Relaxed atmosphere keeps things fun at North Carolina ’ s Nahunta Dragway
By Van Abernethy
PHOTOGRAPHS BY VAN ABERNETHY
Nahunta Dragway is the kind of track that ’ s known for its laid-back atmosphere , a place where the oldschool way of footbrake racing still reigns supreme . And if track manager Eddie Radford could only control the weather , this unsanctioned eighth-mile strip near Pikeville , North Carolina , would open its gates practically every weekend .
There ’ s an understanding around these parts that if the temperature breaks into the low 50s , people know that Radford and his dedicated staff will have the track ready for operation in short order . “ I watch the weather closely and just as soon as I know it ’ s gonna be nice weather , I ’ ll post something online ,” Radford says .
The Southeast region had an unseasonably rough winter early on , so Nahunta hardly ran at all during December or January . By February , though , the weather was cooperating enough to begin opening on select weekends , kicking things off with Sunday afternoon test and tune . “ We ’ re mainly a Saturday night track , but we generally open up on Sunday afternoons for test and tune in the early part of the season ,” Radford says . “ Around the end of April , I ’ ll switch over to Saturday .”
Bracket racing is contested every Saturday night during the warmer months of the season , and sometimes Radford will include a stick shift race . Nahunta doesn ’ t tally points for the bracket events , and Radford says it ’ s easier to just let them race and then hand out cash and trophies .
Another attraction that Radford plans to bring back to Nahunta is a shootout for 28 / 275 smalltire cars . “ I may turn it into a list type race , and
July / August 2022
William “ Jaws ” Alston
try to put together a minimum of 10 cars to do a race and pay them a pretty good purse ,” he says . “ Maybe have it every other weekend and include bracket cars and have a two-race show that night .”
Another event that Radford is eager to bring back is a Grudgefest event that he tried for the first time in 2021 . “ We held it the week after Thanksgiving and it was the biggest crowd we ’ ve ever had here !”
The Nahunta Nationals and Triple Crown events are also back on the schedule this year after a two-year absence . “ I dropped both events during 2020 and 2021 because of COVID ,” Radford says . “ Everybody was still walking around with masks on during that time and it just didn ’ t seem right to do those races . I was happy just to be able to open back up .”
The Triple Crown is a popular race usually held in late June to early July . It ’ s comprised of three races in three consecutive weekends . They each pay a good purse , but there ’ s a bonus in place if you can win two out of the three races . “ There ’ s definitely incentive to attend all 3 races ,” Radford confirms . The finale of the Triple Crown is usually held on July 4th weekend and punctuated by a fireworks show .
As for the Nahunta Nationals , it ’ s a great way to close out the race season , and racers and fans
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