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While much of America learned his name when he joined the cast of Discovery Channel’s Street Outlaws, many hardcore gearheads have known of Jeff Lutz for years. Lutz and his sinister 1957 Chevy are among Drag Week royalty, having competed in the grueling street-and-strip competition for many years. In fact, in 2012 Jeff came within one hundredth of a second of ending Larry Larson’s domination of the Unlimited class, finishing the week with a 7.071 average to Larson’s 7.062 average.
Tom Bailey and his “Sick Seconds” first generation Camaro stole the show in 2013, but he was unable to survive the gauntlet this year, bowing out after the second day of competition due to irreparable engine damage. Lutz showed his mettle by surviving the journey, which began and ended at Tulsa Raceway Park, with stops at Heartland Park in Topeka, KS, Thunder Valley Raceway Park in Noble, OK, and S.R.C.A. Raceway in Grand Bend, KS. Remember, these events take place several hundred miles apart with the cars having to drive to each track under their own power. Drivers are given the option to run as many or as few passes as they choose in order to nail down their best elapsed time for the day, which will be calculated into their running average for the week.
Lutz kicked off the week with a strong 6.69 at 225 MPH on the first Tulsa stop, placing him squarely in 2nd place behind Bailey’s Camaro. Day 2 would see Lutz and his Chevy grab the top spot as Bailey’s engine ate its own internals on his 6.61 pass, while Jeff powered to a 6.77 at 211, giving him a two-day average of 6.73 at 218. Also on day two, Five-time Drag Week winner Larry Larson began to get a good handle on his swoopy new twin-turbo S10 pickup, laying down a 6.70 at 218 to combine with his first-day run of 6.99 to place him in 2nd with a 6.84 average. Doug Cline’s 1969 Camaro, the only Unlimited class entry featuring factory steel body panels throughout, rounded out the top three with an average of 6.90 following the stop at Heartland Park Topeka.
Day three would see Lutz blasting off a 6.94 to give him a mid-week average of 6.80. Cline would move into the second-place slot with a strong 6.91 pass that maintained his 6.90 average. Larson would fall out of contention after being smacked with a 20-second official score after arriving at Thunder Valley Dragway less than an hour before the deadline and only getting one shot at the track, where his ride simply sputtered and stalled off the line for reasons yet to be revealed. Although the 20-second run basically removed him from contention, Larson continued on the route, and we’ll find out why that’s a pretty big deal a little bit later.
Rolling into S.R.C.A. Raceway for the 4th stop, Cline would again run right on his average, laying down a clean 6.89 to give him a 6.90 average for the 3rd day in a row. Lutz’ ’57 would slow slightly to a 7.03, raising his average to 6.86. Larson would return to form in Grand Bend, clicking off a 6.92 in spite of carrying a 10+ second average. The next day, the rides would all roll back into Tulsa for the final day of racing. Cline once again dipped into the 6’s with his best run all week, 6.74 at 210 MPH, to give him a final average of 6.87 at 210 MPH — insanely impressive for an all-steel Camaro that was racing on the same tires he was cruising from track to track on. Lutz would need a nice final-day elapsed time to maintain his lead, and he delivered with a 6.78 at 207, which put him atop the leaderboard for good with a five-day average of 6.84 at 212 MPH. Finishing the week in 3rd place was Joe Barry in his ultra-sano 1956 Chevy Two-Ten Sports Coupe, who laid down his very first career six-second pass on the final day and finished the week with a 7.14 average.
Of course, there’s more to Drag Week than the Unlimited class. Bringing home the top spot in the Pro Street (Power Adder) class was Mike Roy in his ’71 Monte Carlo with a 5-day average of 7.84 (Mike ran a barrage of sevens, including a 7.56-second best. In Pro Street (Naturally Aspirated), Eddie Miller wheeled his 1973 Duster to a 9.30 average to take the win with a best of 8.818 at 153.67 on day one. Kevin Clocker would take the win in Modified (Power Adder) with an average of 8.74 at 151.92 MPH. Modified (Naturally Aspirated) would belong to the ’72 Nova of Brad Dyer, who finished with an average of 9.32 at a speed of 145 MPH. Super Street Big Block would see Vincent Rasch win in his 1969 Firebird turn a string of mid-to-low 10-second passes into a 10.30 average for the week and take the class win.
In the Super Street Small Block class, Mitch Horn would drive his ’70 Plymouth Duster to the win by racking up an average of 10.68 for the week. Eric Yost drove his patina-wrapped 1968 Camaro to a final average of 8.42 to take the win in Super Street Power Adder, clicking off a succession of low eight-second passes, including a weeklong best of 8.09 on day two. Robert Williams would nail down the top spot in the Street Race Big Block (Power Adder) class with an average of 9.30 at 146. In Street Race Big Block (Naturally Aspirated), Curt Johnson laid down a killer 9.01 average in his 1991 Mustang to win the class, running consistent passes of 9.01, 9.03, 9.04, 9.06, and an all-out 8.91 in Tulsa. Jarrett Faggart took the class win in Street Race Small Block (Power Adder) with an average of 8.60 at 162 MPH.
In Street Race Small Block (Naturally Aspirated), Paul Cornman drove his Dodge Demon to a 10.02 average at 134 MPH, with a best of 9.96 on the final day in Tulsa, as well. In the Gasser & AFX class, Dennis Taylor and his cool primered Ranchero turned a 9.66 average into a class win, while Timothy Hall took the Hot Rod class win in his unique International pickup truck with an 11.87 average. And in the Daily Driver class, which featured a HUGE field as usual, Waco Davis drove his 1956 Chevy Bel Air to a 10.93 average to win his class over roughly 100 other competitors.
Now, remember when we mentioned that it was of significance that Larry Larson remained with the convoy even after his 20-second elapsed time had virtually eliminated him from contention? Well… that matters because after all was said and done, in the Heads-Up Challenge that followed the final day of competition, Larson turned the wick up on his wicked twin-turbo S10. And we mean way up. Larson set the world on its ear when he ripped off a 6.16 at 219 MPH. No, that’s not a typo or a bout of dyslexia. Six. Sixteen.
Also of note, that 219 MPH is still well short of what Larson’s new beast should be capable of, so there’s little doubt that, with a year to test-n-tune the brand new truck, that even mid six-second runs are likely to be also-rans when Drag Week 2015 rolls around.