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Barry Mitchell Wins First Big Dog Shootout of 2024

Greg Burrow photos

The 2024 Big Dog Shootout season at North Carolina’s Piedmont Dragway started off with huge expectations that were quickly blown away by Mother Nature with rain and wind. Lest we forget about the tragic events of eight years ago that took the life of Top Sportsman racer Ronnie Davis at Rockingham Dragway, also nearly taking the life of fellow photographer Ian Tocher.  Fortunately, Ian survived and is very active in covering out sport. So, after much discussion, the decision was made to err on the side of caution.

The recent addition by staff and management of Piedmont Dragway of the Gibbs’ Race Cars 4.70 Outlaw series has added a new dynamic reminding us of the Renegade days, but on an index.

Starting with the Outlaw DoorSlammer class, curfew took the win leaving Greg Brown, Roger Plyler, and Shawn Dunn, to split the pot after many rounds due to the sheer number of cars. That left the 7.49 class to be settled between many-time winner Jeff Corey and past champ Melvin Watlington to line up to settle the class win. Corey came out on top and had his runner-up pic shot in front of the newly dedicated signage commemorating Rico Garner’s long-running class. Garner also got his own golf cart, newly decorated just for him. 

Big Dog was short on cars with other tracks running similar programs. This can be a problem competitors find themselves in with so many places to race. Rest assured that in the next couple of months, familiar faces will definitely be present to run for the Big Dog trophy, a trophy coveted by most more than the winners’ purse. Only kidding, but maybe not. Barry Mitchell’s Todd Tutterow-tuned “Cuda Time” Barracuda was low qualifier at a 3.77 with Mike Graham’s Chevelle close behind at a 3.87 with third going to Dale Brinsfield at a 3.89 and Bubba Turner rounding out the field. Travis Harvey suffered catastrophic engine damage and Robbie Keziah suffered an engine-damaging nitrous explosion. Semifinal action had Mitchell defeating Turner to face winning Graham in the final. Mitchell put down a 3.753 to defeat Graham’s 3.84. Mitchell also ran 203 MPH in the final.

Chris Vanover

The Gibbs’ Race Cars 4.70 Outlaws had seven cars on the property that included Chris Vanover and Johnny Brooks traveling from Virginia to join the group. Other cars were driven by Eddie Brown, Donnie Gibbs Jr., Willy Conklin, and the Fords of Shane and Mike Westmoreland. Vanover defeated Gibbs in the semis, as did Brooks over Westmoreland. The final had the two Virginia drivers, Vanover and Brooks, facing off, with Vanover taking the money back to Virginia.

June promises to have many more cars in the Big Dog category, as well as the Outlaw 4.70 group. There could also be a surprise match race in the works. Stay tuned and hope to see you there at “the DoorSlammer Capital of the World,” Piedmont Dragway.

This story was originally published on May 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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