Drag racing has its origins outside the law. American soldiers returning from the World War II were running low on adrenalin at a time when cars were getting cheaper. Two plus two made illegal drag races held on old airfields and racetracks. Races today are organised and run professionally.
Muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s gave rise to the idea of fitting the largest, most powerful, noisiest engines in affordable mid-range cars. Those cars had names like Barracuda, Fury, Superbird and Charger and looked good, too. They were dangerously good, and they still are, especially when drag racing.
A good excuse to dust off the old girl, along with like-minded people, and a day out for all the family, too. In some parts of the US, drag racing has a fairground feel. Two governing bodies, the National Hot Rod Association and the International Hot Rod Association, have many different categories of competition, increasing chances of a driver winning silverware. Bikers are also welcome.
Drivers are strapped into bucket seats and hunched up in cages of steel tubing. They wear helmets, neck-braces and fireproof overalls. When something goes wrong in drag racing and the elemental force of these cars is unleashed in a way it shouldn’t be, lethal danger can arise very quickly. These cars are made for acceleration, and not much else.
Right foot on the accelerator, left foot on the brake. Put the car into drive. Warm up the tyres. Roll up to the starting line. Don’t give an inch. Wait for the lights on the Christmas tree. Foot off the brake, hang onto the steering wheel and feel the sweet madness of acceleration build until your car conks out.