I Watched A Donk Smoke A Corvette Grand Sport
Donk Drag

There are certain things that just go together in the wide world of car culture: RWB kits and Porsche 911s; Japanese mountain roads and drifting; TE37s and everything. And then there’s what I witnessed at Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway during ‘Street Beast II’.

If you caught my first story a few days back, you’ll already know what this event was all about. If you didn’t, now would probably be a good time to check it out. Immersing myself in Southern Donk culture surprised me on many different levels; I went in not really knowing what to expect, but left with a real appreciation for the cars and people in this unique custom automotive sub-genre.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

As I mentioned in Getting A Taste Of The Donk Life, there were two different sides to Street Beast II.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

The first was the most obvious; with custom paintwork and ridiculously-large wheels there’s a lot of ‘show’ to a high-end Donk build, so it’s only natural that proud owners would want to display their latest creations at a big event like this.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

The other side came as a welcome surprise. The event artwork promised a “Car Show & Grudge Race,” but to be honest, I wasn’t even sure what the latter was going to entail as I headed down to Miami.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

As it turns out, 1/8-mile drag racing is a big part of this scene, but unlike the official side of the motorsport there are no reaction times, ET or trap speeds to take into account. Whoever crosses the finish line first wins.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show
Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

While reputations can be made or lost on the strip, this side of Donk culture is more about the money. And it’s not just the owners and drivers that are out to make a quick buck.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

I mentioned in the first story just how passionate Donk owners and those that follow this scene are about the cars, and up in the stands I met Torri who was in the middle of an argument about whether the last car that had gone down the strip was running a 303ci or a 383ci V8 under the hood. He was happy to give me a quick rundown on the ins and outs of grudge race betting.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

Of course, the most important thing is betting on the right car, and Torri had some pro tips for me. For the most part it’s looking out for the telltale signs of a serious racer: the purging of nitrous lines, confidence in pre-stage and staging, and the sound of the engine. Most important, however, is being familiar with all the racers.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

Although I didn’t place any bets, I did witness some people take Torri’s advice and have success, while others that chose to bet against him ended up losing many times. And these weren’t $5 bets either, many were over $500.

Settling A Grudge
Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

Grudge races don’t happen by chance, and Zell, the owner of this ’73 Impala coupe was happy to explain how the match-ups come to be.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

Let’s say you’re running your mouth online (usually social media) about how fast or good your car is. That’s all fine and well, right up until the point you start claiming that it’s quicker than someone else’s. Words are exchanged and one party challenges another to a grudge race with an entrance fee/purse. The more talk the bigger the outlay, and Zell said he’s personally witnessed a few $50,000+ buy-in races go down.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

Another way to instigate a grudge race takes a little more courage, and that’s to do it in person. Most owners walk in groups and each group has numerous ‘hype men’ that encourage the crowd and trade light-hearted insults with those from the other side. These hype men are sometimes to blame for the quick escalation of prices and bets on races, but other times it’s the words exchanged between drivers.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

After my quick introduction to this side of this scene, I dashed off to the staging area where racing was about to begin. It’s here I was presented with a sight I could never have even imagined: Donks in the burnout box warming up the tires on their 28 to 32-inch rear wheels.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

Of course, there’s a big difference between smoking a pair of bags and getting a car down the strip quickly, but my first clue that some Donks have been built with 1/8-mile racing in mind came when this Monte Carlo walked all over a 4th-gen Camaro.

The atmosphere around the place was absolutely incredible. During the evening I met Ky who is an aspiring photographer, and also watched some Three-card Monte being played.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

I watched a few close races throughout the night, but one stood out above all others: the Camaro-eating Chevrolet Monte Carlo versus a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport. If I had put money on this race, I would have lost it all.

As both cars staged up, in my mind the race was already won. Yes, the Donk was quick, but the Grand Sport is a serious late-model performance machine packing a 6.2-liter/376ci LT1 V8 good for 460hp. It can also go 0-60mph in 3.9-seconds and hit 175mph.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

The Corvette got the holeshot, and at this point I thought it was all over for the Monte Carlo. But then, with its front end lifted high, it started to pile on some serious speed.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

The 1/8-mile is short, but it’s all the room the Monte needed to get the job done. Is this even real life?

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Street Beast II - Donk Show - 5 - 6 - 2018

I wasn’t the only one who was shocked by what I had just seen, but thankfully I didn’t have any money riding on the race. Some that did totally lost their shit over it.

Keiron Berndt - Speedhunters - Donk Show

As I made my way back through the car park, I reflected on everything I’d seen at Street Beast II. As I said previously, this isn’t a scene that will appeal to everyone, but it’s a small slice of car culture that I’m pleased I made the effort to check out in person. I’d definitely do it again too.

If there’s anything I learnt, it’s that you should never judge a Donk by its candy paint and oversized wheels alone…

Keiron Berndt
Instagram: keiron_berndt
Keiron Berndt Photography

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21 comments

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1

Dude, I have an almost physical need to see video of this happening now. I never thought I'd be so happy to see Donks on SpeedHunters!

2
Ricky Montalban

I’m not the slightest bit surprised.

Corvette owners don’t know how to drive even in a straight line.

I’m sure the donk was fast, but the driver was probably more skilled too.

3

The Vette got the hole shot. In drag racing that is the absolute most important skill.

4
Ryan Senensky

This is a fantastically well written article

5
Speed Huntress

Thanks for giving me this experience.

6

Very interesting post !! Love cars and going fast !!

7

dude, how much faster would it have been if it had normal wheels instead of those 32"s?

8
Ryan Senensky

Since it's designed to have those 32"s I'd imagine it would be tire spin city. I know a lot of these guys use short ratio final drives to account for the wheel size.

9

Donks are only 1971-1976 Caprice, Impala,Belair or Biscayne. Those other cars are part of big rim racing culture which includes donks.

10

I've tangled with the semantics here before. It's a little confusing to someone new to donk, boxes and bubbles... Would be 100% easier it they were all called donks.

Great article Keiron. Moreover great to see the intrigued yet positive reception.

11

Donk/box/bubble are just nicknames for different generation caprice/impalas. Completely unrelated to the big rim scene.

Like calling FC RX7s batmobiles, or 2g imprezas bugeyes

12

The way it was explained to me was those years but no specifically Impalas.

Bamboozled again.

13

I'm definitely not surprised.

14
Dewade Wilson

if you think about it donks aren't that different from gassers in principle so drag racing them sort of makes sense

15

So the 2nd part of the event is an organized closed road version of the old school crew fights and bets.
NICE!!!!!!!

16

This is a very good example of "Never judge a car only by its looks". LOL
I always love looking at expensive supercars getting smoked by those "sleepers" or ones that you won't think that even have any chance of winning.
VERY ENTERTAINING.

17
Jason Bondhus

I love how they are racing without all the numbers. You win or you don't.

18

Thank you for finally bringing this to speedhunters, been waiting for a long time haha. There's been a resurgence of classic 70's donks lately but box chevys will always be the goat imo.

19

I've always said you can make ANYTHING go fast in a straight line. Corvette are track monsters not drag cars. It would be different on a road course. You could give the Donk a half to full lap lead and it would lose. I wouldn't be surprised if a Civic beat the Vette.

20

Am I the only one who thinks the food is probably a-fucking-mazing at these events?

21

This was at PBIR? That is a 1/4 mile track. Did they shorten the finish line specifically for this race? I never knew if this is the case. Awesome coverage and love the representation in my backyard.

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