It was billed as the biggest and baddest small-tire race of all-time and the Duck X Productions Sweet 16 played up to the hype with $101,000 up for grabs along with the fame that goes along with it. The Sweet 16, simply put, was a scaled back version of the Lights Out/No Mercy events with the focus solely on the Radial vs. The World. It had an exclusive race entry and a limited number of fans were allowed to enter South Georgia Motorsports Park. Mark Micke, driving Jason Carter’s famous 1978 Chevy Malibu, ran the tables on the 34-car field. They first crushed the Radial vs. The World record—twice—and eventually qualified on top of the ladder with a mind-numbing 3.62 at 221 mph. In fact, the 16-car field bump spot was 3.76, held by Ty Tutterow driving the supercharged Camaro formerly campaigned by Barry Mitchell.
The race stats by the end of qualifying showed six racers in the 3.60s, the first ever sub-3.70 was posted by DeWayne Mills, and a total of seven racers ran quicker than the previous all-time quickest pass on DOT radials. Saturday’s elimination day, however, belonged to Mark Micke and Jason Carter as they continued their barrage of impressive runs. First round, they raced passed Tutterow in a decisive victory, 3.74 at 219 mph to the supercharged 3.84 at 197 mph clocking. Round two was an easy automatic win as Tim Slavens went red but Micke still posted a quicker and faster 3.73 at 218 mph. Pro Mod standout Paulo Giust was the next competitor on the list with his supercharged Hemi combination and Micke delivered yet another run in the 3.70s in the heat of the day. This time the Malibu cruised to the finals thanks to a 3.75 at 219 mph.
The other side ladder was being dominated by a turbocharged racer, too. Mills and his Golden Gorilla were equally unstoppable. The Precision turbocharged Camaro took down NHRA Pro Stock racer Alex Laughlin, who was racing the Speed Society supercharged C6 Corvette that was tuned by Frankie Taylor. Mills set low ET of the round with a 3.66 at 213 mph. Round two, he faced Stevie “Fast” Jackson and it was over before it began when Jackson lit the red light! The Oklahoma-based racer wisely lifted and coasted into the semifinals. Again, his competition fouled out of the race, Keith Haney went .002 red but it was all for naught as Mills ran his hot rod through the finish line under power and earned a 3.73 at 211 mph time slip and a shot at the $101,000.
In the finals, Micke and Mills stopped being friends as they rolled into the water box and six figures hung in the balance. Both racers left nearly together, Mills with a slight .006 advantage on the tree. But by the time the big turbochargers started shoving copious amounts of boost into their engines, Mills tires shook and it was all Micke needed to cruise to the win with a 3.72 at 214 mph to Mills’ 4.07 at 205 mph. Micke and car owner Carter rolled into the winner’s circle to get their suitcase full of cash for the biggest payday of their illustrious racing careers, which spans over 20 years. The Malibu added to its legacy as an icon in this segment of the sport while showing that an all-billet Chevy-based big-block engine with a pair of Garrett turbochargers rules the Radial vs. The World category.