• John DiBartolomeo


I have never raced on a no-prep track, but actually that’s a lie. Truth is that there have been some tracks lately which may as well have not been prepped that well. But using one of the Swear Words I talked about a couple of weeks ago, s—t happens.

When I began racing, they surely didn’t prep the track the way they do today. Prep back then involved little more that brooming the place off and letting us have at it. Over the years a lot has changed in that regard. Today, it takes hours to prep a track before a car ever turns a tire.

I’m not sure where or when the no-prep concept got started, but now we have legitimate no-prep races where either the track has been scrubbed clean, or in some cases, they turn the facility around and run from the shutdown area back up to the starting line, which may not be the best thing to do but…

It probably got started from the many Street Outlaw shows but it has taken on a life of its own with a whole other class of drag race cars. If you’ve watched any of the Street Outlaw shows; and there are what appears to be dozens; you’ll notice cars racing down what appears to be a deserted street, a street which is obviously not prepped in any way. The fallacy is that they unload on a street in much the same fashion as any other street racing endeavor. The fact is it’s done under what I am told are very strict conditions. So, it’s really not the “street racing” that many of us grew up knowing, but that’s show business for you.

As far as the No-Prep races themselves, I’ve never attended one so I can’t speak to their viability, but from what I’m told, they’re pretty popular. However, as one track operator has said to me, “Those races are like a hand grenade rolling around with the pin pulled. You just never know when it’s going to go off and when it does, it’s gonna be a mess.”

Here’s my only concern; okay maybe not my only concern but anyway…. As I mentioned earlier, in my beginning days, you could race on an unprepped track partly because we weren’t making the power we do today. I had a very good friend who we had grown up with, a friend who would spend more time than myself racing on the street. As often happens, he grew up, worked in the family business and eventually wanted to get back into racing. He came to us to build him a new car. Once completed, he installed a big inch engine and away he went. I think it was in a January or February when he called to say something was wrong with the car.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It won’t hook up. Every time I let go of the trans brake button, it just blows the tires away.”

“Wait. Where have you run it, there are no tracks open now?”

“Out on Wilson Street.” – With Wilson Street being the street outside his shop.

“You can’t run that car on Wilson.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re making quite a bit more horsepower than 20 years ago when we’d run the cars on Wilson Street.” And that’s my point.

I’m not sure the cars we have today are best suited for a no-prep track. Obviously they sure make for an exciting show, but I wonder if that’s the safest thing to do. I asked this question a couple of weeks ago: What’s your thoughts on no-prep racing?

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