February '20

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18 THE SHOP FEBRUARY 2020 block in their bracket car anymore—1,000 hp is the norm now for a standard Super Pro car," Rueckert explains. "Plus, the classes are getting faster. Heads-up racing technology is falling back into fast bracket racing like Top Dragster. These guys are now flirting with the 2,000- to 2,500-hp range with large nitrous combos or cen- trifugal supercharged engines." From heads-up racing to NHRA Pro Mod to Outlaw Drag Radial, "racing is prob- ably the most popular it has ever been, with many large races and weekly local events, and with this growth local shops and aftermarket suppliers should see con- tinued growth well past 2020," he adds. A racer herself, Krista Baldwin, creative director at McLeod Racing, sees opportuni- ties on and off the track. "Not only being race enthusiasts at McLeod, we saw an influx of people who want to make their cars suitable for the street and the drag strip," she says. It's an observation echoed by Rob Fisher, vice president of motorsports at E3 Spark Plugs. "Overall, drag racing seems to be con- tinuing the resurgence in popularity that we have seen over the past several years," he says. "Racer counts are strong, and fans continue to come out to events. Conse- quently, we are very excited for 2020." Lawson Mollica, director of marketing & public relations for AEM Performance Electronics, agrees that last year was an exciting one for the sport, and predicts more racers embracing newer technology as they search for speed. "We saw some of our carbureted drag racers make the move to EFI, naturally aspi- rated racers and nitrous guys move to forced induction, more and more no-prep racers logging data to find an edge, front-drive NA cars dipping into 8s, turbo sport front- wheel drive drag cars running 7s and car counts up at many of the major series and events," he notes. "At the Sportsman level, this tells us that seasoned racers are trans- itioning to the next level of performance and heads-up competition, and that their absence in slower classes is being filled by new racers at the bracket racing level. At all levels, the need for good data and visualiza- tion of that data is being embraced, which is why we are optimistic for the next year." Another attractive feature of serving the drag racing market is that the fans in the stands are potential speed shop customers along with the racers on the tracks. "The 2019 drag racing season was very well-attended," observes Duane LaFleur of the Lucas Oil Products business devel- opment/high performance department. "We have seen growth in all forms of drag racing over the past year. It seems like all the sanctioning bodies are working on growing classes and categories, and for us that's very exciting. We are looking forward to another great season in 2020." As is Skylar Drake, creative & technical writer for Holley/MSD. "Last year was an excellent year for drag racing and, as we continue to see a resur- gence in the sport, shops and customers alike should expect more product develop- ment in this segment." Include Aeromotive Inc. on the list of companies that are pushing product devel- opment based on the recent strength of the drag racing market, says Johnson Barrick, sales & marketing manager. "We believe it was a great season from the aftermarket standpoint, and are beyond optimistic for 2020, because we keep coming out with new products similar to our brushless fuel pumps that fit perfectly in the drag racing market. Our goal is to be in every drag race car, and we are taking strides toward that in 2020." CHALLENGES FOR SHOPS As mentioned earlier, however, drag racing is not immune to unexpected developments Successful shops will offer track support for their racing customers. (Photos cour- tesy AEM Performance Electronics) KEEP IT STRAIGHT Aftermarket suppliers continue to develop products based on the strength of the drag racing market. (Photo courtesy Aeromotive Inc.)

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