In an era when motorsports events are fighting for every last attendee, Cliff Wallace and his Import Face-Off (IFO) team are defying the odds. Earlier this month, Wallace’s event at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, experienced an unprecedented turnout. This was not just an event; it was a spectacular display of the shifting tides in import drag racing.
Cliff Wallace, the founder and promoter of Import Face-Off, has spent the past two decades building a national show and race series that has become a lighthouse in the drag racing community. The series, which originated in 2001, hosts more than 40 events annually across the nation, drawing over 100,000 racers, fans, and enthusiasts every year. At the most recently completed event in Epping, that number included the nearly 9,000 attendees who made their way to the New England Dragway.
“Competition heads up racer turnout was down, but overall turnout (street car racers and spectators) was the highest in our history of 500-plus events since 2001,” Wallace shared, reflecting on the recent event.
IFO isn’t just about the races, it’s about community and camaraderie. Wallace has tapped into a change in the culture of import drag racing. Fewer enthusiasts are building purpose-built drag cars, focusing instead on street cars that can be driven to the track. This shift has been instrumental in IFO’s recent success.
“They could care less about classes and payouts. They just want to grudge race and/or hit personal bests. These ‘casual’ enthusiasts are the ones supporting the tracks rain or shine,” said Wallace.
This shift has allowed IFO to thrive even in less-than-ideal circumstances. Wallace explained, “Our Ohio event was snowed out – not rained out – a few weeks ago, yet 5,000-plus came through the gates. These ‘rain or shine’ type events are really helping keep tracks open.”
Wallace’s dedication to the community has translated into a win-win situation for both the tracks and the attendees. The recent success at the New England Dragway has been echoed across the country. “Our events are in the top 3-5 for revenue at most all tracks we go to across the country. Our last five events brought in over 23,000 attendees through the gates,” Wallace said.
As IFO approaches its 600th event in August 2023, Wallace expressed his gratitude to the venues that have supported the series throughout the years. “We appreciate every track on our tour that has given us a chance,” he said.
IFO’s success story stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the drag racing community. It’s a beacon for the future of the sport, a testament to the passion of its followers, and a blueprint for how to succeed in the ever-evolving world of motorsports. With the recent success at New England Dragway, it’s clear that the future of import drag racing is bright, and Cliff Wallace and his Import Face-Off team are leading the way.