McCain Brothers Win, Henderson and Powrie Earn Runner-Up Finishes at Lights Out X With Holley EFI

By: Todd Veney | 02/21/2019 < Back to Motor Life Home

At legendary South Georgia Motorsports Park just outside Valdosta, Ga., the McCain brothers led a parade of Holley EFI-powered door-car drivers who starred at Lights Out X, one of the premier events in small-tire drag racing. The McCains enjoyed perhaps the biggest triumph of their careers, winning the No-Time Small Block Shootout with “Bowser,” their Holley EFI-powered one-of-a-kind '71 Datsun 1200 driven by D.J. and tuned by Ryan. The overdue Lexington, S.C.-based family team overcame one obstacle after another to meet Tampa's Troy Pirez Jr. in the photo-finish final, where, in the closest and by far the best matchup of the five-round extravaganza, D.J. prevailed.

McCain and Pirez blasted off the starting line as one and charged to side by side to the eighth-mile mark, where the little Datsun inched out Pirez's "Stonewall Jackson" S-10 pickup by a margin too close for the naked eye to detect. Parts had to be shipped into the track and a small army of mechanics built the engine right there in the pits. In pre-race testing, the Brian Tooley Racing-backed machine got dragged into a field when it got caught up in his opponent's parachute as they turned off the track at the top end. Then they burned up a pushrod in the first qualifying session, trudged up to the tower to have an announcement made over the PA asking if anyone at the track had a spare, then worked day and night to completely rebuild their Abby’s Performance Racing Engines LSX in time to make it to the lanes in time for the first round.

Radial-tire stalwart Chad Henderson made it all the way to the final round of Limited Drag Radial with his Holley EFI-powered '87 Buick Grand National. Not a built-from-the-ground-up Pro Mod but a real Grand National that once prowled the street, it carried Henderson to the best run of his career and nearly the best run of anyone's career, a 4.10 that came up just a hundredth of a second short of the all-time record of 4.09. Like the McCains, he had to work through a slew of frustrating setbacks that would have sidelined a lesser team, not the least of which was destroying the ring gear in the rear end and an intermediate shaft in the transmission on his winning first-round pass.

Had the second round been an hour or so later like usual and not the following day, Henderson would have been out of the race right then. Instead, he and his Alabama-based team drove for hours to find a replacement trans and rear end and worked all night to install them. Aided by superstar Stevie "Fast" Jackson, Henderson and crew pressed on with a 2-speed transmission in place of his busted 3-speed and a less-than-ideal rear-end ratio and still came within a round of winning it all.

The No. 1 qualifier in Limited Drag Radial also runs Holley EFI. Justin Martin, who also is the current record holder in the category, made the long trek from Oklahoma only to do a huge wheelstand in qualifying that did serious damage to the front end and necessitated a major thrash. Martin and team put it all back together and lasted all the way to the semifinals, where he fell to 2017 Limited Drag Radial champ Shane Stack, who then topped Henderson in the final.

Like Henderson, veteran Greg Powrie survived four grueling rounds to reach the final round before getting knocked out of competition just short of the prize. Driving his Holley EFI-powered twin-turbo big-block 4th Gen Camaro, he was runner-up in Pro 275, dodging bullets throughout eliminations after qualifying high with a strong 4.06. The Michigan driver, who competes in multiple categories, came out on top in probably the single most thrilling round of the entire 32-car race when he got the best of Brian McGee in a pedal-fest, 6.10 to 6.26.

In perhaps the most highly anticipated matchup of the entire week at Lights Out X, "Jason X" and "Ghost" met in a grudge match for the ages: one run, winner takes all, for a reported $150,000 payoff. With the stands packed and onlookers crowding them on the line, JR Gray, driving the evil-looking "Jason X" Fox body Mustang, and Chris Tuten, at the wheel of Mario Johnson’s sinister "Ghost" C7 Corvette, inched toward the beams.

Gray appeared to grab a slight early lead, and from the stands it was impossible to tell who won. The scoreboards, naturally, were turned off, and both teams had representatives in the tower to make sure the clocks were shielded from prying eyes, but when the win-light came on, it was in Tuten's lane, sending the entire "Ghost" crew into a rapturous celebration on the starting line. How big the engines are, how much power they make, how much the cars weigh, and how fast they can go remains unknown, but both small-block nitrous beasts run the same EFI system: Holley.

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