Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

Texas Radial Roundup! Small Tires and Big Power on Parade

Just two Saturday’s ago, The Texas Radial Roundup blew the lid off North Star Dragway. Drag radial racing in Texas is some of the fiercest competition in all of drag racing and North Star Dragway is the place to race if you’re looking to go fast. The Radial Tire Racing Association was formed in 2015 by Gene Nicodemus, owner of North Star Dragway in Denton, Texas just north of Dallas. Within two years, the RTRA and North Star Dragway had claimed monumental achievements as the location of the first-ever “small tire” car to run in the 3.80s (Jason Michalak) and 3.70s (Steve Jackson).

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

Those marks were set in the fastest of the three-class RTRA program, Pro Drag Radial. Additional records in X275 and Limited 275 racing set the bar as North Star Dragway charged to the top of the charts for drag radial racers looking to maximize their tuning capabilities on this pristinely prepped racing surface.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

It’s hard to describe the science of prepping a track for drag radial tires. An immense amount of VHT is mixed to a perfect potion by the track staff then applied heavily to achieve maximum traction. This heavy application is repeated as the racing rounds continue, providing track surface consistency for the racers to tune from as they focus on adapting to the changing weather conditions throughout the weekend. The track is literally so sticky it is not uncommon for shoes to be pulled right off the feet of crew members as they walk the starting line before a run.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

After a rained out effort in April, the RTRA “Texas Radial Round Up” finally came to fruition despite battling late spring storms on Thursday and Friday of the event. Go fast conditions welcomed the racers on Friday night for their three rounds of qualifying under the lights with additional sunshine and rising temperatures on Saturday for eliminations. These cars starve for cool temperatures and low density altitude which puts pressure on the teams to deliver their best runs in Friday night’s sessions.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

The Limited 275 category welcomed nineteen entries hunting a spot in the quick sixteen field and the records fell immediately as Mike Terry wheeled the Randy David-owned first generation Camaro to a 4.59 at 149 mph to set the all-time Limited 275 elapsed time record and qualify at the top of the pack. Terry held almost a full tenth of a second over number two qualifier Billy Smith’s 4.68 at 147 mph. Smith made a surprising first round exit during Saturday’s eliminations while Terry’s 4.62 at 151 mph fell short on a holeshot against Jim Staples’ 4.67 at 150 mph. Staples met Daniel Large in the final round to battle for the crown in Limited 275. Staples had the advantage on paper and that likely had Large a little nervous as he jumped the green with a -.393 red light and Staples clicked off a 4.84 at 128 mph pass to claim victory in his Corvette.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

The X275 class racing was hot and heavy as Shane Heckel’s 4.406 narrowly edged out local favorite Eric Moore’s 4.408 as the duo led the fifteen car field into eliminations. Both drivers advanced past the first and second round to meet the elite four remaining in the semi-finals. Moore ran into mechanical issues in his pairing with Brad Medlock and the engine gave up as he left the starting line. Moore could do nothing but watch as Medlock spun the tires to a subpar, but winning 7.42 at 92 mph. Heckel advanced to the finals with a 4.43 at 156 mph over Kenny Hubbard who had a flame throwing nitrous backfire at the hit of the throttle. In the last dance of X275 competition, Medlock took a huge starting line advantage but his 4.61 at 151 mph was no match for Heckel’s 4.44 at 158 as Heckel and company were all smiles heading home to Baytown, Texas with the win.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

The Pro Drag Radial category was short on cars, but provided plenty of 3-second action as Taylor Lastor and Dewayne Mills charged into the final round, both packing 3.80’s in what shaped up to be a heavyweight battle to decide a winner.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

Surprisingly, both struggled to find traction as they ‘turned it up’ for the final round. Mills’ “Golden Gorilla” twin turbocharged 1968 Camaro took the win with a 5.07 at 101 mph to Lastor’s 8.43 at 73 mph. Not the side by side 3.70’s we hoped for, but a win none the less for the Oklahoma based runner.

Texas Radial Roundup, Fuel Curve

Congratulations to the winners of the “Texas Radial Round Up” at North Star Dragway. Big numbers and more intense competition are expected at the next RTRA event at North Star Dragway – the “Texas Small Tire Throwdown” October 11-13th. We will be onsite to bring you that action!

Chris Graves has been involved in drag racing photography and journalism since the late 1990's and started shooting before he had a drivers license. Graves spent seven years crewing on Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars for Mitch King, Tony Pedregon and Dale Creasy Jr. After graduating from the Univ. of North Texas in 2006, Graves went full-time as a freelance photographer with wife Tera and the couple travels the country covering all forms of drag racing under his label Max Cackle Photography. Graves, track photographer at North Star Dragway in Texas, also serves as president and founder of the Southwest Heritage Racing Association and takes a few weekends off each season to pilot his blown front engine dragster in the SHRA and NHRA Heritage Series Nostalgia Eliminator 1 category.

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