‘Fast and Furious’ movies spark street-legal event for novice racers at Winterport Dragway

A 1964 Ford Falcon prepares for an elimination heat at Winterport Dragway in this file photo from 2008. Winterport Dragway has scheduled a special event on Saturday, July 13, 2013 to enable friends and neighbors in street-legal (everyday) cars to race each other.
Bridget Brown | BDN
A 1964 Ford Falcon prepares for an elimination heat at Winterport Dragway in this file photo from 2008. Winterport Dragway has scheduled a special event on Saturday, July 13, 2013 to enable friends and neighbors in street-legal (everyday) cars to race each other.
Posted June 07, 2013, at 7:06 p.m.

WINTERPORT, Maine — The six “Fast and Furious” movies have been extremely successful, grossing more than a billion dollars worldwide. Entertaining audiences with stories revolving around illegal street-car racing and the criminal activity that surrounds it, the film franchise has piqued a strong interest in street racing.

So administrators and owners at Winterport Dragway have scheduled a special event on Saturday, July 13, to enable friends and neighbors in street-legal (everyday) cars to race each other at the dragway.

It will be held from 4-8 p.m.

“The cars have to be registered and inspected and a [racing] helmet is required, although we have around 10 helmets at the track that they can use,” said Rich Kopper, the track manager.

Kopper said the idea stemmed from a Facebook discussion involving members of a local automobile club.

“Some of them were wondering if they could race side-by-side against the Gassah Guys,” said Kopper referring to the Gassah Guys Reunion drag racing series for cars built primarily in the 1960s.

They won’t be racing the Gassah Guys, but they will have the opportunity to race friends and other drivers who show up for the event in their street-legal cars.

“This will be more about grudge racing and bragging rights,” quipped Kopper. “If somebody talks trash to a buddy about his car being faster … now they’ll be able to legally race [and decide who has the faster car].

“It’ll be exciting. It’ll be nice to see a Prius go up against a street-legal Corvette or a [Chevy] S-10 [compact pickup truck] against a Toyota Camry — those kinds of deals,” said Kopper.

The decision to add the event didn’t take long.

“Usually, things like that move slowly. You’ve got to get authorization and what-not,” said Kopper. “But some of the owners were already at the track, we had an impromptu meeting and off we went. It took only six to eight hours.”

A drivers meeting will be held before the event to go over the intricacies of drag racing, including the starting sequence.

The track is one-eighth of a mile long.

There won’t be any formalized structure as drivers can race whoever they choose to race.

And there won’t be any other racing as the regular race card will be held the next day, Sunday.

Admission prices and entry fees will remain the same as the regular race card.

Winterport Dragway will have its next race card on Sunday with elimination heats beginning at 12:30. p.m. The Gassah Guys will return on Sunday, June 15 beginning at 4 p.m.

Nationwide drivers in Portland

NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Parker Kligerman and Alex Bowman will be visiting a pair of schools in Portland on Tuesday as part of the “Racin’ Around the Community” series affiliated with New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

They will both be racing in the New England 200 at NHMS on July 13.

Kligerman, a Westport, Conn. native, is currently in points in the series, while Bowman is 11th.

Kligerman drives the No. 77 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, and Bowman drives the RAB Racing Toyota.

They will have a question-and-answer session at the Howard C. Reiche Community School Auditorium from 10-11 a.m. before going to the Portland Arts and Technical High School from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

At the Portland Arts and Technical High School, they will do some hands-on work with the vehicle in the auto tech class before holding a question-and-answer session.

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