Photography: Damon’s Photography/E3xtreme
The Outlaw Street Car Reunion is put on by promoters Tyler Crossnoe and Mark Samples of Southern Speed Promotions at Memphis International Raceway each spring, and offers racers a chance to dust off their machines after a long winter and hit the track in search of healthy payouts and event wins.
Memphis International Raceway is part of the Old Guard when it comes to street car-style racing; it can be considered the facility where the street car movement really started to take shape, as it hosted the very first Fastest Street Car Shootout event in 1992. It can be argued that today’s Radial vs. The World rockets have evolved from – and far surpassed – the Fastest Street Car Shootout cars of racers like Max Carter, Mike Moran, Rick Dyer, and Rod Saboury.
Despite challenging conditions, the SSP team – including track preparation specialist Jason Rueckert of VP Racing Fuels – worked diligently through drizzle and unending cold in an effort to give the event participants the best racing surface possible.
Sadly, by the end of the event on Saturday evening, there were a number of classes that simply couldn’t finish due to frigid surface temperatures. With Sunday’s forecast also challenging, SSP was forced to call the event and split the pot for each class amongst the racers remaining in competition.
“In the days after one of our toughest events yet, Mark and I have to send out a heartfelt thank you to each and every racer, crew member, media outlet, and race fan that attended OSCR III,” says Crossnoe.
“Weather and other trials and tribulations pushed us to the brink but we tried our best to make the best move for racer safety and well being. In looking forward, we at Southern Speed Promotions have a lot to do but 2017 is slowly shaping up to be one of the best yet.”
Kyle Huettel qualified at the top of the ladder in the Radial vs. The World class with a strong 3.902 at 196.67 mph, against a tough field including fellow 3-second players Daniel Pharris, DeWayne Mills, and Mark Woodruff. The Bad9ER team from Texas gains twice the data on their blown Hemi combination thanks to fellow team member Jason Michalak and Michalak’s crew chief Bill Stocklin’s efforts with their own Corvette. Huettel recently gave up the nitrous life to move into this car; we’d have to say the results are proving the switch worthwhile. In the first round of competition he ran 3.88 at 198-plus mph, then a 3.91 in the second round to eliminate Isaac Preston.
When one thinks real street car, “Beast Mode” must be considered. The Tom Bailey-owned and driven, Skinny Kid Race Cars-built, Steve Morris-powered Drag Week machine strapped on the tiny-by-comparison radial tire and qualified ninth in RvW with a stout 4.24 at 177.72 mph from the turbocharged, 615-cube big-block Chevrolet engine. The engine was still in Drag Week trim, wearing 88 mm turbochargers rather than the 102 mm pieces used by the other class competitors.
This was the team’s best pass of the weekend; Morris says the car was still set up to run on the big tire and had the wrong gear, wrong torque converter, and wrong shocks to be running the radial tire. Despite being seriously underpowered and limited due to these factors, Bailey and Morris acquitted themselves and their program well.
Joel Greathouse doesn’t say much about his KBX Performance-backed Ultra Street entry, but he does do one thing consistently, and that’s win races. Although he didn’t get to put the Mustang into the winner’s circle at this event, he was one of two racers who had the opportunity after the third round of competition.
For those who need an introduction, this is the one-and-only Golden Voice of street-car racing, Al Tucci. All weekend long, “Tooch” kept the crowd interested and informed about the on-track happenings, injecting his own personal touches into the commentary where possible.
All of the street racing experience is starting to pay off for Street Outlaws star Justin “Big Chief” Shearer, as his new CrowMod Pontiac Firebird ran quite well in RvW, turning in the quickest Pontiac-powered doorslammer pass ever with a pair of 4.03 blasts during the course of the weekend – once during qualifying, to land fifth entering eliminations, and again in the first round against Shay Loveday’s Corvette. This now marks two races in a row where Shearer has been able to run with the big dogs in organized competition. It’s only a matter of time until we see him in the winner’s circle at one of these premier events.
Alex Hays and his Michigan-based Ultra Street team fought many challenges over the course of the weekend. After shearing a number of teeth from their flexplate after the second pass, they were able to locate a replacement unit from Don Baskin and swap it out, ultimately qualifying fourth behind Shawn Pevlor. During eliminations, Hays took out Danny Finch and George Toll before meeting up with number-one qualifier Butch Kemp in the semifinal, where he redlit his chances away.
Hot on the heels of his win just a few weeks prior at Lights Out 7, Keith Berry (L) headed to Memphis with high hopes. After he struggled through the qualifying sessions, ultimately landing 21st on the 32-car ladder with a 4.57 at only 149 mph, Berry managed to find the issue for the first round of eliminations against Tim Slavens’ Hemi-powered ’69 Camaro. Slavens also found something in his tuneup, tossing Berry to the side with a strong 4.06 to Berry’s 4.12.
Speaking of Butch Kemp, he was many folks’ leading choice to take home the Ultra Street win, had the weather not disrupted everyone’s plan. He qualified at the top of the ladder with a 4.800 at 144.32 mph, just a tick-and-a-half ahead of Joel Greathouse’s 4.815. In his matchup against Hays, Kemp went on to run the quickest Ultra Street pass of all time, clipping off a 4.77 at 145.72 mph. He was scheduled to face Greathouse in the final, who had eliminated Shawn Pevlor in the other semifinal.
Track prep specialists Jason Rueckert (L) and event promoter Tyler Crossnoe (R) had the track set on kill all weekend long despite the incredibly demanding conditions.
Splitting the winner’s pot in RvW eight ways probably isn’t how DeWayne Mills envisioned the race ending, but that’s exactly what happened. Regardless, Mills piloted the Golden Gorilla to a third-place 3.95 at an insane 210 mph during qualifying and was part of the final eight qualifiers who split the prize money.
Bobby Kruck’s slick Trans Am competed in the new Limited Drag Radial class, which came to fruition over the winter. Kruck’s machine wears a 118mm turbocharger to boost the 540-cube engine. Kruck went home after round one’s loss to Rick Wetherbee’s gorgeous Impala – which you can see in the gallery down below.
Rich Bruder just dominates everywhere he goes. He qualified number one in X275 with a 4.41, half a tenth quicker than Jared Johnston, then ran like a bracket car in the three elimination rounds, running 4.44, 4.45, and 4.44 before the action was called off.
The Flying Pickle S10 of Michael Roemer competed in both Ultra Street and X275 at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion with a brand-new 440 cubic-inch Bennett Racing engine underneath the Nitrous Express squeeze system. Roemer chose both classes in an attempt to get as much data on the new combination as possible, and in a twist, went out early in Ultra Street on a wheelie. But in X275, he ended up going three rounds before falling to Jared Johnston’s Mustang in a pedalfest.
The Mark Micke-driven, Jason Carter-owned Malibu struggled to find traction during the qualifying session, ultimately qualifying 25th with a 4.72. By the time eliminations rolled around, he was back on his game, breaking into the 3s at over 200 mph in the process of taking out Kevin Mullins and Ryan Martin. Micke was also one of the elite 8 in RvW.
Unfortunately the 2016 edition of the Outlaw Street Car Reunion wasn’t able to be completed due to Mother’s Nature’s interference, but Crossnoe assures us the Southern Speed Promotions team is already making plans to achieve different outcome for 2017.