A quarter mile – or 402 meters – of two-lane tarmac. Two monstrous race cars placed at one end vibrating and shaking with vigor on their enormous rear tyres. Green light… a V8 cacophony and tyres light up in thick smoke. The cars blast viciously down the track and a mere five seconds later: Parachute.
Today I must request the help of our readers, as I frankly lack the ability to fully understand this discipline: Drag racing. Up until this point, I’ve found this form of motorsport bizarre. A bit like an old western duel, or a hen fight. It just seems utterly pointless. It resembles men competing over the size of a specific body part. But I suppose it’s practically a natural instinct for mankind to compete in just about any conceivable way at any time and at any place.
I’ve genuinely tried to remain open-minded about drag racing, to the point where I even attended such a dueling competition several years ago. Granted, it wasn’t in the USA, which is perhaps where it all went wrong, as believers have informed me that only in God’s own country can one truly experience drag racing in its purest form. So I suppose I must conclude that I don’t even know what it is that I have such preconceived perceptions about. I do however appreciate the old pictures from these races – especially those from the fifties. This was when the discipline was still young and full of grassroot enthusiasm. The pictures show beautifully hand-painted drag racers and women, plenty of women.
Women and fancy paintjobs just isn’t enough. Surely there’s got to be more to it? I’m not entirely sure what it is I feel is missing. Maybe the whole thing is just too grotesque for me? I even find some of the women a little vulgar, but that can of course be sorted with a little sherry. Interestingly, I adore everything about the dried out Bonneville Salt Lake and its high-speed history. I also appreciate the early hotrod culture which led to some fascinating creations. But drag racing… I’m in need of a helping hand to fully understand and embrace this segment of American motorsport.
Here’s hoping that today’s replies section will be buzzing with activity as readers either confirm or reject my prejudice for drag racing. Is it just a relic from a rudimentary corner of the brain dating back to ancient caveman? Or is there in fact sportsmanship to be found within? How much “car” is there in those competing vehicles? And should Europe have more drag strips?