Tom Bailey’s early week barrage on the Drag Week record books turned out to be only the beginning, as he and engine builder/tuner Steve Morris went on to make history by successfully completing the grueling test of man and machine with the quickest average in the history of the event. After beginning the week in Bowling Green with a 6.72 and following it up with a 6.70 on day two in Indianapolis, Bailey carded a 6.97 best in St. Louis, a 6.96 in Memphis, and closed out the week back at Beech Bend with a stellar 6.78, to tally up an average elapsed time for the week of 6.83-seconds. This was the first time in history that a racer has made six-second runs at all five stops on Drag Week, and naturally then, the first-ever six-second average.
Bailey’s feat is not just one of the greatest accomplishments in street legal drag racing history, but one of the greatest feats this sport has ever seen. His Camaro completed more than 1,000 miles of driving in four days, running on pump gas, in unseasonably-hot 90-plus degree heat for much of the week, and clicked off runs that would have once seemed unimaginable even for a purpose-built race car, much less a street legal, street-driven workhorse. For rabid fans of street car drag racing, as we are, what Bailey and his Camaro have done is something that has not and will not likely not be equaled anywhere else in drag racing. A hearty congratulations to Bailey, Marris, and their team for etching their name into the history books with a week that will not soon be forgotten.
PREVIOUSLY: The annual marathon of legally licensed and insured power and speed known as Drag Week is well underway this week, with the first three legs of the five-stop tour already complete as the record number of competitors make the long trek as we write this from the Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis to the Memphis International Raceway in Tennessee. But it’s not just the enormous turnout that’s setting records this year — so too are the racers on the track, as those watching it live and the rest of us tuning in on the internet witness the two quickest passes in Drag Week history on day one of the tour.
Drag Week 2013 kicked off in the hot rodding-rich city of Bowling Green, Ky. and the fabled Beech Bend Raceway Park on Monday, and it was there that the Unlimited class racers set the crowd on its ear, as Dave Ahokas laid down the quickest pass in the history of the popular event and the first-ever 6.8X run with a 6.83 at 202 mph from his lightweight, twin-turbocharged Pro Modified Camaro. But just a few moments later, Tom Bailey and his well-known ‘Sick Seconds’ 1969 Camaro one-upped Ahokas, laying down an unreal 6.72 at 214 mph, posting numbers that everyone knew the car was capable of all along.
Bailey, proving Monday’s effort was no fluke and that his car is the real deal, went one better (or two better, rather) on Tuesday at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, blasting to a quicker 6.70 at 213 mph to again set the pace before packing up and making the trek west to St. Louis. There, Bailey made four runs, twice as many as he made in the first two days combined, as he struggled to get ahold of the race track in low gear. But his drive to notch six-second runs at all five stops came to fruition late in the morning as he put together a 6.97 at 212 mph.
As of Tuesday, Bailey enjoyed a cushion of more than six tenths of a second in average elapsed time over his next closest competitor, Joe Barry. This year’s Drag Week features a different landscape than year’s past, as five-time and reigning overall champion Larry Larson opted not to participate, while annual frontrunner Jeff Lutz and his ’57 Bel Air struggled early on and bowed out following the Indy leg of the trip. There are few certainties with Drag Week, but this one you can count on: there will be a new overall winner this year.