MAGAZINE: Junior Achievements

    Jr. Dragsters have proven to be a great tool in developing the future of the NHRA. (Harry Cella Photo)

    Editor’s Note: Jr. Dragster race cars have trained some of the sport’s biggest stars. These miniature versions of dragsters are becoming more and more popular. Learn more in this excerpt from the September issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.

    Jr. Dragsters have proven to be a great tool in developing the future of the NHRA. (Harry Cella Photo)
    Jr. Dragsters have proven to be a great tool in developing the future of the NHRA. (Harry Cella Photo)

    Despite the opportunities and the success stories, Jr. Dragster racing is like any other children’s sport — some kids are in it for the ultimate goal, others are in it just for the fun. Of the kids who compete in the series — which hovers between 3,000 and 5,000, depending on the economy — Lotz says about half of them graduate to some other form of racing, whether it be as a hobby or a career.

    “I think it’s every kid’s dream to grow up and be a professional driver, or to have a career in the sport you love,” Lotz said. “Whether it’s Jr. Drag Racing League, baseball, soccer or anything else.

    “You’ll have some kids who have been in it for a number of years who are very competitive and the parents are as well,” he continued. “They’re very focused and they’re there to race. At the same time, you’ll see a number of families who are there to have fun and spend time with each other.”

    For any child, whether they’re vying for a racing career or not, the initial investment into Jr. Dragster competition is fairly hefty. For that reason, it took defending Top Fuel champion Antron Brown about a year to come around after his middle son, Anson Brown, first showed interest in doing it.

    “When I knew he was really ready to do it was when I came into his room and he was on the computer,” Brown said. “He was watching all of the people racing Jr. Dragsters on YouTube.

    “All of the big-name kids who were winning championships and winning out there, he knew them by name and told me what they were doing, how they were doing it and what makes this kid good,” Brown added. “He started dissecting and picking them apart, analyzing them like how a football player or basketball player watches film on another team.”

    That, Brown said, was when “daddy finally broke down and saw how passionate he was.” Brown said the investment was around $7,000 to get started, but his son proved it was money well spent when he won a championship in his first year of competition.

    The rest of Brown’s children have since joined the league and it’s something he wishes was around when he was a young dirt-bike and motocross racer. Just like his kids, Brown believes all of the Jr. Dragster racers “love to compete.”

    “They love to win but they hate to lose,” Brown said. “But I told them that (losing) teaches them a very good deal of life lessons because they learn how to accept that they’re not going to win every time. Not every kid is going to get a trophy every weekend.”

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