All Photos Copy-written By Tara Hurlin
Dodge teamed up with Roadkill for the second consecutive year to bring legal street racing back to Woodward Ave. in Pontiac, Michigan. Because of their mutual desire to fuel the hobby, Dodge and Roadkill are the perfect pair to organize such a massive event, and with the recent Dodge Demon release, the bar was set even higher. Tim Kuniskis, the CEO of Dodge, was present to rev up some gnarly burnouts.
Roadkill Nights stepped it up even more for 2017 by bringing NHRA Fuel cars to shred rubber on Woodward Ave. Leah Pritchett made an appearance to jet down the strip with an 11,000-hp NHRA Top Fuel dragster, while Matt Hagan rattled ear drums in a Nitro Funnycar. The insane horsepower released by these cars made for a full billowing wall of smoke all the way down the strip.
During a celebrity showdown Roadkill’s David Freiburger, Mike Finnegan, and Lucky Costa, The House of Muscle’s Mike Musto, Hot Rod Garage’s Tony Angelo, Overhaulin’s Chris Jacobs, and the NHRA’s Leah Pritchett and Matt Hagan burned rubber down the strip driving Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats. Tony Angelo and Matt Hagan split the winnings.
Every vehicle entered to race in Roadkill Nights is street legal, which makes these low-seven to six-second cars even more impressive. Racing down Woodward Ave. can be a bit scary for these high-powered monsters. Despite the prep team’s hard work, the Avenue’s pavement is mostly unprepared when compared to an official drag strip. The lanes are narrow, and the caulked cracks and random pebbles dislodged from the asphalt are cause for a case of the jitters.
Tom Bailey won last year’s Roadkill Nights competition and this year he didn’t hesitate to come back for more. His 1969 Chevrolet Camaro was named HOT ROD’s fastest street car in America during Drag Week 2013. It was the first car to run in the 6's for 5 days straight. Bailey earned the record for the fastest pass in drag week history at 217MPH, which also earned him the quickest pass for a street driven car at 6.70-seconds.
Drag Week racer Joe Barry made an appearance with his twin-turbo 2,600-hp 1956 Chevrolet 210 powered by an aluminum 598-cid Dart big-block. This car is special in that Joe maintained the appearance of a Chevy 210 Super Coupe while applying the modifications that allow it to plunge ahead at over 200-mph.
Another familiar face from HOT ROD Drag Week is Bryant Goldstone driving his 2,500-hp 1973 AMC Javelin. He’s a close competitor to Tom Bailey and was last year’s second place winner at Roadkill Nights. Had the event not been rained out, he may have walked away with the win this year.
There is something for everyone to love at Roadkill Nights, and if you are a fan of the show, being present at this event is almost like being in an episode. The wide variety of vehicles and modifications sets off the Roadkill vibe in a race what you brought fashion.
Technically, those who did attend this year’s event were a part of a Roadkill episode. After gutting Mike Finnegan’s engine and throwing the parts in a new aluminum block, and then solving transmission woes caused by installing a clutch disc backwards (#becauseroadkill), David Freiburger and Finnegan went head-to-head down the strip. Despite lightening the load on Finnegan’s gasser, Freiburger still came out on top, having owned his 1970 Dodge Super Bee for 15 years. Blasphemi was described as being “eerily quick” and it will be interesting to see what it can really do during this year’s Drag Week.
We mentioned a wide variety of vehicles, and that’s exactly what we captured. Take a look through the Roadkill Nights Gallery for some of the biggest burnouts witnessed during Roadkill Nights.