BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – All week, some of the best young drag racers east of the Mississippi River have been going toe-to-toe in hopes of claiming an NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Conference Championship victory.
A total of 423 racers entered the field across eight age classifications and were slowly whittled down to the final few on Saturday. Boys and girls from 31 states converged on Bristol Dragway, bringing along numerous supporters and teammates.
Some competitors traveled hundreds of miles to participate in the event, while others simply packed up and headed down the street.
“It’s actually amazing, honestly,” competitor Blake Combs said. “You have people that are from Alaska and Hawaii and all these other places that you think would never show up.”
The 16-year-old Combs is a Bristol native and has raced on this stage before. But, doing it in his own backyard never gets old.
“You’re with people from all over the country that you’ve raced with for years – or you haven’t raced with for years,” he said. “You meet new people and … if you win one of these races – it’s big. You get to celebrate – I don’t know – it’s just … ECF … Eastern Conference Finals. It’s like a championship football game – really is what it’s like.”
Combs didn’t win the 16-17 age group this year, but is keeping a positive mindset because he knows there are more races to come.
“I’d be proud of myself to do it, but if you don’t, you don’t,” he shrugged. “You’ve got next year and the years after that – you just gotta keep on trying.”
The winners for each category are as follows:
6-9: Evan Bryning
10: Gavin Cramer
11: Ayden Tilghman
12: Douglas Hughes
13: Kaden Pruett
14: Conor Cleary
15: Gage Wilson
16-17: Dylan Moore
For the full results from Saturday’s races, you can click here.