Each year when I sit down to figure out my traveling schedule, the Outlaw Street Car Reunion is the first event I add, and for good reason. Promoter Tyler Crossnoe has one mantra when it comes to putting this event on, and that’s to take care of the racers and fans as much as possible. From offering an early entry option to simplify the process of getting into the gate, to developing unique programs like this year’s East Vs. West Pro Mod Showdown and Home Run Derby for the Radial Vs. The World class, Crossnoe is innovative, thoughtful, and considerate, and as a result the Outlaw Street Car Reunion continues to grow each and every year.
Entering the event this year I had high hopes for a killer event; after all, the Beech Bend Raceway surface is legendary for its capabilities, having hosted dozens of high-profile events over the years. With the talents of Crossnoe and the rest of his track prep team—Jason Rueckert and Jimmy Bradshaw among others—on full display, I was expecting to see some monster performances and potentially several records broken.
As the race was scheduled to take place just a few weeks after Sweet 16 2.0, and racers had a chance to digest what their performances at that event meant to their program, the expectation I had was that many of them would step it up for the last real race of the spring before hot track temperatures take over and slow the racing down for the summertime.
A couple of days before the event I began to be a bit concerned about the weather forecast, but with a confirmed plane ticket in hand I hit the airport on Wednesday morning to make my way to Bowling Green, Kentucky by way of Nashville. Several hours later, the private test session at the track was over, without any real moonshot passes being recorded, but nearly all of the racers who participated heading back to their trailers, data in hand, with plans of records dancing in their heads.
Thursday was also mostly uneventful; testing was available all day long, with the first round of qualifying set to hit the track at 6pm. There were several solid passes laid down in the first round of qualifying, but nothing that rotated the earth to my recollection. Now, I’m getting old, so it’s possible that something happened and I missed it. I was out of the track area for a while shooting a car feature on Jim Monson’s Limited Drag Radial twin-turbo Gumby Mustang.
After qualifying was complete on Thursday night, everyone headed back to their spots for the evening, and then the rains came. All night. In fact, when I got up on Friday the ground was still soaked and it was drizzling at my hotel. I fueled up on breakfast, then headed to the track to find the prep staff dragging the track from end to end in an effort to straighten it out for the day’s racing action.
Now this is where the story gets a little funky. Several times throughout the Friday qualifying sessions, the track’s timing system was returning elapsed times and reaction times that simply didn’t add up given the known performance of the cars in question. Without getting into an oversimplified explanation of the timing system at a dragstrip, I’ll explain it like this. Elapsed time is affected most by the position where the racer stages, and reaction time is affected conversely by the same. In effect, the closer a racer stages to the end of the rollout section without redlighting, the more quickly they will be seen to react, as the car will uncover the stage beam more quickly.
A racer who stages in a shallow position will have the small effect of a running start at the timers, as the car will move further without the stage beam being uncovered and starting the elapsed time clock. Well, the issue is further compounded when a racer has something hanging low from the car that will keep the stage beam covered for longer. For example, an extremely low ride height, where the car’s body panels might keep the beams covered, or an engine diaper which may be hanging down too far after an engine swap and blocking the beams. A side effect of this is that the 60-foot clock will record an abnormally quick number since the stage beam doesn’t start the timer at the correct time.
There are several different ways the timing systems can be affected by particular external factors. Additionally, weather can cause issues, as moisture and electrical components don’t always play nice. But drag racers are a nefarious bunch; if they are given an opportunity to creatively bend a rule, well, let’s just say it happens. Or, the infraction could be completely innocent. Let me be clear—I am certainly NOT pointing any fingers in any direction as I cannot confirm or deny of those things actually happening at the Outlaw Street Car Reunion.
I have confirmed directly with Crossnoe that his tech staff inspected all of the cars that were seen to have issues on the track and deemed them each to be legal. But the ensuing internet storm which started on Friday as Jamie Hancock ran a 3.60 and subsequently a 3.599 in his nitrous RvW car—both world records of a nitrous-powered door car at any level, on any tire—put the entire race under massive scrutiny, especially when combined with several timeslips that were recorded by several other racers.
Overnight, the scrutiny persisted, all over social media. Then, on Saturday morning, three pairs of cars went down the track before the rains came again. After a couple of hours, the decision was made by the OSCR team to end the event without reaching eliminations as the Sunday forecast was also poor and there wasn’t much confidence they’d be able to complete the event. Rather than force the racers to wait it out for a negative result, OSCR made the decision to pay out the purses, in full, to everyone who made their respective fields. It was a standup move for Crossnoe—and an extremely expensive one—but he held true to his mantra: take care of the racers, no matter what. Money was paid out, and everyone started heading home.
But by Saturday evening social media’s dull roar had become a cacophony of voices, all questioning the legitimacy of Friday’s results as there were records broken for a couple of classes, not just the monster nitrous pass from Hancock. After spending the entire day on Sunday on the phone, questioning many experts and discussing the weekend’s events with trusted advisors, Crossnoe made yet another decision guided by integrity and with the racer’s best interest at heart: he nullified all results from the Outlaw Street Car Reunion VI.
And that’s how I attended the best race that never happened.
Although the event wasn’t run to completion, there was plenty of action on and off the track. If you have the ability to hit this race in 2020, do it! You won’t be sorry. Check out the gallery below!