Many of today's top drag racers, like Leah Pritchett, Shawn Langdon, and Erica Enders-Stevens, started their racing careers in junior dragsters. These are half scale dragsters and race 1/8 mile (660 feet).
The idea was developed by the NHRA at the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey in 1991. The next year, the first junior dragsters began sanctioned racing. Until 2014, both IHRA and NHRA rules said drivers had to be ages 8-17. This year the age in IHRA was dropped to 7; NHRA dropped theirs to age 5. A new junior dragster will costs around $5000 and uses a 5hp, single cylinder engine.
Because of the wide range of ages, the IHRA junior dragster series is divided into 3 classes: Beginner (ages 7-9), Advanced (10-17), and Master (12-17).
The NHRA is divided into 5 classes: Trainee (age 5), Youth (6-7), Novice (8-9), Intermediate (10-12), and Advanced (13-18). In both IHRA and NHRA, the top class racers can cover the 1/8 mile in 7.90 seconds and achieve top speed of 85mph.
If you attend a race that features junior dragsters, you will see very quickly that the entire family is into racing. You can walk by a car hauler and see Dad races a Mustang, Charger, or something else and right next to it, one or two junior dragsters. NHRA Top Fuel driver Antron Brown has three children in the junior dragster series.
Check out your local IHRA or NHRA sanctioned dragstrip. You may see a future drag racing superstar...