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Stomp On That Loud Pedal: Drag Racing Prosperity and Popularity

Article By: Clay Millican Via Drag Racing Scene “As a whole, this sport is ...

Article By: Clay Millican Via Drag Racing Scene

“As a whole, this sport is doing unbelievably well right now, and it has a lot to do with heads-up racing attracting a lot of attention and growing like crazy. If you look at the redemption and no-prep series races, the cars are loud and out of control. It’s bringing standing-room-only crowds to the tracks.

Not too long ago, I went to my first no-prep race in Memphis. Walking out on the track on the starting line, I was like ‘ain’t no way.’ There was no prep done at all. I thought every car was going to smoke the tires, but the ability these racers have to make these cars hook on a no-prep surface is amazing. When the first two, a Chevy II and a Chevelle, left the starting line, both front ends were up in the air.

When I walked further down the track, there was still some leftover prep there, and in my mind, I thought they could get down the track and apply the power. But, back to those first two cars; the moment they got down the track, The Chevy II was in the right lane and took an immediate left into the wall. It was a horrible-looking crash. And, it was just right on to the next pair of cars. They leave the line fast, and they slip and slide down the track, but that’s what is bringing in these standing-room-only crowds.

clay-jusAs I am writing this, this weekend is the Radial versus the World deal. I am watching it online. I want to see how fast these guys can go on 305 radials, and some on 275. It is nuts how you hook something like that. Granted, I’m sure most of these guys have some type of traction control system, but the power management is incredible. The majority of these cars do not lack power. The great thing about all of this is they are bringing people to the dragstrip.

Radial versus the World is a fun event to watch. I haven’t had the opportunity to get there in person, but the number of people building cars to do this is awesome. A lot of people will say this started with Street Outlaws, the TV show. I am not and have never been a street race guy. My parents always took me to the dragstrip, so I have always been a track racer. That TV show has brought a lot of eyeballs to drag racing and is making a lot of people want to go to the dragstrip, which is a terrific thing.

I’ve been involved in many reality shows from Pinks All Out, to Drag Race High to Burnout on MTV2, and what you see on television is not necessarily reality. All of us real racers know Street Outlaws films on a closed course with ambulances and all of the safety stuff there. It has been good for bringing attention to the sport of drag racing and has made a lot of kids want to come out and watch it. Even the local tracks have started to do no-prep or heads-up racing in response.

I am a bracket racer and have been for many years, but the average person doesn’t understand why one car leaves first. Heads-up racing is exciting and easier to understand. What we all watch on television on the weekends is also growing at a crazy rate. It was incredible having the first NHRA event of the year in front of the Daytona 500 on FOX. It was the most watched drag racing event NHRA has ever had.

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Justin Shearer held a “C note” up in the air in true street outlaw fashion when Justin and fellow Discovery Channel Street Outlaws star Shawn Ellington hung out with Clay and the Parts Plus/Great Clips Top Fuel team in 2017.

Drag racing is on the move. I never thought you could sell out a dragstrip, but there were several events last year that sold out. It is just a fantastic thing for all of us involved. I have to say drag racing is healthy and growing, and it is going to be good for all of us involved.

The racers themselves are laser-focused; these guys building these super high-power small tire cars are probably not going to have a class to race in NHRA. But, the fans have a building interest in all things drag racing. Attendance is going up – whether it’s the small tire, or the Street Outlaws, or the NHRA – interest in drag racing is increasing.

Racers are focused on those cars as well. As I said, I’m watching Radial versus the World. Racers, in general, are going to pay attention; they’re going to tune in and spectate as these races continue to grow.

Justin “Big Chief” Shearer competing at the U.S. Nationals, made it okay for the big-time racer to say ‘yes, I watch that show, and I enjoy it.’ Justin and Shawn “Murder Nova” Ellington came and hung with us in our pit area at Justin’s first NHRA event, and we got some questions as to why they were there.

Fast forward to Englishtown, and Justin did a PSA to race at tracks. It suddenly became okay to like the show. When he attempted to qualify for ProMod at the U.S. Nationals – that was good for racing. All of that show has been good for the sport.

Everything with heads-up racing and no-prep is just making the sport better.”





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