Major Drag Racing Leagues in the World


Drag racing is a sport in which automobiles compete against each other, usually two at a time, to be the first to reach the finish line. The race has a short and straight path from the starting point to the finish line at a predefined distance. 

Each driver in the race is allowed to perform a burnout before each race which warms the driving tires and puts the rubber down at the start of the circuit, enhancing traction. Then, the vehicle passes through a water box, also known as a bleach box.

Previously, bleach was used with a flammable traction compound, which produced spectacular but dangerous flame burnouts. The danger prompted the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) to ban the practice. 

Nowadays, modern races begin with a system known as Christmas trees. This consists of a column of lights for every driver or lane and two light beam sensors for every lane on the track at the line’s starting. 

The modern NHA trees consist of one blue light, three amber lights, one green light, and one red light. When a vehicle’s front tire breaks the first light beam, the car is pre-staged, and the pre-stage indication on the tree illuminates.

There are various drag racing leagues in the world, but the most prominent ones are in the US and Europe. This is because the competition mostly involves using muscle cars with heavy engines, which are not always readily available in different parts of the world. 

Top Drag Racing Leagues in the World

1. National Hot Rod Association (NHRA)

National Hot Rod Association Logo

The National Hot Rod Association, also known as NHRA, is a drag racing regulating organization that makes rules and organizes events in the United States and Canada. They are the world’s largest racing sanctioning organization, with over 40,000 drivers on their rosters.

Wally Parks founded the association in 1951 in California to establish a governing body to organize and promote the drag racing sport. The first NHRA nationals took place in 1955 at Great Bend, Kansas. 

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing series consists of 24 races a year. It is one of the top leagues in drag racing, bringing together the top drag racers from all over the world. The NHRA US Nationals take place in Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana, and are officially known as the US Nationals.

2. International Hot Rod Association (IHRA)

Burning rubber at the start of a drag race

After the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) is the second-largest drag racing league. This league was founded by a businessman known as Larry Carrier. 

The organization used to operate in the South East of the United States, with its headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee. In the beginning, the IHRA was following the professional class structure of NHRA’s Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock until the 1984 season, when it eliminated the elite Top Fuel category. 

This decision lasted for three years before being reinstated. The association is also recognized for launching the longest-running drag racing sponsorship deal with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s Winston brand, which expired in 2001.

3. National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA)

The National Electric Drag Racing Association, better known as NEDRA, is a part of the Electric Auto Association. NEDRA does this by arranging and sanctioning electric drag racing events that are safe, silent, and fun. 

It is a partnership of drag racing enthusiasts, owners and drivers of electric drag racing vehicles, and people interested in promoting the sport of drag racing. Moreover, they also promote and support EV components suppliers, EV manufacturers, and other environmentally conscious companies and individuals. 

It works to raise awareness among the people about electric vehicles and their performance and support advancements in electric car technology with the help of competition. 

4. Australian Drag Racing Association (ADRA)

The Australian Drag Racing Association (ADRA) was established in 1973 by the Australian Hot Rod’s federation. It is a drag racing-oriented group known as “the best in the world outside of the United States.” 

ANDRA authorizes races at all levels, from junior drags to Top Fuel, across Australia and throughout the year. Top Fuel, Top Alcohol, Top Doorslammer, Pro Stock, and Top Bike together make the ANDRA Drag Racing Series suitable for professional drivers and riders. 

5. The New Zealand Hot Rod Association (NZHRA)

The New Zealand Hot Rod Association (NZHRA) is a car club association organization based in Maunganui, New Zealand. It is engaged in improving and encouraging its members to participate and enjoy safe hot rodding or drag racing. 

The association also encourages participating in its activities to stimulate the growth, achievement, and success gained due to their involvement with unique and different automobiles and ultimately promoting the sport.

6. The National Auto Sport Association (NASA)

The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) is a motorsports organization based in the United States that came into existence in 1991. It promotes road racing and high-performance driver training. In addition, it organizes High-Performance Driving Events (HPDE), automobile rallies, and time trials. 

They’re also known for hosting Mustang and Camaro featured drag races as well as autocross and professional, club-level automobile racing around the United States. The first National Championships of NASA took place in September 2006 at Mid-Ohio, home of the previous SCCA’s “Runoffs.”

7. American Drag Racing League (ADRL)

Jeff Begun founded the American drag racing league, also known as ADRL, in 2004. It is one of the country’s most thrilling and popular racing series, with 285+ MPH Dragsters, Funny Cars, Top Fuels Harleys, Pro Mods, Pro Stock, Jet Cars, Fireworks, a kids fun zone, and even more.

Currently, some of the best performing drivers in ADRL are Mike Quinn and Keith, and they have a class of 7.0 index. 

8. Nostalgia Drag Racing League (NDRL)

Nostalgia Drag Racing League (NDRL)

The Nostalgia Drag Racing League is based in Brownsburg, Indiana. It organizes a series of drag races of about ¼ mile in the Midwest for 1979 and older nostalgic-looking automobiles, with four different classes of competition operating on an index system. 

The Pro 7.0 and 7.50 have top speeds of 200 miles per hour, whereas Pro Comp and Pro Gas have indices ranging from 8.0 to 10.0. Cars like Front Engine Dragsters, Altereds, Funny red, early Pro Stock clones, Super Stocks, and Glasses are standard NDRL competition cars.

9. European Drag Racing Summit (EDRS) 

Summit Racing EDRS Series has been in operation since February 17th, 2017. Previously known as European Drag Racing Series (ERS), it is run by Speedgroup, which hosted Europe’s largest drag racing series. During 2017, over 800 teams from 12 countries competed in events held under the EDRS banner. 

The summit features a wide range of competing classes, including automobiles and motorbikes, as well as junior and senior drag racing. The Summit Racing EDRS combines regional and worldwide racing, and the series gives an appealing idea so that teams and organizers can participate and enjoy the different races. 

Interesting Facts About Drag Racing

A red Camaro in a drag race

  1. NHRA Origins: The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), founded in 1951 by Wally Parks, is the largest drag racing league in the world, originating in the United States.
  2. Top Fuel Dragsters: In NHRA, Top Fuel dragsters are the fastest category, reaching speeds of over 330 mph in just 1,000 feet.
  3. Christmas Tree Lights: The unique starting system in drag racing, known as the “Christmas Tree,” was first introduced by NHRA in 1963.
  4. First Televised Drag Race: The NHRA Winternationals in 1963 was the first drag racing event to be nationally televised in the United States.
  5. Australian Drag Racing: The Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) was established in 1973 and has since become the premier drag racing body in Australia.
  6. European Drag Racing: The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) governs European drag racing, with the FIA European Drag Racing Championship being a highly regarded competition.
  7. Japan’s Drag Racing Scene: Japan has a vibrant drag racing culture, with the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) and the D1 Grand Prix series hosting events.
  8. Gender Diversity: Shirley Muldowney, known as the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” broke gender barriers by becoming the first woman to win a Top Fuel event in NHRA history in 1976.
  9. Longest Dragstrip: The Bahrain International Circuit’s dragstrip, at 1,347 meters, is currently the longest in the world.
  10. Electric Drag Racing: The NHRA introduced an electric vehicle (EV) category in 2019, showcasing the growing interest in electric drag racing.
  11. Safety Innovations: After the fatal crash of driver Blaine Johnson in 1996, the NHRA mandated rev-limiters to control engine explosions and improve safety.
  12. Multi-Class Racing: NHRA events feature multiple classes, including Pro Stock, Pro Modified, and various sportsman classes, each with different rules and specifications.
  13. Junior Drag Racing: The NHRA Junior Drag Racing League allows children as young as five years old to race in scaled-down dragsters, promoting youth involvement in the sport.
  14. Iconic Tracks: The U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis is one of the most iconic and historic events in drag racing.
  15. Speed Records: The current world record for the fastest speed in a quarter-mile drag race is 338.17 mph, set by Brittany Force in 2019.
  16. Global Reach: The sport has a significant following in countries like Canada, the UK, Sweden, and South Africa, each hosting their own major events and series.
  17. Drag Racing Video Games: The popularity of drag racing has led to its inclusion in various video games, making the sport accessible to a wider audience.
  18. Innovative Technologies: Drag racing has been a testing ground for many automotive technologies, including traction control systems and aerodynamic advancements.
  19. Sponsorship and Media Coverage: Major brands often sponsor teams and events, and the sport enjoys extensive coverage on sports networks and specialized media.
  20. Environmental Initiatives: There’s a growing trend in drag racing towards sustainability, with efforts to use biofuels and develop more eco-friendly racing practices.

Drag Racing – A Thrilling Sport

Drag racing is a unique and thrilling sport. It usually involves muscle cars with big, powerful engines. And being a dangerous sport, drag racing takes lots of guts. Hence, many leagues all over the world are working to promote this type of racing and raise awareness among people about drag racing and its thrill. 

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