Dragway races to forefront of local entertainment

Dragway races to forefront of local entertainment

Dragway races to forefront of  local entertainment
April 02
00:05 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

With the fast action and adrenaline-filled scenes of “Furious 7” heading to theaters tonight, North Texas’ own drag strip is racing its way to the top.

The North Star Dragway is the only track in Denton. It hosts a diverse set of racers, styles of cars and competitions to provide a variety of events and races for motor sport aficionados.

Media director of North Star Chris Graves said the track and the competitions it holds are unique and meant to benefit the community.2_dragracing_web2

Howard Farris of Springtown, Texas owns and drives Texas’ quickest and fastest “fuel altered” which he calls “War Wagon 2.” Photo courtesy of Chris Graves – Max Cackle Photos.com

“We do different stuff every weekend in order to attract different markets of people,” Graves said. “Most high-performance racecars are not street legal because they do not have working blinkers or airbags, so we want people to come see and enjoy this fast-paced racing.”

A different kind of race

Drag racing is drastically different from other forms of racing that may be more prevalent, such as NASCAR. Graves said unlike NASCAR, drag racing is over quickly, with drivers going short distances at extremely high speeds.

“Our track is an eighth of a mile long, so 660 feet,” Graves said. “For competitions, like this past weekend’s, two people go head to head in order to qualify for the next round.”

Not only is the race itself different, but the cars are built differently than traditional race cars to make sure they can reach the highest speed possible in seconds.

“Drag racing cars are not built to stand up to six hours of racing without stopping,” Graves said. “The frame of the car is a chassis. It is tough tubing that is welded together that make the actual race car, and there is a caged lining in order to protect the driver. Then, you just put a regular car body over it.”

2_dragracing_web3

Texan Top Fuel racer Jenna Haddock was at North Star Dragway on March 28 making runs in her 10,000 horsepower dragster.  Jenna, 30, is from Temple, Texas and is one of only a few women in the world who are licensed and currently competing in the Top Fuel class. Photo courtesy of Tera W. Graves – MaxCacklePhotos.com

UNT automotive services supervisor Rickey Stinchcomb is a drag race fan.

He said even though drag racing is drastically different from other forms of racing, it keeps him on the edge of his seat.

“The racers have absolutely no room for a driver error,” Stinchcomb said. “If you catch a bad light because of having a bad reaction time, miss a shift point or make a bad decision you are out just like that.”

Going head to head

This past weekend, North Star held what it called Match Race Madness, one of its biggest events of the year. Because the track closes in winter due to unsafe conditions, this was its first big race of the year.

Howard Farris, with Farris Racing Engines, said he had a driver participate in the North Star event this past weekend.

“It is extremely hard putting these drag racers together because they take a lot of work,” Farris said. “You can spend weeks or months on this car to see it just do a three-second run. They care about this form of racing and want to see a really good showdown.”

Graves said planning an event like this starts months in advance. He said he has to manage things like booking people to race and gathering snacks for attendees.

“My favorite part of working here is also the hardest part,” Graves said. “We want to make the show work so that fans get nonstop entertainment.”

Graves said this involves making sure people are not on the track without permission. This goes for people covering the events on social media and in print. Beside Match Race Madness, North Star tries to hold events every weekend. On most Fridays, for $10, there is an open test and tune where anyone who wants to learn how to drag race, try out a car or spectate can attend. On Saturdays, the dragway hosts feature events that cost $20 and are free for kids 12 and under.

“We want to make sure people are happy when they come to our events,” Graves said. “By coming and paying for the tickets, people can go into the pits and talk to the racers or see their cars. We want people to experience everything when they are here.”

On the road to success

Since operation under new management began in the summer of 2012, North Star has slowly garnered a larger following.

Graves said this past Saturday was the biggest crowd it has had in three years. However, he said he wants to try and reach out to his alma mater: the UNT community.

“When kids get out of class on Fridays and have nothing to do, we want them to come experience the dragway,” Graves said. “We want them to experience something new, and we want the students who are really interested in motor sports to come give it a try.”

Stinchcomb said he is glad to have a track in Denton, because it offers a family friendly environment where people can enjoy themselves.

“It gives the kids a place to race other than the streets,” Stinchcomb said.

Above all else, Graves said the goal is for the track to feel like a safe haven for anyone in the Denton community. Whether that is someone who is an avid fan of racing or someone who has never heard the tires screeching on a racecar, he wants people to feel at home.

“You never know what is going to happen at a race,” Graves said. “But I want people to know we are here.”

Featured Image: Jones brought his “Crazy Train” wheelstander to Denton, Texas on March 28 putting on an awesome exhibition show for the fans at North Star Dragway. Photo courtesy of Chris Graves, MaxCacklePhoto.com

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