WORLD DOORSLAMMER NATIONALS IS LIKE A HUGE WEDDING IN A SMALL CHURCH
Drag Illustrated publisher turned promoter Wes Buck knew when he created the World Series of Pro Modified Drag Racing, an event held each July at Bandimere Speedway, the World Doorslammer Nationals was on the horizon.
This weekend, the second annual World Doorslammer Nationals at Orlando Speedworld, which pays $75,000-to-win for Pro Stock, and $50,000-to-win for Pro Modified, kicks off Thursday with qualifying/testing and concludes on Sunday with final eliminations. The event was created to bring a loose, yet professional atmosphere, in just its first season quickly developed into an all-business affair by the conclusion of the inaugural presentation.
"The vibe changed from like, "Oh, hey, we're all having all this fun. We're here together with all of our friends", but you could feel the intensity level ratchet up on Sunday."
Intensity is a natural byproduct when one gathers the names of competitors like this event has attracted.
"It's like bringing in a couple of country music superstars that you're used to seeing perform in coliseums and huge venues and bringing them to your local honky-tonk; that's how it felt," Buck said. "It felt very important for me to bring the World Doorslammer Nationals to a track that had that Saturday night vibe, that wasn't so big that you couldn't have that closeness.
"What do they always say? Big wedding, small church. That's very much what we were trying to achieve with our track partners, Ozzy and Maria Moya."
Drag racing is a sport of timing, and for the World Doorslammer Nationals, its timing on the grand stage of drag racing is perfect. At least, this is how Buck sees it.
"It's before the season has started, it's before everybody's first burnout," Buck explained. "That's something that I've experienced with race promotion in the past is that you try to do something like this in the middle of the summer, or way late at the end of the year. And everybody's at the end of their budget, at the end of their willpower, at the end of their energy and enthusiasm.
"By doing this event, the first weekend of March, not only are we establishing a little bit of date equity and kind of building, taking some ownership of that weekend, we're also getting everybody before they've torn their stuff up or before they've had anything kind of upset their flow or disrupt their momentum. So, I think the time of year is significant, and I'm super excited about it."
What showcased the event even more was that it was one of the few events on the schedule before the worldwide pandemic forced drag racing to shutdown on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
"I don't think we really realized that until well after the fact," Buck said. "I'm the first to admit that last spring I had such tunnel vision, such laser-focus on the race, that it was hard to even get excited or get worried or pay attention to anything else. So I heard things in the news about coronavirus and COVID-19.
"We were the last, I believe, to be a major drag racing event to happen before the world shut down; I've talked very openly about how much that impacted our entire team in that it was the highest of highs. I've told people that Sunday night in Orlando last March was one of the greatest moments of my life. You know, sending everyone out of that event safely, with a great time being had by all."
Having a great time is something multi-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders experienced first-hand.
"It is absolutely the most fun, the most exciting drag race that I have ever been to," said Enders. "I do want to point out that prior to pulling in the water box, my sister is usually in the door of my Pro Stock car and I'm like, 'Take a picture of the view that I have through my windshield of all of these people on the starting line."