Paul's '07 Shelby GT500 is...
Paul's '07 Shelby GT500 is a mid-10-second Swiss clock on pump gas. However, add a 100-shot of Zex nitrous oxide and 118-octane Rockett brand race fuel, and the Drag Week 'Stang quickly becomes a 9-second street/strip player (16 psi of boost from the blower). The 9-second run (9.983 at 137.06 mph) was nailed down on Drag Week's final day, when the tour returned to its starting point at Beech Bend Raceway. Ambient temperature was more than 100 late-September degrees with 36 percent humidity, and density altitude was nearly 3,700 feet. When you take all of the variables into account-especially the mileage, all-out passes, the weight of the car in race trim (4,100 pounds) and the trailer (almost 6,000 pounds)-the Drag Week Shelby GT500 definitely is a badass street/strip ride.
While we still haven't had our own entry in Drag Week, we once again had an opportunity to get a firsthand look at what the event is all about, this time by your tech editor intercepting the tour in progress to ride with (and race vicariously through) Paul and Ronda Svinicki of Paul's High Performance and former NMRA Factory Stock racer Jeff Schmell. I traveled with Drag Week from Montgomery Motorsports Park in Montgomery, Alabama, to the last two stops at Memphis Motorsports Park in Tennessee and Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Paul and Jeff took on the street/strip journey with a pair of Shelby GT500s, finishing First and Second in Drag Week's Small-Block with Power Adder class.
While I didn't keep a minute-by-minute diary of my life on the road with Drag Week, the following photos and captions relate the experience, and give you a little more insight on how Paul ruled the road and the track with his awesome Shelby. Drag Week definitely is a great event to experience if you have the time, the money (Paul got it done on approximately $1,847.56 in total expenses), the heart, and the car. A badass leather jacket and gifts from the event's sponsors are the only prize for the winner of each class (runner-ups are awarded plaques), but none of those items come close to the feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes from surviving Drag Week.
On The Road
The road was long for everyone. We heard war stories of participants actually driving a solo competitor's on-the-ragged-edge "street" car for a few hours overnight, just so the exhausted driver could sleep without falling hopelessly behind. Running at night in cooler temps was one of the tactics used by drivers with cars that had no chance of making it in daytime heat. A few cars bowed out due to breakage.
Tag-along trailers loaded...
Tag-along trailers loaded with tools, generators, compressors, tires, transmissions, spare parts, and more are permitted for any of the cars participating in Drag Week. Be prepared for everything is an appropriate motto for this type of endurance challenge, as both the road and the dragstrip are good at claiming mechanical victims without any warning. This is a look at some of the items inside Paul's enclosed carrier, which usually is used to tote Harleys to and fro.
Our biggest mechanical problem came with Jeff Schmell's 'Stang, which had an out-of-balance driveshaft that rattled incessantly for the entire trip, but never broke (Jeff still made Runner-Up in the Small-Block with Power Adder class). For me, the road also was a lot of fun. I joined Paul and Ronda Svinicki and Jeff midway through Drag Week, and alternated riding in the second seats of Paul's '07 Shelby GT500 and Jeff's '08 model from Wednesday to Saturday.
Drag Week's cruise tour is no joke and as real-world as it gets, just like the stuff we all experience each day. The roads aren't always good, bad drivers are everywhere (good brakes are a must for Drag Week cars), and the show doesn't stop because the weather isn't to our liking.
The 2008 event started on September 8 at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and meandered more than 1,080 miles to Alabama International Dragway (Steele, Alabama), Montgomery Motorsports Park (Montgomery, Alabama), Memphis Motorsports Park (Memphis, Tennessee), and then back to Bowling Green for the finals on September 13.
I definitely enjoyed the ride and seeing a part of the country that I really hadn't experienced despite all of the trips I've made in the last four years.
On The Dragstrip
At each track, Drag Week racers are allowed to make as many passes as they need to record a low e.t. Our operation was smooth and efficient, as Paul and Ronda quickly established a good routine for getting unloaded, set up, and ready to race. We usually were finished and back on the road by noon after nailing the number in two or three passes.
Mustangs Of Drag Week
There are 11 different classes in Drag Week which are largely populated with Brand X rides: Unlimited, Pro Street Naturally Aspirated, Pro Street with Power Adder, Modified Naturally Aspirated, Modified with Power Adder, Small-Block Naturally Aspirated, Small-Block with Power Adder, Big-Block Naturally Aspirated, Big-Block with Power Adder, Diesel, and Daily Driver.