For the past decade or so Donald Long and his crew have been taking us on a journey of sorts. Every year there is something bigger and badder than the previous time. It appears that 2019 will accomplish that feat yet again.
Year after year, we in the motorsports industry ask ourselves “What’s Next” when it comes to Donald Long and DuckXProductions. From the beginning Donald set up to make sure that radial tire racers were taken seriously and put front & center at the race track. It wasn’t that Donald invited radial racing, though he may tell you he did, the fact is that Donald took a niche thing within the drag racing community and completely blew it up.
Years before Donald started holding radial races, there were radial classes in NMCA and FFW that could not sustain themselves. For years though, NMRA was the place to go with a radial tired Mustang to compete. There were pioneers of the sport that raced radial a long time ago as well. I can’t begin to start listing all the names because I am sure to forget someone.
During the late 00’s there was a dramatic downturn in the economy, and of course drag racing took a huge hit from that. This isn’t, for the most part, and industry that drivers are getting pad to be out there. Series like FFW, NMCA, NMRA, Super Chevy, etc. were not exactly having banner years in the late 00’s. The decade was based a lot on once a year type races. Races like World Ford Challenge, Shakedown at E Town, World Street Nationals, Snowbirds, U.S. Street Nationals, etc. These were destinations that you took the family to as a vacation. Then came Donald Long, and the game was about to be changed forever.
The ever outspoken, brash, over the top character that is Donald Long steps onto the scene during a time that a lot of us weren’t sure what the future of drag racing outside the NHRA was going to look like. Pro Mod was killing it over in the ADRL, and 10.5 still seemed strong at the beginning on Donald’s days, but other than that, there really wasn’t much. ORSCA was a staple in the south, NMRA had great racing, but by 2010 attendance seemed to dwindle in some classes.
Donald brought along with him an outlandishness that hadn’t been seen before. He was going to say exactly what was on his mind and didn’t give a damn who he pissed off in the process. To say that he was going to last was not something anyone at the time would have felt comfortable betting on. If you look back to the stand in Georgia during the February 2010 event, you will see that there was still plenty of room to find a seat. That certainly didn’t push Donald away from making the most out of it. He would scream at the top of his lungs about how great he was and how amazing radial tires were.
There has always been two schools of thought on this. If you have to tell someone how great you are, then you aren’t that damn great. Now, on the flip side of that, you have athletes like Muhammad Ali who openly told the world how great they were, and in fact had the ability to back it up. Donald certainly fell into the latter category. He would tell anyone that would listen, he is the best there is and his race is the one that you should spend you money going to.
By this time, we had already started to lose races like WFC because of piss poor promoting and racers getting screwed over. We were seeing purses get cut because the promoter couldn’t get cars to show up after telling people they were going to pay a certain amount. This was another thing that Donald played a hand in addressing over the years. No longer were promoters going to be able to rely on racers to pay their purses. Donald started to guarantee the purse money no matter how many racers rolled through the gates. It was yet another game changer in drag racing.
Culmination, as some would refer to it as, I believe happened in February of 2016 during Lights Out 7. This was the race that people will be talking about for another 50 years. It was the Woodstock of drag racing. Fire Marshall wouldn’t allow more people in, the roads were backed up to the interstate, the crowds were ten deep at the fence line, and it goes on and on. All the work that Donald, Lenco, Billy, Kay, etc. had put it culminated in this historic event.
When we walked away from Lights Out 7, everyone was scratching their head, and trying to figure out how Donald could ever top this event. This was that once in a lifetime for a promoter. Was this going to be Donald’s “Back in Black” or was he going to be able to keep the momentum going? That was the question fans, sponsors, media, racers, and everyone in the motorsports industry was asking themselves. He could have very easily walked away at that point and called it a day. That event in and of itself would have solidified him as one of the great promoters ever. That’s just not want Donald does though.
It can’t get bigger than that, right? Low and behold we were all wrong, because in the background Donald’s head was spinning with more ideas, one of which we would see come to fruition just this year, when Donald held what arguably is the richest single door car purse in the history of the sport. $101,000.00 to win Radial vs. World. One would tend to believe that you could see thousands of gate tickets, PPV, Camping, and so on. And once again Donald flipped the script and did the exact opposite. He limited the attendance, to about 500 VIP outside of crew and racers. That is akin to holding a small, limited seating concert. There was to be PPV and a small crowd. No fighting to get through the sea of people just to get to your trailer. The model for this is something that no one had really tried before, so leave it to Donald Long to see if it will work. Well, it did in fact do exactly that, it worked.
That left us with yet another “What’s Next?” in our minds. How can he make an ultra-exclusive event even better? That’s when we were told by Donald that he was going to add one class to the event. A class that will cause chaos and pandemonium throughout the drag racing world. Donald Long added X275 to the fold at what is now the Sweet Sixteen/WSOX event. Not only will RvW compete for $100k, the smaller tire X275 racers will be competing for a $50k win, which is the biggest in their class history as well. You may not think that adding X275 is a big deal, and that is where you are dead wrong. As of this writing, there have been in excess of 120 X275 cars entered and PAID to compete in a race that isn’t happening until next March. A race that is sure to leave us once again asking…