Drag Illustrated Issue 180, January / February 2023 | Page 108

RACE OF THE YEAR |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


Though 2022 seemed to be the year of drag-and-drive , the concept isn ’ t exactly new . HOT ROD launched its first-ever Drag Week in 2005 , and the format has exploded since then , inspiring the creation of other drag-and-drive events popping up in numerous regions across the U . S .
Sick Week , the brainchild of Drag Week star Tom Bailey and his team , was the latest dragand-drive event to hit the scene when it was announced in late 2021 . Buzz quickly built , and the atmosphere was electric when racers from across the country and beyond converged on Bradenton Motorsports Park in early February for a weeklong Florida adventure .
“ What ’ s crazy about Sick Week was how fast it went from an idea to reality ,” says Bailey , who broke the Drag Week 5-second barrier in 2019 . “ We wanted to create the Super Bowl of dragand-drive events and we had just a few months to make it happen .”
Whereas many of the other drag-and-drive events like Drag Week are known for their grueling nature , often with full days of driving in the summer heat between tracks , Sick Week was designed to inject some more fun into the formula .
The drives from track to track were all reasonable , starting at Bradenton and moving North to Orlando Speed World Dragway , Gainesville Raceway , and South Georgia Motorsports Park before returning to Bradenton for the final day and the awards ceremony .
“ We wanted to make sure we had four worldclass tracks that could all hold record times ,” Bailey says . “ That ’ s why we went to Florida . Plus , they were all close enough to make the drives easy on our racers .”
Between tracks , stops included Old Florida landmarks , an ice cream stand , a small park on Daytona Beach , an amusement park in Orlando , and a big car show and party at Don Garlits ’ Museum of Drag Racing .
“ We wanted to create the best possible event experience ,” Bailey says . “ With drag-and-drive events , that is not limited to the track . We wanted fun checkpoints and places where people could party and socialize along the way . Some people don ’ t even care if they race . We have hundreds of people in what we call the Sick Ward who enjoy just the cruising aspect of the event .”
Throughout the week , it was clear Sick Week wasn ’ t just appealing to the racers and cruisers who were making the journey . Hundreds of thousands followed along online through the official livestream and posts from the participants , which included names like Cleetus McFarland , Alex Taylor , Steve Morris , Joe Barry , and more .
“ Some of the social numbers were just ridiculous ,” Bailey says . “ Our Motion Raceworks livestream had over 100,000 views every day . We tallied up the views of the videos from all of the content creators who were at Sick Week , and there were 19,000,000 views of Sick Week content on YouTube alone . This style of racing is really resonating with young people and getting them interested in drag racing .”
For 2023 , Bailey and the Sick the Magazine team are building on the success of Sick Week with additional events . After the second annual Sick Week February 12-17 , Sick Summer will hit the Midwest June 4-9 with stops at Cordova Dragway , Byron Dragway , Great Lakes Dragaway , and Tri-State Raceway . Then , Death Week is planned for November . While the tracks and dates haven ’ t been determined , the plan does include a drive through Death Valley . All three weeks are sure to offer adventure for the participants .
“ I think this is something every drag racer needs to try because it completely reframes how you think about the sport ,” Bailey says . “ It turns a day at the track into a true adventure that you will remember for years to come .” – NATE VAN WAGNEN DI
108 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 180