Briefly explained, the term “culture” reflects quality in a person or society for what they are regarded as excellent. Culture can reference personal interests, arts, and in this case, racing. With the help of Chad Burdette, creator of CB Media, we are treated to the Thailand culture of drag racing as its people grow their own style of drag racing interests.
Thailand is right at ¾ the size of Texas and has a robust economy. The mainstay of transportation is based upon small, 125cc motorcycles, which, since the early 2000s, became the flashpoint of organized drag racing. You could relate it to the earliest 1950s days of U.S.-born drag racers who removed the fenders and modified old cars that were also the most basic in transportation.
“I had been a freelance photographer and journalist for multiple United States gearhead magazines when some of my work had me sharing time between Southeast Asia and my home in Georgia,” says Burdette. “I began posting some interesting videos of the Thailand racing scene when my YouTube channel and other social media presentations began to explode in viewership. Then I set out to make this Thailand-based work my permanent gig.”
This CB Media video features one of Thailand’s biggest events, where they pull in many cars from many classes for this annual blowout event.
Burdette offers an array of interesting content, from countryside road trips to Bangkok city life and Thailand’s sole full-time dragstrip, Bangkok Drag Avenue. It was his drag racing content that was creating the viewership numbers. There was a three-month honeymoon period where Burdette created content, populating his CB Media channels with vigor, and then the unexpected happened,: the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I told myself, if there was the time to get a YouTube channel to blow up and be successful, it was during the world’s quarantine from COVID,” Burdette says. He has continued to create shows with the same intensity ever since.
If you are a hardcore drag racer, you will immediately notice key differences when you dive into his scores of videos. First, popular drag “classes” rarely share the track on a given race day. When you see the Thai version of Pro Modifieds and Pro Mod Trucks, there may be a few other fast doorslammer classes, but that alone fills the pits. Other days such as bike day, have the entire track overrun with 125cc to 150cc two-wheelers.
The most notable class that fills the pits is the delivery truck class. That’s right, delivery trucks. The grounds will be filled with delivery trucks utilizing turbocharged, big-horsepower engines, carbon-fiber body panels, lexan windows, and more. The delivery trucks are a poster child class for what motivates the Thai drag racing culture: bragging rights. Akin to the early days of stateside drag racing, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was the dragstrip credo to sell cars. In Thailand, the race-winning delivery trucks not only achieve bragging rights; the win may result in more work for you and your truck.
We told you about drag racing day for delivery trucks; well, here you go. Also, the ambulance industry in Thailand is privatized, so there is competition between them, as well.
“When I hear from racers who watch my videos, many comment on the very different components used in their high-end machines compared to the United States,” explains Burdette. “Hardware like manifolds, turbos, and even steering wheels, race seats, rollcages, are made in the country.”
Thailand has a very high 100-percent import tax which motivates racers to custom-build their own stuff. Viewing the videos, you rarely see U.S.-manufactured race wheels and tires. Burdette adds, “If you follow the Pro Modified classes here, the racers are resigned to paying the taxes on some things to harness the horsepower, but it is amazing to see what they fabricate on their own.”
Burdette corrected me when I referred to the Thai racers as idolizing U.S. drag racing to create their own race car components. “They may intensely follow racing at home, but I don’t call it idolizing. The enthusiasts discuss competition parts they see, address the function, and then fabricate their version in the universal effort to go faster.”
CB Media has harnessed a form of entertainment that exemplifies the Thai lifestyle of crazy custom cars, bikini girls, thumping dance parties, and hardcore drag racing all rolled up into the grounds of Bangkok Drag Avenue. To have another part of the world create a different but very recognizable culture of drag racing has us waiting for each next episode.