Back in the day, street dragging meant you pulled your hotrod up beside another and you went at it to see who had the fastest ride. Always illegal, somewhat dangerous and … exhilarating.
Today, such wonton street dragging is still a no-no. Unless, of course, you’re Ryan Kern, President of Kern and Kompany and organizer of the Kia of Duluth Drag Races and Car Show.
In its 10th year, Kern and Kompany once again brings the thrill of street drags to Garfield Avenue on Sept. 10 and 11. It’s the only legal drag racing event done on a public street in the nation – which was no easy feat to orchestrate.
“When I first went to the Duluth City Council to try to put this event on, I was met with something less than enthusiasm,” Kern notes. “That made me even more determined to do it.”
Little did the council realize the power and dedication of the local motor-head community. “I reached out to the people with the cars and they jumped onboard and made things happen,” Kern says. “Making things happen,” as it turned out, required hundreds of volunteers, lots of liability, huge barriers of cement . . . and a list of other requirements as long as the quarter-mile drag strip itself.
But today the event hosts more than a hundred racers and, this year, has amassed an impressive waiting list of 95.
“People love it,” Kern says. “I love it. The city loves it. What you basically have is old-time drag racing between two people with one guy standing in front of them starting the whole thing. It’s like the 50s and 60s, but it’s legal.”
After Saturday’s preliminaries, Sunday’s racing culminates in head-to-head elimination races. At day’s end, winners will be crowned in three divisions. Click here to see the full schedule of drag racing events.
Written by Holly Kelsey-Henry for Duluth.com the Magazine. Check out the July/August 2016 issue on newsstands now.