ADEL, Ga. — A trio of drag racers with roots deeply entrenched in the Sportsman ranks have come together to host a three-day event catering solely to Stock and Super Stock racers.
The unique Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Southern Sportsman Showdown is the brain child of veteran Sportsman racers Dave Connolly, Jason Line, and Bo Butner. The Stock and Super Stock extravaganza is scheduled to take place March 19-21, 2021 at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
“We’re so excited about this. It is truly an event made for racers by racers,” said Butner, who has competed successfully in a variety of Sportsman and Professional categories for over two decades. “All three of us – Dave Connolly, Jason Line, and myself – we have roots in Sportsman racing, so this means a lot to us,” continued Butner. “We want to put on the most awesome race for these Stock and Super Stock guys. They deserve it, and we’re going to treat them right, feed them right, and make sure they have a good time.”
The event is $20,000 to win on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with each day’s runner-up receiving $3,000, semifinalists scoring $1,500, and round money (with second-round win) awards set at $150. Single-day entry for any one of the three days is $325, and entry for the full weekend is $900.
A $50,000 to win 64-Car Shootout is slated to round out a full day of racing on Saturday with generous payouts to the runner-up ($5,000) and semifinalists ($1,500). Entry for the 64-Car Shootout is set at $1,000.
Saturday night will conclude with a celebration for all with the Nitro Fish Nacho Night/Racer Appreciation Party.
Middle Tennessee-based Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, title sponsor of the event, is an establishment housing over 100 show-quality vehicles, from classic hot rods to exotic automobiles. Owner Jason Johnson has a deep, lifelong appreciation of all things automotive. His father, Willis Johnson, founded Copart Salvage Auto Auctions, and the younger Johnson was able to feed his interest for the automotive industry through setting up auctions.
“Drag racing is one of the last sports that I watch anymore,” said Johnson, who explained that he prefers to leave the actual racing up to the professionals but enjoys the racing scene. He got an up-close view of the sport when Copart sponsored Top Fuel driver Brandon Bernstein, beginning in 2010.
“I’m looking forward to being part of this race,” continued Johnson. “This is getting back to the grass roots of drag racing, where the sport came from, and I think everyone is going to have a good time.”
Connolly explained that the Southern Sportsman Showdown had been a talking point for quite a while between he and Line, and they welcomed Butner into the discussion toward the end of this past season.
The three like-minded individuals each bring something unique to the table: 1993 Stock Eliminator champion Line still has many ties in the Stock and Super Stock community and understands the technical aspect of racing; Butner is an experienced and relatable Sportsman racer with strong communication skills; and Connolly has the racing experience – he was part of the Factory Stock Showdown in its early days – as well as behind-the-scenes experience in event planning. His fiancée, Jennifer Folk, is an integral part of Folk Promotions, the entity that puts on the annual Million Dollar Race, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
“I’ve watched [Folk Promotions] succeed in putting on one of the most prestigious bracket races there is, and I’ve also been behind the scenes to witness problems that can arise,” said Connolly. “That experience should help us prevent a lot of issues that we might not otherwise know to look for. It will help us make sure the event goes as smoothly as possible, especially for the racers.
“The best part is that we get to give something back to the racers who are out here investing their time and money into the sport that we all love.”
Line retired from Pro Stock driving at the conclusion of the 2020 season, but he stood firm in his statement that he was not leaving racing entirely. The Southern Sportsman Showdown marks his first foray into event promotion, and he is eager for the new opportunity.
“Our goal is for this to be a positive experience for the racers and to give them a chance to win some real money,” he said. “We also want this to be a good experience for the vendors who are supporting the racers. If one is successful, the other will be, too.”