Who would have thought that a bunch of teenagers racing in the rural area in the postwar times of the 1940s would eventually turn into one of the biggest sports in the world? Drag racing. That’s right, the thrilling, adventurous sport that we love today dates back its origin many many years ago when it was seen as simply a ‘fun’ activity by the youth to pass the time. now, however, not only is it a world-recognized sport, it also makes billions of dollars every year in revenue. So let’s have a quick insight into the history of drag racing.
The story of drag racing began when ambitious and thrill-loving youth showcased their rebuilt cars in a race form that consisted of two cars racing an equal distance to see which car came first. A typical distance was that of a quarter of a mile because it was the easiest distance to measure as a straight road in a rural area; and also, most of the refurbished old cars could go up to a 100mph over the distance of a quarter mile.
This sport caught the attention of mass reaching novels, such as the Hot Rod, which glamorized the thrill of fast speed and thus promoted drag racing as an exciting adventure for the youth- although it did warn people of the consequences of speed driving as dangerous and even life-threatening, the youth continued to be fascinated and pulled towards this sport.
The first ‘legal’ car racing platforms were seen in the 1950s, which investors putting up a show for a decent amount of audience. The initial arrangements were very basic, with two asphalt lanes measuring about half a mile, some bleachers for the audience to sit on, and advertisement regarding the timing and venue of the show. The law enforcing authorities saw this as a pleasing step because it gave drivers a legal and safe route to race on, rather than risking their lives on unrecognized terrains. A large number of people flooded in with their cars and mechanics side by side, proudly standing next to their work of art. Since this event was timed on a weekly basis, those who were unable to perform well on a race went home and worked harder on their cars until they won- this acted as a perfecting mechanism for all the race cars in the show. The audience consisted of speed-fanatics who dreamed of winning the race one day themselves.
Then came the time when the races were divided into two distinct categories: one for amateur drivers who had modified their cars, and second for purpose-built specialized racing cars. Because the racing-fever got to everyone, many car companies like Ford invested in special racing cars that they then extracted large profits from. This era started the final stage of drag racing which we see today.
As more and more car companies began stepping into this niche, drivers and mechanics too started to specialize in this field; leading to the present day phenomena we know as drag-racing.