NO ONE WORKS THE ALTER-EGO LIKE THE “DUCK” DONALD LONG
Donald "Duck" Long marches to the beat of his own drum; a way in life he prefers.
The Duck is brash.
The Duck is flamboyant and is about as politically incorrect as they come.
The Duck is also very successful.
Almost a decade ago, Long became a pied piper of sort leading an obscure group of drag racers into the mainstream of drag racing conversation just by the very nature of how his races are conducted. The cars he has made famous began as a hybrid of a high-performance street vehicle with the beastly engines often found in Pro Modified-style vehicles.
The great equalizer is the Drag Radial tire. Using a radial tire close to what one drives on the street.
Long's races are a throwback to those ultra-successful Bill Doner-style promotions where there are nearly as many people standing on the starting line as those seated in the stands and hanging on the fences hoping to get a glimpse of the volatility these race cars offer.
At the current pace of his uber-successful events, two annually at South Georgia Motorsports Park located outside of Valdosta, Ga., which regularly sell out, Long is quickly vaulting himself into a legend the like which hasn't been mentioned since the legendary Doner and his 64 Funny Car events of the 1970s.
"Wow. I would be very flattered on that deal for sure," Long admitted. "That would be phenomenal man. You know I try my best. You know that. I try to do everything I can to get everybody there. It can be hard sometimes, you know."
While Long is quick to deflect credit for putting this style of racing on the map, citing the racers are responsible for the excitement, he will accept credit for giving them a big stage to showcase one of the more exciting racing trends to come across since the Pro Modifieds of the 1990s.
"I think that Radial racing would have still been here, you know what I mean, without me or anything like that," Long explained. "I think that to move it to the next level; I think that we’ve definitely helped in doing that for sure. I think that anybody that would put the time into it could do things. It’s just, you have to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of your life to be able to put that kind of time in it."
Long says the success of his Lights Out and No Mercy events have been successful because of his willingness to eat, sleep and drink these events 24/7 and 365 days each year.
"Things obviously, they evolve," Long said. "But I think in the beginning it was Pro Mod or Pro Street and all that kind of stuff getting the attention. I feel these guys didn’t get the notoriety that I think that they deserved. We took the role of the underdog, and they showed they had teeth, and that made them the big dog.
"I just felt as a promoter I needed to be that kind of front guy who was willing to say and do the things, as unpredictable as their cars were. I knew I had to get people to notice, and once they did, it would do fine on its own. We had to convince those first 300 spectators at the opening event; they couldn't miss the next one."
Promoters are in the business to make money, but for Long, the passion to be successful meant more than the financial reward.
"Believe it or not, I actually was donating money," Long said. "In the beginning, I was actually just paying the track [to have the events]. Even when I was doing my own race, I wasn’t even taking any of the money in the beginning. I was just donating money from my company. It was a hobby, which is what it was, it wasn’t like I wanted to really make any money off of it.
"But then, when it’s so time-consuming that I had to look at it as a business instead of a hobby. I realized somewhere along the line I needed to make something off of the deal to justify the time."
Before the story goes on any further, understand the Duck persona is Long's alter-ego. Away from the drag strip and his salty language-filled Facebook Live videos, he's a successful real estate businessman managing 30 rental properties in Zephyrhills, Fla., who once lettered through the National Honor Society while in high school with an impressive 3.87 GPA. He also graduated high school a year early.
"I'm definitely not the same person away from this, that’s just an internet persona," Long admits. "I don’t live my life that way; I don’t ever cuss around my parents. That’s just a character, nothing different than WWF or something like that. So, I don’t live my life by that character in any way, shape, or form."
And for the record, he's never promoted wrestling, nor has any desire to. Well, Long points out, "never say never."
"I think I could probably hold my own," Long said with a chuckle. "You know, when people get on the internet, and they try to bash me or something, or, ‘I’m going to call your sponsor. And you’re going to lose this and that, You know, I’ve been promoting the same way for eight years, nine years.
"I always tell everybody, ‘No offense, but if they don’t want to sponsor me, don’t sponsor me.' This is what we do; this is the style that we do. It’s not for everybody, but I’ve never had a company leave me because of any of it, I’ll say that."
Believe it or nor, Long has flip-flopped his daily regimen, making racing his occupation and his real estate businesses his hobby.
"I love the housing market stuff," Long admitted. "That’s like my favorite thing. I think that’s my new hobby is what it is. It gets me away from everything. To be able to buy houses, go in, fix them up, if I want to sell them, if I want to rent them."
Long's objective has always been to keep the folks talking all the while borrowing the phrase, "Write it good, write it bad, just spell my name right, baby."
And he knows in certain circles of the big show of the NHRA, the movers and shakers are talking about "those Drag Radial events with that Duck character."
Long just smiles because he understands this only proves his point about the value of Drag Radial racing in the grand scheme of the straight line sport.
Case in point, multiple sources have confirmed with CompetitionPlus.com drag racing's largest sanctioning body is flirting with the idea of a Drag Radial exhibition as early as the NHRA Southern Nationals held just outside of Commerce, Ga.
"Obviously [NHRA] can’t promote the kind of way that I do, but I do believe that maybe they could interact better with the racers and make everybody feel more welcome," Long explained. "I had my issues with NHRA as far as people who’ve called me on the phone, and they seem like they’ll promise you the world and then it doesn’t seem like it comes out that way.
"I don’t go to a whole bunch of NHRA races. But people have told me they feel way more welcome at our races than they do other places."
Long understands the passion and drive which led him to this point, and often wonders if those who are both supportive and critical of his efforts will truly understand the passion which fueled him to become the talk of drag racing.
"There are certain people that call me, and when they talk to me, it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing and it makes me feel like I want to keep going," Long admitted. "You know, there’s those people out there and I think they truly get what’s going on. I don’t know if they’ll ever truly understand how much time, how much effort and everything that I put into it to get things started to be able to keep this thing.
"I’m not saying a politically correct guy can’t put on a hell of a race. Obviously, they can. But I think it would wither and die away a lot quicker if we didn’t have everybody talking about things and keeping it built up."
And no one builds it up like the Duck, even if it is an alter-ego of a good 'ole boy from Florida.