Houston Mud Drags organizer Craig Stoltenberg has big plans for next year.
Stoltenberg said the races will see improvements in organization, accessibility, scale and excitement next year. He wants to organize two races here, enforce car specifications restrictions that allow fair competition and invite more exhibit vehicles to speed down the drag strip.
“I think they went extremely well compared to all the other events in the area,” he said. “We’re always trying to do better and we’re trying to put on a show and bring faster, more competitive vehicles to make it attractive, more exciting to the spectators.”
Stoltenberg said the highlight of this year’s mud drags was Chris Gagnon’s F-class mud racer with a blown alcohol engine.
“Everyone knows [it], right, it was the fastest, loudest, vehicle there,” he said.
This year, the organizers tried to entice these fast vehicles to come by putting up prize money for the quickest time.
“We’ve talked to people now and they would rather we paid them travel expenses, and they’ll come put on a show, because they can’t risk not getting fast pass,” he said.
They are now working on changing the funding to attract these racers, such as the drivers of Canada’s third fastest drag car, Ghost Rider.
“They committed to come if we pay their travel expenses, so we’re going to try to do that instead.”
Stoltenberg believes that classification is essential to ensure accessibility. Currently, the races allow vehicles in street, improved street and competition classes based on the modifications made to it.
“We’re trying to structure the classes so there’s classes for everyone,” he said. “So, there’s totally bone-stock, entry-level classes where you can bring any four-wheel-drive vehicle and race it. And we’re trying to keep the competitive racers out of those classes.”
“The newcomers don’t feel intimidated, they don’t have to spend the money to be competitive and there’s a place for them.”
Finally, Stoltenberg wants to create a new race that requires manoeuvring around an obstacle course.
“An off-road challenge, basically, that involves driving through obstacles, over obstacles, and through the mud as a timed event for the intermission and half-time, just to try and keep people’s interest,” he said.
Stoltenberg believes that mud racing attracts people because sport has a lower barrier to entry.
“It’s like drag racing, but you don’t have to spend all your time making it pretty. Drag cars are always pretty and kept clean. They call this dirty drag racing,” Stoltenberg said. “I don’t even bother to wash mine anymore. I just took it home, it’s covered in mud, I wash the motor off, you know.”
Mud drag racing also has less intense competition.
“In drag racing, you’re competing against your own time, so you have 30 vehicles competing for three prizes,” he said. “Mud racing, you don’t. You have 11 classes of vehicles and each one of those 11 classes [has] first, second and third.”
“Drag racing — the guys who have really good reaction times win consistently. And so it can be disheartening for newcomers.”
Stoltenberg has advice for people interested to race next year: “Four wheel drive truck with good tires, that’s all you need.”