Local racers go 'all out' for reality show

Michael Tortorich
No Problem Raceway in Belle Rose was packed with spectators and racers Saturday during the production of SPEED's 'Pinks All Out' series. The episode will air in July.

Hundreds of racers started their engines at No Problem Raceway in Belle Rose over the weekend in the hopes of getting on national television.

Cable television network SPEED kicked off its 2009 live shoot schedule Saturday at the Assumption Parish track for the series “PINKS All Out.”

The show, presented by NAPA, will broadcast in July as part of the network’s Thursday primetime programming, according to SPEED media relations manager David Harris.

More than 300 Louisiana racers competed with a total of 460 drivers hoping to make the final “PINKS All Out 16.” Aside from earning bragging rights for being featured on national television, $10,000 and a new NAPA tool chest was also on the line.

Heath Cowart, a racer from Denham Springs, ended up taking the top spot over the weekend.

Harris said the track had reported its largest crowd ever.

“We were thrilled,” Harris said. “It was a great event.”

Making its first stop at No Problem, the series shoots at 10 tracks total before beginning its third season.

Harris said everyone at the track did a “fantastic job” and the series’ producers will “take a hard look at coming back” for future shoots.

The show’s creator, executive producer and host Rich Christensen starts every race with a traditional “arm drop” just as was customary in the early days of illegal street racing.

If any driver is found to be “sandbagging,” or modulating the throttle in hopes of trying to guess the time, they get eliminated for not racing “all out.”

“We’re adding a few new twists to the show this season to keep all the competitors on their toes, and we’re introducing several new cast members too,” executive producer Robert Ecker said. “This is our second visit to Louisiana and by all accounts it promises to be a very memorable one.”

Yancy Ball of Gonzales, a regular at No Problem, was one of the local racers competing over the weekend. He said he was excited about his chances.

Ball’s been in the spotlight before with a feature in Diesel World magazine titled “Born on the Bayou.”

Pat Joffrion, a former Sportsman-level drag racer, owns and operates No Problem Raceway, which annually hosts the National Hot Rod Association’s Sports Nationals every spring.

The gates opened Friday morning for racers to check in and test their cars. The cameras started rolling with time trials at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, with the final “PINKS All Out 16” starting later in the evening.

Joffrion said he was expecting the largest crowd ever at the track and they were expecting to have to make accommodations to park everyone.

He said they put in additional gates and made room for all of the people who came in to camp for the weekend.

“This is the race track where we throw a party and let a drag race break out,” Joffrion said. “The racing surface is pristine, it’s smooth and to the eighth mile all concrete. It’s 60-feet wide, so race cars don’t really have a problem getting up and down the track. When people come, they will see that we have showers for racers, plenty of restroom facilities and it’s always kept clean. We take pride in our track.”

Every “PINKS All Out” includes activity throughout the weekend both on and off the track with 14 food vendors out serving a variety ranging from jambalaya to crawfish pie.

“You may want to lose a few pounds before you come down because you’ll want to splurge when you get here,” Joffrion joked.

Beside the more than 400 racers, there was a jet car, a wheel stand contest and Top Dragsters, Junior Dragsters and Top Fuel Motorcycles.

For more information on No Problem Raceway, see For more information on “PINKS All Out,” see