Radial-tire racing promoter Donald Long is pushing the genre forward by taking a few calculated steps back.
In the days leading up to the tenth edition of his fall drag radial event, No Mercy, held at the South Georgia Motorsports Park, Long announced the creation of a new eliminator, DXP Street. The intent, as he shared on a misty morning as Tropical Storm Nestor made its way through southern Georgia and paused the racing action, is to deliver an entry-level-esque offering out there in an arena that has become increasingly more costly. And he’s going to achieve that by eschewing many of the technologies that have made radial-tire cars so impressively quick and fast in recent years.
DXP Street is designed for 440 cubic-inch and smaller cast iron or cast aluminum, OEM bore-spacing V8’s with a single 4150 intake and carburetor, non-lock-up automatic transmissions, factory appearing cars, and 275 S/S Mickey Thompson radials. The class will compete heads-up on the 1/8-mile, on a .400 pro tree, with the frontrunners potentially in the 5.0’s, per Long’s best estimates.
“We’ve been thinking for a couple of years now on how to bring people back in that have been left on the side of the road. That’s the whole thing — X275, Ultra Street, all these other classes, Radial versus World, they’re not entry-level deals. What I like about this class is, there are a lot of small-block Chevrolet and Ford cast blocks and cast heads just sitting, and as soon as we announced this, the support was crazy. That’s how many of these 400-inch small-blocks are out there.”
In addition to the relatively strict regulations on engine blocks, heads, and intake, Long and race director Roger Conley have targeted the nitrous plates in specific as their means of maintaining parity and containing costs.
“The reason for the plate deal is that we want to keep it where everybody runs a spec plate, because all these other classes get out of hand. I’ve had a lot of nitrous companies call me already, but here’s the deal: I don’t want anybody going and touching the nitrous plates,” Long says. “They can go and do it, but when they get here, we’re swapping the plates. We’re going to have ten Holley plates sitting here. So they can go test and do whatever they want to, but if they’re number one qualifier, they’re going to have a different plate on it for next round. So people need to understand that if you go and do something that’s not in the rules, they need to be careful, because they won’t be running that plate.”
I’m not going to say everyone can build an engine that’s going to run up front, but you can build something that can run in the top seven or eight cars, no problem, on a working man’s budget.
Might that entice racers to sandbag in qualifying, so as to not draw undesired attention to themselves?
“The way it’s going to be in the rules, it could be after first round. We might have them run first round and then in between have them swap plates. What we’re trying to do is avoid anything being changed on the nitrous plates. I’m not trying to be unfair by picking the Holley 12500 plate — the other companies can use the awesome bottles and valves and trick solenoids they make — we welcome all of that, but we’re going to keep a spec plate. We’re not going to have holes drilled in every direction, different diameter holes. The thing about the 4150 is you can’t just turn it and feed front to back like you can a Dominator, which is a completely square plate,” Long explains.
In order to keep the class and costs in check, Long and Conley opted for a single power-adder — one they felt was not only cost-effective for the racers, but easier to police.
“There’s been a lack of communication with some boosted companies versus the nitrous deal. We want this to be a spec class, to where next week a turbocharger or supercharger doesn’t come out and makes an extra 150 horsepower. And there’s no sense in having naturally-aspirated cars that can run the same number every time when everyone else is having to work on their tune-up. That’s not what we’re looking for. We want everyone running the same thing, and we don’t want anyone backing into the class. We have a lot of classes for that, love all of those guys, but this probably not the class for them — they should probably go to Ultra Street or X275. This class isn’t going to fit everybody, but it’s what we want to do for the average working guy that can come out and have fun with it.”
DXP Street will allow any distributor ignitions, cast main-body carburetors, and readily available intake manifolds — technologies largely left for dead over the years.
“If we allow in fuel injection and coil-on-plug and all of that — what good would it be for me to try building another class that everybody allows things to be run somewhere else? We’re trying to build something for someone who wants to come out and race without spending a lot of money. I’m not saying we’re going back to 3/4 race cams and wrinkle-wall tires, but we are headed back in time a little bit, before we had to have $10,000 worth of fuel injection, and all these injectors. You take a real set of race injectors and you’re talking about some serious money. Lock-up transmissions, you’re looking at $15,000 to $20,000. Everything that you bring out there has to be readily available stuff — we don’t want any one-off deals,” he explains.
There have been so many people call me already and tell me their car has been sitting, they don’t know what to do with it — they’re sick over it, because they can’t run 4.20s in X or 4.50s in Ultra…that’s not what they’re looking for.
“What I like about it is this: let’s say you have an unlimited budget and you build the baddest small-block out there and you make 1,050 horsepower. Another guy can only afford regular stuff and he builds a 950 horsepower motor. Well, the most you’re going to be down off the top guys is 100 horsepower. It’s not like X275 where you roll in there and next thing you know someone has got you by 400 or 500 horsepower. There’s just a lot of things we’re doing to try to keep it in check. We want to make it where everyone can afford the same stuff.”
While affordable is certainly a relative term, what Long has devised wii make it a more fiscally-attainable heads-up eliminator.
“Everybody’s small-block engines that are sitting around their garages just went up in value. All of these small-block Fords and Chevrolets have been selling lately for about $7,000. I see them all over the place — 420-inches, good cylinder heads, they’re no more than $10,000, and we’re talking about state-of-the-art stuff. I’m not going to say everyone can build an engine that’s going to run up front, but you can build something that can run in the top seven or eight cars, no problem, on a working man’s budget.”
DXP Street, Long believes, is an opportunity to reach competitors in the index and bracket categories who see his traditional slate of heads-up categories as beyond their reach. It’s a potential stepping stone for some, and a way to pull in new competitors, as well.
“There are people that come out here and they run 6.0 or they run Open Comp, or who have left their car sitting. There have been so many people call me already and tell me their car has been sitting, they don’t know what to do with it — they’re sick over it, because they can’t run 4.20s in X or 4.50s in Ultra…that’s not what they’re looking for. Now instead of 4.20s, you’ve only go to go 5.20s, that’s something altogether different.”
Based on the initial reception, Long is hopeful, if not staunchly confident, that DXP Street is going to be a hit right out of the gate.
“I’ll be shocked if we don’t have 35 to 40 cars at Lights Out. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t have a full field.”
View the complete DXP Street rules.