt at all," Youmans confirmed Saturday morning at the start of a rainout for the day's scheduled racing. "I was strapped in tight, had my HANS device on, all the right stuff, didn't even scratch my helmet on the cage."
Yeomans then explained he added more power to his tuneup for the bye run, which may have been his undoing.  
"When the power started ramping in, right at 1.96 seconds, it just broke the tires loose and they just got out from under it real quick," he recalled. "Nobody's fault, just a racing deal, you know? And the car's not hurt bad at all, mostly sheet metal stuff. My chassis builder was actually here, Todd Dobson from Mod Rods out of Macon, Georgia, and the chassis is good, everything's straight."

As a lifelong Pontiac man, Youmans retained stock GTO dimensions as much as possible, not only for originality, but to satisfy as many sanctioning body and track series rules as possible. For instance, Extreme 28 (X28 No Time) rules typically limit wheelbase variations to one- or two-inch variables, but his new ride retains factory stock wheelbase specs. 

"That way there can be no arguments," he reasoned. 

He also purchased steel quarter panels, a steel roof, steel rockers, and steel A pillars from collector car parts supplier Classic Industries. 

"It's all the same stuff you'd be doing if you were restoring your GTO for the street," Youmans said. "It's even got the same stock headlight bezels and stock headlight buckets, stock headlights, stock taillights, and all of them work! I mean, we wanted to try to stay as true to the GTO as we possibly could. The car is heavy."

And though the roof may appear chopped, Youmans insists only the windshield was raked, necessitating a slight, half-inch lowering of the roof at its most forward point. "I wanted a clean look, you know? I wanted everything on the engine to be under the hood. So we had to build the hood up and that raised up the center and kind of gives the optical illusion that the top's been chopped. But it hasn't."

That dedication to stock doesn't quite extend to what resides under that elevated hood, though Youmans did turn to Pontiac engine specialists Kauffman Racing Equipment in Glenmont, OH, to build a billet block 505 with cast aluminum heads and boosted by twin 98-millimeter Garrett Turbos from Forced Induction.

"The guys at Kauffman, they're not assemblers; they're designers; they're builders. The heads that are on there are from their own design, the block is their block that they CNC machined," Youmans stressed. "And this is the first turbo motor that they've built of this caliber."

Backing up the Kauffman package is a Mark Micke two-speed Turbo 400 transmission leading to an 11-inch Mark Williams rearend with Menscer shocks on all four corners. Mark Bunton of MJB Performance handled all the wiring and a FuelTech FT600 manages engine control and monitoring.

"We took it to FuelTech and put it on their dyno and it made 33-hundred and 55 horsepower," Youmans revealed. "And that was on low boost, you know? I was at 50 pounds of boost and the FuelTech guys said they see no problem going up as high as 70 pounds."

That may be bad news for Youmans' opponents once repairs are made, which could be as soon as early December for the annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals in Bradenton, FL. Regardless of when the Goat returns, though, it's certain Youmans will enjoy the ride in its purest sense. 

"My first car was a Pontiac, you know, and if it's in your blood, it's in your blood. And I'm not one of these guys that wants to crossbreed and put a Chevrolet motor in there," he said. "I want to stay traditional Pontiac and you know, from the reaction here I think it's the right choice."

RVW REACHING FOR THE SKIES - The cars of (top to bottom) Jeff Miller, Norm Bryson and Mark Woodruff all hiked the front end shortly after launching into the opening round of Radials vs. the World eliminations.

"It stood up first and kind of set itself back down, but when it did all of a sudden it threw all the timing to it and it couldn't take it. It just rotated and went up again and there was nothing I could do," Miller explained of his late-model Camaro, nicknamed "Bumblebee."

Unfortunately, the landing for Bryson damaged the front clip on his brand-new C7 Corvette after qualifying 26th in the 32-car field in its RVW debut. Meanwhile, Woodruff's also new Vette still managed to advance after the 2017 Mustang of Ronnie Hobbs was unable to make the call to stage. 



STICKY SITUATION - A crewman on Jennifer Brooke Rice's RVW entry attempts to retrieve his shoes after they were pulled off his feet by the sticky SGMP surface.

HANCOCK LEADS EARLY - For almost a calendar year, iconic drag radial promoter Donald Long has been extolling the virtues of the nitrous-injected Radial vs. The World entries.

Jamie Hancock gave Long plenty of ammunition for his tirades, as the Columbus, Ga.-based racer drove his Pontiac Firebird to the Radial vs. The World provisional No. 1, stopping the eighth-mile timers 3.662 seconds, 193.23 miles per hour.

"This feels awesome because we've been struggling with the car," Hancock explained. "We've changed a lot of stuff, so we are very happy with this."

Hancock was the quickest of three nitrous entries with paced the 32-car field after two sessions. Mike Stavrinos (3.674), Jack Greene (3.689) slipped into second and third spots, respectively.

Despite the fact Long has been bragging on the nitrous entries, Hancock said there was no pressure outside of the standard self-induced motivation to race his way to No. 1.

"It was really gratifying to get this top spot early, especially with what has happened to my dad," Hancock admitted.

The elder Hancock, James Hancock, broke his leg following his son's incredible 3.61 run during the Shakedown Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.

James was on the starting lane with the use of a mobility scooter helping son on Wednesday.

"He got excited and fell off of the ATV," Hancock revealed. "It was pretty bad."

"But, to start off this way, it's a good start for us."

Manny Buginga paced the X-275 division, running a 4.317 in the Q-2 session, to end the day as the leader.

POPS ON THE MEND - James Hancock III was looking relaxed and comfortable at No Mercy 10 while recuperating in the trailer of son Jamie Hancock's Radials vs. the World entry. The elder Hancock fell from a four wheeler while speeding to the top end of Virginia Motorsports Park to retrieve his son's nitrous-huffing '68 Firebird after a number-one qualifying pass last month for the Shakedown Nationals. 

Hancock severely fractured his right tibia and shattered his right knee in the fall, requiring surgery and several months of recovery on crutches. He was told to look forward to a complete recovery, though, and James expects to soon be back calling the shots on the 'Bird's tune-up.

At No Mercy 10, Jamie Hancock qualified third in Radials vs. the World with a 3.66 shot at 193.29 mph, and on Friday advanced to the semi-finals after preliminary wins over Enzo Pecchini, Mark Woodruff and Mark Micke. He will face Tim Slavens in the semis, which probably will be held on Sunday, as heavy storms are expected to wash away Saturday's scheduled on-track action.