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WSOPM 2019 Lookback: Greg Lair’s Clutch-Equipped, Monster-Motor Camaro Wins $10,000 Top Sportsman Shootout

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A betting man probably wouldn’t have put his money on a naturally aspirated, clutch-equipped entry to win the $10,000-to-win MagnaFuel Quick Star 16 Shootout presented by Menholt Auto Group. Such a combination isn’t ideal for the high-altitude conditions of Bandimere Speedway, but Greg Lair in his monster-motor ’15 Camaro persisted through the challenges he faced to take the big check back home to Canyon, Texas.

Lair, who owns a Buick and GMC dealership in the Amarillo area, qualified No. 8 in the Quick Star field, which saw 33 cars attempt to qualify for the main shootout. That alone is an accomplishment, as Lair’s Sonny’s Racing Engines-built 903ci powerplant utilizes four carburetors without a power adder, while many of his competitors run nitrous-assisted or boosted engines. Plus, Lair uses a triple-disc Ram clutch hooked up to a Lenco transmission whereas the rest of the field uses torque converters.

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[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #149, the World Series of Pro Mod Issue, in October of 2019.]

“We run a big motor with no water in the block,” Lair said. “We have to chill the motor and do the clutch and set the air gap between rounds. We were taking weight off between rounds. It’s a lot more challenging than just checking the weather.

“We had to take the Lenco out and change gear ratios in the transmission,” Lair continued, “and gears in the back end to get everything to where the motor would work up here on this mountain just because that’s the only way we can make it work. We have nothing to add to it. What we’ve got is what we’ve got.”

Greg Lair (center) with MagnaFuel’s Robbie Ward and Drag Illustrated’s Wes Buck

The 2018 and 2019 Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Top Sportsman event champion was on his game in eliminations, cutting the better light in all four pairings. He ran a 6.915 on a 6.91 dial over JJ Heber, a 6.894 on a 6.89 dial against No. 1 qualifier Mick Snyder, and a 6.963 on a 6.89 dial to defeat Mark McDonald in the semifinals. He upset local favorite Mike Candelairo in the final round, running a 6.883 at 200.44 on a 6.90 dial-in alongside Candelairo’s supercharged ’57 Chevy and its 6.283 at 227.50 on a 6.33 dial.

“That’s the fastest it’s ever run up here,” Lair said of his final-round performance. “Every run we’re just trying to run as fast as we can. Last night we had a 1.02 60-foot, which is probably the best it’s ever run here. We’re just racing. We’re speed freaks.”

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