Article by Stuart Leiby. Photography by Stuat Leiby and Matheo Perez.
By now it seems everyone in the automotive racing world is familiar with the annual TX2K event in Houston, Texas, each March. What everyone may not be aware of is the invitation-only clash of the titans race that takes place just weeks after, and attracts the biggest names in the high-end performance street scene. The Texas Invitational, a legendary, side-by-side roll racing event, held at a private airfield about twenty minutes east of Dallas, is truly a gathering of the who's who in high-end car builds.
One look at the lineup of exotics and menacing domestics removes any doubt as to the quality of cars at the Texas Invitational.
T1 Race Development always has a strong showing of GT-Rs at the Texas Invitational. With eight cars producing anywhere from 1,100 horsepower to nearly 2,000, this year was no different.
Few races are able to attract this level of the fastest cars from all over the world. This year’s field had a great turnout of Lamborghinis, Corvettes, and Toyota Supras.
The Texas Speed Syndicate has been hosting the Texas Invitational since 2010, and it has turned into one of the greatest showings of street legal horsepower anywhere in the country. With Underground Racing bringing more than a dozen 1,800 hp+ Lamborghini Gallardos, the competition would have to be impressive. Nissan GT-R premier builders such as T1 Race Development, AMS Performance, Boost Logic, and Switzer Performance brought some of their big guns out to challenge the reigning champions. In addition to those two main platforms there were also some truly impressive Dodge Vipers, Chevrolet Corvettes, and Porsches trying to play the role of David in this battle of the giants.
AMS Performance has been in the GT-R drag racing spotlight for years after being the first to achieve several records, such as the first to run nine-, eight-, and seven-second quarter mile passes. They made a neck-breaking pass of 207 mph on Saturday, but had to sit out due to a problem with the catch-can configuration.
After setting one of the fastest elapsed times in his GT-R at the roll racing event during TX2K14 just weeks prior, Tony Palo of T1 Race Development made a strong showing at this year's Texas Invitational.
The two main events are the King of the Street and the 6 Speed Challenge. Put simply, the King of the Street race is for any true street car and carries no real regulations besides having street tires and not being a gutted race car. The 6-Speed Challenge consists of many of the same cars, but they must be equipped and using a clutch pedal.
Eddie Bello's 911 is nothing short of a legend and was the reigning 6 Speed Challenge champion. An unfortunate turn of events during grudge racing left the Porsche mechanically unable to compete in either of the challenges this year.
The first day of racing consists of grudge racing between individuals from across the country. Many of these rivalries have been building for months, and it’s all on the table when the competitors line up. Speeds are recorded throughout the day, as well as during an open session the following morning. From these speeds, a bracket is created and the ladder is set. The upper half of the bracket was turning in solid 175+ mph runs throughout qualifying, and Underground Racing turned in an insanely fast 213 mph run at the end of qualifying Saturday morning.
Pushing cars as hard as the participants do obviously has its fair share of risks, and the racing on Saturday did not disappoint when it came to excitement.
While this Verde Ithaca-colored Underground Racing car shattered the current trap speed record, the winner of last year’s King of the Street (another Underground Racing Gallardo) burst into flames as it crossed the line! The car did not appear to be a total loss and the driver, Tag Marlow, emerged unscathed.
Kong Chang got to see what a 360-degree spin felt like at 160+ mph when his beautiful Porsche hit some water just as he crossed the finish line. He too was shaken up, but fine after the spin. With a couple of body panels torn up, the Porsche had to be retired for the day, but will surely be back racing soon.
The first round of racing resulted in some major upsets and more than a few surprise victories. Most notably, the reigning Gallardo lost in the first round due to a missed shift. A few of the higher qualified GT-Rs also met premature demises due to some upsets or mechanical problems. When the dust settled and the racing had wrapped up, Underground Racing managed to retain its title in the King of the Street and also take over the 6 Speed Challenge title; once again showing they are the shop to beat when it comes to roll racing the fastest street cars around.
While drag racing has been the standard for determining straight line speed for decades, organized roll racing has undeniably started to become the measuring tool for true street cars. With less focus on who can pull the wheels on a prepped, unnatural surface, and more focus on sheer acceleration in real world conditions, its attractiveness is hard to ignore. As of now, Underground Racing continues to lead the pack, but there is always someone ready to take the king down. With the biggest names in the industry eyeing the top spot, the next Texas Invitational promises to be one for the ages.
This beautiful Underground Racing Audi R8 ran flawlessly the entire weekend and emerged victorious in the King of the Streets competition.