Can You Drag Race On Private Property?

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The love of drag racing is in your blood, or it is not. It’s something you love from the first time you experience it, the loud engines, incredible speeds over short distances. The thing is with drag racing, you usually have to go to a designated track to watch or participate, but let us say you have your own private piece of land, you have some friends that like to drag race, and you have some spare cash lying around, why not build a track? Can you drag race on private property?

You can drag race on private property provided you have sufficient liability insurance. You will need to give the racers and spectators a minimum of USD 1,000,000 insurance and have a track that complies with NHRA standards. You need to ensure there are trained track personnel and a medical team.

There is a minimum standard of construction that needs to be adhered to. This is to ensure that the maximum safety precautions are taken so that racers who want to drag race on your privately owned strip will have peace of mind and feel safe. No privately owned drag racing strip should allow races without being sanctioned by the NHRA and local law enforcement, and the city council’s by-laws.


What Do You Need To Set Up A Private Drag Strip?

If you have a piece of property that you would like to turn into a drag racing strip, there is nothing that will stop you, provided you follow the rules of your town, county, and state. The reason for that is that there are severe risks involved when drag racing. You are dealing with very high-powered machines, incredible speeds, high octane fuels, nitromethane, and of course, human beings. Because accidents on a track can and do happen at any time, and preparedness is critical.

So how would you go about setting up a private drag strip? Let us have a look at some basic requirements;

The Land or Surface Area

  • Paved Strip Area –At least 300 feet in length and minimum 60 feet wide. This has to be a very smooth surface area.
  • The Parking – A large secure parking area to accommodate spectators and vehicles.
  • The Pit Area – This has to be completely cordoned off and inaccessible to the general public.
  • The Inspection Area – This is where officials will do pre-inspections of vehicles. Double lanes for access, pre-pit area.

The Facilities

  • The Barriers- Barriers are needed to protect and enclose spectators. They need to be a minimum distance of 50 feet from the strip.
  • The Control Stand – The control stand has to be elevated at the strip’s edge precisely 100 feet from the start position.
  • Timing Equipment – These include equipment to clock the to speed, the elapsed time separate or together.
  • Communications Systems – This system allows phones to link control to the finishing line.
  • Scales – Platform-style electronic weighing scales to make sure cars compete in weight classes are within the guidelines.
  • EMS and First Aid – Emergency medical support and fire management teams need to be on duty at all times during a race.  
  • Public Intercom System – A powerful PA system needs to be installed in all areas, including the pits and the spectator areas for any broadcasts.
  • Rest Rooms Sufficient bathrooms need to be available in easy to access areas near the bleachers.
  • Signage Correctly indicating emergency exits, speed limits, prohibitions, and no entry signs need to be fixed and maintained to promote an environment of safety.

Personnel

  • Total Operations – A minimum of 16 officials and two police officers on duty at every race is recommended.
  • Inspections – 3 personnel
  • Weighing of Cars – 1 personnel member
  • Classifying of Cars – 2 personnel members
  • Number issuing – 1 personnel member
  • Pit Gate Operators – 2 personnel members
  • Control Stand – 3 personnel members, timing, recording, and announcing
  • Starting  Line – 2 personnel members, flagging, and a line-up man.
  • Finishing Line – 1 personnel member, observing and reporting to control
  • Track Manager – 1 person supervising and handling all relevant staff and details.
  • Fire Marshals – 2 officers, one at the starting line and one at the pit area.

These are the recommended guidelines of what is needed to start setting up your private drag racing strip. You can choose two ways to set up the drag racing track, either private. You will not have any time records validated or acknowledged or a private track that could demonstrate the potential of becoming an NHRA track member in the future.

Apart from the physical requirements for the track layout, if you decide to opt for NHRA sanctioning, they also require that every participant have valid operators’ licenses and an amateur competitors’ license. Any drag racing driver under the age of 21 will need to provide parental consent. All drivers must show safety gear like helmets, safety belts, and vehicles must pass the officials’ safety inspection list before they are allowed to race.


How Much Land Do I Need For A Drag Strip?

Most standard drag races are set at 1320 feet or what is known as the ¼ mile. The NHRA has shortened individual races due to safety concerns. Currently, most races are run over 1000 feet distance and on specific strips now to 660 feet or 1/8 mile.

Effectively, you will need at least 4000 feet length-wise and a minimum track width of 60 feet, including a foot wall on either side. The minimum you will need to build a drag racing track is about 200 acres. For more, check out this article.

Editorial credit: BoJack / Shutterstock.com

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Drag Strip?

To build a standard drag racing track and strip, you need between 1 million and 4 million dollars. The only effective way to make money from your private drag racing track is to host NHRA sanctioned events. That will bring sponsors and spectators. When you host streel legal nights, you will not make money from those events, but it should cover your maintenance fees.


Do You Need Insurance?

In order to operate your private drag racing facility, you will need insurance to protect you, the racers, and any spectators from a liability lawsuit. You will need the following types of insurance before you can legally operate;

  • Public Liability and Property Damage Insurance – This will cover the racers and spectators, and crew members.
  • Accident, Hospital, and Disability Insurance – This needs to cover all racers and crew.

There are very few companies that underwrite insurance for drag racing, and they have certain conditions attached to the insurance. For example, you need to be an NHRA sanctioned drag racing track and an NHRA member with your fees paid up. They also require that you adhere to the by-laws in your area and can prove sponsors and give an overview of your operational procedures.

Coverage by the NHRA to its members at this moment is USD 1,000,000 under Commercial General Liability on pit vehicles for all racers in specified events. Other events have coverage of around USD 575 000 for designated contracted events.


Conclusion

Currently, there are a few privately owned drag racing tracks in the USA and around the world. If you have the financial means or an investment conglomerate that are willing to invest in developing and building a track, it will be well worth it. Being able to drag race on private property will depend on specific criteria being met. If that track is not sanctioned, the races will not qualify the drivers to compete professionally.

Although you can drag a race on private property, it is not advisable unless there is proof of insurance to safeguard you as a racer or you as the private property owner. The NHRA has an extensive rulebook set out to provide the best possible guidelines on everything with regards to drag racing. This is the best way to safeguard every participant, crew member, spectator, and yourself against possible injuries relating to accidents or negligence. By becoming a sanctioned member, you will be able to drag race on private property without it being illegal. 

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