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Drag victory lands racer a TV plug
Local race car drivers Ken and Denise Buckner after a recent victory. - photo by Provided

Race car driver and Black Creek resident Ken Buckner recently outlasted 500 other drivers to make it to the "Sweet 16" round of the recent ‘Pinks All Out’ drag racing competition in Atlanta.

The race was recorded and will be televised on the circuit’s popular television show on the SPEED Network Aug. 7.

Buckner, 50, has been active in the drag racing circuit for over 30 years. Some of his accomplishments over the years include multiple local and International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) division titles. One of those victories, the Iron Man title, put Buckner in Hot Rod Magazine, but his upcoming SPEED Network appearance will be his first televised victory.

His wife Denise also has the need for speed. The two met on a race track in 2000. She started out as an observer, but it was soon after meeting Ken that she too got the racing bug. In their spare time, the two travel across the country where they take turns entering professional drag racing competitions.

"If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em," Denise Buckner said of her decision to start racing herself. "I got tired of sitting in the stands, so I gave it a shot after watching Ken race a few times. I’ve been hooked ever since."

Just last weekend, Denise made it to the final eight of a race at the Carolina Dragway in Jackson, South Carolina.

Pro drag racing is a growing trend, which is reflected by the high ratings of the ‘Pinks All Out’ TV show. The name of the show is derived from the saying that you put the pink slip, slang for car title, to your vehicle on the line as you bet on yourself to win the race. Although you don’t actually lose your ride, you and your competitor do decide the stakes before the race begins. The ‘all out’ term derives from the fact that you push your vehicle to the limit on the short stretch of raceway. The Atlanta track was only a quarter mile and Buckner went from a dead stop to 110 miles per hour in mere seconds.

Buckner ended up taking home $1,000 from the Atlanta race as he lasted to the third round. The prize money for making it past the first round was $1,000. He won $500 in the second round, but lost $500 when he bowed out in the third. Buckner said the prize money covered all his expenses for participating in the race.

Buckner said the Pinks race was an unforgettable experience.

"To beat out 500 cars on national television was quite an adrenaline rush," he said. "With the popularity of the show, there was more publicity surrounding this race than any I’ve been apart of before. After I made it to the Sweet 16, they installed cameras and microphones in my car."

Buckner was behind the wheel of his 1968 Camaro with a 421 small block engine, which he regularly competes in. When Denise competes, she drives her 1981 Camaro with a 400 block engine.

The Buckners have reserved the back room of Spanky’s in Pooler where they plan to watch his television debut. They have invited many other past and present area race car drivers as a sort of impromptu reunion for those who used to race at the old Savannah Dragway, which closed in 2000.


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