Drag Illustrated Issue 171, September / October 2021 | Page 26


a force to be reckoned with on the small-tire , no prep scene – especially after he cleaned house at Dig or Die 2 , which was held , interestingly , in the shutdown area at the legendary Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina .
“ It ’ s a whole new deal running back up the track towards the tower ,” admits Gunter . “ That gets your attention a little bit . It ’ s definitely a different experience , but the surface in the shutdown … that ’ s about as close as you can get to real street racing . The energy and the crowds they get at these races make it like a big-time grudge race pretty much every pass , and the track is so hard to navigate , so hard to get down , that it really is anybody ’ s game .”
The format for Dig or Die only adds to the anyone-can-win nature . The event ’ s $ 100,000-towin purse was contingent on 200 entries , so with 117 on the property , the payout exceeded $ 60,000 – a truly tremendous amount of money for a small-tire , eighth-mile drag race . The event is an “ off the trailer ” race , so there ’ s no shakedown runs , time trails or qualifying rounds . Pairings are determined by a random chip draw prior to every elimination round until two drivers are left standing , who face off for the loot and the bragging rights .
With 117 cars on the property , there would be no easy path to the winner ’ s circle for anyone , but Gunter ’ s day started especially difficult when he drew small-tire racing legend Manny Buginga in the opening round .
“ Just talking with that guy was a big deal for me , personally ,” says Gunter . “ But to have to race him first round ? I was like , ‘ Oh , come on .’ That ’ s a best of the best deal in the other lane , but we got past him .”
Gunter ’ s “ Miss Duct Tape ” carried him through six more rounds with the Chris Seidlebuilt , small-block Ford under the cowl hood never missing a beat . Topped with a single carburetor and a cast aluminum intake , the 434ci gets additional motivation from a Switzer Dynamics two-stage plate nitrous system and is manipulated down the eighth mile by way of merely MSD 7531 box and N . O . S . mini two-stage progressive nitrous controller .
“ It ’ s not a super exotic deal ; really simple and straightforward ,” says Gunter . “ It just works .”
The Virginia-based racer also leans on a little bit of good ol ’ fashioned seat-of-the-pants power application to get the Mustang from A to B under power .
“ On a car like this at a prepped race like a No Clocks Small Block race , I ’ d be trying to get all the nitrous on in like a second ,” explains Gunter . “ In
no prep , it ’ s more like 1.8 seconds . Basically , I let off the transbrake and I grab the first kit – it ’ s on a button on the steering wheel . If I feel it start to move or spin , I can bump the button and it resets the progressive controller . On the other side of the steering wheel , I ’ ve got the second system on a button , kind of the ‘ oh no ’ button if it ’ s close or they ’ re out front .”
Gunter managed to keep himself out front throughout the course of Dig or Die , ultimately getting the job done around 5:30 a . m . on Sunday morning . First round went down late Friday night .
“ It was a wild deal ,” says Gunter . “ To tell you the truth , Geno Raborg is the buddy that proba-bly made me win that deal . He handmade a wing for the car , and it made all the difference . About three weeks before the race they announced you couldn ’ t have any external weight on the car at all – no big weight bars , no heavy parachutes . So , we thought , ‘ we ’ re going to make a heavy ass wing .’ Geno worked on that wing nonstop for two weeks .
“ Patrick Watts , too , and Gary Easter , TBM Brakes , Induction Solutions , Rick ’ s Tire and Auto , Rich Siegman at Speed Services , I ’ ve just got a lot of great people around me and it makes all the difference . We ’ re looking forward to doing a lot more of these events . Hopefully , we ’ ll be able to do more winning , too .” DI
26 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 171