Is the ADRL (American Drag Racing League) the future of drag racing? I'm not sure that it is, but the thought kept coming back to me last weekend, while I was covering the ADRL's race at Virginia Motorsports Park (VMP), about 30 miles outside of Richmond, Virginia, for East Coast Drag News. (The photos will appear shortly.)
In a lot of ways, the race felt like throwback to drag racing's glory days, in the '60s and '70s, when it was a mainstream motor sport, drawing big crowds and coverage in major newspapers and magazines and on broadcast TV. The crowds last weekend were huge. (VMP was turning people away by mid-afternoon on Saturday.) As in days of old, the folks in the stands could relate to the cars, which looked vaguely like the ones that they drive on the street. More accurately, they look like loud, fast, and dangerous cartoon versions of the ones that they drive on the street. And the racing was all heads-ups--no handicaps, no starting line advantages--just good old fashioned drag racing.
Sandy Wilkins heads down the track in front of a packed house. (Click directly on any of the photos to see larger versions.)
Other drag racing series have been struggling, in recent years, to attract both fans and racers. The ADRL, on the other hand, has consistently brings in large crowds--not just once, but each time it returns to a track. And it also attracts large fields of racers. At least for now, the ADRL has the attention of everyone connected to the sport.
VMP is a great place to shoot. The light can be amazing.
Two drag bikes head down the track at dusk.
Ricardo Knights wins my vote for meanest appearing bike.
Several times in this blog, I've mentioned the fact that drag racing is by far the most racially diverse motor sport. That's Joshua Hernandez, in his blown '57 Chevy doing a burnout. He's number four in the points race, but unfortunately didn't run quickly enough to qualify for the race.
You can't tell from this photo, but the driver of this car, Travis Harvey, is African-American. His team is thoroughly mixed.
Here's a photo showing the tremendous racial diversity of the crowd at VMP last Saturday. (Update: You can see a much larger version of this photo here. It's worth a look. There are a lot of cool interactions going on in the stands.)