Making a vehicle travel as quickly as possible from one point to another is the basic principle of drag racing, and that is putting it in the most simple of terms. Racing on pavement, no matter how much prep has been laid down with a high-horsepower vehicle, is a challenge. But imagine trying to do it on dirt.
Shane Ohrogge lives in the world of dirt drag racing and while the basic fundamentals might be the same as racing on pavement, the actual execution is entirely different.
Ohrogge has been covered in dirt and race gas his entire life. His father, Scott, started the family business Racinginthedirt.com, a company that makes custom parts for dirt and mud racers. After racing ATVs, Ohrogge jumped behind the wheel of the family’s Super Stock dirt truck and eventually stepped up to making passes on the dirt in a nitrous-huffing front-engine dragster. The Deranged dragster is the latest ride for Ohrogge, and it incorporates everything the family has learned in dirt drag racing.
Drag racing on dirt is a much shorter and violent affair than pavement racing with tracks only covering 150- to 200-feet. In that short span, racers have to put down the most power as possible on a surface that changes more than any drag strip.
“Dirt and mud drag racing is very different in its nature to conventional pavement racing as we are always adapting to track and weather changes. The track material varies from tight wet clay tracks, all the way to loose, dry sand. Chassis setup and the tune-up you put in the engine plays a huge role into putting the power down on a surface that can be different every few feet,” Ohrogge explains.
Ohrogge runs at the national level with the Mud Racers Association at different tracks across the country. Racers in the Pro Mod class will cover 150-feet in just 1.9-seconds and will trip the beams at the 200-foot mark in under 2.3-seconds at 80-120 mph. The Open Class blown alcohol record was set in 2018 with a 1.951-second run at GALOT Motorsports Park. Let that sink in for a second: covering 200 feet, on dirt, in less than two seconds … that is absolutely flying anyway you look at it.
Getting a vehicle to move that quick on a dirt surface just doesn’t happen, you really have to put the time in to understand how to set it up. Ohrogge explains what all goes into getting the chassis set up to go fast on dirt.
“Car setup has countless hours of time spent in documenting the four-link, scaling the car, weight placement, shock settings, clutch or converter changes, and power management adjustments. It’s no different than any other form of drag racing — the wins are won in the shop before ever starting the engine. At the track, it’s a matter of putting it all down on the track and knowing what you’re doing when you get there. With the nature of dirt drag racing the average racer does not have a lot of chances to have a test session. Most of the work and data we gain is on raceday at local or national events.”
At PRI, Ohrogge showed off the Deranged dragster in the SCS Gearbox booth. The dragster is four-wheel drive and has 760 cubic-inches of Goodwin Competition power in the rear. Induction Solutions provides four stages of nitrous and the engine is capable of making close to 3,000 horsepower. A Molinari clutch with a SCS gearbox and mini transmission are mated to a racinginthedirt.com belt drive to help put the power down. The rearend is a Moser Engineering full floater unit with a Carmack Engineering billet aluminum third member and RITD hubs. Up front is an RITD fabricated Dana 30 with a billet aluminum third member that work together to harness all the horsepower.
Dirt drag racing is just as complex as its pavement racing cousin in how you prepare a car and how you get down the track. Shane Ohrogge’s Deranged dragster is just another way for a racer to go as fast as they can from point A to point B, but on a different kind of surface than most are used to.