As he mentioned in the first episode, the Blacklist itself is constantly changing throughout the season – with racers rising and falling through the ranks non-stop. The 10-spot bracket is a hostile place to be, to say the least; be it other competitors, accidents on the strip, or mechanical failure, there’s a laundry-list of ways to get knocked off.
In this episode, we get a good look at the gearheads the Blacklist attracts, and the caliber of person that it takes to race this series. Uskali interviews two big-time bruisers who used to have top spots on the Blacklist; both were some of the fastest cars that the series had ever seen, but both suffered catastrophic ends to their racing seasons.The first that Uskali interviewed was Janne Nykänen, owner of an all-business ’72 Dodge Swinger. As Uskali stated,Nykänen dominated the first Blacklist season. However, his steady rise to the top spot came to an abrupt halt last season in a race against Uskali himself.
A previously-remedied fault in the Swinger’s engine block suffered a relapse, leading to a blown head gasket, a chipped head, and the block meeting its end. Nykänen was forced to sit out the rest of the season, but as Uskali found out, he’s been plotting his return for some time.
This is a pattern with all of the Blacklist racers – they don’t go down easy. Whether they’re knocked out or they have to withdraw, these guys always bounce back and aim even higher than they did before. Nykänen and his Swinger are a prime example: by swapping all the internals into a fresh block, patching up the toasted head, and then throwing even more boost at it, he plans to have the car up and running like never before for next season.
Another example is that of Uho Juho, who had what we can only imagine was the meanest Fox-body Mustang in Finland. Following the interview with Nykänen, Uskali spotlighted Juho and how his journey to join the Blacklist came to a brutal end.
With almost 30 pounds of boost being fed to the 331-inch V8 through a single, whopping carburetor, Juho’s car wielded an estimated 1,350 horsepower. The ‘Stang ran low-8 second quarter-miles at the strip but nevertheless behaved well enough to frequent the streets.
But while it dominated nearly everything it faced, all that power caused it to struggle for traction throughout the gears – which ultimately doomed it to the gnarly wreck we’re shown in the video.
In the interview, however, Juho seemed relatively unfazed by the loss of his Mustang. Like Nykänen, he turned around and got right to work building a bigger, badder race car.However, not all who race to be on the Blacklist experience such devastation. The current Blacklist-member that Uskali spotlighted in this second episode was Karl Hermunen, who currently resides in 7th place on the list.
Hermunen races his ’65 Plymouth Valiant Signet, using his background in drag racing to give him an edge. Both Hermunen and his son live and breath competitive racing (his son, Mauno, raced motorcycles to become the 2013 Supermoto World Champion).Like every other Blacklist car, the Valiant doubles as a street car – despite having the 358-inch small-block Mopar of a former full-competition dragster. And like every other Blacklist racer, Hermunen has high goals for his Valiant, stating that he wants it to drop a full second or more in the quarter-mile by next season.
But while speed is obviously a primary goal, Hermunen refuses to sacrifice having some action behind the wheel with his five-speed Doug Nash gearbox. An automatic would most likely make him quite a bit quicker, but to him, that’s not what it’s all about.
Being in 7th out of 10 positions, Hermunen isn’t necessarily knocking on first-place’s door. However, it seems that he doesn’t mind too much as long as he gets to drive.