In small tire racing, building a new Radial vs the World car and having names like “Stevie Fast” Jackson, Killin’ Time Racing, David Reese, and Pat Musi associated with it pretty much guarantees instantaneous celebrity status. For J.R. Gray, a veteran grudge racer who has already earned plenty of respect with his small-block nitrous “Jason X” Fox-Body Mustang, assembling a “dream team” for his new Radial vs. the World (RVW) 2020 Camaro (aptly named “Head Shot”) put him further into the spotlight before he’s even made a hit with it.
With Jackson as his tuner for the past five-plus years, Gray has dominated the grudge circuit on 315 drag radials time and time again as a part of the Killin’ Time Racing (KTR) camp, and he decided it was finally time for something new.
“I called Stevie up and told him I think I want to build an RVW car and he said ‘I’m on board to do whatever you want to do,’” Gray explained of how the decision was made some time around March of 2020. “David [Reese] did an awesome job building it in just about four months.”
Initially, the purpose-built project was hush-hush, but Gray shared some photos of the wiring work that Homier Fabrication had done on his new RVW Camaro on his Facebook page and the buzz around the build was immediate. David Reese at Reese Brothers Race Cars in Temple, Georgia, had recently finished up the SFI 25.1-spec tube chassis work for “Head Shot” and sent his work of art out for its finishing touches.
“It’s basically a twin to my car,” stated Reese in regards to his own RVW weapon, his relatively new “El Diablo 2.0” Camaro. “It’s lightweight – about 2,250 pounds with him [Gray] in it, and one of the first RVW cars to come in at weight.” Given that current DXP Radial vs the World rules state a big-block nitrous combination with a bore space over 5.00-inch must weigh at least 2,250-pounds, it seems Reese hit the mark right on the head with the scales.
Since Gray has been notorious with nitrous over the years, he chose to stick with the power adder and selected Pat Musi as his engine builder for the massive 959ci engine. A Rossler 400 lock-up transmission and Neal Chance converter were paired with the powerplant, while the Holley Dominator electronic fuel injection was wired up to work with the Switzer Dynamics nitrous oxide system in conjunction with an MSD Power Grid ignition controller and Racepak dash.
“We have two Musi motors, and two transmissions, too,” Gray noted of his sudden need for spares as he’s used to usually running “one and done” style where he can go all out without consequence by destruction. “This will require a change of pace and a change of mindset since we’re going to have to go rounds.” Radial vs the World is, essentially, a battle of attrition and Gray plans to stay in the high-stakes game as long as he can.
Special “El Diablo” series shocks and struts by Mark Menscer complement the four-link suspension out back, as does the modular Strange rear end, while Strange carbon brakes are responsible for safely bringing the svelte Chevy to stop.
The result is impressive, and the sexy satin orange chrome wrap adds the perfect amount of flair to a car that will certainly speak volumes on its own.
“I feel like this car can break the nitrous world record, and the overall RVW record,” asserted Gray, confident in his KTR team’s capabilities. “We’re going to attack RVW the same way I run in the grudge world… I plan on trying to run for money every round.”
Gray loves the rivalries of grudge racing, and plans to bring that same attitude “loud and proud” to Radial vs the World to up the ante even further.
“We’re not coming to play pattycake, we want everyone to be our rivals except for KTR,” he added. Big words backed up by a big team with a big history and even bigger bravado.
With initial testing slated to take place in just a few weeks, Gray can’t wait to debut his new “Head Shot” Camaro at Donald “Duck” Long’s back-to-back Sweet 16 and No Mercy races at South Georgia Motorsports Park in October. His first foray into the world of “class racing,” the first time Gray lights the scoreboards with this car will be the first time he’s ever posted a number in heads up competition.
The only potential wrench in Gray’s plans have to do with the NHRA’s ever-changing schedule due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Given that Jackson runs Pro Mod there with his Bahrain 1-backed Camaro, there’s a good chance he may be unavailable for the small-tire shenanigans at SGMP. “Things are changing weekly, so we still don’t know what’s going to happen,” Gray calmly added. “But, if you see my orange rig roll through the gates, you’ll know we’re there to win.”