Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by the FSC Staff
The Inaugural Comp Camps NMCA Memphis Homecoming race over the weekend of May 2-5, 2019, at Millington, Tennessee’s Memphis International Raceway also hosted the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series 13th Annual LSX Shootout. While the forecast wasn’t ideal at first, racers and officials rallied to hustle through the program and were able to run the event to completion—despite losing an entire day to rain.
Putting another great event into the history books meant victors were crowned in the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle, while others finished out the weekend with some homework. Win or lose, though, everyone who raced was a part of something big, and the cooperation and perseverance of all in attendance helped trump even Mother Nature’s best efforts.
Reigning champion, Jesse Wilson of Muncie, Indiana, came into the Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin Dickey Parts Center race cool, calm, and confident. He started strong when he ran his RPM Transmissions Turbo 400-equipped ’15 Camaro COPO-clone (owned by Wilson’s father-in-law, Kelly Pierce) out the back door early in the weekend to go 10.180 at 130.14 mph. Qualifying second overall and having set the top speed for the class, Wilson defeated Scotty Duncan in round one of eliminations and Ted Hughes in round two before going against Haley Burkhammer in the finals. Although Burkhammer showed quicker time at the stripe, Wilson’s perfect 0.000-second light allowed him to get to the stripe first, and he captured the win with his 10.238 at 131.96mph trip down the 1,320.
Recently married, Haley Burkhammer had a fabulous weekend in Chevrolet Performance Stock presented by Scoggin Dickey Parts Center as she took the number-one qualifying spot with her 10.169 at 129.48mph pass. Driving a DR525-powered ’10 Camaro belonging to her grandfather, Ronnie Hackleton, Burkhammer enjoyed a bye run in the first eliminations round before taking out Keith Vaughn in the semi-finals. She had the quicker elapsed time in the finals with a 10.193 at 129.13mph effort, but it wasn’t meant to be as Jesse Wilson in the other lane clocked a perfection reaction time and took the win out of Burkhammer’s hands.
Regina Puckett reigned supreme in Proform Rumble. The lady from Lynn Haven, Florida, put herself on the qualifying list in the number-two spot when she clicked off an 11.532-second pass on her 11.50 index during qualifying, then proved her prowess wasn’t a fluke as she won round after round through eliminations. The first pair showed Puckett with the advantage over Bobbie Strong, and in the second, she had the same outcome over Harv Owen. In the semi-finals, Puckett persisted and earned a spot in the finals where her ’10 Camaro ran nearly dead on its number with an 11.512 at 119.02 trip to cap off a great, winning weekend.
Paul Lewis of St. Louis, Missouri, had some trouble in Proform Rumble qualifying trying to get his ’04 Pontiac GTO to run his intended 15.00-second elapsed time, and his too-quick 13.235 result put him in 11th. Lewis got a handle on things by the time eliminations began, though, and his first two passes improved significantly with 15.0-second runs to show for it. Lewis advanced to the finals on a bye and he was simply too quick to the stripe, breaking out with a 14.842 at 78.17mph ticket to take second.
Working to get his Clairco Racing ’05 Corvette as close to its 8.75 dial in as possible, Steven Griswold of Milan, Illinois, and his crew chief, Richard Brannen, did a spot-on job as the LS-powered and ProCharged car delivered an 8.759 during LME Street King qualifying to slot them into fourth. Griswold did his duty behind the wheel. Three well-fought elimination round wins in a row against Jenna Pierce-Wilson, Al Corda, and Kurt Anderson, respectively, enabled him to have a shot at all the marbles. In the finals, Griswold left the line 0.007 seconds too soon and triggered the red light, but still took the win, as Taylor Lumsden in the opposing lane went red first.
Caddo Mills, Texas-based racer Taylor Lumsden qualified fifth on a 10.014-second pass from his ’01 Pontiac Firehawk, and the longtime LME Street King racer showed his experience all through eliminations. In round one, Lumsden put heavy hitter Andy Warren on the trailer, then sent Bryan Williams packing in round two. Lumsden was almost perfect in the semi-finals, going 10.004 at 133.50mph to win over Jeff Brady, but he was too quick to leave the line in the finals. Unfortunately for him, Lumsden’s -0.030-second reaction time killed his chance at a win, even though his 9.997 at 133.98mph trip could have been successful in the double-breakout scenario that ensued.
One of the best parts of the LSX Shootout is the Racer Appreciation Happy Hour held on Thursday of the event. In years past, the prizes have totaled over $10,000 and this year was no different with engine blocks, cylinder heads, gift certificates and more given away to lucky participants.
A specialty class added especially for the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series competitors, the Brian Tooley Racing Real Street Shootout enabled NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street racers with LS- or LT-powered entries to go head-to-head in their own battle. As fate would have it, Nick McGrath and Jessie Coulter both were winners in round one and met up in the finals as a result. A resident of Joliet, Illinois, McGrath chopped down the tree with his quick 0.015-second reaction time and was able to pick up the win with his turbocharged, Straightline Performance-backed, and LSX-swapped Fox-body Mustang. For his efforts, McGrath was awarded a $1,000 check, an LSX engine block courtesy of Chevrolet Performance, and an exclusive invitation to attend the Chevrolet Performance challenge Series Champions dinner held during the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis, Indiana, in December—along with a Chevrolet Performance champion ring.
NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street champion and number-one qualifier Jessie Coulter has had plenty of wins over the years with his infamous, turbocharged ’91 Camaro, but let someone else have the fun during the Brian Tooley Racing Real Street Shootout as the man from Bowling Green, Kentucky, got beat on a holeshot. Although Coulter ran both quicker and faster with his 4.736 at 155.63mph pass, Nick McGrath turned on the win light in the other lane and Coulter conceded to be the runner-up.
Ten car and driver combinations were entered into the Chevrolet Street Car Challenge, but only one pair could top the list and that honor went to North Carolina’s Terry Faust and his Heintz Racing ’02 Z06 Corvette. Faust was the only driver to break into the 8-second zone, and did so consistently, as all of his runs were 8.9-second hits, averaging 8.945-seconds across the three.
Capturing the runner up honors in the Chevrolet Street Car Challenge was another Heintz Racing member, Don Dixon, who averaged 9.476-seconds across his three impressive mid-9-second passes, and ran a new personal best of 9.32 at 148 mph in his ProCharged ‘05 Pontiac GTO.
Steven Griswold and all the Chevrolet Performance Challenge Series winners took a trip to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle to collect the spoils of victory and celebrate.