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Drivers, Start Your Engines

Fall Footbrake Frenzy
Fri.-Sat., 11/25-26
Coastal Plains Dragway
4744 Richlands Hwy., JAX, NC
Spectators: $5-10/day
(910) 382-6723

“American Graffiti,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “The Fast and the Furious” are all staples when it comes to featuring adrenaline-pumping drag-racing scenes incorporated into a film plot. But these movies are nothing in comparison to experiencing the real deal at Coastal Plains Dragway in Jacksonville. The smell of melted rubber, exhaust and gas mingling with the odor of seasoned hot dogs and burgers, combined with the sounds of a cheering crowd, live band and roaring horsepower—it’s enough to make any driver ready to put the pedal to the metal at the sight of a green light.

This weekend Anthony Walton and Michael Beard are bringing this exact thrill to the Thanksgiving table as they’ll host the biggest cash payout footbrake race in Coastal Plains Dragway history. November 25th through 26th marks the Fall Footbrake Frenzy III, a bracket competition in which the driver chooses not to use a transbrake, instead keeping his foot on the brake pedal, revving the gas with the other foot, and letting off the brake to race.

With a $50,000 total cash payout, Walton and Beard have definitely set the racing stripes high. This Footbrake Frenzy already has confirmed racers attending from as far as Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. Welcoming every type of street car, from pick-up trucks to race cars running in the five-second range, Walton says he hopes to see between 180 to 200 racers.

However, their anticipated crowd is nothing in comparison to the size of the effort that went into planning the event. An admitted die-hard drag race fanatic, Walton and his son, 12-year-old Will, say it’s their need not just for speed but for good, honest fun that’s a huge part of their family business and their reason for planning the Footbrake Frenzy. A year spent promoting the race, Walton admits it’s not without risk, but witnessing a happy crowd and the smile of accomplishment and pride spread across a racer’s face makes for an even bigger reward. Best yet, they aim to bring more races of this magnitude to Jacksonville in the future. For Walton, the sky is the limit when it comes to events centered on footbrake racing.

A Jacksonville native, Walton remembers spending Saturday nights at the raceway with his dad, even as young as 8 years old. “When I was 16 to 18, I’d pay my entrance fee and barely have enough cash to make it home,” he recalls. “We are racers putting on an event for racers, and there is a difference. A racer putting on an event for a racer thinks like a racer, not a track owner.”

Significantly, by putting on this year’s race, Walton and Beard hope to show the network of drag racers and their families in the area to prove racing truly is a family-friendly night out that doesn’t involve fighting, drunken behavior or stealing cars. Though danger is obviously involved, contrary to movies like, “The Fast and the Furious,” drag racing isn’t always illegally revved up. It is a true sport that takes patience and passion. In Walton and Beard’s quest to prove the stereotype wrong and show their love of the sport, if the pair meet their 200 race car entry goal, they will refund $80 to each competitor.

Another goal of the two-man team is to entice local military to come out to the race track and flaunt well deserved and hard-earned toys—their BMWs, Mustangs and Corvettes. “The military keeps Jacksonville running,” Walton urges. “The thousands of guys coming in—it’s what keeps all of our businesses alive.”

With 10 separate events behind him, Walton is looking forward to this particular race. “[It’s] going to be exciting because of the sheer number of different people, different attitudes and different personalities that you see on race night,” he says. “If you’re interested in bracket racing, and if you have a valid license, a car, truck or van, and a helmet—you can race and you can win. You can have a good time.”

Racers’ fees are $380 for the entire weekend. For those who would just like to watch, adults’ tickets are $10 per day, active duty military with ID are $5 a day, and kids under 12 get in free. Parking is open Thursday evening. Gates open Friday at 10 a.m. and time trials begin at noon, followed by a racers’ appreciation BBQ. Saturday’s main event gates open at 8 a.m. and time trials start at 9 a.m. Contact Anthony Walton at (910) 382-6723 for more information and rules.

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