The Indiana drag racer whose truck, trailer and race car were stolen in the metro-east Saturday said he was “torn apart” at the loss.
Jason Tabscott of Camby, Ind., said Monday he had just finished the final leg of Hot Rod Magazine’s Drag Week when he parked his GMC pickup truck with an 18-foot flatbed trailer hauling a 1975 Chevrolet Camaro at the Ruby Tuesday on Bluff Road in Collinsville Saturday to eat around 1 p.m.
Tabscott went in happy, thrilled that he survived the five-day, five-track cross country competition and thrilled to enjoy a meal with a few new friends he’d made along the way. But when he came out of the restaurant, his GMC Sierra pickup, the trailer and the Camaro he’d owned and worked on for 15 years were gone.
“The truck was locked. I still have the keys,” Tabscott said. He said the only explanation for how the thief or thieves made their score was that they broke out one of the windows to his wife’s SUV and stole her purse, rummaged through it and found the spare key to the truck.
Never miss a local story.
Video footage from the restaurant’s security camera is of poor quality, Tabscott said. He said it doesn’t show much of anything useful other than a white car leaving the parking lot quickly, followed by the truck, trailer and car at 2:51 p.m. Restaurant employees have had difficulty transferring the security footage to a disc for police to examine, Tabscott said.
“I built everything on that car,” Tabscott said. The Camaro is the same kind he drove when he was in high school in the 1990s. He said he’d even taken some of the parts from the old car and used them for his dragster.
“‘Stings’ isn’t even the word. I’m not mad. I’m beyond it. I’m torn apart,” Tabscott said.
Tabscott has poured “thousands of man hours” into the Camaro, spending the 15 years he’s owned the car fine-tuning it with the goal of one day taking part in — and surviving — Drag Week.
“I’ve been trying to attend for 11 years,” he said. But 11 years ago, his life changed.
“We had triplet girls. That has obviously taken precedence,” Tabscott said.
But he finally made it. The competition started with drag races at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison. Then, racers converted their cars for a street-legal run to the next track, where they raced some more. Racers repeated that from Madison to Indianapolis; Union Grove, Wisc.; Cordova, Ill.; and then back to Madison in just five days. At each stop, racers could make as many quarter-mile runs as they wanted and turn in their best times.
“We finally made it (to Drag Week). I was excited just to survive. And we did,” Tabscott said.
In fact, Tabscott more than survived. He came in second place in the 31-car Super Street Small Block class, averaging 9.6232 seconds in the quarter mile and hitting an average top speed of 140.248 miles per hour. The winning racer barely edged Tabscott with a 9.6078-second quarter mile average and a 140.414 average top speed.
“I’ve worked so hard on this car for so many years to get here, to make it and survive, and to almost win the class by the blink of an eye,” Tabscott said. “It isn’t just the racing, it’s the camaraderie.”
That camaraderie is what kept Tabscott in town for an extra day. The contest he nearly won ended Friday. But one of those new friends he’d made on the road was racing in a free-for-all race Saturday. Tabscott chose to stay another day to support his friend.
“And then lost everything,” he said.
Tallying up the truck, trailer, Camaro and everything inside, Tabscott said so far he and his insurers have come up with about $120,000 in losses from the theft.
Collinsville police said they had no new leads Monday and were continuing their efforts to obtain usable surveillance footage from Ruby Tuesday. Tipsters reported seeing the missing truck, car and trailer on Interstate 70 near Wentzville, Mo. But, so far, the stolen vehicles have not been recovered.
Anyone with information about the missing vehicles, a blue GMC 1500 crew cab pickup with Indiana license plate TR47AKA, and a white Camaro with black bumpers and Indiana license plate 980 MCT is asked to call the Collinsville Police Department at 618-344-2131.