Hot Rod Drag Week: Day Three

America's fastest street cars battled for top rankings after another demanding road trip

Photographers: Povi Pullinen

It’s hump day on Hot Rod Drag Week 2021, and fatigue is starting to affect man and machine alike.

Drivers faced a 290-mile (466km) journey from Summit Motorsport Park to Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway for day three of five.

Hundreds of weary racers have now been sent on another cross-border trip, motoring a brutal 298 miles (480km) to Byron Dragway in Illinois.

While the top of the table is relatively unchanged, we’ve seen pecking-order shifts in several racing classes.

Dave Schroeder is holding onto pole position after running a 6.74@175mph down Lucas Oil Raceway. It’s his slowest time so far, but it’s still enough to retain a buffer over Bryant Goldstone’s Javelin.

Goldstone returned to the sixes on day three, almost catching Schroeder today with a 6.78@208mph. He’s still three-tenths of a second behind in average ETs – which Schroeder seems unlikely to concede over the next two days.

Mikael Borggren’s third-place Volvo continues its inexorable march toward DW’s six-second club. It’s been getting faster all week, and today today laid down an 7.004@198mph.

Jason Sack’s super-tough Hugger Orange ‘69 Nova ran a 7.43@182mph, clinging to third place in Unlimited.

It packs a Steve Morris-built Dart 427 LS, fed by Holley Dominator EFI. Hanging off the front is a single 94mm Pro Mod turbo. Stack ran a PB on Tuesday, rocketing down the ‘strip to a 7.31@188mph. Barring exceptional circumstances, he won’t finish on the overall podium this year.

Glenn Hunter is only getting faster in his own ‘56 Chev. In the cooler Indianapolis air he turned in a 7.38@187mph timeslip, leaving him more than a second ahead of his Pro Street Power Adder class.

Things have gone from bad to worse for Joe Barry, with mechanical woes forcing the former Ultimate Iron leader to be towed off the ‘strip.

The Chev couldn’t be fixed before lanes closed on day three, so he accepted a 20-second timeslip and moved to the rear of the pack.

That means DW first-timer Bob Bartram steps into Ultimate Iron leader with his Mercury Cougar. Today he ran an 8.79@155mph in the show-winning 547-cuber.

Lonnie Tibbs has held onto his bonnet since his day one mishap. Today’s 7.83@179mph is his best time so far behind the wheel of the 2001 Mustang. While Tibbs’s road journey to the raceway was uneventful, the car’s tiny fuel cell forced him to refuel every 30 minutes.

Carl Stancell’s trip wasn’t quite as peaceful. His S10 Blazer collected a deer on the way to Indiana, earning the title ‘Bambi Slayer’ from commentator David Freiburger. Undeterred by the messy incident, he ran a wheel-standing 8.83@151mph — his fastest time on DW 2021 so far.

While there is just one Aussie entrant this year, there are a few familiar cars running down the ‘strip.

Ben Hunter’s VE Commodore-based Pontiac G8 has run a consistent 12.2-second quarter-mile all week, competing in Street Race Small Block Power Adder.

Jared McGahen’s G8 is taking on the same class. It’s slightly slower but no less reliable, laying down repeated 12.6 ETs.

Made up of just 8 cars, the Hot Rod class is one of this year’s smallest DW categories. Mark Fisher holds a convincing one-second lead in his Chev-powered ‘32 Ford truck, having pared his average ET down to 9.14.

Joel Nystrom’s mean ‘31 Plymouth coupe is in second place, runing a best of 10.15@133mph on Monday. It’s motivated by a Hemi stroked to 484 cubes and topped with eight two-barrel carbs. Inside, he rakes through a T56 manual ‘box.

David Williams’s SC300 is the only Lexus in this year’s showing, with a best so far of 10.39@139mph. A mate of the 1320 Video crew, he’s more than partial to a trailer burnout.