Drag Week 2021

The 2021 edition of Hot Rod Magazine’s Drag Week (Sept. 13-17) was another brutal five days of grassroots drag racing, and when Friday rolled around every racer that made it the distance had accomplished something that no one can ever dispute. The stories floated around: one participant had a breakdown at the track, did an overnight thrash to repair and pulled into the motel at 6 AM the next morning. Another racer using an 8-gallon fuel cell had to stop on the road between races about every 40 miles or so to fill the cell from 5-gallon jugs of racing fuel they carried in their trailer. On the last day of racing, one of the unlimited class participants lost traction about half track, hit the wall and wound up overturned at the end of the track. It was only the second time that’s happened in the history of the event. He walked away from the wreck.

The dedication and focus these racers display is way beyond anything I could imagine. Yet, there seems to be little to no in-your-face attitude or cut throat competition. One racer blew a rear end thirdmember at Indy and within a short time a fellow competitor had offered up a spare. Many of the cars displayed stickers from multiple years. They just keep coming back. Why? Because there’s just no other event quite like it.

Tuesday night, motel parking lot at Indy: Driving a classic musclecar on Drag Week with no place to put your drag slicks? Add a luggage carrier. Toss it up on the vinyl roof, hook it to the drip rails and watch the concours car show folks cringe!
The early shift! The first participants in the staging lanes Wednesday morning at Indy’s Lucas Oil Raceway.

This is the first time I’ve had the chance to be part of it. No, I wasn’t participating, just following along and basically trying to stay out of the way as I recorded images of what I was seeing.

See that license plate? He’s not bluffing.
In the pits at Byron Dragway, Jason Sack’s “Cowboy Up Nova” gets some TLC. It runs 7-second quarter miles.

Given the opportunity, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Drag Week moves around to different parts of the U.S. each year, to a series of drag strips that are in relatively close proximity. We don’t know where the next round will be held, that announcement will be made sometime prior to the racer signup next spring. But if and when it comes back to the midwest, I’m hoping to be there. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.

The “Cowboy Up” Nova in street trim, leaving Byron headed back to US-131 Dragway, Martin Michigan.

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