The Fastest Street Cars in America Invade Las Vegas: Street Car Super Nats IX

20131116_100847Written and Photography by Jake Conlee

A cold wind blows across the pit area, kicking up silt; blanketing the track in the sweet aromas of racing fuel, barbecue and burnt rubber. In the distance, you can hear fighter planes buzzing into Nellis, and a lone rumble of a race car comes to a sudden halt. “Quiet Time.” is announced over the PA, conjuring up moans and groans from race fans and drivers. But this is as good of a moment as any to reflect:

The Fastest Street Cars in America came to race this weekend, and World Records were handed down, in one of the most exciting, unique and entertaining exhibitions in all of Motorsports.

The Street Car Super Nationals is the culmination of a long season of highly competitive privateer drag racing. These participants and their race cars are some of the most beautiful, homemade , show quality cars that you would ever see in one place. Every American Muscle Car and Hot Rod you can think of, coming to tear down The Strip at LVMS. For the most part, these cars were built by their drivers, and a small collection of friends and business affiliates. You can walk through the pit area, at any moment of the day or night; and these participants are tearing down, working on and fine tuning their race cars, and their chances at winning some prize money. Yes, some of the apex classes entries have Major Sponsors, and some financial backing (Semi Truck Tow Rigs) but looking at some of these pictures, you will see why. Being a true petrolhead, there weren’t many cars that I wouldn’t want, and it was very difficult to choose a favorite. If it can fit into the spectrum of Muscle Car, Hot Rod, Outlaw or Race Car, you will be able to look in any direction at the Street Car Super Nationals, and find something that gains your attention.

Click here to view photo gallery

There are very large purses at stake for the winners (from $750 up to 20,000), and it couldn’t be set in a more appropriate city. What I hear from racers and their support teams, is that they love coming to Las Vegas, to close out another season of racing. There is nothing quite like watching these fire breathing race cars roar down the track, under the lights and a clear desert night sky. The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the setting, with predictably cool temps and typically nice weather (albeit a little breezy), this is the ideal time of year to let these cars run their best, in the Biggest Race of the Season, SCSN IX.

El General Twin Turbo Camaro

El General Twin Turbo Camaro

Over 400 racers across 13 different classes converge on Las Vegas, from every corner of Western North America. The event is organized be the Pacific Street Car Association (PSCA) which is a regional drag racing series that mainly operates in states and provinces of the Pacific Coast. When tracks started closing down, and the interest became more of a genuine effort in finding appropriate classes to participate in, Drag Racers in the west could look to PSCA and their events. If you’re just a weekend warrior that likes coming out to the track when you can make it, even if you’re racing on a budget, they have regular bracket classes for any vehicle. I do love the NHRA, but they don’t fall in line with the “run what you brung” attitude and culture of a PSCA event.

There are fire breathing, 4,000 horsepower Pro Modifieds that can achieve in excess of 260mph in under 6 seconds. There are Wheel Standing Mustangs, 50’s Chevys and Pickup trucks, there was even a New Beetle(!) running in the Outlaw Class. Every direction that my head swiveled, there was something new and exciting to look at; something new to take a picture of, and something new to draw inspiration from. On the first night, I fell in love with a Luv; a Chevrolet Luv Pickup boasting a supercharged small block and beautiful paint job. And yes, I said Chevy Luv, and before you judge me, my family had a Chevy Vega Race Car as I was growing up. So I have a soft spot in my heart for marginally terrible 70’s Chevys, you know, Monzas, Vegas and Luv Pickups.

In a PSCA sanctioned event, you will see direct interpretations of the cars’ owners personalities. You may have heard the adage, “your car is an extension of your personality,” then your race car must be an exact layout of your inner self. Just about everyone with a team had t shirts and sweaters that matched their racing cars, and in some cases, the tow rig as well. Gangs of Bright Yellow and Neon Green Shirts roamed the pit area, and followed their respective car to the Starting Line. The only limitation to this event and comparing the madness of an NHRA Championship Drag Race is the fan participation and attendance. The sheer spectacle and entertainment value, combined with an all access fan experience and the unpredictable nature of these volatile race car, make this an event with hardly any contemporaries. It wasn’t uncommon to see flames shooting and wheel standing when the sun sinks below the horizon. The temperature drop increases fuel density and drops the track temperature, making for optimal conditions to run the cars (and physics) to their absolute threshold.

20131116_105444The PSCA Classes are amazing exhibitions for daily driven, home built Hot Rods, all the way up to 4,000 horsepower, 260 mile an hour, monster motored, supercharged and turbocharged monster Outlaw Pro Modifieds. This class, Outlaw Pro Modified are space frame chassis race cars, with composite body shell that highly (or loosely) resembles the car it was modeled after. The late 50’s and early 60’s Corvettes are almost spot on, as well as a Viper and monstrous 1960 Impala. Interestingly, the early 1970s Camaro Bodies and late model Mustangs were the only barely recognizable interpretations. Most of these cars have sparkling and detailed liveries, complete with intricate details and some murals, but all of them are wonderful to look at, and when they pull up to the Burnout Box, you would be wise to cover your ears. In this class, over the weekend, a World Record elapsed time was put down by the beautiful Hugger Orange 1969 Camaro of John Stanley and Crew. With an elapsed time of 5.64 seconds to travel a 1/4 mile, this Orange Bullet becomes the fastest Door Slammer (car with two working doors) on the planet. With the popularity of Drag Racing gaining momentum around the globe, I know of some Australians and possibly, some Emeratis that would like to snatch the title from them.

Beyond the wild Outlaw Pro Modified, and closely contended Outlaw 10.5 classes, there are Street Tire classes, and regular bracket classes, welcoming all sorts of participants across all sorts of automotive enthusiasm. With the run what you bring attitude and relatively low participation fees, the PSCA and SCSN brings a great race for Las Vegas. The main reason I report on these events is the simple reason that I want you to be aware that they are happening. It was very nice to have the track pretty much to a private crowd of racers, family, friends and die hard drag racing enthusiasts… But I do have to admit that I would like it if more Las Vegas and local car fans would come out and check out this one of a kind, very special race.

Jake ConleeJake Conlee is a California native that has been blessed with the gift of restlessness. With an undying fervor and passion for what he does not yet know, life is a constant adventure. Truly fearless in implementation of wandering down less trafficked roads, this has led to many ordinary days turning into a treasure hunt. Emblazoned on his arm, the self photographed sign of this incredible City of Sin. He loves this city so much, a mural of Las Vegas is currently under development on his arms. If you need to know about anything in Las Vegas, if he doesn’t know the answer, he will find out for you. He loves Las Vegas, the good, the bad, but mostly the nostalgic. He’s also a sucker for a good hunk of meat. He is, most of all, a father of two girls, 12-year-old “Vern” and 18-month-old “Chuck”

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