Junior Dragster League Jr. Drag Racing League History
When Vince Napp, an NHRA member-track owner with a passion for drag racing, built a half-scale dragster for his kids in 1991, he never dreamed that his invention would launch an exciting new sport for thousands of young people across North America. But, that's exactly what happened. Early in 1992, Napp showed his Jr. Dragster to National Hot Rod Association officials. It was a timely presentation considering the NHRA had already been planning a publication for its younger drag racing fans. The Jr. Dragster became a catalyst for the NHRA to start a whole new league: the Jr. Drag Racing League (JDRL). The Jr. Dragsters were unveiled to the public on July 9, 1992, during the 23rd annual Mopar Parts Nationals at Napp's Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. The capacity crowd witnessed the first Jr. Dragster exhibition race by Jill Caliendo and Napp's son, David.
Two more dragsters were built, and the exhibition tour continued through the remaining 10 NHRA national events of the 1992 season. At each site, an information tent was on display to determine interest and solicit information sign-ups. The response was overwhelmingly positive. NHRA member tracks began adding JDRL programs, and dozens of builders began filling orders for Jr. Dragsters. Racers began competing at local tracks in 1993 as the League grew at an astounding rate. Jr. DRAGSTER, the official publication of the JDRL, debuted in September of that year. In 1994, NHRA sponsored the first Jr. Drag Racing League National Championships at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indianapolis. More than 500 young drivers qualified and participated. Each season, the JDRL continues to achieve new levels of success. Seven years after the first exhibition run, the JDRL has approximately 5,000 members, 4,000 of which compete at more than 130 tracks across the country. The NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern and Western Conference Finals are the premier events of the JDRL season, awarding more than $1 million in scholarships since 1994.
Fast Facts Jr. Dragsters are half-scale dragsters powered by five horsepower Briggs & Stratton engines that produce speeds up to 85 mph.
The NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League (JDRL) competes on an eighth-mile distance. NHRA national events are contested over a quarter-mile.
Founded in 1992, the JDRL has approximately 5,000 members, of which about 4,000 are drivers.
Anyone can join in the JDRL, but kids must be ages 8-17 to compete as drivers.
Drivers age 8-9 may run as quick as 12.90 seconds (about 45 mph) on the eighth-mile. Drivers 13-17 may run as quick as 7.90 seconds.
About 25 percent of JDRL members are female.
About 130 tracks in North America have JDRL programs.
A basic Jr. Dragster cost about $3,000. The helmet, clothing and other equipment are additional.
It cost $15 per year to join the JDRL ($24 for drivers), which includes a year's subscription to Jr. DRAGSTER (six issues).
The average age of a Jr. drag racer is 12 years old.
The states with the most competitors are California, Texas and Florida.
The 2000 JDRL season will culminate in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern and Western Conference Finals; $100,000 in college scholarships will be given away at each.
Competitors at the JDRL Eastern and Western Conference Finals are split into eight age categories (8-9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-17).
The JDRL is one of two National Hot Rod Association youth programs. Youth & Education Services is the other program.
Q: How old do I have to be to join the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League? A: Jr. Drag Racing League membership is open to anyone, but you must be 8-17 years old to drive a Jr. Dragster.
Q: How much does it cost to join? A: The membership fee is just $15 for an entire year. You'll receive a one-year subscription to the Jr. DRAGSTER newsletter plus a rulebook and a membership kit filled with cool League stuff. If you want to race, there is an addtional $10 participant fee for a total of $25 per year. To join, have a parent call 626.250.2399, or visit http://www.nhra.com and print out a membership application.
Q: Where can I race? A: About 130 NHRA Member Tracks nationwide have Jr. Drag Racing League programs. All are listed in National DRAGSTER's and Jr. DRAGSTER's Track Directory.
Q: How much does it cost? A: A ready-to-race car from one of many reputable chassis builders will cost anywhere from $3,000-$5,000. Some builders have kits available, and depending on how much work you and a family member or friend can do, it could reduce the building cost by as much as half. Other cost include manditory safety gear, a trailer, entry fees, and maintenance. Many Jr. racers het sponsors, just like the "big guys," to help pa for their racing cost. For information to help with your sponsorship earch, call NHRA Field Services at 626.914.4761, ext. 228.
Q: What kind of engine does a Jr. Dragster use? A: All Jr. Dragsters are required to use the same basic five-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine. The engine can be used in stock form or be modified to go quiker. The Briggs & Stratton engine is used because it is strong, dependable, and affordable.
Q: Where do I get the fuel and parts for a Jr. Dragster? A: Parts are available just about everywhere aross the country at Briggs & Stratton service centers, go-kart speed shops, and through mail-order companies. Many parts suppliers and chassis builders advertise in Jr. DRAGSTER . Stock Jr. Dragsters use pump gasoline for fuel, bust most engines are modified to burn alcohol (methanol) for quicker times.
Q: What do I need to be ready to race? A: Before you can drive a Jr. Dragster at an NHRA member track, you must have a JDRL Perticipant card (that's the $10 perticipant fee). Safety is a priority: NHRA requires every recer to wear an accepted helmet, neck collar, arm restraints, driver restraint system (seat belts), protective clothing, and gloves.