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Classic Car Movement Leads to Growth at Eastbound Dragway

Thursday, 24 June 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Eastbound Dragway opened for the season last week and promoter Mike James is already encouraged how drag racing is growing in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

There were new faces at the 1/8-mile drag strip, which is part of a 55-acre motorsport park and entertainment facility. Also home to a 3/8-mile NASCAR-sanctioned oval track, Eastbound recently renewed its sanctioning agreement with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA).

 Eastbound logo

The track’s first three-day weekend of the season starts Friday. Although several of the regular competitors are still idle, James sees Eastbound thriving once all the COVID restrictions are lifted in that part of Canada. After all, it is home to a strong and diverse car culture.

“The classic car movement is so strong. A lot of people have taken care of cars like Chevelles, the Boss-body Mustangs and older stuff,” James said. “When you come to see an IHRA event at Eastbound, we don’t have a lot of dragsters. We have a lot of Pro Mod, Pro Street cars from an El Camino to a 1996 Dodge Avenger with a 640 cubic-inch engine. It’s a wild piece. I know IHRA Director Jon O’Neal says it’s one of his favorite stops because of the uniqueness of the fields.”

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The opening weekend featured a 1992 Integra converted into an all-wheel drive machine that runs in the six-second range. It’s one of only three in the world converted to an all-wheel drive system.

The IHRA Summit SuperSeries works perfectly with the racing program, although Eastbound often goes old-school to first introduce competitors to bracket racing.

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“We get a lot of people first involved in bracket racing through the Gambler’s style that has been around forever,” James said. “It’s a great way to introduce new guys into bracket racing from the heads-up stuff. We’re seeing bigger fields in our Gambler’s races on Saturdays and we run the IHRA Summit SuperSeries as part of our Thunder Series. That’s our Box, No Box and Street Pro series.”

James has a true passion for the sport. He started in racing 21 years ago after being an engineer at a university. He worked with Formula cars before getting involved with Monster Trucks where he toured all over North America and the Middle East.

When he moved back home in 2009, he became involved with the Eastbound project. Drag racing quickly became a big part of his life and he serves as a public address announcer for both the IHRA and NASCAR tracks. 

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He credits his passion for drag racing to a 2015 trip to the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphis International Raceway. 

“We took a 10-year-old, Darien Legge, the first autistic child to compete. He came in second place in the World Juniors,” James recalled. “That really set my sights on drag racing and what we could do. The last 3-4 years, we’re seeing so many people come in. We’re seeing tuners with the muscle cars convert them into full-fledged race cars. It’s great to see drag racing expand on the island. I’ve been involved in it for 21 years and I see myself involved in it until the day I die.” 

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Click here to visit the Eastbound Dragway website for news, schedules and more information.

Last modified on Thursday, 24 June 2021
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