Almost two full months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) 2020 season opener, the all-eighth-mile series is set to get back to racing at the East Coast Nationals presented by FuelTech this weekend, May 27-30, at GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, N.C.
“This is a big, big deal for the PDRA and our racers, fans and sponsors,” said Tyler Crossnoe, series director, PDRA. “We’ve all been eager to kick off the season, and now thanks to the hard work by the GALOT Motorsports Park and PDRA teams, we’re finally able to go racing.”
The professional classes racing at the East Coast Nationals include Penske Racing Shocks/Precision Racing Suspension Pro Boost presented by WS Construction, Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock, $hameless Racing Pro Outlaw 632 and Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle. Classic Graphix will again present the Pro Mod Challenge for non-qualifiers in Pro Boost and Pro Nitrous.
Nitrous Wars, the PDRA’s season-long battle for Pro Nitrous drivers and engine builders, will start its fifth consecutive season at the East Coast Nationals. The Pro Nitrous low qualifier at GALOT will receive the Nitrous Wars nitrous bottle trophy – and one Nitrous Wars point – after qualifying is complete. That trophy will then get passed on to the low qualifier at each of the following PDRA races this season. The trophy is ultimately awarded to the Nitrous Wars champion at the end of the season. Fulton Competition Race Engines and Pat Musi Racing Engines tied for the Nitrous Wars championship in 2019.
“There are some intense rivalries between the engine builders and between the racers in Pro Nitrous,” Crossnoe said. “The Nitrous Wars program gives these racers and engine builders a way to settle the score and prove who has the best stuff.”
The East Coast Nationals also marks the debut of the PDRA’s new small-tire class, Drag 965 Pro Street. Its rulebook was created as a mash-up of three existing small-tire classes: Limited Drag Radial, Outlaw 10.5 and Pro 275. The class will accept cars sitting on 275, 295 or 315 drag radials, along with 33×10.5 slick tires, with numerous engine and power adder combinations accepted. Pro Street entries must also maintain stock appearances.
“This class isn’t for Pro Mods or stretched-out cars,” Crossnoe said. “These are cars that actually look like ’78 Malibus or ’69 Camaros – cars you’d see on the street or that you might have sitting in the garage. Having a class like Pro Street adds some relatability. I think that will gain some fans. We’re trying to make a big splash in the small-tire world this year.”
Along with the professional classes, the East Coast Nationals will feature the PDRA’s popular sportsman categories. The ultra-competitive classes are MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman presented by Tejas Borja, MagnaFuel Top Sportsman, Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster and Top Dragster. The PDRA’s rising stars will compete in Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster and Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster. Edelbrock Bracket Bash will also be contested.
Due to social distancing guidelines set by state and local health officials, PDRA officials had to set entry limits for the sportsman classes. The entries quickly sold out upon release, and a waitlist was established to provide alternates.
“That really says a lot about our sportsman racing crowd at the PDRA,” Crossnoe said. “Our sportsman racers are the backbone of the series, and they always show up in full force. We really wish we could accept as many entries as possible. With the distancing guidelines we must follow, along with the goal of completing this race in a timely manner, we had to cap the entries.”
North Carolina officials aren’t allowing spectator events, so fans cannot attend the East Coast Nationals. Spectators wishing to watch the East Coast Nationals will be able to tune in to the official event live stream on SpeedVideo.com.
The East Coast Nationals will begin with parking on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday are set aside for testing. Competition will begin Friday, with three pro class qualifying sessions on Friday, followed by eliminations on Saturday. Sunday is available for a rain date if needed.