Illustration for article titled Tales From the Drags, Episode 3: Holding A Grudge (race)

Most drag strip employees share a few basic similarities. We love cars. We change our shoes more often than our oil. We're not too picky about how we smell. And we absolutely despise grudge racing.


To be clear, I'm not talking about grudge racing in the classical sense: two racers meet on a deserted road in the country, a months-long rivalry coming to a head in a blur of burning rubber and race fuel. A modern-day duel where the shit-talking ends and money or pink slips are won and lost.

No, Grudge racing in this sense is street racing made into a spectator sport, complete with screaming douchebags, showoffs, and morons. With few exceptions the cars are poorly built contraptions that are more likely to break than make a clean pass. When they are well built, they're almost never well driven or maintained, and so the races themselves are usually a complete shitshow.


The basic setup goes like this. A sanctioned drag strip decides that its current event lineup is too classy and/or not bringing in enough concessions money. They arrange a "Grudge night" or "No ET night", where all of the street racers can come and run down a prepped track in a legal setting with the scoreboards turned off so that nobody knows exactly how "fast" their hunk of shit is.

This leads to racers setting up grudge races with other random racers for money. Think of it like an episode of "pinks" with the one chrome-domed dickhead replaced by two or three hundred dickheads with enormous egos and an entitlement complex. Note that only fifty or so of these mental giants are racing. The rest are either their "crew" or simply spectating from the starting line.


Any time a big-name or high dollar race happens, all of these spectators rush the starting line, putting themselves in danger, making our lives hell, and actually holding up the racing. Most of these guys are not the most savory of types either, and fights are common.

Grudge racing nights are also typically held late in the day/ evening so as to replicate the street racing atmosphere and because none of these pillars of society can be bothered to show up for a race day before 9 p.m. This means that for the track workers, our day starts around noon (as long as we don't need to scrape, in which case count on showing up around 10 a.m.) and ends sometime around three in the morning.


That means 12+ (at least) hours of shitty racing, shitty people, and hard work. every time one of these numbskulls breaks on of their shitboxes we get to clean it up. We can count on around 1/3 of the pairings ending in a cleanup or push back of some type. Wrecks are all too common, and because the car's time is "unknown", we don't generally enforce safety regulations. So if a car can go nines, but the driver doesn't feel like having a roll bar or wearing a fire jacket, there's not much we can do. Because of course, safety stuff can be a giveaway of a car's potential, and grudge racing is 99% about fleecing the other guy by hiding your nitrous bottle and telling him it's "just a small block with bolt-ons".


But as always, cash is king, and these events bring in relatively huge crowds for often spectator-deficient drag strips. For instance, while a bracket race might bring in 200 cars, it will bring in almost no spectators. That means no concessions money, which is one of the ways that tracks make ends meet.

It's also so easy for the management. There are no ladders, no points. It's one giant test and tune circle jerk for a bunch of jackbags who wouldn't know a prepped drag strip from a length of fly paper. Management simply sits back, responds to any accidents, and rakes in the cash by selling truckloads of overpriced beer and hot dogs to the crowd.


Sorry for the late post guys, but I had something come up over the long weekend. I hope it was worth the wait.

image credit: grudge inc.

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