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Drag strips are endless summer fun with the grandkids!

Grandkids are one of the greatest gifts of aging. But it's a new world out there and figuring out ways to spend quality time with the little one's can be more than just a little perplexing. How in the world do we get them away from those darn screens without becoming the object of their wrath and resentment?

I have a suggestion: This summer, take your grandkids to the drag races! A dragstrip is a playground on steroids. The sights, the sounds and the smells envelope your senses; the energy at a racetrack is palpable. Racetracks stimulate curiosity and creative thinking and they impart a healthy competitive attitude in children and adults alike. Childhood dreams are imagined at the dragstrip and passions ignited. And for the truly inspired, those childhood dreams may one day take shape and become reality. Who knows, your granddaughter might just be the next Shirley Muldowney!

Drag racing has always been known as family sport and back in the early 1990's a fellow by the name of Vince Napp decided it was time to get the kids more invested. Napp created an entirely new style of dragster; a scaled down version of the king of the sport - the Top Fuel Dragster. He called his creation a Junior Dragster and I guarantee your grandkids will think a Junior Dragster is the coolest racecar they’ve ever seen. After all, it's a race car built just for them. How cool is that! Junior dragsters have a wheelbase between 90-150 inches and a single cylinder five brake horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine. In other words… a lawnmower engine. The starting price of a new "basic" junior dragster is approx $5,000 but you don’t have to buy new - there is no shortage of used Junior Dragsters on the market that can be purchased for a fraction of the cost.  Safety is always of paramount importance and our sanctioning bodies have strict safety requirements. The driver must have an approved helmet, jacket, neck collar, and gloves. All drivers must also wear long pants and arm restraints while behind the wheel of their Jr. Dragster. These items will cost about $500. What's really awesome: The minimum age for competition is only 8 years old. Get them started young and you have years of summer fun to look forward to.

Drag racing has long been considered a male dominated sport but Junior Dragsters are helping to pave the way for change. There are 7,000+ members participating in the Junior Dragster racing leagues across Canada and the USA and about 35% of that membership is girls. That's right Grandpa, your little princess can compete on equal footing with the boys - and kick their butts too if you've got the right tune-up.

In addition to competition, dragstrips are also about friendship. Yes, kids actually like to play at the dragstrip! After a full day of racing and/or spectating, the kids gather en masse in the pits and stage their own mock races.  Who knew a bicycle pitted against a "big wheel" could provide such incredible joy for these youngsters! This is the stuff childhood memories are made of.

Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway has a wonderful Junior Dragster Program called the Nitro Ratz Junior Dragster Association. Here is some information if you’re interested in getting involved with your grandkids.
Source: Castrol Raceway Website

What is Jr Drag Racing?

Jr. Drag Racing offers kids ages 8-17 the opportunity to experience the thrill of racing half-scale dragsters in a controlled racing environment.  The cars that Jr. Drag Racing competitors race are called Jr. Dragsters and are half-scale versions of Top Fuel dragsters. Using a five-horsepower, single-cylinder engine, the top speed for a beginner Jr Dragster is about 45 miles per hour. The older classes can go as fast as 85 mph and as quick as 7.90 seconds in an eighth-mile.

What is the Nitro Ratz?

The Nitro Ratz is an association in Edmonton dedicated to the promotion of fun and safety through Jr Drag Racing in the local area. They organize the Jr Racers, supply the trophies and host the Spring Burnout party to get the season started. It’s a great way to meet your fellow competitors and make new and long lasting friends.

How can I join the Nitro Ratz?

Walk around the pits and talk to Jr Racers/parents and they will direct you to one of the executives. Membership is $25.00 per family.

Who do I contact if I'd like to join or have more questions?

You can always contact the Nitro Ratz by emailing them at: nitroratz@live.com and you can check them out on Facebook as well by searching nitroratz!

Welcome to life in the fast lane!