Paul McMahan on his astonishing
lap at Volusia. Is that car working or what!
SPRINT CAR WORLD
As the All Star sprinters pushed off to
time trial at Volusia on Thursday, February 10, it became quite
obvious something different was in the air. Every car, it seemed,
knocked off a new track record, one after the other.
came Paul McMahan, the handsome, on-the-hammer kid from California.
He was operating a Dennis Roth ride, associated with Kasey Kahne’s
World of Outlaws team. He drove flawlessly, accompanied by the
harmonic roar of a perfectly balanced Speedway Engine out of
Indianapolis. His time was beyond comprehension: 12.5 seconds around
the semi-banked dirt half mile; 143.209mph average.
there were some high fives in the pit area afterwards. And the
tweets flew among hard-core sprint car fans around the country,
examining track satellite maps to figure which ones are actually
comparable. Some news folk picked it up, such as open-wheel
aficionado Jerry Reigle of Area Auto Racing News, who wrote, “It is
believed to be a new world record, by breaking an Eldora Speedway
record set by Craig Dollansky in 2002.”
there was little real media or fan buzz about the stunning
achievement. WoO Executive VP and Volusia promoter Roger Slack
reflected, “I think that had to do with the time of the year, all
the activity around Speedweeks, and the cars at Daytona going over
Even Paul McMahan was not that pumped up. “You
know,” he told me this week, “I’ve been driving since I was five.
It’s what I do. It’s like brushing my teeth. It was just another
night, and I really haven’t thought about it since.”
Incredulous, I asked him if he actually remembered the lap. “Oh,
yeah. I knew we were fast and I concentrated on myself before going
out, focused on hitting my marks. I had noticed the top and bottom
were greasy, but there was a lane and a half in the middle. We had a
new motor in it, the meanest of the mean. And Kole Kahne, that’s
Kasey’s cousin, fueled it just right. The air – it’s below sea level
there in Florida – is tricky, but it is made for us if you get the
mixture right. And the weather added, too.”
agreed. “There was a rain storm earlier on a hard track that left it
wonderfully tacky and smooth. We really sweated how to prepare it,
and it worked out. Sometimes we do wonder how quick these things can
really go. This year we’re up to 1400 pounds with the driver, we’re
putting in better 33-gallon cells, and working with the drivers to
get the best restraint systems possible. But these guys are so
clever. Give them 80 or 90 nights a year all around the country and
they have a ton of road time. What do they think and talk about?
I just had to ask Paul one more time how he
actually felt. “I was lucky, I guess. I just cut a good, solid lap,
one that I felt positive about. To be honest, though, I wasn’t even
really conscious of the speed until a little later. In one of the
prelims there were 12 of us out there running up there on the
cushion. We were still doing 12.8s and that did get my attention. My
parents were there, and they were a little white-knuckled.”
We are, too, just thinking about it, Paul.
McMahan visualizing his time trial before going out. He was
© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181