PERSISTENCE TO WIN
Unlimited class competitor Tom Bailey was the overall winner. To the casual observer, he made it look easy, but this victory was far from it. Engine detonation knocked the ring land out of one of his pistons at zMAX, and nothing in his 615ci, twin-turbo big-block is an off-the-shelf part. Undeterred, one of the guys from Steve Morris’ shop delivered a replacement piston from Michigan, driving through the night as Bailey and Morris rebuilt the engine in the pits at zMAX. They left Charlotte in the wee hours and made it to Bristol in time to make a cautious 7.469 at 145.30-mph pass to stay in the competition. During the week, Bailey ran as quick as 6.653 seconds and as fast as 219.83 mph with averages of 6.858 and 202.04 mph, besting Second Place Dave Schroeder’s average by just 0.159 second.
“I like the challenge of having to figure things out on the fly and the ability to hang out with 300 other people who are willing to challenge themselves to persevere when the odds are stacked against them.”
— Tom Bailey
It was a race right down to the wire, as Bailey and Ultimate Iron class competitor Bryant Goldstone kept swapping the top spot throughout the week. Goldstone rebuilt the transmission in his 1973 Javelin after the first day of competition, yet still ran most of the week without Second gear. Shifting from First to Third all week, Goldstone’s best e.t. was 6.920 seconds and best trap speed was 213.57. Though he never ran slower than 190.97 mph all the week, he was only running on seven cylinders on the last day, and the resulting 7.416 pass dropped his overall average to 7.074 seconds and 204.59 mph, edging him into Third Place overall. What an upset that could have been! Though his average speed was greater than Bailey’s, Drag Week™ is won by elapsed times. Ultimate class competitor and last year’s overall winner Dave Schroeder was fighting traction problems early in the week, which kept him off the pace of Bailey and Goldstone. On Wednesday, though, he ripped a 6.791 at 210.50 and remained in the 6s the rest of the week, earning him the Second Place finish. His nitrous-huffing, big-block 1966 Corvette posted an overall average of 7.017 seconds and 191.88 mph.