Donald Long’s legendary small-tire radial races are always exciting favorites for racers and fans, and the recent DXP Magic 8 event held at Orlando Speed World in Florida over the weekend of July 23-25, 2020, brought plenty of action and plenty of drama. With three premier classes each running an elite 8-car eliminator and limited spectators allowed on the property, the race had a laidback, intimate feel that belied the high-stakes at hand. After three days of wicked runs and fierce competition, only the undisputed three best were left standing.
True to form, after six sessions of Radial vs the World qualifying, Georgia boy Stevie Fast Jackson owned the number one spot with a 3.582 at 210.93mph run from his supercharged “Shadow 2.0” ’15 Camaro. Jackson’s Killin’ Time Racing team was definitely armed and dangerous with Phil Shuler, Billy Stocklin, and the rest of the KTR crew on hand to create a dream team group of guys.
Fellow KTR racer Marcus Birt was pitted next to Jackson, who also handles Birt’s tune-up. Two-time NHRA Top Sportsman champion and recent NMCA VP Racing Fuels Lubricants Pro Mod racer Jeffrey Barker was overseeing Birt’s operation for the weekend and it was Birt, of course, who took the number-two spot with a 3.589 at 203.16mph pass in his ’16 Corvette.
Going into eliminations, both Jackson and Birt easily won their first-round battles. The men put on repeat performances in round two, and their plan panned out perfectly as they met in the finals for an all-KTR showdown. Birt had held the elapsed-time advantage over Jackson throughout the show, but Jackson drilled the tree with a near-perfect 0.006-second reaction time and took the stripe with a 3.554 at 211.63 and turned the win light on in his lane over Birt’s 3.570 at 205.04 mph.
KTR certainly made a statement and left no doubt that they had come to dominate—which is exactly what they did with a textbook perfect weekend. Sometimes there are casualties of war, however, and even though The Shadow sacrificed its BAE bullet in the finals for the greater good, it didn’t hamper the celebrations in the winner’s circle at all. Jackson enjoyed his hard-earned, rightfully deserved success and even took the time to chat with some children who had come to watch their hero.
Meanwhile, in Pro 275 and X275, the top qualifying spots were occupied by Chris Daniel with a 3.827 at 193.77mph pass and Blake Copson with a 4.268 at 165.68 mph run, respectively.
Copson, driving multi-time NMRA champion Manny Buginga’s X275 turbocharged Mustang known as “Big Red,” was joined in the pits by Eric Dillard of Pro Line Racing behind the wheel of Buginga’s other entry, a ProCharged Mustang in Pro 275 trim. PLR tuner extraordinaire Jamie Miller was responsible for the tune-ups, and had a plan to put them both in the winner’s circle by the end of the weekend.
In eliminations, although Buginga and his family were not able to attend the race due to circumstances around the Covid-19 race, he was certainly present in spirit as the team was working hard to make him proud. With expert driving, both Dillard and Copson cruised straight on through to the finals. Tensions were high as the last pairs of the weekend lined up, but the guys got it done and brought home the win in both Pro 275 and X275 for an incredible double-up victory for Buginga.