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King of College traveling trophy returns to LLC

by: Leah Oathout/Production Manager

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Scotty Adams (left) and Terry Adams stand victoriously beside the Firebird and the King of College trophy, winner sticker in hand.
photo by Leah Oathout

The air was ripe with anticipation in the Lake Land Automotive Club pit on Saturday Oct. 12 at Coles County Dragway USA. The most important drag race of the year, the King of College, was about to begin. This year, hopes were higher than usual because the driver, sophomore Terry Adams, had beaten Southern Illinois University Carbondale in a shoot-out race last year.

“It’s just another race,” Adams remarked as the team prepared the club’s 1993 Pontiac Firebird.

Since the annual race was created four years ago, the traveling trophy has gone home with SIUC every time, with LLC coming in second and Parkland Community College placing third.

As the other teams arrived, things got a little more interesting. Behind the wheel of Parkland’s 1980 Chevrolet Malibu was David Lyons, a weekly racer at CCD. Travis Booth, driver of SIUC’s 1966 Chevrolet Nova, also began his career at CCD before racing for Parkland and then transferring to SIUC. All three drivers have plenty of experience on the eighth-mile track, and plenty of experience racing each other.

The drag racing that these drivers participate in is nothing like the kind of racing depicted in movies like Fast & Furious or shows. Elapsed time (E.T.), racing allows two cars with different performance levels to compete on a fair field. In order to achieve this, the drivers must put a dial-in, the estimated time the vehicle will run, on their window. This information is put into a computer which sets the lights for the starting tree.

Theoretically, a street SUV with a dial-in of 12.89 seconds and a turbo sports car that runs 6.02 seconds should reach the finish line at the same instant. However, reaction time is a huge factor in victory verses defeat. Reaction time is how long it takes for the driver to get off the line when the tree turns green. It takes many hours of practice to properly dial-in a vehicle and cut a perfect reaction time and all three King of College racers have spent years practicing for races such as these.

However, fate decided that an epic showdown between these three drivers was not to be. During their second time run, SIUC’s distributor gear broke and no replacement could be found, putting them out of the race before it began. Adams beat Lyons in round one of eliminations as Parkland’s car ran four-tenths off its dial. The next round,

it was all over as Lyons red-lighted, automatically giving the win to Adams.

“I told you I was bringing that trophy home,” Adams said as he hugged his father and drag racing advisor, Scotty Adams.

“It’s about damn time,” Scotty replied with a huge grin.

Within a few weeks, the trophy should be in in Vo-Tech building where it will stay until next October. Who will take it home next year is anyone’s guess.

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