Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 10, Page

Words by Glen Grissom
Photos by Jeff Burk

and dragging grabs you from the first time you see one of these rails zip down a 300-ft. pass on a clay/dirt or sandy track. How can something move that quick on dirt? I’ve seen ultra-light 410 Sprint cars with amazing power-to-weight ratios hook the ground like they are warping the laws of time by being in one place and then another in a blink on a dirt track. But sand rails are a whole ‘nother internal combustion example: 0—60-ft times in the 1.02—1.06 second range for Top Alcohol dragster cars are proof of that. I talked to sand dragger zealot Frank Martuscelli, who races in this class to get an overview of just what makes this dragging so crazy fast and fun.

there are no rules!

The first exclamation from Frank about the main appeal of sand dragging is, “there are no rules!” Well, there are but mostly common sense prevails among these racers instead of relying upon pages and pages of a rule book. The rules are limited and consequently the politics at the track are muted. Sand draggers are an independent-minded clan just like the original drag racers – and in this day and age of the corporate racer -- these guys and ladies are refreshing and throw-backs.

Frank clearly relishes that he can go to a sand track and race with minimal hassles, have some tough but friendly competition, and learn something in the process from his combination and the various other home-brews that show up. These draggers remind me of the Rat Rod movement in street rods (the anti-rods to the mega-buck rods you see being built on TV), and the punk bands of rock’n’roll (the anti-bands to big corporate rock) – a reaction to the big business drag racing has become. The sand draggers race hard and are determined to have fun doing so.

Clearly, there is an “outlaw” element in this sort of run-what-you-brung mentality – outlaw in the sense that these are racers that are racing mostly for the fun of it and not for money. Plus, there aren’t swarms of tech people looking in every nook and cranny of the cars – although as Frank notes that most of the dragsters are built to NHRA specs, and he wears a HANS device, even though it’s not a requirement. His chassis is by Ted Lirones.

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