With cellphone video, GoPros, YouTube, and outlets like 1320Video, street racing is now more popular than ever.
However, street racing is a short-lived hobby. While it can be great for a while, the retirement plan usually sucks.
Street Racing In Stockholm: Welcome To The Underground was the first story I ever read on Speedhunters, and it established in me the lifelong Joy of Machine.
To quote Shakespeare, “These violent delights have violent ends,” and when applied to street racing the results are always something that local news media love to cover. The police stings to impound six-figure cars, or much worse – deaths of racers or bystanders. But despite the risks, you still see 1,000hp street cars racing around the globe. That’s a significant investment which can quickly become scrap metal.
Is there really such a thing as legal street racing? Street Car Takeover sets out to make it real, by creating a legit way to drag race and roll race on a track. They’re the only national event to host roll racing in the United States.
Drag racing has been legtimized since races were run on dry lake beds and airstrips in the 1940s, but roll racing is still earning its spot.
Roll racing is a more passive form of street racing and its lines of bystanders and flashlight signals. Instead, it’s like the highway, pre-determined speed, and three honks type racing. It looks weird the first time you watch it as participants line up way back behind the burnout box.
For the Street Car Takeover, the driver in the left lane leads once they’re given a signal from a track worker. Drivers are not to exceed 40mph (64km/h) – sometimes 30mph (48km/h) depending on the sanctioning body – but once past the beams it’s wide-open throttle to the traps. The winner is the one who crosses first, and only the speed is displayed, no elapsed time (ET).
There are three roll racing classes: 140mph (225km/h) and 150mph (241km/h) brackets of which the speed cannot be exceeded, and the King of the Bakery unlimited class where there is no limit.
At the most recent Street Car Takeover, held at zMAX Dragway (part of Charlotte Motor Speedway) in Concord, North Carolina, the King of the Bakery winning car was a twin-turbo 2014 SRT Viper built by Vengeance Racing and owned by Ned Dunphy. The original V10 was ripped out and sent to Late Model Engines (LME) for forged internals capable of withstanding 45psi (3bar) boost, which is a lot. They’ve been through three phases with the car and currently run two Garrett 80/96mm T6 turbos hidden behind the front wheels. The track was too slick to lay down full power, a problem all semi-finalists experienced, but Ned still ran a best of 184mph (296km/h).
The staging lanes are filled with a huge mix of street cars with seemingly little in common with each other.
One car which immediately caught my ears in the lanes was this 860hp Ford. Jonathan Nerren, a Formula Drift Pro 1 licensed driver, built the Mustang to compete in the 2020 FD season. Based on a Shelby American Super Snake Widebody, it runs a supercharged Ford Performance 5.2L Aluminator compared to the Super Snake’s 5.0L Coyote engine. The motor is backed up by an Andrews H-pattern dog-box transmission, very similar to those used in NASCAR Cup cars. The rear axle is a Ford IRS with a 9-inch center.
“I’ve never done roll racing… on a track,” said Jonathan. “I did it in my younger years, but this is new to me. It’s interesting to start behind the burnout box, but fun. Any time you can take it off the street it’s safer; there are too many variables on the street.”
Jonathan finished off the weekend with some peddling down the drag strip and the burnout contest. In roll racing, he saw indicated speeds around 140mph (225km/h) but did not receive an official slip.
Street Car Takeover also provides a variety of street car drag racing classes which require DOT tires, the original body (no fiberglass race car bodies), a current registration and insurance.
There are heads-up classes which don’t display ETs for those sneaky guys, and classes which require a street cruise followed by back-to-back runs, and no working on your car in between.
Jonathan Atkins of Tick Performance beat his own record in the semi-finals of the Street Racer Stick Shift class, with an 8.01 at 180.69mph (290.79km/h). That sets the record for the fastest LT1/stick shift car. He went up against another record-setting car in the finals, Jon Rogers’ 1,250hp Nissan 240SX, which runs a stock block (and stock crank) 2JZ. It also uses a triple-disc clutch paired with an H-pattern G-Force transmission, another NASCAR Cup-style transmission.
This car has a history of records under its belt, now holding the record for the world’s fastest H-pattern stick shift car at 7.55 at 189mph (304km/h). In the finals, Rogers won with a 7.96 at 191mph (307km/h) pass against Atkins’ 8.04 at 181mph (291km/h).
This beautiful Honda S2000 with an LS-swap and massive turbo sticking through the bumper was a perfect case of hard work and bad luck. Travis Mangum thrashed this thing together, finishing only the day before the race. The engine is an LQ9 6.0L Chevrolet LS with forged internals and Trick Flow heads.
The turbos are Forced Inductions GTX55/88mm units with Rock Solid Motorsports turbo headers. It’s a fully insured, licensed, and street-legal car. Unfortunately, after laying down an impressive eighth-mile pass, a rod went through the block ending Travis’s weekend on the first pass.
Another participant who caught my eye was Eric Warren’s 2013 SRT Superbee Charger running two BorgWarner S400 turbos sticking through the hood. The SRT features its original 392ci V8 Hemi, but it’s now been stroked to 426ci. Built by MXA Motorsports, this was the car’s first time on the strip. The MoTeC ECU detected an oil pressure drop on launch and cut fueling. They’re replacing the oil plan and hope to come back out and run 8-second quarter-mile passes.
It’s a thrill to walk through filled pits in daylight and see the vast sea of fast cars. Learning of different combinations and options for street performance has one’s mind turning with possibilities…
While the excitement of true street racing may never disappear, you may never lose the thrill of Street Car Takeover either.