When you see the smoke coming off the hard top in the NRG Park parking lot, don't call 911. EMS will already be on site, plus the cops, but nobody's heading over to Riesner because street racing is now legal, or at least the fast-paced no-prep version of the sport found at Dig Night Street Racing.
“There are a group of people who prefer to race on the street, as opposed to the track, says owner and organizer Jerrod Thompson. “Our idea is to bring it onto the street, a legal sanctioned place, with police and EMS." Thompson says not everyone wants to race on glue or flypaper. “We don't like a sticky surface; we like an untouched surface. It's not prepped.”
Racing on a no-prep track is also a great equalizer. By eliminating the chemical reaction that occurs by dragging old tires over a compound like VHT or Pimp Juice, it gives the average racer a chance to compete. “It's more of a driver's game, rather than the speed,” says Thompson, who says prepped tracks create more traction and basically eliminate driver skill; whoever has the fastest car will win on a prepped track. “[With no-prep,] the right combination of tune on the car and driver ability makes it more about the ability and not so much of a money game.”
Small tire racing has really grown in popularity, aided by shows like the Discovery Channel's Street Outlaws. The Dig Night course is a one-eighth of a mile straightaway, with cars reaching 180 to 200 miles per hour. “You can see how dangerous it can be if it's not done in the proper manner,” says Thompson. That's why we're so passionate about letting people know that it's fun, family enjoyment.” He says they put concrete barriers up to protect the spectators, and that rescue, wreckers and police are on standby during the drag race.
Racers will be competing for cash prizes and championship trophies. “The main thing that we're here for is cash. Beyond that is bragging rights. We have over $30,000 on the line for this race,” says Thompson. "It's just a bunch of guys who want to race.”
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Some of the cars are completely tricked out. A guy will sometimes take a junker, maybe a car he drove in high school, and spend his weekends pursuing his passion for going faster. “They've got cars that they've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on – full out drag cars – a 5.0 Mustang; just put nitrous on it,” says Thompson. Some of the racers have a following, like Mike Murillo, Birdman, John Doe and Kye Kelly.
There's tremendous appeal for spectators, with live music, mini races between rounds, vendors, beer and a VIP area, plus an up close look at the cars. “Every ticket from VIP to GA gets full access to the pit,” says Thompson. “The racers are very accommodating. They love to show off, sign autographs. Many have T-shirts with their likeness and their cars on them.”
Come out to smell the rubber and see the action at what's being billed as “the biggest street race in the world.” 6 to 11 p.m. June 24 and 3 to 11 p.m. June 25. NRG Park parking lot, 1 NRG Park. For information, visit facebook.com/dignight or ticketmaster.com. $35 to $300.