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Young Keaton Hudson Reigns Supreme at 2021 IHRA World Finals

Wednesday, 03 November 2021

Keaton Hudson fulfilled a dream by becoming the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Junior Dragster World Champion at the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals on Oct. 16 at Memphis International Raceway.

Hudson, a 17-year-old from Mt. Airy, N.C., has been driving since he was nine.

“It definitely was surreal,” said Hudson, who represented Elk Creek Dragway. “I was extremely blessed to be there. Everybody that I talked to was phenomenal. You couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. I was just grateful to be there, and the win was the cherry on top. Being there was the goal and the win felt like an extra prize.”

A high school student, Hudson is studying to become a mechanical engineer. At first, he had a fear of driving a race car. Thanks to a friend of his, he was able to overcome the fear and hasn’t looked back since.

Hudson drives a 2016 East Coast Performance dragster with a 3 1/2-inch single-cylinder motor. Powered by Rhino, the car was built for racing. Elk Creek Dragway became the perfect home for the car and Hudson, who turned it into a true family affair.

“Elk Creek is my family track,” Hudson said. “My cousins race there, and we all race together. Over the past few years, Elk Creek’s junior division competition has gotten better compared to when I first started. Honestly, it is the best compared to anywhere I’ve been. The track and the junior division have helped me prepare and hone my skills. Seeing the competition helps prepare you for the World Finals at a place like Memphis International Raceway.”


He made it through the tough elimination rounds at the IHRA Summit SuperSeries World Finals. Facing Little River Dragway’s Chance Thurman in the final round, Hudson went down the track in 7.735 seconds at 80.94 mph against a 7.67 dial-in. While the elimination rounds are a blur, his memory of the final round is crystal clear.

“The final round is of course ingrained in my mind,” Hudson went on to say. “I just remember in the final round pulling into the water box and trying to calm my nerves before actually staging. I knew it was going to take a good run to win. After I was able to calm myself and focus on what I needed to do, I was able to handle the race.”

Even at such a young age, Hudson doesn’t crumble under pressure. He thinks it is mind over matter, worrying about experience over age. Hudson believes as long as you put in the work, results will follow.

As far as what is next for Hudson, he hopes to transition from juniors to door cars. He wants to remain competitive, but he doesn’t want to put any pressure on himself to win another world championship.

“I’m not sure what my goals are past junior, but I know I will try the best that I can,” said Hudson.

Hudson appreciates all that drag racing has to offer. Overcoming a fear of driving at such a young age, he believes anything is possible. As the younger generation continues to develop, Hudson wants to make sure they are ready for whatever comes their way.

“Do not give up on your goals,” Hudson offered to anyone interested in racing. “At such a young age it is very difficult to win. If you are not winning, it may not seem that fun. Experience, however, brings a lot of success. If you aren’t doing it, I recommend giving it a shot. Over the years, drag racing has drawn me closer to family, we’ve met new friends, and I’ve traveled and have seen the world.

“It has been a great experience for me over the past eight years and I would highly suggest it.”

Last modified on Thursday, 04 November 2021

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