Drag racing is passe. There, I said it. Don’t shoot me…I’m just the messenger. At least, that’s the message some would have you believe if you listen to proponents of a newer form of speed competition.
The basic premise is this: build a car with as much horsepower as is reasonably possible and bring it out to an airstrip or similar controlled section of pavement. Line up against a competitor, roll out to a predetermined starting line and stand on the gas until you’ve completed the measured distance (typically 1/2 mile to a full mile, sometimes longer).
The events are held in closed off areas, usually runways, and are not accessible to civilian vehicles. Crowds are kept quite a distance away from the racing area. Speed is measured by calibrated equipment.
How fast are they going? We’ve seen cars reaching 230 mph+ in a half mile. How much horsepower are they running? In some cases, over 2000hp. The average contestants are running around 1200hp. I know what you’re saying: there are cars that have been making this kind of power for years. True, but typically, they’ve been in dedicated drag cars. One could argue that runway racing is a form of drag racing, but for the most part, these cars are full stock body cars, complete with seats, stock radios, etc. Except for required safety equipment, the cars look remarkably stock. Some competitors even drive them to the track.
Event promoters like “Shift Sector” have come along and have made these events attractive, safe and great spectacles and they’re growing in popularity.
Those of us who’ve been around a few decades remember the days of bootleg roll racing, typically nocturnal events, held on the highways and deserted industrial roads of America. With today’s law enforcement capabilities, the advent of social media (everyone has a cell phone camera), this practice isn’t just stupid, it’s pointless. There’s no glory to be had “beating” someone on a highway without a verified MPH reading from calibrated equipment—unless you count police radar as calibrated equipment.
The players come from across America. Some of the greatest tuners in the country have built or sponsored entries.
Heffner Performance is active, and they typically have several of their customers Gallardo Twin Turbo cars at these events.
English Racing and ETS are often at these events with a variety of cars, including Nissan GTRs.
You’ll see Corvettes, Porsches, Ford GTs, BMW M cars, even old school Mazda RX7s and Mitsubishi EVOs. Most are cars with a big turbo (or two) and nearly all are driven to and from the track. Occasionally, you’ll see Porsche 918s, Aventadors or Paganis. It’s a mixed bag of insanity.
The camaraderie between rivals is reminiscent of the early days of drag racing, or even the early days of Fox body drag racing (for those of us who remember them).
It’s all about the speed you achieve in your class. While some cars of lesser power do compete, their 800hp seems frightfully puny when measured against some of these behemoths.
If you want to learn more, check out these organizations.