You can bench race from now ‘til Phoenix freezes and you haven’t proven a thing. What does matter is what happens on the dragstrip when two cars line up to go at it head-to-head. There’s only one winner, and the excuses stop there.

In case you haven’t heard of it, the Pure Stock Drags (officially the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race) is when racers gather the second week after Labor Day each September to tangle with other musclecars in a weekend of fun and friendship. This race is reserved for original-type musclecars—no 1,200hp monster motors with three-stage nitrous, no world’s fastest this or that, and no giant classes that soak up most of the day. The Pure Stock Drags is for stock American musclecars from 1955 to 1974.

The rules are pretty clever. First, some modifications are allowed. (This is because a 100-percent stock musclecar doesn’t exist anymore, except in a few rare instances in a few rare collections. They’ve all been run, bored, and set up for operation today.) You’re allowed a low-restriction air filter, carb jetting and ignition timing changes, and an exhaust upgrade after the manifolds. But the engine has to be a legit representation of a factory option (not a 421 GTO, for example), and the castings and components have to be correct for the year and model—no head swaps, port matching, cheater cams, and stuff like that.

There’s no big purse to fight for—just bragging rights for the next year. It’s a ton of fun, and this year the Pontiacs were out in force taking on the Brand X’ers in all forms. In fact, Pontiac was the largest nameplate present, outnumbering even Chevrolet.

The drill is to run as many times as you want on Friday, then the results are tallied and you’re paired with the car running closest to your e.t.’s. This way you have a competitive opponent for Saturday’s best-two-out-of-three shootouts whether you’re fast, slow, or in between, .

It’s all about fun and learning to be a better driver. Times typically come down every year, as owners find the sweet spot of tuning for their car and learn the art of achieving low e.t.’s behind the wheel.

We’re highlighting a few of the races to give you a taste of the action and show how Pontiacs can get it done against any other musclecar. Red dots in the results signify a red light. Full results are listed at the end of the article.

For the rules, 2013 schedule, and more info, log on to www.purestockdrags.com.

1965 GTO vs. 1968 Cutlass S
389/360hp vs. 350/325hp

Qualified: 14.37 vs. 14.38

Out of the staging lanes and into the burn box is Bill Lane’s ‘65 GTO, an extra-sharp hardtop with the classic 389 Tri-Power on tap, four-speed, and 3.55 axle. Bill’s opponent is dyed-in-the-wool Olds enthusiast Dave Heilala running a rare Ram Rod 350, an early version of the W31 350 small-block. Both are four-speeds and qualifying e.t.’s are nearly identical.

Round 1: Dave moves out with a razor-sharp 0.038 reaction time and finds good traction to put the GTO in an early hole. Bill’s doing what he can to reel the Cutlass in, but the Olds eats his lunch in this run. Round 1 to the brand from Lansing.

Round 2: The launch looks more equal, and Bill trims his 60-foot time to keep pace with the Cutlass. Both crank for all they’re worth, but Dave gets there first again. But wait—there’s a flag on the play. It turns out the Olds’ 14.06 e.t. is more than 0.3 quicker than its 14.38 qualifying e.t., and that means a DQ as part of the Pure Stock Drags’ anti-sandbagging rule. The Olds forfeits and Bill’s GTO takes the win.

Car Round 1 Round 2
1965 GTO 14.56 @ 99.32 14.12 @ 98.64
1968 Cutlass S 14.18 @ 98.08 14.06 @ 97.67

1965 Catalina 2+2 vs. 1973 Duster 340
421/376hp vs. 340/240hp

Qualified: 14.33 vs. 14.35

Next up is Michael Lane’s beefy ‘65 Catalina 2+2, a crowd favorite among the many GTOs and F-bodies. Under the expansive hood is the big 421 engine, backed up by an automatic trans and a 3.42:1 axle. Michael is up against Dave Watt’s ‘73 Duster 340 in a clash of big-car/big-engine vs. hot-rod compact.

Round 1: Michael is off the line first on a hot 0.058 reaction time, but Dave is close behind. Michael gets through the critical first 60 feet better and opens up half a car length on the Duster. Dave tries to catch up, but the big-inch Pontiac stays out front for the win.

Round 2: They come out of the hole at the same instant and stay in lock-step past the Tree. It’s too close to call as they roar towards the finish line. In a squeaker, Michael pulls out the win for the big Poncho.

Car Round 1 Round 2
1965 Catalina 2+2 14.20 @ 95.65 14.30 @ 95.20
1973 Duster 340 14.44 @ 97.24 14.34 @ 96.76