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Dragway reopens with a screech and a roar

July 16, 2007|by SHANNON EPPS

HAGERSTOWN - J. Crawford totaled his candied-apple red 1969 Chevrolet Nova in a drag race two years ago. He ended up with several injuries and spent three months confined to a hospital bed.

But to Crawford, it was worth it.

"It was like a stepping stone," Crawford said. "We're actually advancing to the next level."

Crawford was referring to Street-Freaks, a drag-racing competition that began in 2004. Crawford, the head promoter, said the accident caused much of the racing community to take notice of his name and allowed him to further promote the competition.

Street Freaks holds an Outlaw Pro Street 10.5 race monthly, May through October, at the Mason Dixon Dragway. The race is for street cars with oversized horsepower engines, usually ranging between 1,000 and 3,000 horsepower. The cars race on a one-eighth-mile stretch with 10.5-inch tires.

"That's what makes it most exciting," Crawford said. "It's like racing on ice."

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This month's race took place Sunday, during the first weekend the dragway was open after renovations.

In order to keep up with the National Hot Rod Association's regulations, guardrails were removed from the track and replaced with concrete Jersey walls. The improved track also is wider.

Paul Osborne, a spectator at the dragway, said he came to the race to see the new track. Although it has been about four years since his last race, Osborne said he began drag racing when he was 16 years old.

"It's a good sport," he said, although he said cost can be an issue.

"It can get expensive. It depends how much you want to spend on a car," Osborne said.

Expensive, indeed. Equipping a car for racing costs an average of $100,000 or more, Crawford said.

Crawford, also known as "The Street Freak," said Street Freaks provides a way for local racers to compete close to home.

"We're trying to keep the local stuff for the local people so they don't have to go far away to race these cars, because it's just too much involved with it," he said.

"Bad Bob" Anderson also was watching the races on Sunday. He said he goes to the dragway nearly every weekend, and that he used to drag race. Mostly, though, he likes to drive around in his shiny yellow 1923 Ford T-Bucket, he said.

"If you race, you end up breaking stuff," Anderson said.

Crawford, however, would rather race, and continues to do so, even after his accident. He became interested in drag racing as a child and began racing when he got older.

"It's like an adrenaline rush, and it's a fun thing to do to meet a lot of new, good people," he said.

Crawford's family is also involved in Street Freaks. His wife, Jaime Crawford, helps promote and organize the races. Her mother, Andria Brickman, helps with the sales of Street Freaks paraphernalia at racing events.

The payout for races is $3,000, which is divided among the top 16 competitiors.

The winner of each race receives $1,000, Jaime Crawford said. The rest of the money is split among the other racers according to rank.

Sponsorships from companies such as Orion Communications, Mallick Plumbing & Heating and other businesses help provide award money.

Crawford said he hopes to have Street Freaks televised in the future, but he is pleased with its progress.

"Unfortunately, the accident happened, but look where it took us to," he said. "We're doing great now."

For more information about Street Freaks, go to www.street-freaks.com.

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