The Shakedown Nationals is an event that really encompasses everything that makes outlaw style heads-up racing great. You always expect to see the bombastic racer personalities on full display as they try to etch their names into the lore of this race. The world needed a grandiose drag race this year, and the Shakedown Nationals XVIII delivered from start to finish.
Now that all of the trophies have been handed out, checks presented, and winner’s circle photos taken we can really soak in how great this race really was. To start, Tyler Crossnoe, Jimmy Bradshaw, and the entire staff at Virginia Motorsports Park need a massive pat on the back. The remnants of Hurricane Sally wiped out the surface they created on Thursday of the event with a deluge of rain, but that didn’t stop this team. They worked hard all day Friday to give the racers a perfect canvas to lay down some weapons-grade horsepower the rest of the weekend.
So how good was the track and the conditions at this event? Records were set and reset multiple times in every heads-up class but Limited Drag Radial. Now, that might not seem like a big deal, but considering the racers only had two qualifying shots on a fresh tack and then eliminations that’s huge. These mind-boggling performances were done at all times of the day and night as well, another thing you don’t see that often with radial tire racing.
The class that made the most noise during the Shakedown Nationals was Radial vs The World. Stevie “Fast” Jackson and David Reese traded blows throughout the weekend as they rewrote the RVW record book. Jackson reset the class record with a 3.520, then Reese tied it with his own 3.520 but with a faster speed at over 213 MPH. In the semi-final round, Jackson and Reese met and the result was the quickest side-by-side RVW race ever with Jackson getting the best of Reese with a 3.505 to a 3.522. Jackson went on to win the event and further cement his legend as one of the best radial racers ever.
In X275, the class record was under full assault all weekend long thanks to Manny Buginga, Charles Hull, and Rob Goss. To kick things off, Buginga became the first person to crack into the teens in X275 with a 4.19 pass, then Hull snatched the record from him with a 4.18 rip, while Goss was in the mix running a 4.20 in his Mopar. Buginga retook the record with a blistering 4.17 pass, but it was Goss who won the event in X275.
Outlaw 10.5 has been dominated by Blake Copson this year as he’s amassed a healthy stack of wins, but Mark Benston Jr. owned the class record coming into the Shakedown. During qualifying, Benston reset his own record by running a 3.741 and he looked like a legitimate threat to beat Copson. In the second round of eliminations, things took a huge turn when Lou Sciortino came out of nowhere and reset the Outlaw 10.5 record yet again with a 3.735 blast in his nitrous-fed Corvette.
Jim Halsey might not have won the Shakedown in Pro Mod, but he did reset the nitrous 1/8th mile record with a ridiculous 3.609 hit at over 209 MPH. Not to be outdone, Todd Tutterow took the Decker family’s new Pro Mod and laid down an insane 3.59 pass during the first round of eliminations. There were plenty of racers who set personal bests in Pro Mod, including Ron Muenks who went on to win the event.
The Pro275 class has come on strong in 2020 with loads of big-name racers making the move to this class. At the Shakedown Pro275 saw its first pass in the 3.70s during qualifying early and that set the stage for some big numbers. The class record was then broken by Ron Green with a 3.760 run with Jeff Miller running a 3.775 in the other lane.
Ultra Street saw its class record get smashed several times during the Shakedown. In the final round, Louie Felippides not only came away with the win but also reset the class record with a 4.538 run. Danny Niceley ran the table in Limited 235 and also set the class record with a 4.88 during the Shakedown. Limited Drag Radial didn’t see its class record fall, however, it did see Daniel Ray punish the competition all weekend on his way to winning the event with a series of passes in the 4.00 range.
You can see all the highlights and final rounds from 2020 Shakedown Nationals right here on the SpeedVideo YouTube channel.