Rarely in the world of motorsports, especially in drag racing does someone come along that has the ability to change everything that we have known for decades. We are fast approaching a full decade of DuckXProductions events, and yet again, Donald Long is changing the game.
Let’s take a step back in time though. Rewind yourself back to the mid 90’s all the way to the mid to late 00’s. There were amazing races, there were great series’, and we got to see absolute legends racing. The issues were many though, including the politics of the “Buddy Club” in organizations and classes. So, what you had were rules designed to help a single person or limited group. This behavior leads to promoters and organizations alienating other racers by making sure they were always keeping certain people happy.
Even though drag radial dates back to the 90’s, it started picking up more steam in the early 00’s, with both FFW (Fun Ford Weekend) and NMRA having a radial-style class. For some time though, they were considered a side class from the other class like Super Street Outlaw and Pro 5.0 classes. Big tire slick cars, along with the 10.5” freak show were the classes that everyone was following and those are the classes that the fans wanted to see.
Once we start getting into the later 00’s and the recession hit everyone in the industry, it really was time for a change. The classes like Pro 5.0, Pro Street, and Outlaw 10.5 were falling by the wayside quicker than any of us anticipated. Of course, there was Pro Mod, that was a show, a great one, but one that didn’t related to some fans and drivers. This is where everything changed.
Donald long had noticed that in Florida and other places, radials were getting pushed into the weeds, literally. There still was a great lack of respect for the radial players. Before Donald came onto the scene, radial tires parked wherever they got stuck, and guaranteed purses, with the exception of larger series, and a couple of promoters was something that never happened. Something needed to change and Donald was the person to change it. No longer were radial cars going to be pitted at the boards, and there was not going to be purse cutting or car count based purses. The money was going to be guaranteed.
Donald held his first events in Florida, before moving to what is now considered by most the mecca of drag radial racing, South Georgia Motorsports Park. This movement wasn’t an overnight success by any means though. I know because I was there in the stands watching in February of 2010, which was only the second time that Donald held an event there, and the stands certainly were not packed like we see today. You could still go on Thursday and still get in. Back then there were classes like Boost vs. No Boost, and stars like David Wolfe resetting records. This time though, it was all about the radial cars. Donald didn’t care whether 10.5 cars came, or anything else. He was changing how everything in drag racing was done.
Back in the day we had things like arm wrestling matches between Caps Lock Kevin and anyone that would step up. Donald wasn’t one to leave the kids out either. We got to see the kids have big wheel races for cash money. He really was putting on a family event. The more we saw Donald progress, the more this became an event, a must attend event. During the 2000’s, before Donald’s event came to fruition, there were really only 3 must-attend events in my mind. We have Orlando’s World Street Nationals, Dave Hance’s Shakedown at Etown, and World Ford Challenge. Donald’s event was different though. It was just for the drag racers, it was for their entire family. There was something for everyone.
People are always going to say that there were times when Donald stepping well over the bounds of good taste, and maybe you are right and maybe not. That is for each of you individually to determine. What I can tell you, as someone who also has little to no filter, there have been times when Donald has even shocked me. Didn’t matter if he shocked or not, people were still waiting at the gates to get a great spot. We were seeing upwards of 70+ heads up cars in a single class, and instead of sending people home, Donald decided that it was time for a second chance class as well. Second chances races were something that usually happened only in bracket classes, not in top line heads up classes, but when you have 60-80 cars show up, something had to be done, and luckily Donald knew exactly what to do. It’s another thing that has been adopted by other promoters as well.
So what can you do when you’ve changed the entire face of door car drag racing, promoting, payouts, shutting down interstate ramps and just about everything else that no one would have ever dreamed up? You take it to a whole other level and do something that leave jaws on the floor, along with engine and chassis builders scrambling. For the first time ever, we are going to see a radial racer awarded more than $100,000.00 for the win. Another first is a limited engagement spectator count.
In March of 2018 at South Georgia Motorsports Park, Donald has announced that he is going to have the largest payout, yet again, in the drag radial world. Donald announced that in March, he will host a one class 16 car shootout for $101,000.00 first place finish. Not only was this a huge announcement, but he stated that he will limit the attendance to a very limited engagement 500 people. Unlike concert performers that hold a limited engagement event, Donald isn't even planning on raising the prices. He has stated that the ticket for this one off event is going to be about the same as his current VIP passes that he sells for his Lights Out and No Mercy events.
Not only is this another shot in the arm to drag racing, which honestly, we need, it’s also a shot to all the promoters in the industry. If we are going to continue to have more than just a drag race, if we are going to have events, you are going to have to start stepping it up! Leave it to Donald Long, his better half Stephanie Sapp, Mama and Dad Duck, along with his crew Lenco Jim, Billy Driscoll, Kay Blevins, and others to completely change the face of drag racing yet again. Time will tell what Donald does and everyone follows. The real question is whether anyone in drag racing can compete with Donald or whether he continues to be on the next level by himself.