Mike Volkman has been involved in drag racing, one way or another, since he was eight years old. A Super Stock racer from the Pittsburg area who now resides in Campobello, South Carolina, Volkman has raced NHRA national and divisional events alongside his wife, Emily Stott Volkman, and now with his daughter, Case Volkman. Although his girls aren’t planning to race the event, they’ll be cheering him on at the inaugural Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Southern Sportsman Showdown, March 19-21, 2021.
The race at South Georgia Motorsports Park is exclusively for Stock and Super Stock competitors and offers a trio of events, each with a $20,000 payout, as well as a $50,000 prize to the winner of the 64-Car Shootout.
Although Volkman’s interest was certainly piqued by the promise of a big payout at the Southern Sportsman Showdown, he contends that this race is about more than cash.
“Regardless of what they tell you, the majority of drag racers aren’t racing for money – they’re racing for the trophy and bragging rights,” he said, then joked, “You know how you become a millionaire in racing? You start with two. I just think this will be a good event to attend. We can’t wait to go.”
Volkman will be racing his 2000 Chrysler Sebring, a GT entry that he drove to the 2011 IHRA Super Stock championship. He’ll likely be pitted near fellow Super Stock racer Kevin Riner, who will be making the trek from Autryville, North Carolina with his SS/JA ’98 Camaro.
Well before he was technically old enough to drive a street car, Riner was footbraking in his dad’s ’69 Camaro at local racetracks. Now entering his 22nd year as a drag racer, Riner has his eyes set on the biggest paycheck of his career.
“I don’t know that Stock and Super Stock have ever really had a chance at that kind of money,” said Riner, who will be joined at the Southern Sportsman Showdown by his father, Junior Riner, as well as his girlfriend, Volkman’s daughter, Case. “The biggest race I’ve ever been in was a 10-grander, so this is pretty big.”
To complement his (very) early experience behind the wheel as a bracket racer, Riner tries to hit a couple of those type of races a year in his area, and he follows the national and divisional NHRA tour in the Southeast. He may have a bit of a target on his back after reaching the final at the NHRA Gatornationals in each of the last three seasons. Riner won Super Stock at Gainesville in both 2018 and 2019 and was runner-up there in 2020.
“The thing I love about drag racing is just the competition,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing who comes to the Southern Sportsman Showdown and racing against the best in our classes.”