By Ainsley Jacobs
Photo by BME Photography
When Earl Wells started his GALOT Motorsports team in 2003, he had a dream of operating at the highest level of whatever he focused his attention on. Now, more than fifteen years later, he certainly has achieved that goal – and then some. While racing at the 2019 US Street Nationals event in Bradenton, Florida, GALOT driver and 2016 PDRA Pro Boost champion Kevin Rivenbark reset both the elapsed time and speed records in the eighth-mile for a ProCharger-equipped vehicle when he ran 3.613 at 207.37 mph.
Wells, who also can lay claim to owning the popular GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, North Carolina, originally made a name for himself in the tractor pulling world but has catapulted his drag racing team to rockstar status by partnering with the right people; this time, it’s been Pro Line Racing and ProCharger who have helped Wells’s GALOT team get it done.
“We started testing on Tuesday, and pretty much straight through part of Friday we changed, and changed, and changed…” shared Rivenbark of the status quo for the pre-race happenings at Bradenton Motorsports Park. With car chief and tuner mastermind Steve Petty calling the shots, the team focused on adjusting Rivenbark’s ’69 Camaro’s four-link suspension setup, its shock settings, and its tune up.
“We got lost more than a few times with all the changes,” laughed Rivenbark, who had clicked off a string of 3.6-second eighth-mile passes during testing, “but Petty and the crew put it together for the first round of qualifying and it ran fast.”
For those wondering why Rivenbark’s ride looks familiar, it’s because it was previously driven by Pro Line Racing’s very own Eric Dillard late in 2018, where it set a (now eclipsed) record of 3.67 seconds.
The current combination features a 548 ci PLR-built engine coupled to a newly-added lock-up transmission and converter, both from M&M Transmissions, with an undisclosed but Pro Boost-legal ProCharger blower on board. A FuelTech FT600 engine management system controls it all, and the Jerry Bickel suspension componentry is primed for perfection.
Ultimately, Rivenbark qualified at the top of the 26-car Outlaw Pro Mod field with a 3.634 at 207.08 mph hit. “We weren’t expecting a .63!” he proclaimed. With weather forcing a hurried schedule, eliminations began on Saturday. In round one, and curious to quell the idea that the previous run may have been a fluke, Rivenbark dispatched Tony Wilson with a 3.637 at 206.75 mph hit.
He enjoyed a bye run in round two, and that’s when things all came together. “The track was tricky, it seemed like it was prepped for radials, but Petty being the great tuner that he is had the car on a rail and it went down every single pass,” noted Rivenbark, who didn’t have to rely on his MVM wheelie bars and was excited for the excellent atmospheric conditions that were also present for the weekend.
Not expecting anything more than another 3.63, Rivenbark let ‘er rip when the tree signaled go time and flew through the traps to clock an incredible 3.613 at 207.37 mph record-setting run. It wound up being his last run of the weekend, too, as the race was eventually called due to rain.
“I feel like I’m in the post office as a ‘most wanted man’ now,” joked Rivenbark, who was quick to credit the group effort that made his success possible. “Of course, thanks go to Mr. and Mrs. Wells for letting me and John [Strickland] do what we do – without them, it wouldn’t be possible. Between racing and the dragstrip, Mr. Wells has done so much for the sport of drag racing.”
Next, Rivenbark will race at South Georgia Motorsports Park for the notorious Lights Out 10 event in February. It will also be his first time running on radials, and he’s hoping Tim McAmis will put out a “how to” video between now and then. As a Plan B, Rivenbark will be testing in private to prepare, then plans to make his ProCharged mark once more before continuing on to tackle the 2019 PDRA Pro Boost series.