In early spring 2010, the inaugural Lights Out race gave little hint of the juggernaut it would spawn for Duck X Productions (DXP) at South Georgia Motorsports Park. Late that same year, promoter Donald “Duck” Long staged No Mercy at the same track, which hosted Lights Out 10 this February and Oct. 17-20, presents the 10th annual No Mercy.
Created by Long largely in response to what he felt was shabby treatment of his drag radial friends at Orlando’s legendary World Street Nationals –“They parked us out in the weeds!”–both of those early efforts drew nowhere near the attention or attendance that Lights Out and No Mercy now command. They were encouraging enough, though, for Long to stick with the concept and two years ago add a third race, the unique Sweet 16, which awards $101,000 to the premier Radials vs. the World winner.
A product of his own desires, Radials vs. the World originally pitted drag radial-shod entries against slick-tired machines, but year after year, record-setting runs eventually turned the class into a cutthroat, no-holds-barred, radials-only affair on the South Georgia eighth mile. Stunning three-second performances, almost predictably interrupted by wild, airborne crashes from the predominantly no-wheelie-bars RvW crowd, became the norm and effectively turned Long and several of his radial racing cronies into modern-day drag racing legends.
Never content, however, Long recently announced a new class on the opposite end of the performance spectrum. Riding on street-legal Mickey Thompson SS 275 radial tires, DXP Street is scheduled to debut Feb. 13-16, next year during Lights Out 11.
“The idea is to get the people that are sitting there with cars who have given up because of how extreme everything has gotten and how the rules always loosen up on all these top classes. It’s gotten out of hand,” Long admits.
“So I’m not really so much trying to steal cars from other classes as I’m trying to get people who are sitting there with cars in their garage, that you know, have given up on trying to compete with X275 or even Ultra Street.”
DXP Street engines will be limited to cast small blocks and cast heads, but Long is quick to add they can be made of cast aluminum. “We just don’t want any billet aluminum blocks or billet heads in this class,” he says.
“Whether it’s a small-block Ford or a Chevy LS deal or whatever, all they’ve gotta’ do is buy a spec Holley nitrous plate and it cannot be modified–period,” Long states. “You can’t do anything to the threads, to the tubes, can’t do anything to the holes in the plate.
“It’s a 16-hole plate, so the most they can flow will be about a 250 (horsepower) shot. So no foggers, no ProChargers, no turbos allowed. But the plate cannot be touched or modified in any way. And we’re going to have something like 10 additional plates there with us so if we feel like something’s not right when you come through tech, you’ll have to change out the plate.”
Long also stresses “it has to be a 4150 carburetor, too; it can’t be a Dominator. What it all means is that they’re probably gonna’ have to build a 900-horsepower NA (naturally aspirated) motor and then put the extra 200- or 250-horsepower (nitrous) shot on it. So, you know, these cars are going to be fast.”
He suggests the primary benefit of this basic rules package will be the equalizing effect they deliver on a budget.
“Let’s say you build the baddest engine possible and you make 900 (hp) okay? Then, let’s say you have another guy that doesn’t have quite that much money and he’s making maybe 800 and something horsepower. So bottom line, at the end of the day, somebody might be down 75 or a hundred horsepower, but they’re not going to be down 675 horsepower,” Long says. “And that’s the difference. Because if there’s some people that got you by 75 horsepower, that’s not an insurmountable mountain to climb. A good light can take care of that.”
He explains another key rule for the new class is entries must adhere to factory appearance, though fiberglass body panels will be allowed so long as they maintain the car’s original lines. “There’s no long, stretched-out frontend allowed–and no pecker extender, either,” he states of the long, low vertical panel often attached front and center on entries in order to ensure timing beams are tripped as soon as possible on each pass.
Additionally, no writing or decals will be permitted on the painted flanks of an entry. “So no, you can’t put a sponsor name down the side of it, nothing on the body panels. Now, I don’t care what they put on the windows or even on the decklids or whatever, but on the actual body, I want it to look just like it would if it was going down the road. So if it’s a Fox-body Mustang or a Camaro or whatever, that’s what it needs to look like,” he insists.
“There’s actually quite a few Corvettes out there, too, you know the ’80s and ’90s, early-2000s that would fit into this real good. And then you’ve got the old-school stuff, the Novas and the Chevelles and the ’65 Mustangs; there’s a whole bunch of different cars that’ll work.”
Long understands, however, that the greatest rules package in history will be rendered irrelevant without consistent and accurate enforcement. So just as he did at Lights Out this year and will again next weekend for No Mercy 10, Long will rely on a veteran tech inspection squad led by NMCA/NMRA national tech director Roger Conley and including X275 founder John Sears, along with PDRA and NMCA veterans Lonnie Grim and Lonnie Peplau.
“We’ll be pumping the motors in that class to check displacement and then we’re gonna’ make them pull off the carburetor when they come through tech because we gotta’ check the plate. Then once we seal the plate back on, if they gotta’ take it off for some reason, they’ll have to come and get one of our tech guys,” Long says, “because the only way to keep this class legit is to do that.
“You know, to be honest I hate getting into all that stuff, but I have to do it and look out for the racers’ best interests. If I’m going to make them go buy this plate and do all these exact things, then it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t have a pretty strict tech procedure.”
Still, DXP Street remains a work in progress as Long continues to develop and establish a comprehensive rules package in time for cars already being built for Lights Out 11, just four months away.
“I had so many calls over this class in the three days after it was announced or I wouldn’t even be putting the rules together right now. I’d wait until after No Mercy is over, but there’s so many people wanting to order stuff for this class because they said it’s going to be the first Duck X race that they can finally come out and not feel out done by a thousand horsepower,” he says.
“And I think there’s a bunch of cars out there, a bunch of people, family members that will come out and have a great time with this class because they won’t have to burn it up every time that they go out there. They can come up and race the thing and have a good time and if you keep it to where you can’t put five-, six-, seven-hundred or a thousand horsepower of nitrous on it, then there’s going to be less chance of, you know, really destroying stuff.”
Long says he doesn’t like using words like “grassroots racing” to describe the new class, but he does view it as a throwback to simpler times.
“We get so wrapped up in Radial vs. the World and X275 and when I look back it’s like, let’s not forget where we came from. We have to remember the people that we were looking out for when we started this deal and that was the radial tire people parked out in the weeds back then.
“I want to give people a place to race where I’m not gonna’ say everybody can afford it, but that most anybody with a car could put together a small block and assemble a single spray bar, 16-hole nitrous plate, and a 4150 carburetor and they’re going to be able to go out there and have a good time. And if we get 40 DXP Street cars at Lights Out and they’re all running within a 10th or half a 10th of each other, I think that everybody’s going to want to be involved in that,” he says.
“I guess my whole thing is I just want to come out and put some fun back into the average working man’s car. We definitely want people, fans, to go out there and be able to relate to these cars. I mean, a lot of people have an ’85 Mustang or an old Camaro at home, a lot of them probably just sitting around. I think with all the excitement of these crazy fast radial tire races that we’ve left some people behind and it’s time to bring them back.”