The third season of the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout is fast approaching, but before we can begin filming — and make racecar magic happen in just 10 days and with $10,000 — we must first determine the challengers. And as you’re about to see, there are some strong teams in this crop vying for one of the coveted spots in this year’s no-prep edition of the high-horsepower build-off.
Australia’s Team Enemies Everywhere, which won the Season 2 competition over Team Bigun just a month ago in South Georgia — along with the $10,000 that went along with it — has vowed to return to defend its title, but it will do so in uncharted territory on the no-prep racing surface. That potential disadvantage is likely to even the playing field, as Enemies Everywhere will enter season three with experience during the build process in its back pocket — but a host of racers with no-prep experience and some very skilled builders and racers are among those who could rise up to challenge them.
From a large and healthy pot of applicants, the Horsepower Wars staff has narrowed the teams down to ten. Among them, some returning and familiar names, a few no-prep standouts, and some talented but unknown quantities looking to put themselves on the map. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here we go!
Last season, Keith Berry, a former radial-tire champion and LSX world record-holder, made his return to racing with the Dream Team, serving as its driver and one-man party planning committee. Along with his driving prowess, Berry brought a wealth of character to the team and the show as a whole. This year, Berry is bringing his own team, and he’s assembled an A-list squad of builders and tuners that, if chosen to participate on the show, could make life difficult for everyone else, no matter the obstacle or the surface. Says Berry of those he’s chosen: “I have assembled a Super Duper Dream Team for season three…a team that I would actually have as my personal team in racing.”
Among the tentative roster is his former crew chief, Steve Crisafulli, as assistant team leader, renowned Pro Mod and radial tuner Jamie Miller as a builder and tuner, chassis builder Billy Gilsbach building and performing electrical work, along with Darlington Dragway owner Russell Miller. Berry is still compiling his team, but the proposed names are a radial-tire and Pro Mod who’s-who.
Pennsylvania’s Tyler Dommel is among those working to make a name for himself, and he has some solid credentials. Dommel has been racing for a decade, primarily in diesel truck drag racing — his 5,000-pound coal-roller has run 5.70s. He’s also competed in no-prep events on small tires, so he knows the playing field well.
Dommel’s team includes friends David Bresch, car builder Brad Leaman, and fabricator Mike Divadio.
“I’m just a kid with the passion for types of racing,” Dommel says. “I’ve raced just about everything, from motocross, tough trucks, dirt drags, diesel drags, street racing and all types. I’m a highly motivated guy with the knowledge and passion and personality to lead my team to a victory.”
Folks around the Midwest — and even the country — are likely aware of Indiana native Adam Hodson and members of his team. Hodson, an engineer by trade, quit a perfectly good job and followed his passion to open up Mid America Kustomz, building an assortment of cars, performing EFI installs, tuning, and all things automotive. Hodson has competed behind the wheel of his 8-second Camaro for nearly two decades, and during that time, also launched a heads-up street car racing series in the Midwest. That effort led to the formation of the Team 260 Neglection No-Prep and the Big End Banger series.
Hodson has tabbed another familiar name, Nick Taylor, to drive for the team and handle fabrications duties, while Shawn Fensler is on suspension and chassis, and Mick Bodigan will serve as an ace car-builder.
What Arkansas’ Anthony Smith lacks in age — he’s a mere 22 years old — he makes up for in experience and credo. Smith is the personal mechanic of Street Outlaws star JJ Da Boss. Smith is not only a mechanic and builder, but has some no-prep driving experience of his own.
“I personally have 15 years of driving experience under my belt and I believe I can drive a racecar just as well if not better than anyone else out there on a street or true no-prep surface,” Smith proclaims. “I started racing myself at the very young age of seven, however I grew up at old grassroots and outlaw-style race tracks. I remember as a child I loved the smell of racing fuel and watching the clouds roll off of a fresh set of Mickey Thompson’s during a burnout. Most kids were out throwing around a football or basketball, and I did also during my teenage years, but as a child I had no interest, all I ever wanted to do was race!”
Smith’s team includes his father, Anthony, Sr., who has played a role in the success of JJ’s Ole Heavy and Ziptie machines; Austin Smith, who himself has competed on Street Outlaws: Memphis; and both Quinn Shireman, Jr. and Sr., the former of which also competed on the reality program.
If you don’t know his name, you certainly know his car — Idaho’s Ryan Saiki has thrown his hat in the $10K Drags ring, bringing along the talent that went into building his stunning first-gen Camaro. Saiki runs his own business, building roll cages, headers, turbo kits, mounting body panels, tin work, wiring, and suspension setup, so assembling a car from scratch is nothing new to him nor anyone on his team.
Saiki’s crew includes his father, Mike, a veteran racer, engine builder, and fabricator, along with business partner Jarom Woodland and skilled GM tuner and builder Brandon Weber of Accelerated Racing Solutions.
“I believe my team has the knowledge and know-how to get it done,” Saiki says. “We do all our own fabrication, engine building, transmission building, rearend set up, wiring, tuning, and so on. We like to do more with less and are always a threat to win when it comes to race day.”
Thompson, who also hails from Pennsylvania, has raced a wide range of machinery, from X275 and outlaw drag radial, Outlaw 10.5, Radial vs The World, and grudge events, and has won everything from small- and big-tire shootouts to cash-days and high-dollar street races.
“We have been in those tight deadline experiences with minimal time to build a car before an event and have came out on top several times,” Thompson states. “We have spent those long weekends at the track fixing our cars through the night, fixing motors, chassis, and any other curveballs these racecars throw at us.”
Thompson’s crew features the team at Out In Front Performance in Philadelphia, including Bobby Stephenson, Joseph Zamulinsky, Brandon Paone, and Donald Robinson.
Hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice — or perhaps add a little more down-under flare to the show — a second team from Australia has made its intentions known. Led by Matt Lampard, this crew built a 4,000-pound, 7-second streetcar, along with a host of other wild and successful machines, including a 7.2-second twin-turbo LS Torana, proving its capabilities. Lampard says, “all of our experience in the scene and our drive and passion for the sport is why we should be chosen for this challenge. Plus, the Aussies proved last season that we have what it takes.”
Lampard’s squad includes Danny Lansdowne, Shane Marshall, Tim Bailey, Jesse Bubb, and Mark Drew.
A definitive no-prep hitter, Texas’ Jason Flores is bringing a talented and well-known crew of no-prep racers and builders for a definitive heavy-hitter entry into the $10K Drag Shootout. Flores, who promotes the Bounty Hunters and Winter Meltdown no-prep events, is a part-time chassis builder with a vision for branching out with his own shop in the near future. And this competition could be just the thing to solidify his talents in front of a broad audience.
“I am BIG into street racing as I really love how the street is the equalizer. I have had numerous cars that were mainly dedicated to street racing,” Flores says. “These past few years my team and I have been getting into the no-prep scene.” Flores and his crew have each purpose-built a variety of cars for different classes and all help one another like a team, and that could make them formidable in this competition.
Flores’ crew includes fellow promoter and racer Matt Plotkin, Justin Cavacos, Mike Garza, and Jason Maldonado.
Canadian Neil Richards leads our ninth finalist — Richards has a vast swath of experience, racing dirt track cars, wiring and tuning Pro Mods, drag racing suspension setup, and more. Richards now campaigns a ’79 Mercury Zephyr on the no-prep scene and is building second Zephyr for X275-style racing.
“I literally eat sleep and breathe drag racing, it’s what I do for work it’s what I do for fun,” Richards shares. “It’s all I think about at all times. We are a family made up of friends who all carry a unique and very useful skill set. We love to laugh and have a good time but can also be sure that no one will outwork us! Our group will build a car that will get down any surface and will do so faster then whoever is in the lane next to us. We are quite certain we can run with the best in the world and we have proven that.”
Richards is bringing experienced tuner James Hatfield, skilled fabricator Nolan Tews, mechanic Colton Glaicar, and project manager Steve Tuff along for the ride.
Jim Howe, Jr.
Last but certainly not least, a name familiar to all in the drag radial scene, Tennessee’s Jim Howe, Jr. has jumped into the mix. Howe is the reigning Limited Drag Radial national champion, and a team doesn’t just stumble into that kind of success.
A former collegiate wrestler (he’s a big guy, we wouldn’t want to tangle with him) and a businessman by day, Howe has plenty of racing accolades and has assembled a crew worthy of the $10K Drag Shootout.
Howe has tabbed his wife, Amanda, known in drag radial racing circles as “Puddin” to drive — his crew also includes father, Jim, Sr., who is a welder, tuner, and all-around builder, and engine builder and machinist Bret Moore. The remainder of the team is to be decided.
“I feel I can bring something to the show that’s not been seen yet: a family team with a passion to go fast and no-quit attitude. I’ve raced my entire life with less than the rest, so this is right up my alley,” says Howe.
And there you have it — the final ten. We told you this was a talented bunch, and narrowing them down is certain to be a challenge, nevermind disappointing, given the caliber of people and teams we won’t be able to pick. On April 7th, we will announce the final five, and in doing so, will reveal the two teams that the Horsepower Wars staff has chosen to appear on season three of the $10K Drag Shootout. The remaining three teams, as in previous years, will be entered into a popular vote — on April 16th we will announce the winner of the final vote, and the lineup for the no-prep showdown will be set!
Keep it tuned here as the calendar flips to April and we announce the five squads still standing.
Horsepower Wars Season 3 will be made possible by its title sponsor Lucas Oil as well as ARP, BMR Suspension, Comp Cams, Dyna-Batt, E3 Spark Plugs, Holley, Kooks Header, Lucas Oil, MAHLE Motorsports, Moroso, Moser Engineering, NOS, PROFORM Parts, PRW Industries, QA1, Ron Francis, Summit Racing, Spicer, Total Seal, Victor Reinz, Tuff Stuff Performance, Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, B&M, Impact Race Products, and more.