If you haven’t been living under a rock you’ve heard about the Sweet 16 2.0 race at South Georgia Motorsports Park where the record books were utterly crushed in the two categories and in several niche segments. The track and weather conditions were coupled with motivation to chase after $101,000-to-win in Radial vs. The World and a $50,000 winning prize for X275. It brought out the craziest fields of all-time as racers put it all on the line.
One of the higher profile low elapsed times set was the all-time nitrous-powered record for a drag racing vehicle. Marcus Birt knocked it down from a 3.63 to a stellar 3.604, with a top speed of 205.60 mph. It was less than a month ago that the critics were claiming a nitrous car couldn’t compete in the Radial vs. The World category, much less qualify in the top three like Birt had accomplished.
A word of advice to haters—never give a challenge to a determined drag racer. Birt relied on the tuning and consulting services of Stevie “Fast” Jackson in order to be a top player in the Radial vs. the World field. The hardcore racer and tuner told Birth he had a game plan that would push the nitrous car deep into the 3.60s and possibly crack the 3.50 barrier. It defied everything that well-known Pro Nitrous racers thought possible, but to stand apart from the crowd in this sport thinking differently is part of the process.
The first move was to get the 2016 Chevy Corvette, which was built by Jerry Bickel Race Cars, lighter. The category allows for a 2,250-pound minimum weight and the team got the car under 2,300 pounds, but was quiet on exactly how far under. The next move was to convert to a Holley EFI Dominator engine management system. The swap in EFI systems was done mostly because Jackson is well versed in the Holley EFI unit. There were other changes to the drivetrain and overall setup of the suspension that Birt wasn’t willing to reveal. The car features a Pat Musi Racing Engines 959ci powerplant with five stages of nitrous oxide.
The results in qualifying were quickly realized once the first day came to a close and Birt sat fourth with a career-best of 3.650 at 204.32 mph. The Georgia-based racer would best that number the next morning with the record-setting 3.604 and ultimately lock him in third on the qualifying sheet once all 11 qualifiers had concluded. The incremental times on the 3.604 run were a .940 sixty-foot and a 2.414 330 clocking.
The team tried to top the number but fell short in the subsequent rounds running a string of low 3.60s. Qualifying concluded in dramatic fashion during the home run derby in the final session when Birth blew the hood scoop off due to a cam sync sensor problem. The same issue resulted in a first round loss the next day.
Regardless of the final results, Birt and Jackson reset all expectations for nitrous-powered Pro Mods—regardless of which tires are out back. The next goal is to march their way into the 3.50s and continue to bring the fight to the boosted combinations.