Albuquerque Dragway offers local venue for legal racing

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Every weekend, racing enthusiasts take to Albuquerque Dragway to prove and improve their labor of love and outperform their competition.

Drivers often don the typical muscle car garb – the Camaros, the Challengers, the Mustangs – but their time and money make their rides anything but typical under the hood.

On the quarter-mile drag strip, where they see it all pay off is pass-by-pace.

After each race – or pass – drivers are given a ticket that shows how fast they drove down the strip, how long it took and the data they use to further adjust and improve their performance.

After 20 years of racing, Dan Giuliano, or Dr. Then, all of this.

“You have to pay attention to all the details, because one little detail, that one little thing, that you don’t do right, comes back to bite you,” said Dr. Then said.

Dr. Dan raced on Saturday with a few people who were living out their riding dreams for the first time.

“It’s very exciting for me, because I always see my son racing his race car,” says Juan Morales, a first-time racer.

Officials, like longtime announcer Gene Grant, say that’s the beauty of Albuquerque’s only professional drag strip.

“Anyone can come. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you have, you don’t necessarily have to have a tow car to do it,” Gene said.

Gene has been announcing races at Albuquerque Dragway for several decades. He says the track was built in the 1960s and began operating in 1963 after several high-speed tragedies on Albuquerque’s roads.

“You have to have a drag strip to beat back the street racing problem,” Gene said. “If you don’t have an alternative, your community is going to suffer from street racing.”

Unfortunately, that danger still exists today.

Recent speed enforcement operations recorded some drivers going over 100 mph on Montgomery and on Gibson.

“We don’t need cars going over 150 mph on Montgomery. It serves no one. Innocent people, we need them to be out here. That’s why we’re here to provide that outlet, we don’t want that on our city streets,” Gene stated.

Both the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office have conducted operations also aimed at reducing illegal street racing in the city.

Gene says the Dragway has made its own efforts to reduce that as well.

“We try to reach out and provide events for them, one of which is Midnight Madness. We do a few three times this season, which means we open up out here at midnight for racers to come out,” Gene said. You know, when you’re younger, you’re up at midnight and might as well lead where they are.”

No matter who’s behind the wheel, Gene says you won’t find any sore winners or losers at the drag strip.

“It’s hard to be a repeat winner, you don’t see that much in drag racing, nobody really dominates. There are so many factors that can make you win or lose,” Gene explained.

That close competition keeps people coming back to the starting line year after year – and it’s not just muscle cars that come out to race.

Motorcycles, Jeeps and a host of other vehicles arrive at the strip. As long as you can pass a quick inspection, you can race and this also applies to electric vehicles.

“The electric thing is coming, we’re seeing a number of electric powered cars out here, we’ve got electric powered motorcycles. Those Harley Davidson electric bikes come out here regularly, those perform well. We’ve got a lot of Teslas coming out. I had to go in once “Driving a Tesla, we got to 150 mph twice in a row with one of the racers that come out here. It was an interesting thrill for me as well,” Gene said.

The top racers end the year with the annual “King of the Track” tournament, which this year takes place at 09:00 on November 13, to see who is the fastest of the fast.

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