Quick Fuel Carburetor Powers Earl Talley to NHRA Division 2 Sportsman Championship

By: Todd Veney | 01/04/2019 < Back to Motor Life Home

In one unforgettable weekend that justified a lifetime of dedication to the sport, veteran drag racer "Big Earl" Talley won the Summit Series Division 2 Sportsman championship in Reynolds, Ga. As the king of one of NHRA's seven geographic divisions, he was invited to compete for the national title at Pomona Raceway and drove his Quick Fuel carburetor-powered '87 Buick Regal to the semifinals on the same quarter-mile where the superstars of the sport were racing for the 2018 Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock championships.

Talley, who never misses a race at his hometown track, Beech Bend Raceway Park, actually was part of the Nashville-based team from Music City Raceway this year. Pitted against the top drivers from all over southeastern U.S. on the Silver Dollar Raceway eighth-mile, the Plum Springs, Ky., racer survived seven grueling preliminary rounds to face Tracy Sikes in the winner-take-all final. He came through in the clutch with his best reaction time of the entire event, a near-perfect .003-second light, and nailed his dial-in right to the thousandth of a second, 7.730 on a 7.73 dial, to win it all. 

"This is the biggest win I've ever had, no doubt about it," said Talley, 50, who started racing in the late 1980s and won his first event in 1989. "I've been trying to win this thing for probably 15 or 20 years. I've made it down to four cars, down to eight cars, about a dozen times at the E.T. Finals. One time, at Indy (Division 3), I had both cars still in at the quarterfinals, so to finally win the division championship was a thrill." Before making the 2000-mile trek to Pomona for the national finals, Talley, who takes care of vegetation for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, had never been further west than Houston.

Bucking the odds and defying convention right in the middle of a late-season charge, Talley left the second-gen Camaro he drove to the division championship home in his garage and took the Buick to the NHRA Finals in California. The Camaro literally had been gathering dust for 10 years until he whipped together a 350 small-block Chevy to throw in the car for the Division 2 Finals. Both cars run a QFT carburetor and a host of products from the Holley family of brands, including Holley fuel pumps, MSD two-step rev-limiters, and MSD spark plug wires.

Instead of alcohol (methanol) or racing gas, Talley burns straight-from-the-gas-station E85 in both machines. "It's cheaper – a lot cheaper," he said. "When racing gas gets to be $8.00 or $9.00 a gallon and you're running both cars every Saturday and both cars every Sunday, it really adds up." He's so confident in his proven, reliable setup that he does what would be unthinkable for almost any successful bracket racer: races without a weather station. "I don't keep notes – I don't even have a logbook," he said. "This whole combination is so consistent, I don't need one." 

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