Hot Rod Drag Week 2021: Day Zero

After a COVID-induced hiatus, Hot Rod Drag Week is ready to rock!

Photographers: Povi Pullinen

Hot Rod Drag Week is back for another year, pitting a huge range of metal against tough road and track legs over five days in the US.

This year’s proceedings began on Sunday, with registration, tech inspections and testing held at US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan.

Competition racing will kick off on Monday morning, or 9:45pm tonight local time at US 131.

Entrants will then motor to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio for Day Two of racing. Next on the list is Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis for Day Three, followed by Byron Dragway, Illinois. Racing will wrap up back at US 131 on Friday 17 September.

A packed field of almost 350 cars makes up this year’s event, with several expected to lay down six-second times between road legs.

Four-time Drag Week champion Tom Bailey is a notable absence from the 2021 roster. A nasty bout of COVID-19 sidelined the racer for three weeks, delaying work on his Sick Seconds 2.0 Camaro.

Handling a proven five-second car on grueling road legs requires a lot of physical and mental effort, and Tom is still yet to make a full recovery. It’ll be his first time not starting Drag Week since his debut in 2010, though he still plans to attend as a spectator.

With Tom out, 2017 overall winner and 2018 runner-up Dave Schroeder is a real contender for top honours. The Canadian has transplanted the monstrous, nitrous-huffing 872ci donk from his ‘66 Corvette into a new Pro Mod-style C7 body. It’s marginally lighter than the C2, and can swallow a fatter tyre.

Dave made several passes on Day Zero, laying down some promising 60ft times. The C2 clocked a 6.54@214mph in last year’s test and tune, so if Dave can make the new car work he’ll be in with a shot at victory.

Bryant Goldstone also runs into the six-second bracket with his twin-turbo, 575-cube Javelin. He took second place overall in 2019, racing in the Unlimited class.

The ‘56 Chev dubbed ‘Creamsicle’ is back for its ninth Drag Week with Joe Barry behind the wheel. It took second-overall in 2017, with a 7.1118-second average.

Alex Taylor left her orange Camaro at home for Drag Week 2021, instead bringing along her newly-finished ‘55 Chev. Running a full-tube chassis and 509ci big-block Chev with twin 88mm Precision snails, it’s tipped to be yet another six-second car.

Travel restrictions have seriously thinned the usual herd of Aussie competitors, though Ross Gault has managed to fly the coop and enter his tough ‘55 Chev.

This Beetle gasser immediately piqued our interest. Soft drink enthusiast ‘Pepsi Joe’ built the solid-axle racer, which runs a 385ci small-block Chev and S10 rear end. It ran an 11.9-second quarter-mile with a slight tamer donk, so Joe aims to shave off a few tenths with the new combo.

Another favourite of ours is Dodger’s Toyota 4Runner. He’s done the event before with a stock 1JZ under the bonnet, but this year is packing a built 2JZ with a 88mm GT42 Garrett out of the bonnet. Other goodies include a Steve Morris cylinder head, Haltech ECU, Plazmaman intake manifold and Turbosmart ‘gate. The water/air intercooler and everything else was knocked up by Dodger at his 187 Unlimited shop in West Valley, Utah. The combo made 975rwhp at 32psi and has so far run a best of 9.8-seconds.