History in the Making

The Southeast Gassers Association Make a Big Return to a Historic Track

By Tommy Lee Byrd   –   Photography by the Author

We’ve shown you action from the Southeast Gassers Association in the past, and that coverage typically comes from Knoxville Dragway in Tennessee. As 2024 approached, we were excited to hear that our favorite gasser group would be returning to Brainerd Motorsports Park, a historic eighth-mile dragstrip in Ringgold, Georgia. This track hosted the gassers a few years ago and drew huge crowds to watch the unpredictable action, but various factors played into the group’s decision to race elsewhere during its highly contested championship series. Thankfully, those fences were mended and the authentic gasser organization could get back to business at Brainerd.

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002 Classic black bel air drag car at the starting line

Read More: Old-School Chevy Muscle from the Wally Parks Nostalgia Nationals

In case this is your first time reading about the Southeast Gassers Association, this group of racers is dedicated to accurately representing the gasser wars of the ’60s. They do so in period-correct cars, which play by a strict set of rules based on performance factors and appearance. The racing is true heads-up action—no handicap starts or breakouts. To even the playing field, there are multiple classes, separated just like they did it back in the ’60s. The cars are weighed and classified by the weight to cubic-inch ratio. C/Gas comes in at 10 pounds per cubic inch, B/Gas is 8 pounds per cubic inch, and A/Gas is 6 pounds per cubic inch. The A/Gas racers are the top dogs of the group, pushing the limits of the old-school suspension. Other classes, including Super Stock, H/Gas, and A/FX add to the event, keeping action on the track all day long.

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003 Vintage two tone blue and yellow chevy nova drag racing car

Engines, transmissions, brake systems, and rollcages are allowed to be updated modern equipment for safety purposes and longevity of the cars, but it still must retain the vintage appearance. The group features a diverse selection of cars, from fat-fendered hot rods to Corvettes and everything in-between. With a year cutoff of 1967, you can expect to see a lot of Tri-Five Chevys and early Novas due to the excellent handling and weight balance. All cars in the Gasser classes must have a straight axle front end and manual transmission. The Super Stock division allows independent front suspension but still requires the gear-banging driveline. The A/FX class is the only class allowed to run on alcohol—as the name implies, all gassers must run on gasoline, whether it is fed by carburetors or mechanical fuel injection.

004 Classic red Camaro drag setup with black hood on the track

As the days and hours counted down to the season opener for the 2024 Southeast Gassers Association, the weather began to play into the event. Heavy rains washed out the Friday night test session, meaning most of the racers would roll into race day without any test passes on the Brainerd Motorsports Park racing surface. The sun came out on Saturday, providing an awesome day of racing, with wild, wheels-up starts, squirrely action down track, and great door-to-door finishes.

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005 Vintage red chevy nova drag car doing a wheelie

Read More: Old-School, Heads-Up Drag Racing from the Southeast Gassers Association

Thousands of people packed into the track to welcome the gassers back to town, and we were on hand to photograph the high-winding Chevys in competition. Ultimately, Chevrolet entries won in Super Stock and A/Gas. It was Ken Phillips taking home the A/Gas win in his “Silver Streak” Corvette and Jerry Dean blistering the field in his Super Stock Nova. A notable performance came from Todd Oden in his C/Gas-prepared ’58 Chevy, as he set a new class record. A shifter issue put him out of the action in the semifinals, but he set the bar high for the rest of the season.

006 White classic Chevrolet parked at a racing event

Take a look at some of our favorite photos from the triumphant return to Brainerd Motorsports Park and be sure to check out southeastgassers.com to find a race near you.

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