First off, if you weren’t at this year’s 21st running of the Million Dollar Drag Race, you missed out. Folk Promotions puts on one hell of a race. It takes a gigantic effort to keep 600+ cars rolling down the racetrack, and they make it seem effortless. From the shear number of cars to the extremely tough racing, it’s unbelievable to watch, much less compete in. The highlight off the weekend, of coarse, was Jeff Verdi making history that has a good chance of never being repeated again. We all dream of winning one “Million” in a lifetime, and he went and won TWO in just over 6 month’s time! Truly fascinating.
I had a very different prospective to this event than just about everyone in attendance. After being introduced to Randy Folk earlier this year and having several discussions around illegal aids in bracket racing, I was offered the unique position of Electronics Technical Inspector for this years race. I accepted the offer, which put me solely responsible for making sure that the Million Dollar Drag Race was held on a level playing field. I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t had some apprehension leading up to the race. While I knew that I had zero doubt in my knowledge and ability to carry out the task at hand, I had no clue how this all would be received. Would my presence be welcomed or seen as an annoyance? All I knew was that I was going to try to perform the duty as professionally as I could. Well, I had really no need to worry, because I don’t think things could have gone any better. After adding things up in my notebook, I checked in some form or fashion 163 cars, and not one time did I encounter any resistance to my inquiries. In fact most folks commented how they were glad that a promoter finally had stepped up to the plate to enforce rules that are otherwise meaningless.
I checked several items including ignition boxes and wiring, shaft/wheel speed sensors, transbrake wiring, data acquisition files (when available) and took down notes on every car I checked. I did not see anything even questionable in all of my checks. Anyone who quartered or better each night was extensively looked at, and what I found interesting on those 22 individual cars was that although the “Grid” is considered they go to for ignition these days, there are just as many cars equipped with analog boxes (6AL, 7AL-2, 7AL-3, etc.) that are getting the job done successfully. And yes there were a several cars equipped with a data recorder but most were not (only 3 of the 8 finalist were equipped with a data recorder).
I know there were several negative opinions expressed about the decision by Folk Promotions to allows the MSD 7531 ignition box in this years event, but it turned out to be an almost non-issue. Only four cars out of the 600+ in attendance had that box, and none of them ever showed any attempt to use the features that would give them an unfair advantage, and those four individuals were informed that the 7531 will not be allowed at all next year.
What I take away from their weekend, and what I hope others do as well, is that with proper technical inspections, the founding principles of bracket racing that level the playing field between the have’s and have not’s are still very much alive. While programmable digital ignitions and data recorders are nice, they aren’t necessary and should not be feared. A solid competitor on a budget can still find himself parked in the winner’s circle despite not having as much as the guy next to him. Moving forward, what I can tell you is that the Million Dollar Drag Race will continue with this effort to keep bracket racing honest in the years to come. Randy and I reached an agreement that will keep me in this role for the foreseeable future, and I will use the time between now and the next event to educate myself further to make sure we stay ahead of the curve.
I would like to say thank you to all of the competitors whose cars I checked that were more than willing to let me look at what I needed to, especially those who went out of their way to let me know how much they appreciated the effort. Also thanks to Randy and the whole Folk Promotions team for taking this step. As a racer myself, its refreshing to see a promoter that cares about the integrity of the competition as much as the bottom line. If you have never made it to the Million Dollar Drag Race, you owe it to yourself to make the trip, and what we can guarantee you is a fair shot at the most prestigious title and the largest payday in bracket racing history!
See you all next year,