Drag racing’s richest event ever to debut in February

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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.

NHRA bob tasca sonoma 2023
SONOMA, CA – JULY 29: Funny Car driver Bob Tasca makes his pole winning running during the final round of pro qualifying on July 29, 2023, at the DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.

erica enders camaro pro stock NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
BRISTOL, TN – JUNE 11: Erica Enders (#1 Elite Motorsports Pro Stock Chevrolet Camaro) during the Sunday NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on June 11, 2023 at the Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.




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    Huge drag event in Florida and Super Bowl in Las Vegas on the same weekend? Hey, airlines, better ramp up for this one – the only thing that might make it more interesting (travel-wise) would be to have the Youth Winter Olympics going on at the same time in South Korea… oh, wait!

    Streaming-ONLY comes to drag racing…the living room chains are off! In addition to the mainstream production feed, if the interface allowed viewers to choose which camera they wish to view either as full screen or picture-in-a-picture — with the main feed as PIP, optionally — that would empower viewers and draw a younger crowd who could grow to love drag racing.

    Hmmm…mainstream networks have to be a little nervous now.

    If you want to get to the masses it needs to be broadcast on network television.
    Doesn’t matter what network but that would get it to many more households.
    Maybe that’s why I’ve been a fan of this sport since 1960, Nitro did it to me !

    If it has to be streamed I will not pay to see it, and I’m sure I am not alone. ( this is a big deal so get it out there)

    Pay per view on a motorsport oriented platform? It’ll only reach the hardest core of fans, not showcase to a broad audience as Doug Kalitta hopes.

    As a subscriber to other motorsports broadcast platforms, the even bigger stick is expectations that come with subscription services. Free streaming drops out? Annoying but I don’t feel as though I get to complain because I am not actually harmed. If we paid good money to see something live and the stream drops or is otherwise nearly unwatchable, the wrath of the fans will be loud.

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