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A Day Like No Other: Todd Moyer and Jason Scruggs Wage War on the Record Books at Bradenton Motorsports Park

The history of drag racing includes a multitude of performances which shocked the world and moved the sport into a new realm of achievement and possibilities. Any racer, official or fan can remember any number of dates, never to fade from memory, which produced the attainment of goals never thought possible. For many, Wednesday, January 24, 2024, will join that list and, for a few, will find a place at the top of that roster. 

The setting: Testing for the U.S. Street Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Fla. While the race itself is conducted under stringent rules for Pro Modified Eliminator, three full days of test runs are offered during which no rules other than safety regulations are enforced. 

“Turbo Todd” Moyer, a veteran of wheeling turbocharged machines for over three decades, chose the event to begin his 2024 season with the twin-turbocharged 2014 Camaro he drove to eighth-mile clockings of 3.56 seconds at over 229 miles per hour in 2023. The Camaro, originally a product of Jerry Bickel Race Cars, is campaigned with Carl Stevens, Jr., of Xtreme Racing Engines in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Stevens, who acts as an engine builder, designer, tuner and chassis constructor, is responsible for the 524-cubic inch aluminum Noonan engine block which carries a set of Hemi cylinder heads of Stevens’ own design. The engine uses a pair of 88mm Precision Turbochargers with Atomizer injectors running through an M&M Turbo400 automatic, in which all three gears are utilized even on eighth-mile excursions. 

The team began their seven-day adventure on Monday, January 22, 2024, by slowly tuning the car’s launch in the first sixty feet of the track and then advancing to the first three hundred thirty feet. With satisfactory results from three runs, Moyer and Stevens decided to make a full eighth-mile attempt on Tuesday, January 23. 

Aiming at the turbocharged Pro Modified World Records (3.527 seconds by Jose Gonzalez set at Dinwiddie, VA, on October 23, 2015, and 231.44 mph recorded by Kevin Fiscus at Dunn, NC, on April 5, 2016), their solitary pass stunned onlookers. As chronicled in Drag Illustrated, Moyer produced a brutal 0.939-second “sixty”, a turbo record of 2.418 seconds to the 330-foot mark, and then destroyed both ends of the eighth-mile records for turbo doorslammers at a staggering 3.492 seconds at the fastest speed ever achieved by any passenger car over that distance, 231.83 miles per hour. The E.T. made Moyer the seventh Pro Mod driver to run quicker than 3.50 seconds in the eighth and the fourth quickest ever to do it. The elation experienced by Moyer was shared by Stevens who, on October 24, 2015, at Dinwiddie, VA, became the first driver of a passenger vehicle ever to surpass 230 mph in the eighth at 230.10 mph in a similar turbo’d Camaro of his own construction. 

Notable was the fact Moyer was timed at a slowing 4.488 seconds at one thousand feet, but it was the quarter-mile numbers which dropped jaws around the globe. Coasting across the finish line, Moyer’s Camaro ran 5.488 seconds, (making Moyer the fourth quickest quarter-mile turbo racer ever and the seventh quickest driver of ANY Pro Mod), at a mere 212.63 mph!

Those numbers gave Moyer and Stevens the impetus to shoot for the all-time passenger car records for the quarter-mile, 278.79 mph (set by Khalid Mohammed twin-turbo’d Lexus RC F in Sakir, Bahrain, on February 28, 2018) or the 5.359-second record posted by Jose Gonzalez in Mark Micke’s twin-turbo’d Camaro only last November 28 at Bradenton. 

The date: Wednesday, January 24, 2024. 

After analyzing weather conditions and forecasts, Stevens decided Moyer would be one of the first cars down the Bradenton quarter-mile when the track opened for runs at 10 AM in what was expected to be the best atmospheric conditions of the day. At 10:23 AM, with the corrected elevation at 1340 feet above sea level, Moyer launched with a stunning 0.929 “sixty,” but despite no visible problems, Moyer took his foot off the throttle in the next hundred feet. Moyer felt uncomfortable when the car did something unusual. It had the front wheels in the air! 

To those who have followed Moyer’s career when he was notorious for driving full power across the finish line with the front wheels four feet above the ground in a powerstand, this may seem ridiculous. However, Moyer knew when things became “different.”

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“This car was a masterpiece when Jerry Bickel built it ten years ago,” explained Stevens, “but the biggest key to our recent performance has been the way the chassis reacts after we freshened it last season at our XRE shop. Now, it leaves very smoothly and with very little violence and only barely lifts the front tires. This allows us to apply power very quickly, and the car performs consistently on every run. Todd told me it had never thrown him back that hard, and he knew the front wheels were up. He just knew it wasn’t the car’s normal response so he shut it off.”

The team headed back to the pits. 

A mere twenty-six minutes later, January 24, 2024, became substantially more “memorable.” Also making test runs on Tuesday and Wednesday was multi-time world champion and past passenger car record-holder Jason Scruggs who hoped to deliver one of the most potent doorslammers ever built, another magnificent example of the products from Missouri-based Jerry Bickel Race Cars. Along with his NHRA Pro Modified Eliminator racer and his PDRA Pro Boost Eliminator entry, this new “outlaw doorslammer” is Scruggs’ third team entry. 

Jeff Kline photo

Scruggs has been tight-lipped about the gorgeous red ’69 Camaro and its powerplant since the car rolled out of Jerry Bickel’s chassis shop in the summer of 2023. Using a screw supercharger atop a Brad Anderson aluminum Chrysler Hemi and a Ty-Drive automatic transmission, no expense was spared in the use of exotic metals to produce what several people have referred to as the lightest passenger car of the twenty-first century. 

Scruggs staged the car at 10:29 AM and launched with the best “sixty” of the week, a 0.904, but quickly aborted the run. The team, comprised of Scruggs, his father Mitchell, and longtime partner Roger Henson, wheeled the car briefly into the pit area and then right back into the staging lanes and, at 12:33 PM, left the starting line on another attempt. 

This time, the car covered the first sixty feet in 0.886 seconds, not a record but within one-hundredth of it, and followed with an incredible 2.331-second “three thirty” E.T. The venerable Mississippian (who clocked the first Pro Modified eighth-mile over 200 mph seventeen years ago), etched another entry in drag racing’s record books by clocking an astonishing 3.460-second eighth-mile, the quickest ever recorded by a Pro Modified machine, with a speed of 218.76 mph. 

The 3.46 eclipsed Scruggs’ own personal best of 3.492 seconds (clocked at Tulsa, OK, on March 18, 2016), Brandon Snider’s 3.486 (recorded, ironically, at the same event as Scruggs’ 3.49), and the monstrous 3.485 posted by “Mad Man” Frankie Taylor’s Texas Corvette which stood as the category’s benchmark for an amazing nine years and nine months after lighting the scoreboards at Rockingham, NC, on April 5, 2014. 

The 218.76 mph speed on Scruggs’ record pass was far below his personal best of 223.54 mph (set at Tulsa, OK, on March 19, 2016), which remains the fastest eighth-mile speed ever clocked by a supercharged passenger car. 

Only one hour later, Moyer towed into the staging lanes with goals firmly in place. “We talked about it before the run,” recounted Stevens, “and we both knew we wanted to go after both eighth-mile records and both quarter-mile records. We both knew we were shooting for territory nobody had ever visited before, so we decided Todd would just drive it as far as he felt comfortable driving it. Scruggs’ 3.46 was an incredible run but we both felt the car could run close to that number. As for the quarter-mile, we really didn’t know how quick or fast it could go, but we knew Micke’s 5.35 was a realistic possibility for us”. 

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at 1:45 PM, Todd Moyer left the starting line with what was arguably, the quickest “sixty” ever for a turbocharged racecar, 0.924 seconds. The “three thirty” was also an all-time best for a turbo racer at 2.391 seconds. At the eighth mile, Todd Moyer became the quickest and fastest doorslammer driver in history at 3.457 seconds and an astonishing 233.92 mph. 

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And Todd kept going. 

The thousand-foot elapsed time was 4.361 seconds. What nobody realized was the previous quickest Pro Modified driver’s thousand-foot E.T. was 4.571 seconds (Khalid Mohammed’s 5.37 record-holder). 

In the final 0.783 seconds of the run, nobody had a chance to process what was about to happen, and when the numbers were revealed, they produced mass astonishment. From fans watching the live video broadcast on NC ProModer to those watching the live timeslips app on phones to anybody anywhere, no one had words to describe what they witnessed. 

Todd Moyer recorded a quarter-mile run of 5.144 seconds at a SLOWING 273.44 mph. 

Moyer told Stevens he could see the windshield distorting from air pressure, and he “knew I was somewhere I’d never been.” The onboard computer graphs showed Moyer lifted off the throttle 4.70 seconds downtrack. It should be noted the car remained straight during the run and came to a halt quickly enough to make Moyer comment, “The car slowed down beautifully. It could’ve handled a lot more speed and still stopped without any concerns”. 

The remainder of the afternoon was spent with Moyer, Stevens and his father, the crew, and what seemed like every human in Florida celebrating in the pits. “Our phones wouldn’t stop ringing, the internet was burning down, and we were all in shock,” stated Stevens later that evening. It should be noted Jason Scruggs made a final attempt at 5:09 PM on Wednesday, which started with another 0.904 “sixty” and ended with another quick shut-off. 

There are very few comparisons for accomplishments of this magnitude in drag racing. It’s always a rarity to see a racer set a world record. Few at the event had ever seen two world records set in one day. Nobody in attendance had ever seen an outright, unrestricted World Record beaten by more than two-tenths of a second. 

One must travel back a half-century or more to see anything similar. In the early days of Match Race Stockers, the genesis of today’s Funny Cars, Gary Dyer in the “Mr. Norm’s Charger” supercharged Dodge Coronet clocked a 9.45-second run on June 19, 1965, to steal the one-week-old 9.72 record of Jack Chrisman’s supercharged “Sachs & Sons” Mercury Comet only to lose the record one week later to a 9.19 by Mike Buckel in the “Ramchargers” Dodge Coronet…but none of that happened in the SAME DAY. 

There are many “apples to oranges” correlations which can be made, but none can accurately illustrate the accomplishment. Todd Moyer’s run would make him the fourth quickest Supercharged Alcohol Dragster driver ever. Todd Moyer has now run more than two-tenths of a second quicker than any Top Alcohol Funny Car in history. Todd Moyer is now over a third of a second quicker than the Nostalgia Top Fuel Dragster record holder.   

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To skip over the low 5.30s, the entirety of the 5.20s, and sixty percent of the 5.10s in one single pass is, well…indescribable. “That’s the part which is just surreal,” noted Stevens. “When I first saw the timeslip, the numbers just didn’t even seem real. I don’t think any of it has really sunk in for any of us. We know what we did was big. We know it was special, but it feels like this is something beyond just a record. We came here with over five thousand horsepower and a car which we knew could produce results, but…we just never could’ve expected anything like this”. 

Originally, the team planned to make another full quarter-mile shot on Thursday, January 25, 2024. However, Bradenton officials have made a change in the event schedule for the U.S. Street Nationals. A weather front threatening Sunday’s eliminations has forced the rescheduling of the first qualifying session to Thursday for the $32,000-to-win, thirty-two-car Pro Modified eliminator field. Therefore, Moyer and Scruggs will be returning their machines to “legal” status for the start of the actual race…but nobody will ever forget Wednesday, January 24, 2024.  

This story was originally published on January 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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