WALLA WALLA — Drag racer Rocky Jennings finished in 7.19 seconds at the Walla Walla Drag Strip Sunday, setting a national record in the process.
His time bested the former 7.2-second record for an eighth-mile track in the Super Stock VX division. The division is specifically for Volkswagens, as Jennings sports a 1957 VW Beetle with a 146-cubic inch engine.
But Jennings and the rest of his team were not just satisfied with their record-breaking race. He still thinks he can finish in less than 7.19 seconds.
“I think that every racer out there, once a record has been set, they realize records are meant to be broken,” Jennings said. “We’re not really 100 percent satisfied with how the car performed. We’re going to try to make improvements in the entire car, performance-wise and (with) the engine.”
But the weekend was almost over before it started for Jennings and his team.
With the race track holding a “test-and-tune” Friday evening, Jennings had an opportunity to run his car before the race.
Unfortunately, Jennings found an issue at Friday’s event. With a new motor that was finished on Thursday, Jennings was unsure exactly what the problem was.
“How many bullets do we have to dodge to get this thing done?” Jennings said of the engine issue. “We were able to figure out after time that we had an engine problem and not a problem with the engine itself.”
Luckily, Jennings was able to swap the ignition box from his son’s car and proceed with the drag event.
With a functioning motor, Jennings got back to the track Saturday. After finishing his first run of the day in 7.24 seconds, Jennings knew the record was within reach.
His second run of the day did not go as well, as Jennings said he had trouble getting the car in gear.
But Jennings returned to the track Sunday and found out he would only have one more shot at the record.
Rather than getting two runs, the possibility of rain restricted Jennings to only one chance to finish in less than 7.2 seconds.
But Jennings did just that, finishing in 7.19 seconds and setting a national record in the process.
“I think there’s a lot of drag racers out there that work extremely hard and still come up short sometimes,” Jennings said. “I was able to put everything together for this one event and meet a mark that I had pretty much set for myself.”