The $10K Drag Shootout Final 10: “Big Daddy” And Team Dirty Jersey

The Horsepower Wars $10K Shootout is a competition where teams square off to see who can build the fastest drag car in 10 days with only $3,000 in cash and $7,000 in Summit Racing credit. We’ve had applicants from ALL over the country vying to see who would make it into the final list. And that has now happened.

This interesting and innovative competition has been made possible by some of the leading companies in our industry: Royal Purple, Comp Cams, TCI Transmissions, Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels, E3 Spark Plugs, Fragola, Diablosport, Mahle Motorsports, DynaBatt, ProCharger, Weld Racing, ARP, BMR Suspension, QA1, PRW, Covercraft, and of course, Summit Racing.

We’re down to the final two of 10 finalists for the Horsepower Wars $10K Shootout — today, it’s team number nine!

Says Gutridge: “You asked what makes me think that we could win? Me question is What makes you think that we can’t?”

Team Name: Dirty Jersey
Driver: “Big Daddy” Dwayne Gutridge
Hometown: Toms River, New Jersey
Crew: Mike Rozman, Freddie Felt and Regas Anagnostou

In drag racing, names don’t come much bigger than the one and only “Big Daddy” Dwayne Gutridge, one of the original pioneers of drag radial racing in the late 1980s and early 1990s. If there’s a car magazine, Gutridge has graced it; if there’s a small-tire Mustang race, he’s won it. And chances are at some point you had the poster of his barrier-breaking, seven-second Mustang on your bedroom or garage wall. To put it simply, he’s earned his status as a legend.

Gutridge, a lifelong ‘car guy’ who owns and operates Big Daddy Performance in New Jersey, has assembled a team of close friends with the talent and experience to put a competitive ride under him on-time and on-budget — which is a good thing, because they’ll get 10 days and 10-grand to do it!

Can “Big Daddy” add another victory to his impressive resume and collection of trophies and medals? You’ll get a chance to help propel his team — and the rest of our 10 finalists — into the final three in the coming weeks as we narrow down the teams and decide who will take part in the $10K Drag Shootout!

To learn more about Gutridge and his squad, check out their Q&A!

HW: Tell us a little about yourself

I am a father of four, and all of my children have competed in sports or have won championships. I’ve had a love for cars as far back as I can remember. I remember bringing cars to school for show-and-tell in the second grade. I started building cars when I was 14, messing around with cars with my dad. I went to work for Ford in 1983. In 1981, I built my first car, a 1971 Cougar with a 351C, FMX transmission and a 9-inch rear with 4.11 gears. I earned my respect in racing by beating up on the local guys that were much older than me. They all drove Chevy’s. I had purchased a Moroso nitrous oxide kit from Midwest Specialty in Ohio and had it on my car; back then the notion was if it was a Ford it didn’t run, so they never checked for it. I started building cars for people back around 1989.

In the early 80’s, Ford had a small racing parts division called Ford Motorsports. So, throughout the early 80s I raced and worked on cars. In 1985, the Ford Mustang started re-gaining notoriety with a revised powerplant and fuel injection. Changing from a carburetor in 1985 to the all new sequential fuel injection in 1986 with revised heads, pistons and a larger intake, made the 5.0 Mustang the car to have. I purchased a 1988 Mustang GT which I immediately started racing, and was a big part of the 5.0 movement. In 1992 I built a car for Freehold Ford called the Phantom that was featured in the local newspapers and national Ford magazines.

I was the first person to run a Paxton supercharger on a Mustang on the East Coast or further; I was also the first person and shop to run and become a Vortech Supercharger dealer. I did test for Vortech in the early days, running A and B Trim superchargers. My shop offered and ran the first cog pulley set up that helped Billy Glidden drive the first Vortech-supercharged car into the seven-second zone with an Outrageous Mustang Cog pulley.

I was at the first 5.0 invitational shootout held by Super Ford in Columbus, Ohio, back in 1990 or ’91. I showcased two customers cars that were driven from New Jersey to Ohio and raced on radial tires. This is where the idea began with racing on radial tires. In 1994 Michael Knapp of Raceway Park in New Jersey allowed me to put my ideas of racing on radial tires into action, by allowing me to sponsor the Mustang Showdowns on Friday nights and introducing a new class called Heads Up Radial. I also helped put together the rules for the original Drag Radial Class in the NMRA. I held the first big money radial race in Ohio in 2003, and was the first person to run sevens on a radial tire.

From 2003 to 2004, I won 17 straight races and went 24-1 in two seasons. I earned several titles: two time WFC champion and runner-up, two time Shakedown at E-Town champion, and back-to-back FFW championships. During my racing career I stood in the winner’s circle over 50 times.

HW: Who is part of your team?

My team is made up of guys who work for me, have worked with me, and guys that I have built cars for and are now shop owners. We have built many types of cars.

Mike “The Tuner” Rozman, born and raised in Cranford, New Jersey, has been my crew chief for many years. He graduated from Brookdale Community College with an Associates Degree in Automotive Technology. Mike became an ASE Certified Master Tech in 1999. He’s been featured in several magazine articles and published in Muscle Mustang & Fast Fords and GM High Tech. He’s worked in many different areas of the industry, including drag racing, circle track and road racing. From building engines, tuning carbs and EFI, to setting up suspensions, Mike is surely skilled in all areas of performance cars.

Then we have Freddie “Mr. Miyagi” Felt, Browns Mills, New Jersey, who I have worked with the past three years. Freddie also has a background in chassis setups and fabrication working for a local chassis shop. Freddie has a general knowledge of building and working on performance cars and his strong points are fabricating, rearends and welding. Freddie also raced in the NMRA and was the 2002 Real Street champion.

Next we have Regas Anagnostou, from Columbus, New Jersey. He is the Owner of Ellas Automotive and Performance, in Westville. Working for Ford, Regas in his early days wanted to get into racing so he worked with me when I built the engines for his brother John’s 347 Supercharged 1991 LX and his brother-in-law Alex Vrettos’ 347 Single Turbo ’90 GT and ’94 Cobra. Regas and his brother-in-law won a Drag Radial championship at Cecil County. He also crewed for Manny Buginga. In the past few years, Regas and I have built three turbo cars, two Ultra Street cars, and one X275 car. Our fifth guy is a mystery.

HW: Why should your team be chosen for the Drag Shootout?

I have lasted over three decades in this sport. I’ve raced and competed against the best and brightest minds in the game. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best that have lost their life for this sport. I believed that I have earned my way into drag racing history with hard work, determination, respect for other racers, and for the sport overall. I think the fans would love to see the guy who has climbed his way to earning his spot on the track. The guy who graces kids bedroom walls with signed autographs, garages, office walls, and shops with the Legendary BFG Poster for being the first racer to go  seven seconds on a drag radial tire.

HW: What makes you qualified to win the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout?

Winners never quit and quitters never win. I play to win ALWAYS! Six-time champion and a pioneer in the sport. I like my chances.

HW: Tell us about a car you and your team have built

I built the legendary Drag Radial car that started this entire radial tire craze; the car that graced the BFG poster and has been in 50 different magazines — magazines such as Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, Hype, Popular Hot Rodding, and many others. I’ve also built a few Drag Radial cars that had competed in the NMRA Drag Radial class when it first started, as well in FFW, WFC, Ford Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway and a host of other race events. Racers like Alex Vrettros, Bob McDonald, Mike Dolce, Joe Amato and others. I also have built an 8.50 index, 427 SBF car and many street-raced cars.

Stay tuned as we release the next finalist and work our way through the entire lineup of teams that will vie for a shot at this rough-and-tumble build-off!

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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