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Donnie Hagar Makes History by Conquering 28th Annual Million Dollar Drag Race Without Delay Box

The line lock was off, and it was time to roll out of the water box for the day everyone had been patiently waiting for – Friday at the 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race. The largest payout of the event was awarded on Friday, as someone was guaranteed to leave with six figures. 

Before deciding who will make their way toward the winner’s circle, all drivers received a time trial to get dialed in for the day. The more lucrative purse calls for a higher entry fee that always lowers the car count from the surrounding $50K races. Since World Wide Technology Raceway is packed with eager racers, the decrease benefits drivers by providing time for a re-entry round if they fail to turn on the win light in round one. 

The atmosphere changed on Million Dollar Friday, which created an amplified excitement as the stakes continued to rise. Drivers and families who did not participate in Friday’s race stayed to watch alongside the return road or in the grandstands because everyone wanted to know who would win it all. After the playing of the National Anthem, invocation, and moment of silence for the Million Dollar Drag Race creator, George Howard, the first pair of No Box racers made their way through the tunnel and onto the racing surface. 

A striking 471 entries took that same path from the staging lanes and past the finish line during the first round of eliminations. As advertised on the flyer, this car count meant the winner’s purse climbed to $590,000 and $50,000 to the runner-up. Twelve drivers outlasted the next six rounds of grueling competition with hopes of earning the cash and notoriety that comes with a Million Dollar Drag Race victory. They were Donnie Hagar, Braden Bowden, Jeff Serra, Isaac Wilde, Trevor Moore, Chad Branum, Rocky VanNote, Mikey Bloomfield, Shane Carr, Hunter Whitehead, Wes Neely, and Hal Blevins. 

Both Wilde and Branum were .002 red to advance their opponents Hagar and Carr, respectively. Moore broke out one-thousandth beside Neely, who was .018 total for the win, followed by Bowden’s breakout, sending Bloomfield into the next round. VanNote laid down .015 total to eliminate Whitehead. Blevins is .008 on the tree, but Serra was .006 and ran closer to his dial to advance. 

The crowd of fellow racers and friends gathered near the starting line multiplied as the number of cars still in the race halved. Neely turned on the red light by four-thou in his roadster while Carr was .004 green and coasted across the finish line. Hagar was .018 up front and took the double breakout win running one-thou under beside VanNote, who ran four-thou too quick. Only eight-thou separated the pair on the starting line, and Serra got to the stripe first but was six-thou under his dial while Bloomfield ran .013 above for the win. 

Carr secured an appearance in his second Million final round courtesy of the bye run while Bloomfield and Hagar faced off in the semifinal. Both drivers were eager for the win, with Bloomfield putting together a .009 package for the loss. Hagar launched with a .004 light and ran dead on with a zero to take his bottom bulb Vega into the Million dollar final round. 

The 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race champion was merely one pass away from their celebration as the $2,000 No Box bonus winner, Donnie Hagar, staged up next to Shane Carr, who claimed the coveted Million title in 2012. 

As Carr reversed from his half-track burnout, Hagar smoked the tires and rolled towards the starting line. Both drivers carefully bumped into the stage beams, and Hagar left first with a .005 reaction time, followed by the .001 red light of Carr. Hagar made history by becoming the first No Box racer to compete in the OG Million final round, much less conquer it. 

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A man of few words during the winner’s circle interview, Hagar was still in disbelief at what he had just accomplished. He said, “I’m super thankful and happy, obviously. And really tired as well. It just doesn’t seem real to be honest, I’m just super blessed… at a loss for words.” 

Carr took a moment to praise the OG Million in his post-race interview and said, “I want to thank Donny Burleson for giving me such a good hot rod. All the Folk family for such a great race. I’m glad you came to St. Louis, I don’t think you could do much better.”

Saturday will conclude the Million Dollar Drag Race with one more $50,000 race sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment. Registration opens at 8 AM, and only new entries will receive a time trial at 8:30 AM, followed by eliminations. The $1,000 No Box bonus will be awarded to the last bottom bulb driver left in the competition. 

Viewers at home can watch the MotorManiaTV live feed thanks to the support from Lucas Oil and Vintage Trailers.

For more information on The Million Dollar Drag Race, visit www.themilliononline.com

This story was originally published on September 16, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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