Jamie Carnes, story:
Edmonson County native Earl Talley took home top honors in the NHRA Southeast Division Summit Racing Series Finals on October 7, besting several other drivers on his way to a Sportsman Class Championship. The win qualifies him for a berth in the Summit National Championship in Pomona, California next month.
Talley, a long-time drag racer, has won multiple points championships and events at his local track (Beech Bend Raceway), but this is the first NHRA Divisional title he has ever collected. Ironically, he qualified for the Southeast Division (Division 2) event with points he accumulated at Music City Raceway in Nashville, Tennessee.
Silver Dollar Motorsports Park in Reynolds, Georgia hosted the Division 2 event and several rounds of “bracket” racing determined an eventual winner. Bracket racing is a style of drag racing that handicaps matchups to allow driver reaction time and predictably consistent vehicles to be more important in determining winners than quickness of the vehicles alone. Slower vehicles (according to elapsed time, or ET) are given a head start during each race. Racers must predict the ET their vehicles will run (called a dial-in) and must have a good reaction time at the starting line (measured in fractions of a second) to win. If a driver’s vehicle runs faster than its dial-in or the driver leaves the starting line too early, the driver is disqualified for that round of racing. The Sportsman class at the Division 2 event required contestants to race for 1/8 mile while adhering to these rules.
Talley had to advance his 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 through 6 rounds of head-to-head racing to win the event and was awarded a “bye” (automatic advance) in the quarterfinals as the result of having the best winning reaction time (.026) in the previous round. He won the final round of the weekend by defeating Tracy Sikes (representing Rockingham, North Carolina) with a .003 reaction time and by posting an ET of 7.730 – a number that was an identical match to his car’s dial-in.
Talley is a 1986 graduate of Edmonson County High School and now resides in Bowling Green, Kentucky.