Drag Racing: A Straight Shot to Sales

Don’t lose time connecting to these power-hungry customers...

This article originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of THE SHOP magazine.

Drag racers, by and large, are an impatient group. Shops that serve them can get right to the point by offering the products and knowledge competitors need to go fast.

While some wonder if the market is set for a slide, insiders are seeing just the opposite, as a wide variety of series and events offer racing at every level and a growing community of grassroots enthusiasts and participants continue to pursue their need for speed.

Understanding individual racer’s requirements while building loyalty through knowledge and customer service are keys to unlocking increased sales in the drag racing market. Suppliers are here to help shops set their personal bests, with advice on market trends and top components to drop those ETs.

fti black dragster
Drag racers are not shy about giving product feedback. (Photo courtesy FTI Performance)


As a new season approaches, suppliers are focusing on various aspects of the market.

Steve Williams, chief business development officer for K&N Engineering and an NHRA World Champion, believes all forms of drag racing will continue to experience growth, propped up by market influences including the continued popularity of the “Street Outlaws” cable television program, which he sees “promoting drag racing across every series.”

“From NHRA to No-Prep and all forms from high-dollar bracket racing to Pro-Mod series, everybody is enjoying the focus and attention provided by the hit series,” Williams says. “The end result is record attendance, and people are getting involved again at a grassroots level.”

Duane LaFleur, national account manager – high performance for Lucas Oil, also calls drag racing “a growing market.”

“The different sanctioning bodies and the high-dollar bracket races that are being put on have helped grow this market,” he observes. “The big dollar events have had the greatest impact.”

Rising popularity means everyone wants to get in on the action—putting stresses on product delivery that hasn’t been the same since the pandemic.

“Honestly, it’s the parts,” says Krista Baldwin, director of marketing for FTI Performance and NHRA Top Fuel driver. “Ever since the pandemic, all drivetrain companies have had issues in receiving products in a timely manner so that we can send our finished products to our customers.”

In response, her company formed a new supply business, FTI Performance Parts, to help alleviate some bottlenecks.

In terms of product trends, Eric Grilliot, product manager at MAHLE Motorsport, is focusing this offseason on high-compression boosted applications.

“From a product development standpoint, we’ve had to re-evaluate what constitutes a ‘boost-ready’ shelf stock part—10:1 or 11:1 (compression) engines used to be fairly safe in the realm of the naturally aspirated zone, but that’s no longer the case,” he explains. “Part design and component selection have had to evolve accordingly.”

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Ease of entry means a growing number of participants are trying drag racing for the first time. (Photo courtesy lucasoil.com)


Just like the drag racers they serve, top speed shops and engine builders are always looking for the slightest advantage over the competition. Suppliers offer some areas of opportunity.

“Product availability. If the products are available, the customer is going to buy. They don’t want to have the product ordered for the next day,” says LaFleur, adding “also, understanding the difference between brands and educating the customer is very important.”

Baldwin speaks to the loyalty of competitors you’ve helped perform at their best.

“Drag racers are some of the best customers that a company could have. They are honest and give feedback on all of our products,” she says. “The opportunity in drag racing is the potential of gaining a new customer. Once a customer races with our torque converters and transmissions, they are most likely a customer for life. Drag racers are very brand loyal.”

Want to get your business brand in front of local competitors? Look to create low-cost marketing partnerships with local tracks, Williams advises.

“The ability to develop promotional programs at your local tracks drives foot traffic and loyalty,” he says. “Grassroots drag racing is a very affordable form of racing, with growing popularity. Just spend a few days at the track and talk to the local racers. Ask questions and develop a pilot marketing program specific to that track. It can be as simple as a shootout with gift certificates to the winner and runner-up. Start small and grow from there.”


One of the great things about drag racing is that the next run often comes very soon. Here are some tips for riding the wave into the 2024 season.

“Drag racing has the unique advantage of being one of the last outlets in motorsports that covers the entire spectrum of engine development,” says Grilliot from MAHLE Motorsport. “At the ultra-restrictive end, parts are being refined and optimized to extract every last ounce of performance. Alternatively, there are still opportunities for a true ‘run-what-you-brung’ customer and unlimited possibilities.”

K&N’s Williams is seeing good stuff coming down the track.

“With the increase of popularity and expansion of additional series comes increased expenses,” he notes. “It’s likely we will see some consolidation in the sport and also increases in the purses. We have seen weekend bracket races evolve into week-long events from coast to coast. I also see the 1/8-mile continuing to become more popular in some series.”

Core strengths are strong in this market, says LaFleur from Lucas Oil, including ease of entry.

“We are hoping the drag racing market continues to grow as it has been. You can take a street car to a local drag strip and race on any given day. You can’t do that in many other racing markets,” he says.

Asking for predictions, FTI’s Baldwin believes the market “is only going to get bigger.”

“So many more teams are forming, and many new race events are popping up. The beauty of Drag Racing, particularly in the Southeast, is that you can go 100 miles in any direction and hit a drag strip. Most tracks bring in large payouts, so there is something substantial to win for our customers.”

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Part designs and component selections have evolved. (Photo courtesy MAHLE Motorsport)

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