Independence Day drags turns 33

Talk about getting old.

The biggest National Hot Rods Association drag races of the year turns 33 on Fourth of July weekend, July 1 and 2 at Kaua‘i Raceway Park in Mana. The Independence Day spectacular is presented by the Garden Isle Racing Association and Snap-On tools.

Also supporting the two-day event are Destination Autoworks, Suzuki Kaua‘i, PS&D Napa, Auto Stylin’ and Performance/Island Image Embroidery, Kevin’s Repair, Coors Light, Kaua‘i Fire Protection and Manny’s Repair.

“This year we are excited to have a contingent of about 20 cars and drivers in the Jr. Dragster class from O‘ahu joining the racing fun,” GIRA secretary Bud Paxman said.

GIRA president said Jr. Dragsters are half-scale dragsters powered by five-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engines that produce speeds up to 85 mph, driven by 8- to 17-year-olds and is a great way for youngsters to start out in drag racing.

Gates open at 11 a.m. for racers and noon for spectators, with admission $10 for adults and children 12-and-under free.

Starting at 12:30 p.m., the Jr. Dragsters will have the track to themselves until 2 p.m. for testing and qualifying, after which all other car classes will test and tune until 6 p.m.

“Bracket racing action for cash and trophies begins at 6:30 p.m. with the juniors starting their elimination rounds followed by everything from street driven cars to fire breathing alcohol dragsters,” Paxman said. “Another popular round of eliminations will be the Quick 8 shootout, to be held both days, for the fastest eight cars at the track and cars from other islands are expected for these races too. There will also be prize drawings for spectators and racers, so hold on to your ticket stub to be eligible.”

Race officials said there’ll be no reserve pits or parking areas allowed as a record number of spectators and racers are expected to turnout and GIRA said spectators should not drive into the pit area.

“Spectators are welcomed to walk into the pit area to meet the racers and see the race cars up close,” Paxman said. “The spectator area is tailgate style where the norm is to bring the cooler, barbecue, and of course, the tent for big family gatherings. Looking for something different and fun for the whole family — check it out.”

Directions: From Lihu‘e Airport head west towards Waimea on Route 50 (Kaumuali‘i Highway) and go through Kekaha, about 35 miles from the Airport. About one mile past Kekaha look for the Drag Racing banner by a dirt road between mile marker 28 and 29 heading toward the ocean by a row of tall pine trees.

For more information, call Chris Loew at 639-1046.

• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or kauaisports@kauaipubco.com.

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