Bahrain’s Ebrahim Kanoo with the the record-breaking numbers on the scoreboard. Photo courtesy EKanoo Racing
Perhaps the greatest story in all of drag right now is one between two teams separated by more than 7,500 miles, who (to our knowledge) have never competed at the same venue at the same time, and whose roles could easily be defined as David and Goliath. And together, the cumulative displacement of their engines is less than that of a big-block Chevy.
On Friday evening at the Orlando Speedworld Dragway in Florida, Puerto Rico’s Zoian Racing and driver Jesus Melendez joyously celebrated as they recaptured the import world record with a 5.739-second pass during the NHRA’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event. Their glory was short-lived, however, as their archrivals, the heavily-funded EKanoo Racing team of Bahrain, went back to work with their Toyota GT86, ultimately re-claiming their title on Sunday with a 5.732-second blast at the Bahrain International Circuit.
To fully comprehend the story at hand here, however, we have to rewind back a couple of months.
Zoain Racing’s 2JZ-Powered Toyota Camry. Photo credit: Walter Buzó Gutierrez
In late November, the Zoian team, a fixture in import racing for a number of years who had only recently stepped their performance game up to potential record-holder status with the debut of a new Toyota-bodied machine, made lap after lap testing at Orlando until they eclipsed the 10-month-old record held by EKanoo’s GT86, going a stunning 5.757-seconds; thus setting off a raucous celebration as only Puerto Rican drag racers can. After the run, the Zoian clan issued a little tongue-in-cheek call-out to their Bahrain rivals, simply posting “Goodnight Bahrain” on social media.
And when you poke the bear, you get the bear. With that, EKanoo responded a few weeks later, taking their record back by a razor-thin .002-second margin on the last day of competition before many of its American crewmembers left for the Christmas holiday, running a 5.753.
Which brings us back to the present: following Zoian’s second shot across the bow of EKanoo, they again issued their “Goodnight Bahrain” statement; only this time, their call-out was immediately responded to on the racetrack, and before Zoian could even draw up the artwork for some new tee shirts, their record was already history.
And, confirming that this war is far from over, Zoian Racing is making laps as we speak this Monday morning in Orlando, and there should be little doubt what they’re looking to accomplish.