Is this the coolest sport around, or what?
I realize there are a lot of enthusiastic drag racers out there. Some read this column and some don't. I have been a drag racing enthusiast for about 40 years and a participant for just a little over 38 years. I know a lot of Dead-On readers actually drag race. A lot of you used to race and some of you never have raced but probably wish you could go out there now or wish you had raced when you were younger.
Drag racing offers something for all of us, whether we race at the local level with a street car, bracket race something that doesn't hurt the budget or have decided to build a real race car and absorb the $10,000 to $60,000 it takes to build a competitive bracket car today. Then there are the Professional Sportsman racers; big budgets (or a lot of debt ;-)), top of the line equipment and they might spend more time trying to get themselves better than a regular bracket racer who races maybe twice a month.
I decided to go to a big bucks bracket race a few months ago, the Jeg's U.S. Open Bracket Championships. It was held at Indianapolis Raceway Park (I don't care if they changed the name to O'Reilly Raceway Park or not; to me it will always be IRP!) Because the sport of bracket racing is the great equalizer as far as skills vs money goes, I expected to see some great races. I was not disappointed. Three hundred cars in attendance. Dragsters were the main weapon of choice, but the door cars were out in strong numbers.
Now here is the part that made this one of the coolest things about the sport we love, here is a short list of who was racing that weekend: Jeg Coughlin, Dave Connolly, Anthony Bertozzi, Scotty Stillings, Peter Biondo and about another 20 guys who have literally dozens of World Championships under their belt, and a few guys that are true Pro racers. Yet they find the time to get in some bracket racing and take home the lion's share of the cash. Is their equipment better? Did they spend more money? Is it fair that they are Pros and the little guys are at a disadvantage? All good questions … but they sound more like excuses, don't they?
Here is how I look at it. First and foremost, we have the coolest sport around because you can line up against these Pros, like Jeggie or Connolly, at a bracket race and if you go .007 and run the number you probably send them back to the trailer. It isn't all about the money or the equipment. Sure, it doesn't hurt your chances if you have great equipment or if spending $500 to $1000 for entry fees doesn't mess with the family budget this month. But in all reality, anyone on any given day can be an event winner in bracket racing. That is the coolest part of our sport.
I think that has been the lure to me for over two decades. I started out class racing as that is all there was. Then bracket racing came about. WOW! I could actually drive better than the "money guys" and collect a check or two along the way. Cool! I have not lost my desire to keep trying and I can only hope that if you are reading this month's column you will actually get to do some bracket racing this year.
I am going to make the trip to Florida to the Moroso 5-Day Bracket Championships at their brand new facility. From talking to the new manager, George Case, they rebuilt it from the ground up. Complete removal of the old (and bumpy) race surface. New pit roads, etc, etc. They are excited to bring the tradition back to the 5-Day that made it THE race of the Winter Series. I'll be there and I hope you can make the trip as well.
The week before is a 5-day event at Bradenton Motorsports Park so that means you could get in 10 race events in about 12 days that pay an average of $10,000 to win each day. For a lot of racers, 10 races is a complete season. Down South it happens in less than two weeks! Bring your A-game and some cash. The fun of that series begins the first weekend of November and continues throughout the month with a lot of special events in Florida and South Georgia.
If you want to see or be a part of some of the toughest bracket racing on the planet, the Florida Winter Series is tough to beat. Win one of those races and you have something to remember forever.
Then there is "The Million"! WOW, only George Howard could pull this off year after year. It’s $2,000 to enter and if they get 500 cars, it pays a MILLION DOLLARS TO WIN! So far they have come up short of the 500 entries but they are always near the $230,000 to win level. Talk about a race to win! Life changing stuff there for sure. It’s the first weekend of October at Memphis Motorsports Park.
I know a lot of readers think the big money races are a waste of time, but not me. I can't wait to line up against the best of the best and see if I can catch a .000 reaction time and nail my dial-in... DEAD-ON!