There’s nothing quite like it…
Over the years, I have attended my share of automotive related events. Half mile races hold a special place in my heart. Today, I’m going to attempt to explain why. I’ll also throw in some of my favorite cars from these events and give you some stats – mind blowing stats.
It’s all about the spectator experience.
The phrase “bang for your buck” definitely applies here. Most events I attended let spectators gather towards the end of the track. Cars would fly by at, 180, 190 & 200+ MPH just double digit feet away sometimes. The ‘snap’ of a parachute opening as a car goes over the line at these speeds creates a sort of sonic boom you can feel in your chest. No other racing series has had the same feeling to me. Plus, spectators are free to walk through the pits to see drivers & their teams tweaking their cars for the next runs.
The drivers also have a great time.
The neat thing about these events is that there is no “typical” lineup of cars or drivers. Just about anyone with a license & a car that can pass basic safety tech can participate. In the staging lanes, you can find a sponsored, twin turbo exotic lined up next to a home built boosted Civic – it’s not uncommon. The crazy thing is that sometimes, that Civic will walk most everything out in the field. It’s not necessarily who crosses the line first. Here, it’s about the highest MPH -fastest car wins.
You’ll find yourself rooting for the underdogs.
It’s the hometown hero builds. The home brews. The frankensteins. Those are the exciting runs. You don’t know what to expect until it gets down the track. Specifically, I remember a Mk4 Supra showing up to the track and making ONE clean pass… 196MPH. Actually, you can find footage of this car on YouTube – Baltic Supra. I talked to him before his run in the staging lanes, and he was calm and cool. After that pass, he was taken aback by how sketchy the car felt at that speed and left shortly after. I wish I had photos of it, but the lanes were too busy for good photography that day. There was also a turbo EK Civic at one of the events that trapped at nearly 170mph, all home built. Matching speeds of some of the supercars in that weekends lineup.
But EVERYONE loves the fastest cars.
Any time a car goes past the speed trap at over 200MPH, the crowd cheers in excitement. These cars are not your ordinary bunch, either. Most of the time, they are precision built by custom shops specializing in half-mile cars. Vengeance Racing & Underground Racing come to mind when thinking of these shops. They have produced some of the fastest street cars on the planet, sporting 1k, 2k, 3k+ horsepower. Several of Vengeance’s cars hold world records for their respective platforms. Underground is known worldwide through a plethora of old street racing videos with their twin turbo Lamborghinis. Both of these companies bring out their latest and greatest to these events and never cease to amaze.
I hope to see more events like these in the near future. Matter of fact, looks like there is one in Indiana in a couple weeks… road trip, anyone? Also, I have compiled my favorite passes over the years in a short YouTube video. Take a look below!
Lastly, here is a gallery of some of my favorite shots:
Text, Photos & Video by Ben Battles