While Mike Robbins strolled to the launch ramp to prepare for the final race, head down and with little interaction, Daryl Ehrlich rode in his boat pulled on a trailer among dozens of spectators.
At the starting line, Robbins would make the move that provided the most fanfare.
Robbins drove the Liquid Quicker boat to a first-place finish in the top fuel hydro class, unseating Ehrlich’s Problem Child boat as the champion of the Augusta Southern Nationals on Sunday.
Back at what he considers his home track, Robbins posted a time of 3.797 seconds with a top speed of 225.023 miles per hour to take the title. Ehrlich’s boat failed to start at the line and never moved.
Despite competing for years in the pro-modified class, this was the first title in Augusta for the racer from Youngsville, N.C.
“I’m fortunate to have a crew that knows what it’s doing,” Robbins said. “I’ve only been driving top fuel hydro for two years, but the crew has been doing it for 10, and they’re used to winning. I’m just the monkey driving the machine.”
The Liquid Quicker boat caught on fire as it sped off the starting line, and Robbins said the fuel tank exploded. However, despite a below-average time, the boat did the job of crossing the finish line for the win.
“Maybe some of that prize money can go toward a new tank,” he said.
Ehrlich’s Problem Child and Scotty Lumbert’s Spirit of Texas advanced past the first round of eliminations to face each other to determine who would race Robbins. Ehrlich defeated Lumbert with a time of 3.942. However, Problem Child never got going in the finals.
“It was a starter issue,” Ehrlich said. “It just wouldn’t start. It’s disappointing for the fans mainly, because they come out for a good show. But we’ll be back.”
Another champion was unseated in the top alcohol flat class as Dan Rogers’ Flat Black beat Tony Scarlata’s Lucas Oil Shazam with a time of 5.754 and top speed of 157.101.
David Pou, who won last year’s modified eliminator class, took the title in the top eliminator class with his American Ride boat.