Red light: Rev up the engine and feel the entire car tremble. Yellow light: Grip the steering wheel in anticipation. Green light: Explode through an eighth of a mile stretch in a blur.
The scenario is one that Hinesville resident and drag-racing driver Tony Gaskin envisions daily as he prepares for the 2010 International Hot Rod Association Summit Super Series race, which is April 17 in Jackson, S.C.
Gaskin, who has been drag racing cars for roughly 20 years, on Wednesday went to Tattoos by Drew in Ludowici, one of his sponsors, and displayed his race cars. Doing so, he said, gave the public an opportunity to check out a drag car and allowed Gaskin to thank the sponsors that have made his season possible.
Gaskin said he and Sean Tucker, owner of Elysium Graphics and Design in Ludowici, spent 50-60 hours detailing the cars, which display the names and logos of the companies lending their support for the upcoming racing series.
"This is a touring series that we are going to run a full season of," Gaskin said. "I started out dirt tracking and I still do that, but it evolved into drag racing and it’s just grown from there."
Gaskin said participating in the racing circuit is expensive. In fact, one of the drag cars on display is fueled with alcohol while the other car runs on special fuel mix.
"It’s roughly $12 a gallon," he said. "It’s expensive. It’s not possible without the sponsors we have, and being here today and displaying these cars is my way of saying thank you to my sponsors and shows my appreciation for their support. They are the life blood of racing."
The cars run 140 mph through the eighth of a mile course, which Gaskin said takes about 4-5 seconds to complete.
He said he won one big event so far this year and expects to rack up another victory soon. "And we are going to win, no doubt. That is why we have all this equipment," Gaskin said.
The touring series pits racers against each other from different divisions. The drivers accumulate points based on their times and, eventually, the drivers with the most points compete against each other in the finals. Winners receive cash prizes.
Gaskin thinks he will have a winning season, and he said he is driving to represent the Wingmen Motorcycle Club. The racer is a member of the Long County Chapter.
"I’m proud to be a Wingmen," he said. "Fortunately, my Wingmen brothers across the nation have come on to support us on this racing venture as they do with charities across the nation. It’s something we are going to coordinate with the motorcycle club to put these cars on display and enhance what we do for charities."
"He’s the caliber of man we were looking for and it tells by him wanting to patch out with us," Charles Campbell, aka C.C., acting president of the Long County Chapter of the Wingmen Motorcycle Club said. "He wanted to do something which incorporated his racing lifestyle with the motorcycle lifestyle and what we do is try to raise funds for local charities and/or things such as the Wounded Warrior Project out on Fort Stewart. Tony wanted to get a good mix of the two and this is what he came up with, and I’m real proud of him."
Campbell said his club has several activities planned to raise funds for various organizations this year.
"We like to do what we can for needy people and then bow our heads and walk away," he said. "We aren’t always angels but we aren’t outlaws either. We are Wingmen."
Gaskin said he is looking for more opportunities to display the cars for children and community members to enjoy.
The Courier will follow Gaskin’s progress in future editions.