A short hike south of Baltimore, where poet Frank O'Hara was born and Edgar Allen Poe is buried, the metaphorical yoking of creation and destruction took place at Maryland International Raceway on September 17. As poetic motion bore new legends of dragstrip glory at the East Coast Shootout last year, the LS1Tech Racing Series was drawing to a close. The East Side Performance-sponsored gathering promised to be the biggest F-body event on the right coast, however, in actuality it turned out to be the dirge song for the fledgling race series. Despite the huge amount of interest in late model GM EFIs in the area, the race only drew around 70 cars.
To those involved, however, the East Coast Shootout was just another day of racing. There were no long faces, only smiles and laughter as the crowd braved the humid heat typical of locations south of the Mason-Dixon. With several heavy hitters in attendance--produced by the skilled hands of The Vette Doctors, Cartek, and of course East Side Performance--this was sure to be an exciting day. At the top of the heap in the Pro Modified class, which follows most basic Outlaw 10.5 rules, including a maximum tire size of 29.5x10.5, the Ohio Boys continued to dominate with several low 8-second passes as Steve Turley wheeled the flamed-out '96 Formula powered by a turbocharged 408ci, iron block LS1. The best run on the day was 8.31 at 173mph to Paul Ziajski's 9.27 at 150mph. In all fairness, Paul relies on merely a stock cube LS6 built by Cartek, which runs high 8s when conditions permit. In fact, the New Jersey native owns one of the first Z06s to run 8s with the help of twin 67mm Garrett turbos and a 12-bolt with an F-body suspension swap. Fresh off the Edelbrock dual stage nitrous setup, East Side Performance was fixing to win its own event, running a 9.14 in qualifying (shortly after this race they went on to break into the 8s with the new setup). However, on this day, the gods (or the rule books) were not smiling as Ken Quartuccio received an automatic red light for deep staging in the first round of Extreme Modified. The final round wound up being the battle of the stock cube, boosted Formulas. Hometown hero Wayne Gopshes won despite not breaching 9.96 all day, meanwhile Michigan native Kevin Gluski had to settle for Second after posting a best run of 8.99 at 153.
Unlike Extreme Modified, which allows single (limited size) power adders, Super Modified is for naturally aspirated motors only. Stock style suspension is also required along with most stock style equipment, and weight penalties are also assessed for certain transmissions to keep things even. Despite the technology and cubic inch advantage for LS1s, Joe Overton's 388 LT1 TA still proves to be the dominant force in this class. So much so that on this particular day, there weren't even any other entries. Joe later said he had hoped to run against Judson in the SAM Camaro, but unfortunately he could not make it to the event and Joe didn't make the Atlanta event either. Super Stock, not surprisingly, had lots of entries. This stock cubic inch category is populated by "affordable" heads and cam combos like Tim Jewel's low 10-second '01 Firehawk TA, which took home First place. The best run of the day was set at 10.45 with a 150-pound weight penalty for being a solid axle Gen III. The Virginian stole the crown from fellow Southerner Ryan Robinson in his '98 Camaro, which mustered only a 10.68 at 125.
Competition was tight in the 10.50 ET Index class in which Jeff Gilbert of Frederick, MD edged out Laura Bellow from Bernville, Penn., running a 10.62 to Laura's 10.69. After gaining a substantial lead, Jeff backed out his 396 LT1 TA before crossing the line as Laura broke the plain in stride at 125mph with her naturally aspirated '02 TA. George Benson of TTP led the 11.50 ET Index class by taking Larry Hasty of Waldorf, Md., off the line, running an 11.83 to Larry's 12.31. Both had a hard road to the finals, having to knock off New Jersey neighbor Edgar Perez and Tom Sibiski in their LS1 Camaros. While the Index classes are fairly restrictive in keeping stock-style suspensions and stock-appearing vehicles, just about anything goes in the Bracket class except starting line electronics and throttle delays or stops. Going au natural, Robert Boyd of Richmond, Va., ran 12.60 on a 12.50 dial-in in his 2000 Camaro to take the win. Laplata, Maryland's Bruce Row trailed in his 5.3-liter 2003 GMC Silverado with a 15.43 on a 14.89 dial-in. The Bracket class also had a long list of entries, which included Mike Brown's 9-second TA which unfortunately bowed out to local Scott Lawrence in the first round.
These EFI GM races are such a great time, it's a shame the interest needed to keep them alive isn't here. While hurricane Katrina definitely played a big role in 2005's LS1Tech schedule, the fact remains that turnout wasn't near what it could have been, or needed to be for the series to be successful. Our hats are off to the LS1Tech staff and the volunteers who worked so hard on this series. Perhaps when our new Camaro hits production, enough cars will be built, and enough buzz will be generated, to give an EFI GM race series a chance.