Florida Hotbed of Drag Racing Activity in Early 2024
Drag Racing Online
Images: Geoff Sculley and Phil Hutchison and courtesy NHRA and Drag Illustrated
Florida has become the epicenter of the drag racing world with what seems like nonstop events taking place once the “normal” drag racing season ends.
It started with the Snowbird Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park in December then took a little time off for the holidays but come January racing returns for good in the Sunshine State.
Bradenton continues to lead the way with the first NHRA points race scheduled for January 20 with the annual US Street Nationals with the nation’s best Pro Mods on its heels January 25.
The end of January and the beginning of February brings Sick Week 2024 to the area with four tracks involved with what has become one of the wildest events of the year.
Over 300 cars of America’s quickest street cars descend on sunny Florida from January 28 to February 2 for a week of drag-and-drive competition. Racers set an average time at each drag strip across the week to determine their place and must drive their cars between each track along a pre-determined route. Along the way, they will socialize, party and cruise with hundreds of other high horsepower participants.
Racing starts at Orlando Speed World, continues to Bradenton, then to Gainesville Raceway, then north to South Georgia Motorsports Park and concludes at Orlando for day 5.
After Sick Week, racing returns to Bradenton for the first annual Scag Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout February 8-10 with 40 plus professional drag racing teams slated for competition across Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock, as well as a plethora of the sport’s most competitive sportsman drivers on deck. The SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage represents an opportunity for racers to compete for historic prize money paying $250,000 to the winner in Funny Car and Top Fuel.
Things really pick up in March with the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod taking place at Bradenton March 1-3. The event will feature a huge field of Pro Mod cars along with Mountain Motor Pro Stock, Factory Stock and Top Dragster along with XFWD.
Up the road at Gainesville the NHRA starts their “Speed Week” with the Baby Gators for the Lucas Oil Sportsman the same weekend followed by Test n Tune for the Pro cars leading up to the big event, the 55th annual NHRA Gatornationals.
Inbetween the “Baby” Gators and its big brother, the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals, the annual DRAW (Drag Racing Association of Women) Tracy Winters Memorial Golf Tournament at Ironwood Golf Course in Gainesville.
Later that night, what has become a “Must Go To” event, the Burnyzz Fanfest and Car Show in nearby Ocala. The night, hosted by Top Fuel racer Josh Hart, includes NHRA driver autograph session, custom cars, live music, and food trucks.
And if that wasn’t enough, the next day after qualifying is over for the day, the 2024 International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Ceremony hosted by “Big Daddy” Don Garlits takes place at the Hilton Conference Center in downtown Gainesville.
The 2024 inductees into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame are Pat Austin, Walt Austin, Walt Barbin, Joe Gibbs, Pamela Hardy, Garth Hogan (New Zealand), Scott Kalitta, Rickie Smith and Gary Southern.
But back to the Gators, the NHRA promises an exciting Gators for 2024 with special awards going to the winners including a unique “Golden Gator” trophy awarded to the winners. The event, that at one time was the third race on the NHRA series, has taken front and center with the event being the first of 21 events held in the US. A full house of fans is expected to attend to catch what has become one of the premier events on the NHRA tour.