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Thunder on the drag strip

Fast friends gather for Sonny Greer Memorial Race

Posted: July 5, 2012 2:50 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

A GROUP OF Kershaw County drag racers get together for a photo before heading to their cars to compete in the Sonny Greer Memorial Race.

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HARTSVILLE --- The “House of Speed” rocked as the  8th Annual Sonny Greer Memorial Race rolled at Darlington Dragway June 8-9. 
Cars from more than three states descended on the track, bringing in a wide mix of racers to compete in the event.
Sponsored by the Palmetto Drag Racer Association (PDRA) and Darlington Dragway, the hard-charging race honors the memory of friend and racer Sonny Greer, a founding member of the Kershaw County-based PDRA. Greer, a local business man who was raised in Lugoff, was widely known for his friendly nature, strong integrity and his talent with custom automobile restorations and high performance cars and engines. 
Marking the seventh time as host track, Darlington staffers did not disappoint as they opened the gates to welcome participants to the popular event.
New for 2012 was a Friday night Gamblers race, in which PDRA member Travis Peake took the runner-up spot in his Rally green Camaro. 
The track filled up quickly on Saturday, with racers and fans spilling out from the small city of cars, trucks, enclosed trailers and RVs as they prepared for a full day of racing.
Greer’s daughter, Rebecca, arrived on the scene early, visiting with racers and catching up with their families. 
“I like seeing my dad’s friends, and listening to funny stories … good memories,” she said while handing out race souvenirs to participants and spectators. “I always hear something new.”
A popular spot at the dragway was the canopy between the trailers of PDRA members Mike and Vicky Peake, and Steve and Mamie Turner, where the food was turned out at the same quick pace as the race day banter. Non-stop smiles and greetings were the order of the day as families and crews gathered in pit row trailers or perched on golf carts and scooters to visit in between the preparations for the race.
As the afternoon sparkled, the staging lanes stayed full for time trails. Sunshine flashed off the brightly colored graphics and paint as the high performance cars and dragsters leapt away from the starting line to speed down the track and through the traps.
When evening fell, the track shifted into a different gear as elimination runs began.
The young Junior Dragster contingent was well represented, each challenger excited to put their skills to the test for a chance to win the Junior trophy purse and bragging rights for parents.
A big crowd draw was the Quick 8 Outlaw Pro-modified race, where 16 of the world’s fastest automatic pro-modified cars competed for glory. These gladiators took no prisoners as they hurdled down the track pushing at the four-second boundary. PDRA’s Kip Kauffman’s team Punisher turned in the quickest qualifying time and lived up to the name when driver Robbie Matthews blasted through the four-second mark with 3.88 pass, seizing the win.
The featured bracket race was equally fierce as the large field of more than 100 top eliminator and modified cars pushed the competition deep into the night.  Eager to advance through the rounds to victory, drivers stayed focused on quick reflexes and 60-foot times as the lights flickered down the tree and cars launched off the starting line.
Race conditions stayed great throughout the weekend, thanks to the efforts of track owner Ronnie Siders and his experienced crew. The top-notch workers kept the race flowing well, and produced a consistently hard-hooking track despite an oil-down or two.
After the final rounds played out, PDRA President Robert Anderson, Secretary Steve Turner and Greer’s wife, Becky, awarded trophies and bonus purses to the victorious racers in winner’s circle.
As the last trailers were loaded and the Darlington lights dimmed, PDRA organizers were still on the scene following through on the last details.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to put an event like this together, so we recognize and appreciate what a tremendous tribute it represents for Sonny,” Becky Greer said after the race. “The Palmetto Drag Racer Association members and the Darlington staff deserve to be recognized for their efforts, no matter how reluctant they are to accept the praise”. 


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