Memorial Day Weekend’s 27th Annual “All Harley” Blowout at Gulfport Dragway saw as big a battle getting the race completed as the racers had on the track it’s self. An unusual strom front came across Florida raining 2 foot of water on Daytona early in the week then headed into the Gulf of Mexico almost directly towards Gulfport and Gulfport Dragway less than a mile inland.
…Jeff August, Gulfports Track Maintenance Chief, no stranger to running races around coastal rain showers had the track ready to fight the rain. The first lines of showers fell Friday on a track surface that was extra specially cleaned and with all the excess built up rubber scraped off. A first layer of traction compound had the pores of the racing surface sealed and all it needed to be “right” was a final glue application for it to “tack up“…
…A decent crowd of partyin’ race spectators and Harley Racers were in place by Saturday morning as presistant showers dampened the track but not the spirit of everyone there. Gulfport Dragway’s owners and the Asgard Motorcycle Club co-promoters in the classic event announced late Saturday afternoon that if there was any way possible the race would be compacted and held Sunday.
…A determined Jeff August riding a self propelled rotary broom on the track was what most of the Blowout’s spectators woke up from their late night’s partyin’ Sunday morning with. The weather bureau predicted a mid day, “window of opportunity” and all involved in producing the race were thrashing. Despite an hours delay with a heavy sprinkle in the shut down area, Sportsman Harley Racers were running down the famous Gulfport ¼ mile at 11:30.
…After a half hour of Sportsman passes, the Pro’s were given a “one shot” qualifyin’ session knowing that they’d get only a short time between passes as everybody involved knew of the impending storm weather radar showd to be on it’s way. Quickly run side by side qualifying shots in Top Gas Harley and Top Fuel Harley was followed by round robin Sportsman Bracket Eleminations. 100 plus Sportsman Harley Racers to eleminate down to Winners in 2 different brackets ment no lunch break for the race official crew.
….Just as soon as Pro Staging Boss Rick Forse could get the Pro Bikes turned around, the almost panting Sportsman Racers were given a break and the spectators jammed the fence line wanting to see what they’d come for.
…Many time Top Fuel National Event Winner Jay Turner now riding for Louisianas FasCoonass Racing Team came out first on a bye run earned by being Low Qualifier only to blow a motor ending his day. Alabama’s Todd Smith then took out FasCoonass Racing’s Owner Randal Andras with a 7.90 e.t. North Louisiana’s Matlock took out East Texas’ Jim Burgess next with a 7.96, Bandido Rockstone also riding a FasCoonass fueler then had a 7.66 number dropped on him by last years Blowout Winner Mark Blackmer who was quickly getting dialed into the track.
…Top Gas Harley was right there when the smoke cleared from the Fuelers. Harley Davidson of LAKE CHARLES Louisiana’s Billy Doherty was Low Qualifier and took out Bothe with a 9.75 with his V-Rod Destroyer in the first round. #2 Qualifier Houston’s John “the jet” Peek won over Dan Beavers shovelhead from Rosenberg Texas with an 8.58 e.t. Bandido Rockstone then used an off pace 11.44 to advance over a troubled David LaBor. Two East Texas racers then met up in the final pair as Jeff Brown’s Destroyer won over Hollywood Motorcycles Mike Dolese with a 10.41.
…The Sportsmen were pretty well ready to go again after their break and as the pros readied for the Semi’s the bracket racin’ action kept the track hot. The heavy clouds were rolling in off the Gulf when the last bracket winners were determined and the Pro’s hustled at their p.a. call.
…Local Favorite Mark Blackmer rolled his thunderin’ Long Beach Mississippi based dragster to a 7.26 Low E.T. of the Meet bye run as his broke competition couldn’t make the call. Next was Louisiana against Alabama. As the crowd hooted for their favorite, Todd Smith took 7.88 seconds to take out Matlock which set up the Top Fuel Final – THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN!!
….Billy Doherty’s Top Gas Destroyer then made a bye run when a broken John Peek couldn’t make the call. That put Harley Davidson of Lake Charles into the Top Gas Finals. But before the round could be completed with a race between Jeff Brown and Bandido Rockstone right at 3:30 in the afternoon, the clouds opened up chasing the spectators out of the bleachers and ending the race.
… Even though the weather greatly effected the racer and spectator turnout, Gulfport Dragway and the Asgard Motorcycle Club paid the full posted race purse in a move that to everyone’s agreement, showd a “lot of class”, but cost them many thousands of dollars. Mark Blackmer and Todd Smith split the $5000 posted for the Top Fuel Winner & Runner Up while Billy Doherty (who took the big trophy back home to Lake Charles for his days performance), John Peek, Jeff Brown and Bandido Rockstone split the $3300 left in the Top Gas purse. All the other Pro Racers were paid their Qualifying Moneys, Semi Moneys, and everything else they earned. What A RACE… What was heard in the pits was, “Wait ‘till NEXT YEAR!!!” – Don’t Miss it Memorial Day Weekend – Gulfport!!