Originally created 07/14/96

Price dominating drag boat races



People are beginning to wonder if Scott Price is from another planet and not Adairville, Ky.

His performance has been far out and that's putting it mildly.

Price powered Kentucky Thunder to his second straight blown alcohol hydro record and set up a shot at another today by mowing down Kyle Walker in the Spirit of Texas top-fueler. That highlighted Saturday's action during the 11th annual Augusta Southern National Drag Boat Races.

No single racer has ever dominated the scene on the Savannah River like Price since Ron Braaksma in his top fueler Madness a few years back. And this in an alcohol boat that so far has pushed top fuelers out of the headlines.

Consider: Price backed up Friday's 218 mph pass with a 222-mph run Saturday morning, making the 218 the official American Drag Boat Association record for the class. The run was accomplished on just seven cylinders, the driver said.

Then, during a winner-take-all, $2,000 challenge race with Walker, Price's boat was right on the money with a 227.10-mph pass. That easily backed up the 222 and made it the APBA record before the ink was dry on the previous one. The latest pass was just 28/100ths of a second off his best-ever run at the International Hot Boat Association World Finals in Phoenix, Ariz., last November.

Question: Has he got anything left? He has to run within one percent of the 227-mph pass to add that to his APBA record collection.

"If we can make an early morning run and have good air, I don't think 230 mph is out of the question," said Price, taking a short break from autographing his team's tee shirts and having his photo taken with admiring fans young and old.

The top fuel run of the day was a 208-mph, 5.52-second run by Brian Richter in Roger Way's Pump-and-Shop Special against defending Augusta champion Charlie Fegan in the American Flyer. Way, who wants badly to win this event, was ecstatic about one of his best Augusta runs ever.

Fegan and Can-Am Express' John Irvine are slowly getting the kinks out of their motors and have been joined by Wild Bill McHaney of Smackover, Ark., in Lickety-Split. McHaney got in late Friday and didn't have his boat ready for a river run.

All Walker could do was congratulate Price, who cut a .261-second light for a 5.46-second elapsed time. Walker's reaction time at the start was .255, but mechanical problems including a dead cylinder resulted in a 5.56, 201-mph run.

The Spirit of Texas has yet to run a smooth track, a fact that bothers Walker.

"I've never been afraid of a boat in my life, but this one's got me worried," he said. "It started porpoising at the half-track mark on that last pass. Usually when a boat does something bad, you can make adjustments to correct it for the next pass, but not this one. We just haven't been able to figure out why it's doing what it's doing. So we're going to shove the engine forward by eight inches and add 100 pounds of weight in the bow."

The lone wreck of the day came when Merl Jarnigan of Morristown, Tenn., flipped his modified eliminator aptly named Pardon Me. Jarnigan was taken to a local hospital where he was reported to be in good condition and was held overnight for Observation.

RACES STAYING PUT: RiverNorth development on the South Carolina side of the river has forced River Race Augusta to find a new site, but the drag boat races have not been affected.

YOSEMITE SAM'S BACK: Gene Jones of Augusta two years ago purchased Rick Magretto's record-setting River Race Flat dubbed the "Pressure Cooker," which features the Yosemite Sam cartoon character. Jones finished third last year in the Comp Eliminator class and hopes to do better this time around. He won Saturday when his quicker opponent red-lighted.

AREA RACERS: Mike Hill and Terry Storey are competing in modified eliminator for boats running in the 10.00 to 10.99-second bracket, and Chris Brown is competing in the River Race 2 class. All are from McCormick, S.C.

FACES IN THE CROWD: Gordon Padgett of Cincinnati, owner of the top fuel hydro Final Effort and early supporter of the Augusta race. John Lewis of Evans, Pat Curran and Tommy Griffin of Augusta, Bill Larabee and Brett Graddy of Hephzibah, Darwin Robinson of Beech Island and Steve Kolodziejczak of Graniteville, volunteer pit crew for John Irvine's Can-Am Express.