Drag racing’s richest event ever to debut in February
The biggest purse in the history of drag racing—$1.3 million total—will be on the line February 8–10, 2024, at Bradenton Motorsports Park, just south of Tampa.
The standalone event will be called the PRO Superstar Shootout, and it will be sanctioned not by the National Hot Rod Association but by the Professional Racers and Owners Organization (PRO), a trade group made up primarily of drivers and team owners. It’s PRO’s first major promotion.
The event technically begins February 6–7, a Tuesday and Wednesday, with open practice. One round of qualifying will be held on Thursday, three rounds on Friday, with races on Saturday. This is Super Bowl weekend, so PRO made sure to get the show over with before Sunday.
The invitation-only race will pay $250,000 each for Top Fuel and Funny Car winners, and $125,000 for the Pro Stock winner. Several other Sportsman classes will race as well. “That’s the most money I’ve ever raced for,” said Steve Torrence, current NHRA Top Fuel champion, at the introductory Zoom press conference. The race will apparently not be televised but will be streamed live on FloRacing, a pay-per-view site that features motorsports.
“We believe this is a dramatic new leap for professional drag racing,” said Alan Johnson, president of PRO and crew chief for Top Fuel racer Doug Kalitta. “The PRO Superstar Shootout will be unlike anything our teams have been a part of, and the result will be a one-of-a-kind show for our fans. This is an opportunity to try some new formats and to showcase our sport to a broad audience worldwide.”
Drivers will run four qualifying sessions to determine the eight-car fields in Top Fuel and Funny Car, and the 16-car field in Pro Stock. Random chip draws on Friday will determine the pairings for all rounds of Saturday eliminations.
Where the $1.3 million will come from was not revealed at the press conference, but participants said that potential sponsors are already coming forward. None were mentioned during the questioning.
Meanwhile, the NHRA is proceeding with its plans for the 2024 drag racing season, beginning March 7–10 at Gainesville Raceway, also in Florida. The PRO Shootout will be the biggest event hosted by the Bradenton Motorsports Park, which opened in 1974 and features mostly grassroots racing, plus pre-season testing for some NHRA teams.