With go-go boots, back up girls and dragsters straight out of the past, the pit lane drag strip gave fans a glimpse of the past during Nostalgia Night presented by Harbin’s Mechanical Services at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The Southeast Gassers Association brought 22 vintage dragsters, including the “Dixie Twister” and “Georgia Shaker”, that dazzled the crowd with huge burnouts, wheelie stands and a deafening roar as they battled nose to nose down the strip.
“Everything on those cars has to be from the 1960’s – 4 speeds, straight axles, all that,” said David Harbin, of Harbin’s Mechanical Services. “A really cool thing about the gassers is that it has kind of brought the older baby boomers back into drag racing and the younger kids who enjoy the older cars. It’s a neat thing to see.”
The exhibition with the Southeast Gassers featured two rounds of 11 match ups pitting some of the fastest vintage dragsters in the southeast. Without new-fangled contraptions seen on modern cars, drivers relied on back-up girls to ensure they were staged correctly.
Two of the fastest cars among the Gassers saw the “Southern Flyer”, a Ford Falcon piloted by Gabriel Burrell of Green Creek, SC, against “White Trash”, a Ford Angelina driven by Donovan Stott of Columbus, NC. The drivers split their matchups with the “Southern Flyer” getting revenge in the second race.
“It was a good little bit of sweet redemption there because he got me the first time,” said Burrell following the second race. “The car finally did better in that last pass and we got us a win. I had a good light and a little extra horsepower too.”
Rocky Platt and his cousin Allan Platt took the pair of famous Georgia dragsters – “Dixie Twister” and “Georgia Shaker” to the limit in their pair of heated match races.
“Our dads are so well known,” said Rocky Platt, “that’s what makes it. It’s about my dad and my uncle, not about Allan and myself. It’s why we do what we do.”
The pair wowed the crowd with each posting a win. The “Dixie Twister” snagged the win in the first race while the “Georgia Shaker” rattled the ground and earned the win in the second race.
“It was fun being in front of the home crowd,” said Platt following the night of racing action.
Other notable matchups among the Southeast Gassers included Troy Lightener and “Shakin’ Bacon” against the “Bounty Hunter” piloted by Ernie Smith, along with Todd Napier and the “Atomic Hillbilly” against Todd Blackwell behind the wheel of the “Sling Shot”.
“Having my name attached to this night is all I’ve wanted this year,” said Harbin. “My wife and I went to a national drag racing event and there were gassers there and we just fell in love with the gassers. I met a few of the guys, got the opportunity, and have been sponsoring them for a few years now. They’ve been really good to me and have been great to Harbin’s Mechanical Services.”
The Southeast Gassers Association exhibition runs gave way to the series regulars of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags as they battled for points at the half way point of the season.
In the extremely competitive QuikTrip Pro Division, eliminations began in the first round. David Clevenger of Milner, behind the wheel of Doug Ragan’s 1993 white Corvette, skated through the competition in the first two rounds.
He earned the final round win after Jim Jones and his Blue Cuda experienced issues in the final round.
“We had a great night with great competition and had a blast,” said Clevenger following his final round pass. “New engine and I’ve probably only driven the car a handful of times and still trying to learn it. Every car feels different when you let go of the button.”
The victory by Clevenger and the Firebird moves them into a tie for the top spot in the division with the 1969 Chevrolet Nova piloted by Kevin Mayo of McDonough.
Other notable winners included Mike Moore of Peachtree City and his 2017 COPO Camaro defeating the 1973 VW Bug of Rodney Bunn of Griffin in the Harbin’s Mechanical Services Street Outlaw division. Richard Cocoran of Locust Grove, behind the wheel of his 1986 Ford Mustsang, knocked off Ron Pilgrome of Hampton who was making his first appearance in his 1993 Ford Mustang this season in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman division.
Below is a list of the July 13 race winners:
Super Pro: Alan Kidd (Locust Grove); 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
QuikTrip Pro: David Clevenger (Milner); 1993 Firebird
Harbin’s Mechanical Services Street Outlaw: Mike Moore (Peachtree City); 2017 COPO Camaro
Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman: Richard Corcoran (Locust Grove); 1986 Ford Mustang
New Edge: James Walker (Fayetteville); 2016 Dodge Challenger
Street Performer: Brandon Sampler (Griffin); 1995 Chevrolet S10
Harding Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Domestic: Donnie Henderson (Hampton); 1980 Chevrolet Malibu
Diamond Resorts Factory Street: Chris Moon (Douglasville); 2014 Ford Mustang
Starfire Automatic Gates Truck: Ed Blanford (McDonough); 1968 Ford F100
Tuner: Steven Mallet (Marietta); 2004 Subaru WRX
Sport Compact: Tyler Hatchett (Griffin); 1991 Honda CRX
Super Bike: Robin Malcolm (Lithonia); 2003 Busa
Sport Bike: Bryan Berube (Stockbridge); 2013 Suzuki Hayabusa
ATV: Wayne Cline (Griffin); Yamaha Banshee
Jr. Dragsters: Gracie Haralson (Hampton); 2005 Mov. Tub Jr.
Peach Pass Burnout Zone: Keith Shockey (Fayetteville); 2015 Dodge Challenger
The Show-N-Shine competition featured everything from new imports to classic muscle cars and automobiles ranging as far back as the 1930s. Those vehicles then took part in the Speedway Cruise following judging.
Classic Custom (Through 1972)
First Place: Stith Short (Hampton), 1955 Chevy 210
Second Place: Ken Moore (Griffin), 36 Plymouth Sedan
Third Place: Robert Mclendon (Locust Grove), 65 satellite
Showroom Modern (1973 through 1999)
First Place: Chris Gallagher (Fayetteville), 1998 Pontiac Trans Am
Second Place: Tim Stephens (Thomaston), 1986 Chevrolet Corvette
Modern Custom (1973 through 1999)
First Place: Chandler Hatchett (Griffin), 97 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra
Second Place: Laney Hatchett (Griffin), 1999 Chevy Camaro
Third Place: Zachary Miller (Jackson), 1997 VW Golf GTI Vr6
Current (2000 through current)
First Place: Daniel Wilder (Covington), 2010 Chevy Camaro
Second Place: Ernest Strozie (Rex), 2016 Mustang Shelby
Third Place: Daniel Scott (Tyrone), 2007 Ford Mustang GT
First Place: James L Smith (Milledgeville), 1990 Chevy 350ss
Second Place: Hunter Welch (Jackson), 2010 GMC Sierra
Third Place: Tanner Miller, 1979 Ford Bronco
First Place: V.Ed Eichelberger (Lyman, SC), 1968 Camaro
Second Place: Jonathan Smoll (Griffin), 1979 Honda cb 400
Third Place: Andy Sarrat (Social Circle), 1931 Ford Rat Rod
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine returns to the pit lane drag strip next Friday, July 20th. It’s also power wheels races for the kids on the drag strip following the Show-N-Shine track cruise prior to Drag Racing Eliminations. Grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m., and nightly drag race eliminations start just after 9:00 p.m.
Entry to drag race or for the Show-N-Shine is just $20 or competitors can purchase a combo ticket for $30. Spectator tickets are just $10, and children 5 and under are free. More information can be found at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags or by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211.