Despite an economic climate that ’ s less than ideal , the drag racing business is booming at Union , and was buoyed by excellent weather early on in 2022 . “ We were even able to get our first points bracket race completed in March !” smiles Brown . That ’ s not always the case , and while there ’ s a robust list of events slated each March , nobody is really surprised if the weather causes disruptions at that juncture .
The points bracket program consists of five classes , and races are usually contested on 12 weekends per year . “ I ’ d bracket race every weekend if I could , but you can ’ t overdo it ,” Brown says . “ About 10-12 a year is all you can realistically do .”
In front of every scheduled bracket points race , there ’ s also the Craig Hipp Gamblers series on Friday night , which likewise keeps points and crowns a season champion .
In addition to bracket and gamblers events , test and tune sessions are also held , along with various grudge and stick shift races . The IHRA Sportsman Spectacular Ironman event was held in June with a huge turnout . A $ 5,000 Modified and $ 5,000 Carolina Class Racers Association event is scheduled for October , as well as various Top Sportsman events this season . The diverse lineup of events can sometimes stretch beyond October .
“ We actually did a small-tire race in November last year . The high was 49 degrees and we decided not to cancel . It turned out to be the best track ever for radials !” recalls Brown .
In December , the track is rented out for a national sound competition , and in January , Union usually holds a swap meet , along with a go-kart and lawnmower race . “ It kinda breaks the monotony of winter , and then we hold our banquet ,”
says Brown .
Many days and nights of fun are spent inside a building on site , where you ’ ll find pool tables and sometimes a live band called Project 13 is cranking out tunes . Amazingly , the lineup of the band is none other than Tony Brown singing and playing guitar , along with racers Bobby Bartlett on drums and Doug Dochterman , who also sings and plays guitar .
Bartunek marvels at how much the staff of Union Dragway enjoy hanging out together , even on non-race days . “ You can come here on a Wednesday night and 80 % of the staff will be here just hanging out inside the building , shooting pool or the band might be playing . It ’ s incredible how these folks are like one little family ,” says Bartunek , who firmly believes his newlypurchased dragstrip might just be the best kept secret in the South . DI
32 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 177