Words by Steven Bunker - Photos by Joe McHugh and Steven Bunker

The American Drag Racing League kicked off the 2012 season March 30-31 in Baytown, Texas, at Royal Purple Raceway with the eighth annual Dragpalooza event. It was the highest total car count in the ADRL’s history but the recently added Top Sportsman, Super Car Showdown and “legal” Pro Mod classes helped boost car count while other classes, such as Pro Nitrous, one of the ADRL’s biggest classes, lacked in car count with only 11 total entries.

Spectator count was down for the opening event. Unlike past seasons, the ADRL began charging for tickets this year. The stands in the left lane were about empty all weekend with 20 people max sitting in them at one time and the pit side stands were at the most a third full during the busiest time on Saturday. There was a bit of a scheduling conflict that may have resulted in the low spectator count with the IHRA Nitro Jam event in San Antonio, about three hours away from the Houston area, scheduled for the same two days.

The newly applied rules for the 2012 season may have been a reason for the lower than normal class car count or it could have been the higher costs of fuel and traveling or maybe just the bad weather forecast for the weekend in the days prior to the event. Whatever it was, it showed.

The weather did affect the event although not a drop of rain fell during Friday or Saturday’s racing action. On Thursday it rained hard for hours and when racing began Friday afternoon after just a few Top Sportsman passes down the track the event was put on hold for a couple hours due to water seeping on the top end of the track, past the eighth mile marker.

Once the water seepage was taken care of the rest of the event went off without a hitch with quick side-by-side racing action that the ADRL has always been known for. Dragpalooza VIII was one of the smoothest races run with very few delays in the racing action as there were only two oil-downs and thankfully no wrecks throughout the entire weekend.

The 10.5 semifinal round with Eric Stubbs (left) and Alan Pittman.  (Joe McHugh photo)