The normal roar of powerful drag racer’s engines that gave Bandimere Speedway its nickname of Thunder Mountain was replaced by the pop-pop-pop of one cylinder motors junior dragster engines during …
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The normal roar of powerful drag racer’s engines that gave Bandimere Speedway its nickname of Thunder Mountain was replaced by the pop-pop-pop of one cylinder motors junior dragster engines during the June 22-24 Division 5 Junior Dragster Championships.
Junior dragsters events are the National Hot Rod Association-sanctioned competition for 5 to 17-year-old drivers in the cockpit of race cars that are half-scale replicas of the powerful top fuel dragsters. But while top fuel dragsters are powered by 10,000 horsepower engines the junior dragsters are powered by engines that produce about 35 horsepower.
Dillon Sipes sat in the cockpit of his dragster in the staging lanes, waiting his turn at the starting line.
“I started driving today to help out my sister who usually drives the car. She wanted to attend a birthday party for a friend so I am driving the car today,” the Green Mountain High School student said. “I have raced quite a bit. I think the most fun is the burn outs and of course going fast.”
Sipes was one of 121 drivers who competed in the Division 5 Divisional Championships. Teams from Colorado and a number of other states attended the event. The large pit area was lined with the vehicle trailers used to transport the race car, tools and spare parts. Many of the trailers were pulled by motor homes that become the residences for racing families during competition.
Junior dragster drivers range in age from five- to 17-years old. The field is divided into age groups to make the competition as fair as possible. At the June 22-23 races there were three racers in the division for 6 and 7-year-olds, 19 in the 8 and 9-year-old division, 45 in the 10 and 11-year-olds division, 23 in the 13 and 14-year-old division and 21 in the 15 to 17-year-old division.
Each driver makes time trial runs down the track. The best time set in the time trials establishes what is called a dial-in and is the fastest time the car and driver can run in competition.
The races are single-elimination competitions as the cars go head-to-head. The cars leave the starting line based on dial-in times. The car that has a slower dial-in leaves the starting line first. However, a driver may lose the race if he or she runs faster than the dial-in.
Sara Petroski watched her friend race from the seat of the golf cart that is also a chase vehicle for the car.
“I am from North Dakota and we are visiting our friends in Northglenn,” she said. “The son of family we are visiting drives that blue dragster pulling up to the starting line. Driving a car like that looks like fun but unfortunately we don’t have a drag racing track so I’ll just watch.”
Families from Colorado and surrounding states attended the races June 22-23 races. The pit area was lined with white vehicle trailers, some pulled by pickups and some by motor homes. Some of the vehicle trailers were large enough to hold two cars as well as the tools, spare parts and equipment.
Sam Wilson, his wife, his son and his daughter drove in from Iowa in a motor home pulling the trailer containing the race cars.
“Both my son and daughter race so we make the events a family outing,” he said as he tuned the engine on his son’s car. “This is our first time at this race so we will be staying in the area to make it like a family short vacation. We have tickets for a Colorado Rockies game and we are looking forward to that.”
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