Lightning-rod drag radial racing promoter Donald Long has assembled the best of the best in Radial versus The World and Pro 275 class racing for a one-off affair at the Orlando Speed World Dragway later this month, featuring lucrative payouts and what he hopes are a slew of new national records.
The COVID-8, as he’s affectionally coined it — clear reference to the Coronavirus pandemic that postponed his wildly popular Sweet 16 extravaganza in South Georgia in March — will feature competition amongst the eight quickest qualified cars in the two premier radial-tire eliminators, with $20,000 and $15,000 on the line for the winners, respectively. As has become tradition at his limited-class events, Long intends to contest seven qualifying sessions during the May 22-23 event, giving competitors ample opportunity to not only contest the door-car world record, but to compile the quickest eight-car field of doorslammers over the 1/8-mile in the sport’s history.
Adhering to strict guidelines outlined by Florida’s governor, Long and track owner Ozzy Moya will permit 500 fans entrance into the COVID-8. For those who cannot attend, the event will be streamed live and in its entirety on Speedvideo, featuring driver interviews and every minute of the record-breaking action.
“Everybody needs some cars going up and down the racetrack, and I got to talking with a few folks about doing something, and that’s when we started working to see what we could do. Even if we couldn’t allow in any spectators, we were still going to do it. It’s important that these guys are out there racing,” Long says of the conception of the COVID-8.
Moya will have Sheriff’s deputies on-site monitoring the event to insure social distancing and personal protection guidelines are being adhered to. Moya has acquired hand sanitizing stations that will be distributed around the facility for racers and spectators, and Long will be giving away DuckX-emblazoned face masks to racers as they enter.
‘We want to make sure we’re following all of the guidelines,” Long adds. “Hopefully things will open a little more before then, but whatever we need to do, we want to make sure we don’t have any problems.”
While Long didn’t have a strict limit of entries in place, his initial scope of 12 cars per class has expanded to around 16, so as to include what he views as the quickest and fastest collection of racers he could assemble in one place.
“I’m looking for the best. If we let in 12 or 16 cars, we’re looking for those eight really fast cars. I want to set the door-car world record for an eight-car field. We did that with the 16-car field at Sweet 16 last year, but I’d love to get this eight-car field really flying, and I think people will love to watch it,” Long says. “I’m not running a test-and-tune here….we’re looking for eight of the baddest cars in the world that we can get.”
For Long and Moya, who have been intrinsically linked through their world-renowned, Woodstock-like radial-tire marathons at South Georgia Motorsports Park, the COVID-8 will mark their first event endeavor at Moya’s facility in Orlando.
“I’ve been wanting to do a race in Orlando for the last two years,” Long says. “It’s hard to go move something that’s already established, so anything else that was going to come up, was automatically going to be held at Orlando. We’re also going to move the Sweet 16 there next year.”
Moya is in the midst of having Orlando’s racing surface refinished in the same fashion as was recently done at SGMP, making what is already one of the nation’s fastest tracks, that much better. Long will, in the coming days, announce a number of high-profile individuals coming from various locations to collectively assist in what he calls a “team effort” in track preparations.
The entry list for the COVID-8 is a virtual who’s-who of drag radial racing, including record-holder Steve Jackson, Melanie Salemi, Marcus Birt, Kevin Rivenbark, Mark Micke, Jason Richards, Justin Swanstrom, Scotty Gaudagno, and more. “It’s a strong f*cking list, man!…I look down this list and these are some strong mother f*ckers,” Long proclaims, with the excitement of a fan himself at what may transpire on the racetrack in his voice.
COVID-8 Entry Lists
Radial vs The World
Luis de Leon
The COVID-8 will be broadcast LIVE on Speedvideo, beginning with qualifying on Friday, May 22 and eliminations to follow on May 23. If you aren’t already a subscriber, click HERE to get signed up to watch all the action later this month!