$10K Drags Sweepstakes Becomes Sentimental Turn of Events

The $10K Drag Shootout nearly springboarded a new drag racer to the ranks, but in the end, a team was reunited with an old friend as the Horsepower Wars $10K Drag Shootout Sweepstakes awarded its grand prize.

Princeton, New Jersey’s Andrew Marks, a 34-year old IT professional, was selected as the grand prize winner of a real-deal $10K Drag Shootout car, part of an eight-week giveaway sponsored by Comp Performance Group that also awarded a number of drag racing-themed prizes, including a set of QA1 adjustable shocks, a DynaBatt lightweight battery, a Royal Purple prize pack, an E3 ignition system, TCI Outlaw shifter, and a custom COMP camshaft. 

Upon learning that he’d won, Marks, who insists he has no formal background in hardcore drag racing, began scouring for tracks nearby his central New Jersey home to earn his license and go drag racing. That would be no small feat, given he’d have done so in the loudest, wildest creation built in the inaugural season of the $10K Drag Shootout: Team Stinky Pinky’s Dr. Rodknocker 1988 Chevrolet Camaro. With a roots-type supercharger atop it’s big-block Chevrolet powerplant and a sinister set of zoomie-style exhaust headers protruding through the hood, the Camaro, driven on the show by ‘Disco’ Dean Karns, made its presence known during the winner-take-all race.

“I couldn’t believe it.” Marks said of his name being chosen as the sweepstakes winner. “I honesty couldn’t believe I’d won, I thought it was a joke. I got a message that I’d won and it was real disbelief, and thinking it had to be too good to be true.”

Added Marks, “I’m not a drag racer, but this is definitely the opportunity to get my start. I’ll see what the process is to get a license and explore it and see how I could use it.”

But Marks, knowing the car had sentimental value to Karns and his team, who poured several months of their lives and 10 tireless days and nights into its construction, reached out to the Stinky Pinky gang to gauge their interest in reacquiring it. Following four days of negotiations, Karns struck a deal to reacquire Dr. Rod Knocker and take it back home to Fairborn, Ohio.

I honesty couldn’t believe I’d won, I thought it was a joke. I got a message that I’d won and it was real disbelief, and thinking it had to be too good to be true. – $10k Drag Shootout Sweepstakes inner Andrew Marks

“It’s our creation,” Karns told us. “We went from having one of the worst car choices because we didn’t do good in the first olympics, to making a crowd-favorite car. We turned this third-gen mullet-mashing IROC Z into something everyone loved. One of the reasons why we wanted to keep it so much is that my dad is getting older, and that 10 days that we invested into building it were the most excruciating days.”

“It was hot, the days were long, but it’s something that’s never going to be taken away from me and my dad, and regardless if we ever ran it again or it sat in the garage, I wanted to keep it. It’s a piece of memorabilia that would mean a lot to me; and my dad, at 70 years old, he endured it morning, day, and night in that hot-ass shop.”

Entering the shootout as perhaps an underdog given the challenges and setbacks they faced during the 10-day build process, Karns and the Stinky Pinky squad quickly got a grasp on Dr. Rod Knocker and surprised everyone, recording what was the first official 8-second pass with an 8.96 during qualifying. While they didn’t get the result they had hoped for — a close 8.82 to 8.95 loss in the first round to the Dream Team — they certainly earned the respect of their peers and the viewers at home.

At the close of the emotionally-charged final episode of the $10K Drag Shootout, Karns and his compatriots signed the hood of their prized Camaro (in pink ink, no less) and said their goodbyes, believing they had seen it for the final time. But in a twist of fate that began with Marks randomly selecting Dr. Rod Knocker on his sweepstakes entry form, the entire turn of events was set in motion.

There was a lot of stuff we did in 10 days and we put our heart, soul, blood, and grease, to make that thing what it is. All my life a car has just been a car, but the meaning behind this one is just a totally different thing. – Dean Karns

“It was very, very rough,” Karns shared of the Norwalk event, as he and his team packed up and went home without their baby. “We felt deep down inside that we had the best overall car, the car to beat. What a sweet ending to it all is that I get the car back for being honest and true during the race. I put it on the chip and raced the fastest car first round, and that was the right thing to do.”

Karns assures that he’ll run the car, this time putting his father and other members of the team behind the wheel to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“I want to enjoy it — take it to the local track and have the guys feel the passion of what we made, what we did over those 10 days, and put a lap on it. I want dad, Jake, Jimmy, Brian, everybody to drive it, and it be something that we’ll keep forever because of the 10 days we put in.”

“Everybody looks at it and says, ‘man that’s a cool car,’ but we look at it and say it was a lot of [expletive] work. There was a lot of stuff we did in 10 days and we put our heart, soul, blood, and grease, to make that thing what it is. All my life a car has just been a car, but the meaning behind this one is just a totally different thing — it’s the red-headed stepchild nobody wanted and we turned it into little orphan Annie and everybody loves it. And we love it, too.”

With that, perhaps a rematch with Lyle Barnett and Team Bigun could become a reality in the near future?

To get the full scoop on the Dr. Rodknocker Camaro, read our in-depth feature on Team Stinky Pinky’s handiwork, and then check out the big race at Summit Motorsports Park! 

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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