Faster cars, lower e.t.s and bigger prize money marked the Lone Star State's last big import drag race of the Millennium in October, outside Houston. Billed as both a Nopi Drag War and the World Import Challenge, the event attracted more competitive racing teams to Texas with its $10,000 front-wheel-drive Quick 8 purse than at any other Texas event in 1999.
In February 1999, the field of cars in Texas was trying to beat the Wrightouch team from Hollywood Florida, whose driver, Garry March, was pushing a '92 Eclipse to a 10.68 second quarter mile. Back in the day, 10.68 was hard to beat. And so was a Pentium II 450...how things change.
Since then, Wrightouch has dropped from competing in Texas Drag Wars. The Texas field has seen a close competition between Kenny Tran of Jotech Motorsports and Jackey Yeung of Carboy, a Houston team. Both teams field Civics. Jotech, from Garland, Texas, has gone from running 10.9's to 10.1's this year, pulling ahead of Carboy for the time being. That's a figurative battle of "civic pride" for the two highest-profile import drag racers in Texas - Dallas and Houston. But this time around, Tran faced some stiff out-of-state competition in the FWD Quick 8, which might have better been called the Honda Civic Quick 8. With $10,000 in cash up for grabs a road trip was in the cards for a number of Southern California racers.
Jojo Callos of Long Beach, California was one such traveler. Jojo, without question the biggest winner of the 1999 race season, smelled a big payday. But his race to the winner's circle was much more than a quarter mile long-it took the Texas Miracle to pull it off. During qualifying Jojo experienced valvetrain failure which took out the bottom end. Looking for a spare motor, Jojo's plight was announced over the PA system and to his surprise a number of people approached him offering their stock engines. Jojo would like to thank them all for their kindness. Jojo has raced a lot in Texas and has made some friends, more than he thought. Sean Williams, a Houston-based racer also experienced cylinder head problems but his bottom end was intact. Sean knew one of Jojo's friends and used him as a mediary to offer the built 1.8-liter GSR block. Not wanting to risk Sean's engine, Jojo looked for other avenues but came up with nothing and took Sean up on his generous offer. Since Sean was in need of a head, he asked for help in finding a new head in return and a deal was struck. Jojo's crew Jason Dienhart, Ben Higacio, Kareem El-Sherif and Mike (aka Peewee) swapped the blocks in the pits late Saturday. Another of Jojo's new friends lent him a head. Tony from Endless Racing was building a motor at his shop and offered the engine's head. The 1.6-liter-derived head was mostly stock, running factory valves. The only addition was heavy-duty retainers. Jojo was quick to stress that he does not spin his engine past 8200 rpm and does not suggest anyone do so without proper valvetrain mods. He certainly was not going to subject the borrowed head to such abuse.