Local racing club ready to drag

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

When you’re outside watching a drag race, it seems to only last a few seconds. When you’re inside the car, it might seem to take forever.

Over the next few weeks, the National Drag Racing Association (NDRA) will help Suffolk’s oldest youths (i.e.: those that have a driver’s license) step inside the world of drag racing – literally.

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&uot;We want to get involved in local schools,&uot; NDRA secretary Collis Bryant said at the club’s monthly meeting Tuesday night. &uot;We’ve been putting together a 1972 Duster as a trainer for drag racing. When it gets hot enough in May, the kids will be able to drive at the Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP) at Dinwiddie – with their parents’ permission!&uot; Potential club members need not have a car to take part in club events, Bryant said, only a interest in dragging.

&uot;They’ll be safe,&uot; he said. &uot;They’ll have a roll cage, a five-point harness, everything to protect them. Myself or my wife Anna (the club president) will be in there with them. We’re going to rent (the VMP) four times this summer.&uot;

Formerly a chapter of the American Drag Club, the NDRA became its own entity last May. &uot;We’re looking forward to the next year,&uot; Anna told the crowd. &uot;We’ve had hard work, determination, and cooperation from everyone. When we first started, we had 12 families; now we have over 30. We’ve had a lot of fun. All of this worked because of the partnership between everybody here.&uot;

The club meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at the Calvary Baptist Church on Turlington Road. A feature of each meeting is a speaker on an aspect of drag racing, talking on topics ranging from transmissions, engine building, car predictability, all the components of drag racing. Tuesday’s meeting featured VMP general manager Bryan Pierce and track manager Todd Tribble to explain the complexities of their track. One of the East Coast’s premier racing venues, the VMP celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2004.

&uot;We’re here to talk about the 2004 season,&uot; said Pierce, whose track will hold races from March through November. &uot;We’re partnering up with the Maryland International Raceway for an eight-race series.&uot; The series will build a points program toward a season champion, with $5,000 in purses paid along the way.

Tribble spoke of the different types of racing. &uot;There’s a race in which the back tires are 10.5 inches, smaller than usual,&uot; he said. &uot;Anything can happen on small tires, especially when the cars hit 200 miles per hour. There’s also wheel standing, when drivers race with their back bumpers on the ground and their wheels in the air. The record there is 417 feet.&uot; He pointed out that drivers in both races are protected will all necessary safety precautions, and that a car has never turned over in the track’s history.&uot;

&uot;We have ‘Street boss&uot; races, where the cars have mufflers, working taillights and horns. They’re just like street cars that appear to be stock cars. There’s Camaros, Mustangs, Cutlesses, everything. We hold ‘Import Night’ for sport compact cars.&uot;

But drag racing is also a significant part of VMP racing. There’s the fastest class for experienced racers, modified for novices, and junior dragsters for racers aged 8-17. &uot;The kids drive a miniature version of a top fuel dragster,&uot; Pierce said. &uot;They’re like downsized long, skinny rail cars.&uot;

For more information on becoming a member of the NDRA, contact the Bryants at 934-2962.