NHRA's Burndown at Sundown

This weekend is the third annual Burndown at Sundown at Route 66 Dragway in Joliet (Rt 53 just past Laraway Rd, just west of Chicagoland Speedway), and its not only a NHRA (National Hot Rod Association), Division 3 race (meaning its a local race for lower level racers, not a "National Event"), but this also a fan friendly event with jet cars (yes drag cars with a jet engine strapped on the back, though not quite like Wiley Coyote), and other exhibition drag racing.

The event has a plethora of drag racing categories (which is a benefit to the racers who have many different engine set ups & sizes and includes Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Sper Gas, Super Street, Top Sportsman & Top Dragster), along with vendors and as the with every NHRA race, "every ticket is a pit pass". Unlike other motorsports, you can walk up to the pit areas (actually the teams set up makeshift garages in the inner parking lot), and see the crews work on cars and often they will talk to you and you can get some amazing pictures.

And since this race was not a national event it was for points (for the North Central Division), but every other part of the race was like what you would see on ESPN for the pro drivers (John Force, Tony Schumacher & Antron Brown), in that there was qualifying on Friday and then racing Saturday & Sunday.

But wait there was even more (with thanks to NHRA for the explantions), includes DRAW/RFC Super Eliminator Shootouts for the top 8 qualifiers in Super Comp, Super Gas & Super Street categories. And DRAW is Drag Racing Association for Women & RFC is Racers for Christ.

The event sponsor Jegs High Performance offered a "double up" bonus for those in Jegs Allstar participants who also win a national even and there were bonuses for Competition Eliminator.

This was my second year being out on Saturday for this event (which has a good turnout, probably around 5,000), and its a great day of racing, not to mention affordable (Groupon offered discounted tickets), since the national event will be at this same track in two weeks but with cost up to three times as much.

See there is a long time association with drag racing in the south suburbs and northwest Indiana. Back in 1960's until the early 1980's one of the major drag strips was US 30 Drag Strip in Hobart Indiana (My father raced there in the early 1970's), and many older drag racing fans have great memories of racing and watching races there. Unfortunatly the track closed in 1984 and is in severe disrepair.

However in Morocco Indiana (near the Illinois & Indiana border just south of Kankakee), there is No Limit Raceway that is keeping the drag racing tradition going, includig the fan favorite "run what you brung", which is you drive your car and race it. Bringing a car on a trailer is frowned upon. This is what my father used to do prior to my birth. He had a Ford Falcom he ordered new and raced it, yet drove it everyday too.

There is also Friday night drag racing at the Route 66 dragway in Joliet as well, so there are plenty of places to get your drag racing fix, but this past weekends events were a great mix of pro racing, a great racing show for the fans and at a pro track.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul grad (LA&S '99), and know and love Chicago. Writing is my passion, what I write is what I feel and there is no half steppin' with my work. I simply want to share my thoughts, experiences and opinions. And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say.

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