Northern Wilds Magazine
The Duluth Drag Races allows “illegal” drag racing in the middle of the city. | SUBMITTED
Along the Shore

Revving up for Duluth Drag Races

What comes to mind when picturing a drag race? Maybe you think of Grease Lightning and racing for the “pink slip ownership papers.” Or maybe you aren’t like a certain freelance writer. Good for you. Do you like the rush of watching cars screeching and the crowd going wild for their favorite driver? The Duluth Drag Races and Car Show, happening on Sept. 7-8, might be just what you’re looking for.

“This is not just a drag race,” said Ryan Kern of Kern and Kompany Special Events. “This is also a very cool car show. People will often bring their unique collector cars to be entered into the car show and then have their ticket to get into the drag races. It really is an affordable family event to check out the cars and the races together.”

“It was our first time at this event,” said Mike Qualley in a Facebook review of last year’s event. “I drive The Mutt, a 1951 Ford F1 old pickup. The staff was great, they did a great job with running the show. The staff made us feel welcome from the moment we first pulled in till we made our way to the winners circle. We are looking forward to next year and must say the fans were awesome, too. Thanks to everyone, we had a great time.”

The car show is great, but the drag races are a whole other ball game. The event is unique in that it’s the only one in the U.S. that allows for “illegal” drag racing in the middle of the city. The City of Duluth makes a stretch of road (1/8 of a mile on Garfield Avenue) legal for two days specifically for the event. Drivers register for a lottery and about 20 minutes later, the lottery closes. There’s no guarantee that the drivers make it into the event.

“I wouldn’t say we usually have any specific number, but if I had to say, probably around 120 drivers will be in this year’s event,” said Kern.

Every year the event has grown. It has sold out the past few years; last year attracting around 7,500 people. Originally, Kern and Kompany created the event 12 years ago, but the process of starting the event took time.

“We do 18 events a year,” said Kern. “We don’t do cookie-cutter, so this took some time to plan. We needed city council approval to make things legal and we needed a safety plan in place.”

Safety is key. All of the drivers are approved veteran drivers.

The event is just a different kind of event in general.

“Most people around here [Duluth] don’t go to pro-tracks regularly. It’s just a cool atmosphere, to feel the burn out, smell the smoke, it’s immersive,” said Kern.

Anyone interested in attending the Duluth Drag Races and Car Show should visit:

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