and Jason Collins
Beeville — The RVs, trailers and mobile garages stretched far into the distance.
Spectators huddled together at Chase Field near the starting line of the Texas Mile under large white tents in the cool autumn air last weekend.
Two men were there to battle it out, but only one would come out on top.
Sean Kennedy retained his record, surpassing his previous top speed to reach 263.3 mph along the one-mile stretch of runway.
He had retained his record...but only by a tenth.
This street-legal supercar is powered by a 5.4-liter, supercharged V-8 engine with twin 67mm ball-bearing turbos, a stainless steel turbo exhaust, stainless steel turbo down pipes, a fuel system upgrade and other hardware. All told, the setup allows for a total of 1,000 HP at 6,600 rpm.
Back in March, the Ford GT, owned by John Hennessey, set the track record of 257.7 mph.
“I am not really ever surprised we have records set,” said Jessica Reyna, who handles publicity for the Mile. “The drivers really want to be that person who gets that speed on the logo.”
Yes, the Texas Mile logo always contains the fastest track speed as part of its logo.
So, once again, it will change — something coordinator Shannon Matus should be getting good at doing as she has had to do it after every race here in Beeville.
This year has been interesting, because Kennedy only holds the record by a fraction.
Kelly Bise reached 263.2 mph in his Chevrolet Camero.
Reyna said that these two have been battling it out for years now.
“We knew coming in we had two people returning who wanted to break the records,” she said.
Bise held the record until October 2011 and has been trying to regain it ever since.
“They are both coming back to continue the battle,” Reyna said.
The next record to fall was that for the fastest woman.
That title is now held by Jennifer Robertson.
Once again, though, it wasn’t an easy win.
At a speed of 243.6 mph, she surpassed the old record by only a tenth.
“It was a great weekend. I am ready to go 250 mph... oh, I mean 260 mph now,” Robertson posted on the Facebook page of Mile.
When the prior record holder, who lives in London, heard the news, she wrote on a social media site, “I am going to come and take it back.”
For those who don’t set land-speed records, there is always joining the 200 mph Club.
Many of the motorcycles and few of the cars surpassed this impressive speed.
Some were blowing gaskets and engines, spitting flames and puffing smoke while taking their vehicles to the limit and then way beyond.
When anyone broke the coveted speed, the crowd would erupt in cheers and high-fives.
Thousands of men, women and children filled in the spectators’ sections of the event.
Golf carts buzzed around, carrying fans back and forth down the Mile.
Part of the reason for so many records being toppled was the weather.
“It was a little cold and a little wet on Friday morning,” Reyna said. “The rest of the weekend was good though.”
The benefit was the north wind, which gave drivers the extra push they needed to surpass the old records.
“This weekend, it was a fluke. We had a tail wind,” Reyna said.
Usually, it’s no wind or a headwind.
Matus said that their is a saying in racing.
“Every tenth counts.
“This event proved it. A woman gets a world record because of a tenth and who gets the record as the fastest is decided by a tenth.”
The group plans to return in March, assuming all goes as planned, to celebrate their 10th year.
“That is depending on our contract with the BDA,” Reyna said. “We are going to start contract negotiations soon with the BDA, because we love Beeville and would love to stay.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com. Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.