2023 MILLION Dollar Bracket Race Results & Recap
MAY TRIUMPHS TBM BRAKES TUESDAY $20K DURING THE 28TH ANNUAL MILLION DOLLAR DRAG RACE
As one of the most well-known big money bracket races in history, The Million Dollar Drag Race is etched on the bucket list for most and circled on the calendar of many racers year after year. For the 28th installment of The Mickey Thompson Million, Folk Promotions swapped the long-standing southern staple for a Midwest venue just east of the Mississippi River as they relocated to World Wide Technology Raceway.
Racers were not only welcomed with views of the nearby Gateway Arch but also the hospitality that only The Million can provide. From complimentary snacks and beverages in the staging lanes, one free event t-shirt per competitor, zero spectator or crew fees, and the Laris Motorsports Insurance Racer Appreciation dinner on Friday, The Million’s attention to detail makes each participant feel valued, which explains why the pits were packed full on a Tuesday.
Five days of competition would kick off on TBM Brakes Tuesday where a top prize valued at $20,000 was ready for the taking. An overnight rain shower delayed the start time but eventually, each car would make a test pass prior to the first round of eliminations.
An impressive 584 entries made their way down the eight-mile in a high-stakes round one as buybacks were canceled due to the late start and crowd of racers. Seven rounds of win lights later, only five drivers remained eligible to pay the week’s tab off on day one: Wes May, Darian Boesch, Jake Stephens, Mark Cather, and Brett Williamson.
The first quarterfinal pairing has Boesch turning on the red light by three thousandths beside a wheel standing May who is .001 green for the win. Cather also leaves too soon while Stephens puts together an .028 package to make it an all door car semifinal. Williamson coasts through the finish line on his bye run after launching with a .004 bulb.
Williamson continues to crush the tree and lays down an .017 total package to leave Stephens mathematically ineligible, although his semifinal finish does earn an entry into Friday’s Million main event. May’s previous near perfect light allows him to stage up for the bye run where a hard launch results in almost taking down the tree literally, but he quickly recovers and will return for the final unscathed.
TBM Brakes Tuesday’s final round included $18,000 and a Million main event entry for the winner while the runner up earned a full weekend entry. Only four thousandths separate the pair on the starting line when May throws down a .006 total package turning on the win light beside Williamson who was .009 up front but had no chance.
HASTINGS FOOTBRAKES TO SUMMIT $50K VICTORY WEDNESDAY AT THE 28TH ANNUAL MILLION DOLLAR DRAG RACE
Approximately five hours after Wes May claimed the first big check of the 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race, the rumble of racecars returned to World Wide Technology Raceway for Wednesday’s Summit Racing Equipment $50K.
Drivers who rolled in the gates later than the rest of the competition were given a new entry time trial to get dialed in for a daunting day of drag racing. Another increase in car count resulted in the second day without forgiveness from a buyback round to crown a winner at a reasonable time.
A mix of no box, door cars, and dragsters totaled an impressive 680 entries launching off the starting line in round one of Summit $50K Wednesday. In the fifth round, the last two bottom bulb racers staged up to see who would claim the $1,000 No Box bonus. John Ratulowski leaves first with his 6.26 dial, but Nick Hastings has the reaction time advantage and chases him down taking a .006 margin of victory.
Round number eight consisted of six drivers: Wayne Gibson, Marco Abruzzi, Charlie Hamma, Brian Folk, Nick Hastings, and Brent Vincent. Up first in a brutal quarterfinal round is Folk who puts together an .013 package, but Abruzzi lets go .000 and runs one above to take the win by 2 thousandths. The second perfect light in just as many pairs comes from Hastings as he leaves Gibson mathematically ineligible. Vincent launches with a .001 light and runs dead on to lay down a .003 package to shut down Hamma’s .011 bulb.
In case you overlooked the arithmetic, out of three remaining drivers there were two triple zero lights which left a .001 bulb at the bottom of the ladder. In a battle to see which door car would line up next to Abruzzi, Hastings is .009 and runs dead on to take the win over Vincent who breaks out 7 thousandths.
The Summit $50K final on Wednesday comes down to a clash of two titans with a footbraking Hastings taking on Abruzzi in the dragster. Abruzzi has the starting line advantage with his .005 light but breaks out 1 thou while Hastings is .015 on the tree and one above for the win.
During the winner’s circle interviews, Abruzzi expresses that his opponent is probably the greatest of all time while a humble Hastings had just mentioned that lately he is a little rusty around the edges.
Speaking of his victory, Hastings says, “After the kind of year I’ve been having it really feels good. I’ve been taking a little bit of time off to spend with my new son, Jett, but we are finding our way back.”
In addition to thanking his sponsors, Hastings then elaborates on the significance of competing during the Million Dollar Drag Race. “Especially the OG Million, that’s a big deal. I watched this as a kid and a lot of my heroes now I’m racing against them.”
LAWRENCE LEAVES WITH SUMMIT $50K CHECK ON THURSDAY OF THE 28th ANNUAL MILLION DOLLAR DRAG RACE
One day removed from Nick Hastings proving that you don’t need a delay box to collect a $50,000 prize, drivers had another opportunity to cash in during Thursday’s installment of the Summit Triple 50’s.
The 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race witnessed even more racers roll through the gates of World Wide Technology Raceway as the new entrants received a time trial prior to eliminations. Buybacks were canceled to compensate for the crowd which soared to a staggering 774 entries during the first round of competition. The support from racers produced the highest car count during the 28-year history of the Million Dollar Drag Race.
As a gesture of appreciation, the Folk family has announced a $28K Giveaway that will take place during the Million main event. On Friday, 28 tech cards will be randomly selected, followed by a live contest on the starting line where various cash prizes will be distributed via sealed envelopes with a combined value of $28,000 as a nod to the 28th Annual Million Dollar Drag Race.
Diving back into the action on Thursday, the field eventually dwindled to seven drivers in round number eight: Greg Sesti, Kenny Underwood, Josh Luedke, Jason Lawrence, Rayce Kidd, Daryl Patton, and Tyler Roach. Patton has an issue with the delay box and goes red while Lawrence is .024 green to advance. Luedke has the starting line advantage but breaks out 1 thousandth beside Roach who runs one above his dial for the win. Sesti misses the tree while Kidd is .012 up front and one above taking the win in his father’s dragster after experiencing fuel pump issues in his own ride. Underwood earns the bye run courtesy of his previous .002 reaction time.
Two Camaros, a Vega, and one dragster gather for the semifinal round as they inch towards claiming a $50,000 payout. Lawrence is in control with his .008 bulb and illuminates the win light while Roach breaks out 4 thou. Underwood is uncharacteristically late up front, and Kidd takes full advantage of the situation putting together an .029 package for the win.
The Summit $50K final round on Thursday is a cross-country battle with the West Coast Kidd taking on the New Jersey native, Lawrence. The better light of .015 is produced by Lawrence who then wheels his Camaro to an .017 margin of victory over Kidd.
A pair of unique stories and impressive winner’s circle interviews polish off the race day starting with Lawrence who explains his unconventional trip to the 28th Annual Million Dollar Drag Race. “I got in on a free entry that I won through a practice tree league, but then our Duster caught on fire. They pushed the free entry back to this year, which was really nice of them, so I could be a part of this,” says Lawrence.
He continues, “Like for a lot of people, this has been a bucket list race...it’s a dream come true just to be here. This is the best of the best in the country.”
Kidd uses his interview as an opportunity to discuss the importance of his faith by saying, “This racing stuff is really cool, but my purpose here is to know God and make God known. I just want to use this outlet to share the gospel…God first always, all this stuff comes after that.”
The last bottom bulb racer left in competition Thursday was Nick Curl who picked up the $1,000 No Box bonus after defeating Michael Crass.
HAGAR MAKES HISTORY BY CONQUERING 28th ANNUAL MILLION DOLLAR DRAG RACE WITHOUT DELAY BOX
The line lock is off, and we are rolling out of the water box for the day everyone has been patiently waiting for…Friday at the 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race. The largest payout of the event is awarded on Friday as someone is guaranteed to leave with six figures.
Before deciding who will make their way toward the winner’s circle, all drivers receive a time trial to get dialed in for the day. The more lucrative purse calls for a higher entry fee that always lowers the car count from the surrounding $50K races. Since World Wide Technology Raceway is packed with eager racers, the decrease benefits drivers by providing time for a re-entry round if they fail to turn on the win light in round one.
The atmosphere changes on Million dollar Friday which creates an amplified excitement as the stakes continue to rise. Drivers and families not participating in Friday’s race stay to watch alongside the return road or in the grandstands, because everyone wants to know who will win it all. After the playing of the National Anthem, invocation, and moment of silence for the Million Dollar Drag Race creator, George Howard, the first pair of No Box racers make their way through the tunnel and onto the racing surface.
A striking 471 entries take that same path from the staging lanes and past the finish line during the first round of eliminations. As advertised on the flyer, this car count meant the winner’s purse climbed to $590,000 and $50,000 to the runner up. Twelve drivers outlasted the next six rounds of grueling competition with hopes of earning the cash and notoriety that comes with a Million Dollar Drag Race victory. They were Donnie Hagar, Braden Bowden, Jeff Serra, Isaac Wilde, Trevor Moore, Chad Branum, Rocky VanNote, Mikey Bloomfield, Shane Carr, Hunter Whitehead, Wes Neely, and Hal Blevins.
Both Wilde and Branum are .002 red to advance their opponents Hagar and Carr, respectively. Moore breaks out 1 thousandth beside Neely who is .018 total for the win, followed by Bowden’s breakout sending Bloomfield into the next round. VanNote lays down .015 total to eliminate Whitehead. Blevins is .008 on the tree but Serra is .006 and runs closer to his dial to advance.
The crowd of fellow racers and friends gathering near the starting line multiplies as the number of cars still in the race halves. Neely turns on the red light by 4 thou in his roadster while Carr is .004 green and coasts across the finish line. Hagar is .018 up front and takes the double breakout win running 1 thou under beside VanNote who runs 4 thou too quick. Only 8 thou separate the pair on the starting line and Serra gets to the stripe first but is 6 thou under his dial while Bloomfield runs .013 above for the win.
Carr secures an appearance in his second Million final round courtesy of the bye run while Bloomfield and Hagar face off in the semifinal. Both drivers are eager for the win with Bloomfield putting together a .009 package for the loss. Hagar launches with a .004 light and runs dead on with a zero to take his bottom bulb Vega into the Million dollar final round.
The 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race champion is merely one pass away from their celebration as the $2,000 No Box bonus winner, Donnie Hagar, stages up next to Shane Carr, who claimed the coveted Million title in 2012.
As Carr reverses from his half-track burnout, Hagar smokes the tires and rolls towards the starting line. Both drivers carefully bump into the stage beams and Hagar leaves first with a .005 reaction time followed by the .001 red light of Carr. Hagar makes history by becoming the first No Box racer to compete in the OG Million final round, much less conquer it.
A man of few words during the winner’s circle interview, Hagar is still in disbelief of what he has just accomplished. He says, “I’m super thankful and happy, obviously. And really tired as well. It just doesn’t seem real to be honest, I’m just super blessed…at a loss for words.”
Carr takes a moment to praise the OG Million in his post-race interview by saying, “I want to thank Donny Burleson for giving me such a good hot rod. All the Folk family for such a great race. I’m glad you came to St. Louis, I don’t think you could do much better.”
PATTON PICKS UP SUMMIT $50K PAYDAY ON SATURDAY OF THE 28TH ANNUAL MILLION DOLLAR DRAG RACE
After four days of massive car counts, incredible victories, intense competition, and unmatched excitement, Saturday’s sunrise would provide the last opportunity for racers to profit during the 28th Annual Mickey Thompson Million Dollar Drag Race.
Following the new entry time trial session, No Box competitors were called to the staging lanes for the final Summit $50K race of the weekend. A healthy field of 626 door cars and dragsters made their way towards the finish line during first round and without a buyback, no second chances would be available.
The fifth round featured a case of déjà vu as Nick Hastings and John Ratulowski faced off as the final bottom bulb racers. Ratulowski puts together an .019 total package but gets .013 change when Hastings is .004 up front and runs dead on with a two for the win. Hastings adds another $1,000 No Box bonus to his bank balance and moves into the door car side where he is eliminated the next round on a breakout.
By the time round number eight arrived, only six drivers made the cut: Turtle Dickerson, Cody Wiggins, Jesse Fritts, Brian Canady, Steve Collier, and Hunter Patton. Dickerson turns on the dreaded red bulb by 5 thousandths beside Fritts who let go .016 green for the win. Collier missed the tree while Wiggins did the opposite, laying down a .005 pack with his perfect reaction time to advance into the semifinal. Only 8 thou separate the pair on the tree, but Patton runs one above his dial to seal the deal over Canady.
Fritts was holding on to the wait-and-see bye which came at an ideal time as he launched with a .003 light but had to pull over and seemingly check for a mechanical issue. Patton has the starting line advantage with a .006 light and takes .002 at the stripe for the win over Wiggins, who is .027 and dead-on-zero for the loss.
The 10th round matchup and closing pass of the event is between the deadly dragster driving Patton from Indiana and the Illinois native, Fritts, who faced an unexpected shake up to his game plan. Fritts rolls into the water box behind the wheel of Joey Moore’s Camaro after his own Camaro roadster was unable to return to the $50K final round.
Patton takes early control of the race with an .018 light and throttles to run .02 above his dial for the win while Fritts misses the tree and dial in his last minute rental race car. The flashing win light in the left lane results in Patton breaking the door car domination at this year’s Million Dollar Drag Race to snag a win for the dragsters.
Patton’s return to big money bracket racing success fills the winner’s circle as he expresses what it means to take home the Saturday Summit $50K victory. He says, “It feels great to be back. It’s been a long while, but hard work and dedication gets you back.”
Fritts takes his first spin at a post-race interview and chooses an optimistic view of his Million Dollar Drag Race experience. He says, “I’m not upset about today, I’m fortunate to get as far as I was and to be able to even stage up in the final thanks to Joey Moore…As a twelve-year-old I looked up MotorManiaTV and thought ‘Oh, that’s the OG Million. I’m going to stay up ‘til 4 AM and watch and I’ll go to school at 7 in the morning.’ So, to be here right now is pretty surreal.”
Eventually, the full pit area will slowly recede to vacant asphalt as tow rigs depart World Wide Technology Raceway leaving the 28th Annual Million Dollar Drag Race in the rearview mirror. However, for the Folk family, that just means preparation can begin for the 29th edition of the OG Million.