Drag Illustrated Issue 175, March / April 2022 - Page 10


After over 10 years working in drag racing , first as a crew member and then in various media roles , I ’ ll admit I ’ ve become a bit jaded to the whole experience of going to the racetrack , whether it ’ s for a quiet test session or a huge race like the NHRA U . S . Nationals . It ’ s become a routine , like my version of going into the office . I expect to see half-million-dollar race cars and run into people who I grew up watching on TV or reading about in magazines .

But that all changed when I rolled into Bradenton Motorsports Park with a few of my DI colleagues – Wes Buck , Mike Carpenter , and J . T . Hudson – for the first of five stops on the inaugural Sick Week tour . It was my first time at a dragand-drive event , and it came with all kinds of new experiences . We ’ re seeing the street-driven Pro Mods of Tom Bailey and Dave Schroeder , and iconic drag-and-drive cars like Joe Barry ’ s show-quality “ Creamsicle ” ’ 56 Chevy . We ’ re bumping into people like David Freiburger , one of the most influential editors in the history of car magazines and the guy who started HOT ROD Drag Week .
And that was just within the first 30 minutes of pulling into the track on day one . We wanted the full Sick Week experience , so we piled into the rental car – an Infiniti SUV that affectionately became known as the “ Blue Hippo ” – and set out to follow the Sick Week crowd all week long . We followed the exact same route as the competitors , stopped at the same checkpoints , pulled into the same gas stations , and did as much as we could to replicate the drag-and-drive experience , though our car was significantly less cool and it didn ’ t go
down the track .
Mike and J . T . had to head home after our first two days in Florida , which worked out since Tuesday ’ s action at Orlando was rained out . The rainout was a blessing in disguise , as we ended up catching up with drag-and-drive star Alex Taylor and her father , Dennis , just 30 minutes into the day ’ s drive from Orlando Speed World Dragway out to the Atlantic coast , up to Daytona , and back inland to Gainesville Raceway . We tagged along with the Taylor family , along with Bangshift . com ’ s Chad Reynolds and his son , Cole , for the whole journey , and again on Wednesday night after helping them pack up at the track .
The whole group was so welcoming and eagerly answered all of our questions about the history of the drag-and-drive scene , its current state , and what makes these events so special .
But after just four or five days on Sick Week , I can without question say I get it . I understand why competitor entries for these events can sell out in minutes . I get why people will work day and night , then drive thousands of miles through all kinds of weather to participate in one of these drag weeks . I can see why these events continue to become more popular .
Because it ’ s fun . Sure , there are some decidedly not fun moments mixed in , and while we had a more relaxed experience than the competitors , I can say Sick Week was the most fun I ’ ve had going racing in a while . The camaraderie , the late-night dinners at questionable Mexican restaurants , the tense thrashes in the pits , the scenic drives , the 6-second race cars pulling into a gas station – it all adds up to one incredibly rich experience that you won ’ t find anywhere else in the racing world . DI
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Nate Van Wagnen Editor-in-Chief
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