Seemingly waking in a haze, Frank Taylor looked up only to see Billy Clevenger's taillights pulling away from the Friday Night Drags starting box. Clevenger might have been up on his rear wheels, but Taylor was sitting still at the start while Clevenger was surging towards the finish.
Driving one of the top cars in his class and sitting on an extra tacky Atlanta Motor Speedway pit lane drag strip, Taylor was able to hook up his tires and launch from the starting line with a boost of nitrous oxide. The question remained; trailing by multiple car lengths could Taylor recover on just an eighth-mile drag strip?
"I just wasn't ready at the start," said Taylor, a native of Gray. "I was like, 'Dang, I'm gonna lose this one.' I never left the line until his front end sat back down and he was three or four car lengths out front."
Taylor bolted from the starting blocks using a spray of nitrous oxide (NOS), but Clevenger remained in the lead. Recovering from his wheelie at the start, Clevenger straightened his 1977 Chevrolet Vega and tried to hold on knowing Taylor was eager to chase him down.
"The pressure was hot in the [NOS] bottle and it just wheelied out of control," said Clevenger, a Jonesboro native. "It took a while for the wheels to snap out of it and I still gave him a run for his money.
"I got greedy," added Clevenger. "I knew I was going to have to run Frankie - and this is where people make their mistakes - so I upped the pressure on the NOS for bigger bang and sped up the system and just overpowered it."
Having lost speed to regain control of his Vega, Clevenger knew Taylor's 1993 Chevrolet Lumina wouldn't be far behind.
Surging towards the finish, Taylor inched closer to Clevenger's maroon Vega after hitting a second stage of NOS. But even Taylor wasn't sure he had enough to catch the seasoned driver.
"I really didn't think I would catch him," said Taylor.
Amazingly, Taylor was able to pull off a drag racing rarity, nosing ahead of Clevenger to the finish for one of the most jaw-dropping moments in Friday Night Drags history. Missing the start, Taylor was able to overtake his competition on just an eighth-mile drag strip.
"It was kinda close there at the end," said a laughing Taylor. "We did put on a good show and it was a lot of fun.
What was the reason for the good show? Taylor believes it was the track.
"The track was working great and it was as good as any track I've ever been to," explained Taylor. "Normally, we run straight horsepower or wait on the NOS because the track won't hold it. But I really tested the track to see what it would hold and it was an awesome track. The whole key to running drags is knowing how much power you can run down the track and we were able to hit it hard."
With a fantastic track and a great atmosphere at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Friday Night Drags, Taylor is eager for another pass this Friday.
"I love coming down there and it's a great group of guys that race at Atlanta Motor Speedway," said Taylor. "We'll be back Friday, and as long as nothing tears up and breaks on the car, we'll give it all we got and put on another show."
The fans can only hope the finish to this week's Friday Night Drags is as good as the show last week.