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From 1964 to 1969, HOT ROD magazine had its own NHRA event, the HOT ROD Championship Drags at Riverside (California) Raceway, and it was inundated with Stock class racers showing off Detroit's finest. So that's what came to mind as we sat with the guys at the NMRA/NMCA last year at the SEMA show, talking about working together on a drag race. With Detroit in its current state, it seemed like an event that showcased the latest hot rods from the Big Three was a natural, so the HOT ROD Drags made its return, this time presented by Flowmaster mufflers.
Staging it as a Ford versus GM versus Chrysler race, thanks to support from ShopHemi.com, the rules required late-model body styles with Modular, GM Gen III and IV and Hemi engines, respectively. Engine swaps into early body styles (like an LSI in a '69 Camaro) were not allowed. Two classes were created: an index class and a heads-up class. All the competitors would qualify together, and the quickest eight would go into the Quick 8 heads-up. To ensure that the Quick 8 wasn't weighted to one manufacturer, the quickest two cars from each manufacturer went into the class, plus the next quickest two as wild cards. That meant there would be at least two GM cars, two Fords, and two Mopars battling in a heads-up format. Everyone else ran in the index class.
The heads-up racers also had to participate in the True Street 30-mile cruise prior to eliminations. The rules were structured to ensure real street cars, but power-adders and bolt-ons were allowed. Visit HOTROD.com for the complete rules.
> Fans of HOT ROD Drag Week™ will remember Jeff Seven's '08 Mustang GT500 from last year. It runs a beefed short-block with Fox Lake-ported stoek heads, Comp cams, and a Whipple 3.4L supercharger. Liberty Gear prepped the 6060 six-speed and added a Quiek Time bellhousing, and a Moser M9 rear spins widened stoek wheels (by Well Craft) and Miekey Thompson rubber. Sehmell was the number two qualifier in the heads-up elass with a l°.l5 at 137 mph but lost to Stephen Wells in the first round.
The index class had 12 different indexes in half-second intervals ranging from 9.50 to 15.00. After a few rounds of time trials on Friday and Saturday, racers had to declare which index they were in. There was one qualifying round at the end of the day on Saturday, and a racer's position on the ladder was determined by who ran closest to his index without going under. Eliminations were on Sunday. The winners got $2,500 plus a plaque and jacket, the runner-up was paid $1,000 plus a plaque, and the semifinalists and quarterfinalists got $500 and $250, respectively ($250 and $100 in index). Flow-master also provided $1,000 to the quickest car from each manufacturer.
The dates were August 6-9, the venue was Bruton Smith's spectacular zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the race was held in conjunction with the Nitto Tire
NMRA/NMCA All Star Nationals. It is a four-lane dragstrip, so we anticipated running all four lanes at once, but the brand-new track was having issues syncing the timing equipment, so that didn't happen. Other than that, the event went off without a hitch, with 30 cars entered. Nearly all of them were street cars with the typical bolt-ons, and the e.t.'s ranged from two mid-9s to a high 14—perfect, exactly what we were hoping for. When it was all over, Sheila Rivers' Trans Am stood atop the heads-up class and Jim Burford's '07 Corvette made it through five rounds to win the index class.
Finally, a special thank you must go out to our sponsors Flowmaster and ShopHemi .com for their support in the return of the HOT ROD Drags and also to the NMRA/ NMCA crew for handling all the logistics involved in this event.
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