At first glance, the 1978 Malibu Mark Micke drives isn’t overly intimidating. Those who know this car and driver understand fully that looks can be deceiving.
Jason Carter owns the Radial vs. The World Car and Micke drives it.
Earlier this year, Micke drove the boxy looking vehicle to the victory at the most prestigious event in Drag Radial competition by winning the $101,000-to-win Sweet Sixteen developed and promoted by Donald “Duck” Long, the Pied Piper of small tire racing. Micke stopped the timers with an outstanding 3.62-second pass at 214.79 mph that lowered the previous elapsed time record by nearly a full tenth.
As Micke sees it, the team didn’t get all worked up over the victory, instead, they just took it in stride.
“Here’s my deal, I expect to do good,” Micke said. “So we come out and we did all that at Sweet 16, you know that was awesome and it was a lifetime achievement for us, but we expect to do that. We weren’t just overly crazy excited and high fiving crazy because that’s what we expect to do. We expect to come out and the car haul ass like that. It is nice.
“After we won that race, I mean I got so many calls from so many people that I didn’t even know, and NHRA guys. Just, we got a lot of notoriety out of it. We just take a lot of pride in that from the respect from the other racers.”
Micke said that’s not being cocky, it’s confidence. Just weeks earlier, Micke drove his way to victory at the U.S. Street Nationals in Bradenton, Fla.
So much for flying under the radar.
“For the past year or so, we were kind of struggling and getting our legs under us,” Micke explained.
Anyone who does their research knows there’s no flying under the radar with a team which has won NMCA and ADRL championships.
“The last year or so we’ve struggled with some new products on the car,” Micke admitted. “This is our R&D car for our transmission and converters, so we were doing a lot of testing and getting a lot of stuff figured out. Over the winter, a bunch of stuff clicked. We came out in Bradenton and the car was bad fast. We just kind of knew when we rolled into Sweet 16, we really felt we had a badass hot rod and I don’t think people were expecting what we could do. They know now.”
The genesis of this car can be traced to Carter’s high school years before it was converted to strip-use in 1999. When it hit the strip it was regarded as one of the first twin-turbo small tire cars. One year later it took home top honors at Orlando Speed World Dragway’s prestigious World Street Nationals.
“This car’s been around forever,” Micke said. “It’s one of the OG small tire cars.”
OG, an original gangster, Micke says, the name fits the reputation.
“You take a car like this and you can come out and it’s old, it’s been around forever, but we’re able to keep it updated and run with the Pro Mods or latest, greatest, state of the art stuff,” Micke said. “The drag radial stuff is just in our blood. It’s a different type of racing. We’re around all kinds of racing every day and I love it all, but for me, the camaraderie, the friendships we have over here, just coming over here the whole outlaw feel, a little bit.
“Like over here we’ve got some rules for weight and stuff, but if you can dream it up, you can do it on these cars and there’s nobody telling you that you can’t do it. And that’s what I love. I love to be able to just cut loose and just make as much horsepower as we can and put it to the ground and just figure ways to keep it all in one piece. It’s just a passion over here.”
Not bad for a car originally used to make food runs to the local Taco Bell.