Races allow foes to settle grudges

Most of us have been there at some point. You're sitting at a red light and you glance over at the car next to you. You notice the driver of that car glancing back at you and you think about it. You want to race.


Regardless of the fact that you're driving a 1998 Mercury Sable, you rev up your 4-cylinder engine and prepare to duel. The light turns green. You take off and before you reach the speed limit, you look into your rear-view mirror only to find out your adversary has turned off into the grocery store parking lot.

For those who find themselves longing for the thrill of street racing but without the legal ramifications of racing on roads, there is grudge racing at Carolina Dragway.

Grudge races are non-sanctioned duel races between any two competitors who wish to challenge one another. Motivations for matchups include anywhere from friendly wagers to bitter rivalries.

Each Thursday and most Saturdays, people head to the Jackson, S.C., track with their vehicles of all shapes and sizes to race in these events. There is no required modification to cars that race. The only requirement is that the drivers have a license and a helmet.

Although the majority of the cars brought to the dragway have racing reputations, some unusual machines have arrived to race.

"I've seen anything from dune buggies to the wife's minivan," said Jeff Miles, Carolina Dragway vice president. "People come up with some weird concoctions. I've even seen a minivan with a jet engine in it."

Carolina Dragway has been around since 1957 and plays host to other popular events such as Thunder Jam, formerly known as Night of Fire.

But the grudge races are what continue to draw the spectators and competitors.

"It's an adrenaline rush," says Augusta resident Willie "Dog" Watson, who's been grudge racing for more than 25 years.

The weekly grudge races allow drivers to show off their talent.

GrudgeFest offers those same drivers the chance to race with national and international racers.

The event, held this year on July 12, has been known to feature drivers from Australia, Canada and Dubai.

"Stock car racing is by far the most popular there is, but drag racing is on the way up because of the ticket prices," Miles said. "The absolute cheapest ticket for a NASCAR race is $50, while for just $10-12 you can go to a drag race."

Reach Joey Jones at (706) 724-0851 or christopher.jones@augustachronicle.com.



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