Behold, the final vestige of quarter-mile, big-show nitro racing on the continent — Michigan!
While a decade in we and many of you have come to accept — perhaps begrudgingly, but accept nevertheless — the indefinite reality that is 1,000-foot nitro racing, there is still something so, so sweet about watching, hearing, and feeling a modern-day fuel car at full song for that extra 320-feet — the way God and Wally Parks intended it. Fact is, even a semi-hardcore drag racing fan can observe the difference between 1,000 and 1,320 feet….between 3.7-seconds and 4.5-seconds. True, a drag race is a drag race, regardless of the specified distance, but once you’ve had Caviar, it’s hard to go back to Captain D’s.
And so, if you want to witness the real deal — the unadulterated form of nitro racing, Michigan’s U.S. 131 Motorsports Park is your holy grail.
Twice a season U.S. 131, operating under International Hot Rod Association sanctioning and, to this point, unafflicted by the strict 1,000-foot limit imposed by the National Rod Association, by Australia’s governing bodies, by drag boat racing, and other global venues, has contested exhibition Top Fuel racing to the quarter-mile. Last season, Dom Lagana, driving his family-owned dragster, rocketed to a 4.48-second, 338.35 mph lap at 131’s Funny Car Nationals, marking one of the quickest passes on the planet in the last decade (the outright record stands at 4.42) and the fastest speed ever by a Top Fuel car.
The 131 staff again left the quarter-mile blocks in position at last weekend’s nearly sold-out Northern Nationals, where six Top Fuel teams — including Larry Dixon, Pat Dakin, Bruce Litton, Terry Haddock, Kyle Wurtzel, and Lagana — put on a hell of a show for the assembled crowd. And some of them were happy to oblige as they legged their machines on through the boards.
Former Top Fuel ace Spencer Massey, driving Pat Dakin’s dragster, recorded a 4.48 at just 305 mph after the car spit the blower belt off at 1,200 feet to mark the best pass of the event. Massey carded a 3.80 at 325 to the 1,000-foot mark on the run, giving you some indication of how quick and fast these cars might go with the right tune-up on the right evening. Dakin later clocked a 4.51 at 316 mph which stood for top speed of the two-day show. The Lagana’s, not afraid to leg their machine through the 1320, were unable to make a solid, full hit, but have vowed to return for the Funny Car Nationals in a few weeks to give it another go.
We’re generally not ones to shamelessly plug a racing event we’re not partnered in, but the Northern Nationals and the Funny Car Nationals ought to be on your bucket list, because, kinda’ like common sense and real rock ‘n roll, they’ve got something you can’t find anymore.