This weekend I watched a VW Golf race to 200 MPH, a 250 MPH Lamborghini with a parachute and a diesel-powered Ford Mustang. I also saw police officers nodding their heads in approval. It's not heaven, it's the Texas Mile.
To hear Shannon Matus tell it, when she and her husband discovered an airport in Goliad, Texas with an unused runway it was a no-brainer to invite their friends to race down the length to see how fast they can safely go. Texas had just passed strict street-racing laws and enthusiasts needed a place to safely and legally test the limits of their cars and sanity. Seven years ago this meant 35 cars and bikes. When I went this weekend there were around 220 cars signed up, with more waiting to get on the track.
The event is so well run there were almost no incidents and they were able to complete more than 1,000 runs in just the first two days — there are no classes or complex regulations so cars can run as often as they can get in line. Radar guns aren't particularly accurate at these speeds so timing genius Ed Raether — who owns an LS1-powered E24 M6 — setup a triple-redundant GPS-time based laser trap system.
It recorded a naked Hayabusa going 250 MPH. As soon as the crowd heard the speed over the PA they lept to their feet to hoot-and-holler. While the revery was going on few noticed the almost silent black Hayabusa following it down the track. I just heard "what is that" and turned around to see a bike crossing the mile-marker at ludicrous speed. You can't even fathom what 261.5 MPH looks like until you see it.
When he saw the score the rider was shaking. We asked him how he felt and all he could say was "I gotta go hug my wife" before taking off down the pits.
There's also no stigma associated with brands. Nitrous-injected diesels, tricked-out imports, American all-motor muscle, and even a brand new Scirocco were all welcome. Here are a few of our favorites.
Odds are you don't even know what an AMC Concord is, let alone would recognize one stripped of all most if its chrome and flying by you at 130 MPH. This makes Joel Hannig's car extra sleeper. Picked up for $25 not running, he's bored out the standard AMC 401 V8 to 426 and is capable of turning a 12.83 in quarter-mile run.
We love nothing more than a Bandit Trans Am and there was no mistaking the big black screamin' chicken owned by Dick and Gail Jurkowski. There's no forced induction or nitrous here. It's all motor — just not a Pontiac motor. Behind the stock-looking graphics is a big-block 496 c.i. Chevy V8. We saw him cross the 195 MPH threshold, but he thinks hell crest 200 MPH before long.
The HPA Scirocco was a hit at the mile, and not just among the VeeDub faithful impressed they spent the money to import one. It's gorgeous in white, a virginal bride hiding a 550 HP twin-turbo V6. The only distraction was a relatively tame looking Mk III Golf GTI going 206 MPH. Seriously, someone found their fast.
When I asked Mike Wood what compelled him to put a freaking Duramax oil-burner out of a Chevy 2500 truck into a Ford Mustang he just laughed and said "A dare." He wasn't kidding. The long-time drag racer was dared by a friend to make a diesel quarter-miler and Wood agreed to build a car if his friend built the motor.
The result is a beast of a car making 700 HP and 1,200 lb-ft of torque in its most detuned form, and a max of 1,200 HP with 2,000 lb-ft of earth shaking torque. Intercooler? Who needs an intercooler when you can pump N2O straight into the motor using a custom Nitrous Express system. Insanity.
This Hennessey Ford GT wasn't the fastest GT at the mile this weekend, but the Joe Dirt theme and Mullet license plate made it a favorite. The fastest was none other than a Heffner GT laying down a ridiculous 249.7 MPH.
The El Camino's classier brother, the GMC Caballero wasn't going to steal any records but it surely stole my heart. "It's about as streamlined as a brick," said the owner, who was nonetheless pleased to see someone care about it. A daily driver, the Chevy small block-powered cartruck puts down enough power to break the 140 MPH barrier and scare unassuming kids in Honda Civics crossing its path.
There were at least three Lamborghinis charging down the track, with the most noticeable being this black Lamborghini Gallardo crossing the 240 MPH barrier thanks to twin turbos, a MoTec engine management system and a light breeze. Yes, this is what it feels like to race down the track at 240 MPH. Later an orange Lamborghini set the weekend record hitting 250.1 MPH.