For those of you who haven't lived the import drag racing in its "glory days," here's a brief re-cap: It was big. Really big. The quickness (E.T.) and speed (MPH) with which turbocharged in-line fours and sixes (and later, all-motor variants) toppled the traditional V-8-powered champs of drag racing shocked the status quo so much that big-money sponsors and sanctioning bodies shelled out millions to be a part of the action. The cars grew faster, the events bigger, and unheard of racers' names became household as their Japanese cars broke the 10-, 9-, 8-, 7-, and 6-second barriers for the first time in history. But as quickly as the glory came, it went.
Big investment in top-tier Pro-class racers let their cars become the fastest, overshadowing the grassroots Sportsman classes and keeping competition reserved for a small corporate/factory-backed few. Once the check-writers grew bored with the scene and left, sanctioning bodies either followed suit, folded, or faded away, and the racers were left without a race. But today things are different. Today's racers do it all themselves; organizing events online, ponying up huge entry fees to pool into winnings, and sparking enough drama to pull a crowd in the process. And they're getting faster than anyone could've imagined.
This month, 2NR contributor Ben Howard-better known as "Stunnaben" [BH]-and greasyblocks.com sit down with an OG of the import drag and online communities to discuss one of the largest privately organized import drag events running. Let us present Julian Bowen, of NYCE1s.com [JB].
[BH]: First off, when the all-motor and sport front-wheel-drive (SFWD, a turbo class) guys lined up, people were going crazy-and they're not even the fastest guys out there. Why is that? Tell me about being on the line when they were running.
[JB]: Many people don't know that I'm an original all-motor head. I still own a '92 Civic SI hatchback that was an all-motor car back in late 2001 and 2002. To see the class evolve and be able to witness how close that field was is incredible. You absolutely had no idea who would actually win until the very end-it came down to driving in most cases. The bump spot was 10.8, I believe, meaning that in order to make it into the field for eliminations you had to run at least a 10.8-second E.T.-just last year most people weren't running anywhere near that quick.
And for SFWD, once again, there were so many competitors and the cars were all running strong. These drivers and teams were on their A game and everyone appreciates that. Competition gets the fans standing in the bleachers, not always the cars, and nowadays the people who come to the events are fully dedicated to the scene. It was really powerful to see spectators who were that enthusiastic about racing! I was filming, but also caught myself getting caught up in the action and not looking through the camera. [laughs]
It looks like the track was perfect by the results. Tell us about the weather and track conditions this weekend.
I've been going to the Fall Nationals since 2000. The weather this time of the year is usually the best you can have for racing-nice and cool. The weather for the entire weekend was this year was in the 70-75 degree range-hotter than ideal, especially for the turbo cars. Still, numerous cars either broke world records or ran their personal best E.T.s.
You are talking about Alan Jimenez from Dynamic Performance. They ran 9.1 and then 9.0 in SFWD trim, but I feel as though they never receive the credit they deserve. They've had two cars in SFWD running mid to low 9s on a consistent basis at the same time. We did a video for them showcasing those cars last year, which was basically about six minutes of 9-second passes. And this was the edited version. When I compiled all of their good passes, they had about 12-13 minutes worth of back-to-back 9-second passes at various events and tracks. Those guys don't stop, and once they get a little faster, they'll dominate on sheer reliability alone.
Are you disappointed in mainstream import drag racing support in 2010, considering the number of records that have been set?
This has always been true. The people who are truly into this are die-hard and will support each other no matter what. All the shit-talking, all the drama you hear going on between the fastest guys only makes each one come out stronger at the next event-it's definitely a good thing in the long run. Each event is bigger and more competitive than the last. We're grooming the next age of import racers; the demographic that tunes in to our videos is getting younger. When we started these online videos, the people watching were mostly in the 25-34 age group. That's changed to where most of our videos are being watched by people 18-24 years of age. We have multiple YouTube channels, and our main Nyce1s channel was receiving about 100,000 views a month a little over a year ago. Now, it's receiving 150,000+ views per week, and a lot of the shops up here in the Northeast haven't felt the recession at all. This shit is coming back strong.
Saturday is always a decent day at Englishtown. However, Sunday is the day that everyone comes out. People come out in crews and with the entire family for the show. They know that Sunday is the day when either you bring out your best or you're going home. That's what I love about our crowd; you see people in the stands putting up money all day long. I know a buddy that made about $270 bucks on Sunday taking bets in the stands. He said he studied most of our videos that week so he could come out on top. I should hit him up for a cut!
You guys were filming on stage, basically-right at the line. In your opinion, who were crowd favorites in each class?
It's hard to determine the crowd favorites when you are actually on the track. However, I can tell you that I heard some of the loudest cheers were for Tony Palo and when Miller laid down that 8.43, along with Pepsi's record-breaking 10.1 all-motor run. Those runs meant a lot to an enormous amount of people and showed that these guys are pushing the envelope and are only going to get faster as time goes on.
The Quick 32 class was one of the best I have ever seen. There were so many 7-second cars and guys dipping into the 6-second range. Quite a few domestic guys asked me if the Quick 32 Class cars were all V-8s, but in reality you had Puerto Rican racers like Lozcano running 6.65 @ 213 with a VQ-powered 350Z, or Fabiola who's hitting low, low 7s with a 13B-powered RX-7. Sick.
Tell me some behind-the-scenes moments from this weekend.
For me, it was kicking it with Yosolo's Crew and Jerry Built-two heavy hitters in the all-motor game, Jerry from the West Coast and Yosolo from the East Coast. The funny thing is that Jerry spent most of his days here with the Yosolo camp. They helped each other with their cars and ended up facing each other in the Finals. That kind of dedication to competition is what will ultimately take us to the next level in racing.