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DI 30 Under 30 2023: Blake Denton

Blake Denton is one of numerous drivers in the PDRA’s “adult” classes that successfully made the jump up from the two Jr. Dragster classes, Pro Jr. Dragster and Top Jr. Dragster. Denton started racing Jr. Dragsters when he was seven years old and competed in the half-scale cars until he was 16 or 17. Now several years later, Denton is the first-ever PDRA Super Street world champion. 

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #185, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2023.]

After Jr. Dragsters, Denton moved up to Footbrake, where he raced a Nova for about a year and a half. Denton and his father, Wesley, started putting together a dragster, but future father-in-law Tommy Franklin offered to put him in his nitrous-fed Top Dragster instead. Denton had considerable success in the car, but when PDRA launched the new Super Street class in 2022, he started to think about a future in the fledgling small-tire class. 

“Tommy and I were just talking about it one day like, ‘Man, that would be really fun to do,’” Denton remembers. “I was like, ‘I’ll drive it!’ We found a car and it has been flawless ever since we got it. We did what we wanted to do to it. It’s been really fun.”

A show-quality ’76 Camaro powered by a nitrous-huffing Pat Musi engine, Denton’s Super Street entry started out running in the 5.00s last season. He dipped into the 4.80s at the PDRA World Finals, and knowing that wouldn’t be enough to win races during Super Street’s inaugural championship season, Franklin and tuner Jeff Pierce went to work over the winter. 

Denton saw results immediately in 2023, as he qualified No. 1 at the first three races of the six-race Super Street season. He also had a dominant weekend at the Shakedown Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, starting a winning streak that continued at the PDRA Norwalk and Maryland races. Despite a late-season charge from season opener winner Derek Mota, who missed the Maryland race but won out the rest of the season, Denton held on to claim the first Super Street world championship. 

Denton’s biggest moment of the season came just one race before the World Finals, though, when he proposed to longtime girlfriend Amber Franklin in the DragWars winner’s circle. The 2022 Pro 632 world champion, she just earned her second Franklin family double-up with her father, Tommy, winning in Pro Nitrous. Denton also reached the final round in Super Street. 

“That couldn’t have been better,” Denton says of the proposal. “I was trying to pull off a three-peat, but to get in the finals was still good for points. For them to win it together was good. I love her to death and we’ve been doing this together for going on five years now. To do it that way was the best way to do it.”

Though Denton now primarily competes in a heads-up class, he isn’t done bracket racing. He’ll still occasionally jump in one of the Franklin family’s bracket cars whenever there’s an opening in the schedule. 

“I ran a hundred-grander the other weekend and got down to four cars in it,” says Denton, who thanks parents Wesley and Wendy, fiancée Amber, Tommy and Judy Franklin, the TFM crew, and partners like Pat Musi Racing Engines and M&M Transmission. “I came right back next week and got back in the Super Street car. The next weekend, got back in the dragster, and got my tail kicked. It’s just up and down. But I try to fluctuate. I like driving whatever’s got wheels.”

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