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2021 DI Pass of the Year: Daniel Pharris’ 3.49 in Radial vs. the World at Sweet 16

Daniel Pharris fired off the shot heard ‘round the radial racing world when he recorded a 3.498-second, 212.73 mph blast down the South Georgia Motorsports Park eighth mile in qualifying at Duck X Productions’ Sweet 16 in April. It was the first official 3.40-second pass on radials after Pharris posted a 3.49 in pre-race testing in Steele, Alabama.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #174, the DI Awards Issue, in January of 2022.]

It was all a little sudden for Pharris, who was making his return to racing after a brief hiatus. His last car, a twin-turbocharged Mustang, previously held the RVW record with a 3.57, but Pharris’s new ride, the ProCharger-boosted GALOT Motorsports ’69 Camaro, was a different beast. Pharris quickly got up to speed, though, as the 3.49 in testing was just his fifth pass in the car.

“I felt right back at home within the first two to three passes,” Pharris says. “[The GALOT team, led by tuner Steve Petty] really know how to make me feel like that. I don’t have to worry about the car. It helps me as a driver be able to perform and do the things I need to do when I don’t have to worry about what’s actually going on with the car. They’re the best team you can have.”

Breaking the barrier was a significant accomplishment for Pharris, who teamed up with longtime racing partner Andrew Alepa to race with the GALOT team in PDRA Pro Boost last season.

“I think that was the magical number that everybody was chasing,” says Pharris, who finished second in Pro Boost points behind teammate Kevin Rivenbark. “If you would’ve asked several people five or six years ago, they would’ve laughed at you. But I think in the last two years, that’s kind of been the epicenter of what everybody’s wanting to run. These guys pour their lives and their last dime into these cars trying to just go as fast as they can because they want that magical number. And for us to be the first ones to do it, I feel like I’ve passed a milestone. I was looking for Guinness World Records standing at the end of the track.”

And while Pharris appreciates the significance of the pass, he also realizes it represented the unrealistically high level of performance required to compete in Radial vs. the World. It took some of the brightest minds in doorslammer racing working with the best parts available and a serious budget to set the record. Many of the stars of RVW have grown disillusioned with the class and have moved over to Pro 275 or Pro Mod classes.

“I hate to say this, but I really think it’s put a nail in the coffin,” Pharris says. “I really do. The amount of power, the amount of technology and manpower it takes to run these cars and go that fast at the rule set, I think it’s to its top. Do I think could we go faster? I think we could. How much faster? I don’t know. All the stars have to align to be able to make the power to go that fast. I think it’s to the point where these things are 100 percent maxed out and their max effort is already going into it. I truly think this is it. I think the RVW class has reached its full potential.

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“It’s just like what Stevie Jackson told me at the end of the track,” Pharris starts. “He said, ‘Well, there go. You had the hammer out and I held the nail.’ So I mean, that’s just all you can say.”

Nominees: Brittany Force’s 3.637 at 335 mph in Top Fuel at Texas NHRA FallNationals, Todd Tutterow’s 3.58 at 211 mph in Outlaw Pro Mod at U.S. Street Nationals, Manny Buginga’s 5.75 in Outlaw vs. Extreme at World Cup Finals, John DeFlorian’s 4.000 in Extreme Pro Stock at PDRA World Finals

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