It just seems like the summer of 2003 got off to a pretty rough start weather-wise, at least in the eastern half of the US. The combination of a winter that wouldn't end, a colder than average spring, and heavy rains wreaked havoc right into June.
Nevertheless, a hardy group of Pontiac racers braved the weather this past Memorial Day Weekend to meet at US 43 Drag Raceway in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, for the 2003 Jim Butler Performance Pontiac Nationals. In actuality, the weather was pretty decent, considering the fact that there were tornadoes and other inhospitable weather systems elsewhere in the region.
For those who were there, it was a great opportunity to see old friends, make new ones, and make as many passes down the eighth-mile track as desired. As usual, the track prep at US 43 was impeccable, a track that boasts 700 feet of naturally sticky concrete, bolstered with copious amounts of VHT
The competition at US 43 was very tough, as eighth-mile racing always is. With only half the distance of a quarter-mile to cover, reaction times are especially important, since there is little room to correct a mistake on the starting line. Because of this, most of the local racers are pretty tough shoes, so winning here on any weekend is an accomplishment in itself.
When the smoke cleared, Matt Tankersley of Elton, Tennessee, walked away with the Saturday title, winning over Eric Frost, who bulbed in the final. Actually, your author has to take at least partial responsibility for his redlight. After photographing his burnout, I ran to the starting line, forgetting to turn off my flash unit. Tankersley left first, and I took a shot of his launch with the flash on, which caused Frost to launch prematurely. I instantly realized what happened and headed to the pits to apologize. Ever the gentleman, he smiled, shook hands with me and said "No big deal, that's racing." I was very impressed with his sportsmanship.
Rodney Butler and Travis Quillen always seemed to have a crowd around them, no matter whether they were in the pits or in the staging lanes. Rodney's outrageous twin-turbo '65 GTO was running very strong, a testament to its solid engineering and preparation. It seemed like the pair were hard at work every minute the Goat wasn't on the track. As a result, they were rewarded with some spectacular performances. How do 4.40s at 160-plus mph grab you?
Mike and Vicki Cooper, of Eldorado, Kansas, made the trip to Lawrenceburg, along with daughter Julie, son Chris, wife Kristin, and their brand new carbon-fiber bodied '63 LeMans, which ran 4.70s at 155-plus mph. Look for a full feature on this spectacular machine in the near future.
Of course, the big news was on display in the pits-the new JBP aluminum block and reproduction Ram Air IV intake manifold, which you read all about in last month's issue. The look of amazement on the faces of the spectators was worth the trip alone.
Next year, the Jim Butler Performance Pontiac Nationals will once again be at US 43 Drag raceway on Memorial Day Weekend. For info see www.jbp-pontiac.com/events.html or www.jbp-pontiac.com. Mark your calendar and make a point to go-you never know what new parts the Butlers will have on display!
A winner's list was not provided for this event because the track was unable to send one by press time.