Good old heads-up racing with some cash bets involved – that’s how you make a day at the drag strip exciting.
When quarter mile drag racing first started out, it used to be all about who crossed the line first. But over time many race meetings began to run a timed-only format, where it doesn’t matter who crosses the line first. Although this format lets competitors simply focus on running their best ETs and not have to worry about crossing the line before the other racer, from a spectator perspective it’s far less exciting.
The guys from South Africa’s 011 Street Society run a drag racing ‘association’ – if you can call it that – but it’s actually more just like a brotherhood of like-minded people. They started out hosting street race themed events, but in a controlled, closed-off environment. Well, it was a private backroad that they used, but eventually this location became an active road, so they had to move their events to a proper racetrack instead.
Cash Days Round 1, held a few weeks back at Midvaal Raceway, was 011 Street Society’s first big meet for 2019, and it turned out to be one of the most action-packed drag racing events I’d been to in recent times.
The day started early with racers showing up in large numbers from sunrise, and spectators being allowed in from 8:00am.
There was a lot of hype in the lead up to this event, so entries came in pretty quickly, with quite a few challenges set between competitors and their cars as well. The event included classes for bikes, FWD slicks and FWD street, as well as the same for RWD, and of course an Outlaw class for the real crazy stuff.
This is a pure heads-up elimination event, meaning that each time a race took place, the winner moved on and the loser was out. It was also a no-prep event, something that thanks to Discovery’s Street Outlaws has really gained popularity here in South Africa – and many other places around the world, too – over the last few years.
Like the name suggests, there’s no grip-enhancing track preparation done prior to event. This makes the racing more dangerous – especially for the high-powered machinery – but also a lot more interesting.
A wide variety of vehicles took to the strip for Cash Days Round 1, everything from VW Citi Golfs to 2JZ-powered Hiluxes and a few quick Opel Kadett Superbosses, as well multiple Ford Escorts and even a 13B rotary-powered Morris.
I also spotted a previously seen Fiat X1/9 running a Honda turbo motor, which I really need to take a closer at some time in the future.
Practice sessions ran until lunch, at which time the drivers meeting was held and things got more serious.
It was now all on the line; boost was turned up and launches were harder. A few people were shown who’s the boss, either because the other car was faster, they were out-launched, or simply because they were caught sleeping on the line.
The cash betting wasn’t just between the racers; the spectators could join in as well and it got pretty interesting when the popular cars rolled up to the line. Some of the races would be a sure win, but there were quite a few surprises, too.
One car that I’m really looking forward to seeing running properly in the future is this E36 BMW. It was built for a young racer named Leeshan Naidoo, who sadly passed away due to sickness before the car was completed. It’s now being raced as a tribute to Leeshan, and on the day was just doing some shakedown passes.
As you can see though, it’s a pretty radical build that should be posting some blistering times soon.
You can always be guaranteed to see some crazy engine bays at a race day like this, and of course there were no shortage of 2JZ setups. A couple of standouts included an Opel C20XE running quad throttle bodies, and a Nissan 1400 truck that had its stock motor upgraded and turbocharged. Yes, there are much easier ways to make power, but the Nissan was pretty damn quick, so well done to the owner for doing something out of the ordinary.
This back-to-basics drag racing is definitely a breath of fresh air, and judging by how big the crowd at the event was and how excited all the racers were, you can clearly see that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Now, hit play above for a quick video of the action.Cutting Room Floor