Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge was held on August 12 and this year, the Roadkill Nights Grudge Match featured a new mentor-and-rookie format, with experienced racers/builders assisting rookies who actually handled the racing at the event. The Dodge and Plymouth Grudge Match builds were all powered by the supercharged 6.2-liter Redeye Hellcrate engine with Direct Connection upgrades that yielded four-figure horsepower numbers, so getting down the street-based track was not easy. Mentors provided input on how to make the most of the available power, but one team went a step further in preparing for the Roadkill Nights Grudge Match and it paid off in a big way.
Team Corruptt, which was overseen by mentor Tony Arme, sent rookie driver Kayla Rundle to Radford Racing School to attend their drag racing program. Arme competed in last year’s Roadkill Nights Grudge Match with the same 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, powered by a modified Redeye HEMI® engine mated to a manual transmission (this year, the manual was removed in favor of an automatic gearbox). Arme did not win the shootout, but he was one of the quickest cars in the field, so he clearly knows how to play the Roadkill Nights street racing game. However, with Rundle having no experience racing in a car with Redeye-level power, she headed to Radford for proper drag racing instruction.
It should be pointed out that the Roadkill Nights Grudge Match teams only had a few weeks to prepare for the event and that included getting the car ready. With that in mind, Radford provided Rundle with an abridged version of their drag racing program, fitting all of the key aspects of the class into a 5-hour window, as well as adding some unique instruction that applies to the street racing program of Roadkill Nights.
Like all Radford Racing School attendees, Rundle began her day in the classroom followed by time on the skid pad, where she learned about NHRA drag racing and track prep, an overview of safety gear, vision skills and throttle control before heading to the drag strip. While on the drag strip, the instruction shifted to more specific aspects of straight-line racing, such as the Line Lock system and doing a burnout in the water box, how to use the TransBrake, the finer points of staging on the Christmas tree, arm-drop starting practice for Roadkill Nights and how to improve her reaction time on the launch. The toughest part of winning at Roadkill Nights is getting a good launch from the starting line on a relatively slippery street surface, so a great deal of her instruction time focused on perfecting the launch and laying down the quickest 60-foot times possible.
Kayla Rundle explained that the majority of her instruction took place in a Dodge Challenger SRT® Super Stock, but at the end of her day at Radford Racing School, she made two sub-10-second quarter-mile passes in a 2018 Challenger SRT Demon to get her NHRA license. She ran a 9.957 and a 9.820 on her licensing runs, so after spending the day learning about drag racing and honing her skills of launching a car with over 800 wheel horsepower, she got her license and was ready for Roadkill.
“Repeating the proper process with Radford Racing School the week before, made it feel natural once I approached the staging lanes at Roadkill Nights,” said Rundle.
Of course, racing a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon in Radford’s Drag Racing program is different from driving a 1,100-horsepower 1969 Plymouth Barracuda on the street, so once Rundle built a strong foundation of drag racing knowledge, Tony Arme provided additional info on how to drive the car and how to handle the slick street surface – both before and during the event.
Needless to say, the instruction from Radford Racing School paid off, as Kayla Rundle raced her way to the win in the Roadkill Nights Grudge Match and her ability to get off of the starting line was a key to victory. In the first round of the Grudge Match, Rundle and the Team Corruptt Barracuda knocked off the Dodge Ram 1500 of Team Truck Yeah; and as the quickest competitor in the first round, Rundle got a single pass in round two, guaranteeing her a spot in the finals. Meanwhile, the Dodge Viper of Team Throtl beat the 1971 Dodge Challenger of Team Dahminator and the Dodge Charger of Team Soul Snatcher to gain their entry into the finals.
The final pairing in the 2023 Roadkill Nights Direct Connection Grudge Match was one of the best races of the day, with both teams coming to the line with experience from past years. For Team Throtl, this was their third year in the Grudge Match and their second straight year with the Redeye-powered Viper while Arme and the Team Corruptt Barracuda were returning from the previous year as well. Team Throtl driver Quinn Clark did a great job of getting the Viper down the track all day, so Rundle had her work cut out for her, but her drag racing instruction paid off.
On the final run, Clark and the Viper had a tiny starting line advantage, but within the first few feet of the race, Rundle and the Team Corruptt Barracuda roared past the Viper, cruising to the win in her Redeye-powered Plymouth.
“From a first-time drag racer to winning this event within the same week, I could not have accomplished this without the help of Radford Racing School,” said Kayla Rundle on her big win.
You can watch that final race in the video below, and to find out how Kayla’s time at Radford gave her the upper hand, check out her video on YouTube!