It’s been a long time since Stevie “Fast” Jackson could say he was a rookie behind the wheel of any kind of race car. But there he was on Sunday, at the Midwest Pro Modified Series killing it.
Maybe Jackson, the man whose exploits behind the wheel of a doorslammer, might soon have a new t-shirt line to rival his “Shadow” Radial vs. The World design.
It could read, “Never in my life did I think I’d be racing a Top Alcohol Funny Car, but here I am killing it.”
Not only did the rookie kill it in his first outing, he also reached the final round where he lost a tough match opposite of Sean Bellemeur at the Domino’s Summer Speed Spectacular title at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis.
The final round of the alcohol series recently added to the MWPMS was the icing on the cake for Jackson who was already blown away by the experience.
“This is one of the biggest sensory overload things that I have ever done,” Jackson admitted. “I have raced a lot of different combinations and I have been in a whole bunch of race cars. Very few times am I really out of my element around a drag racing car. The first time I strapped into this thing and they lowered the body down and did a burnout, I felt like a fish out of water. They’re all telling me I did pretty good. I still don’t think I drove it good yet. I don’t think I’ve made a good run in it yet.”
It didn’t take Jackson long to realize, a Top Alcohol Funny Car is a whole ‘nother monster as they say down in his Evans, Georgia neighborhood. “It is really difficult to drive compared to a Pro Mod,” Jackson explained. “It takes four times the steering correction. There’s no suspension, so the sensation of when to do what, the timing is all off. It’s just a wildly different animal. It doesn’t really accelerate even as fast as some of the stuff that I’ve driven, so it’s not the speed but the body sensation cues of when to react and how to react I don’t have yet.
“But I will tell you this, I have not climbed out of that thing yet, even on a bad run, without a smile on my face here to here. And I’m having a ball. I’m very thankful to Jim and Annie Whiteley for giving me the opportunity to drive and tune this thing.”
It was the first time Jackson had ever driven a center-steered machine.
“Well, the first run, I had the thing pointed straight at the wall and it went right,” Jackson said. “I didn’t even make it to the 60-foot, and I’m like, ‘Man.”
“I feel like where I’m used to sitting on the racetrack in perception, I line myself up down there. It’s just in a different spot. So, it’s really weird being in the middle of the lane. And also, when the thing goes left a little bit, I feel like I’m in a different spot because I’m used to being when it goes left, I can see the wall. When it goes right, I’m further away from it.
“These things don’t go straight. They’re kind of like Pro Mods. They don’t just go down the track, so it’s a wildly different perception. And I can’t wait to run today. It’s going to be good.”
Back when Jackson was in the fourth grade or so, when Pro Modified was on the cusp of being created, he could remember the critics of blown doorslammers refers to those supercharged cars as Funny Cars with doors.
“They’re not even in the same species,” Jackson said. “I can tell you this. It’s going to take me some runs when I get back in my Pro Mod car to not just flip that thing on its lid, just like it’s taken me four or five runs to be aggressive enough with this funny car. And not only that, but the tuning and the mechanics behind it are completely different. Besides the fact they may have the same size tires on it, I don’t know that there’s one characteristic that they share. It’s a wildly, wildly different animal.” With this said, Jackson said he wouldn’t mind pulling double duty at an event. Even though Jackson was at a race predominately attended by Pro Modifieds, he left his doorslammers at home.
“I hope so. I want to drive,” Jackson said. “If it’s up to me, I’m going to drive a Top Fuel dragster, a Nitro Funny Car, an Alcohol Funny Car or an Alcohol Dragster, and a Pro Mod all in the same race. That’s the goal, so any combination of that works for me.”
How long will it be before Jackson starts smack-talking his skills in a flopper?
“If it’s got wheels on it, I can drive it,” Jackson said. “And I can show you better than I can tell you.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) August 18, 2020