If you haven’t seen a Jr. Dragster, then you haven’t seen the future of NHRA drag racing. The NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League offers kids ages 5-17 a chance to race half-scale dragsters in a controlled environment at many of NHRA’s 140 member tracks throughout the United States and in Canada long before they can obtain a state driver’s license.
The cars that Jr. Drag Racing League competitors race are called Jr. Dragsters and are half-scale versions of Top Fuel dragsters. Using a five-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, a Jr. Dragster can go as fast as 85 mph and as quick as 7.90 seconds in an eighth-mile.
Competition in the Jr. Drag Racing League is equalized by a handicapped starting system, and classes are usually split into age groups, which helps keep racers of the same skill level together. This division of NHRA is designed to help build the ranks of tomorrow’s stars while providing a fun family activity. And if you think that Jr. drag racing is just for the boys, think again. Of the Jr. Drag Racing League’s roughly 4,500 members, a quarter are girls. How’s that for girl power?
Many of NHRA’s 140 member tracks offer weekly Jr. Drag Racing League programs where kids can race to earn points toward track championships in their age group. The points leaders in each class are then chosen to represent their track at the NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals in Bristol, Tenn., or Western Conference Finals in Denver, Colo., depending on the location of the track.
More than 1,000 kids compete for individual and team honors at the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern and Western Conference Finals, and more than $100,000 in savings bonds are given away at each event.