The Flashlight Drags is an event held at the Zelienople, PA Airport. This is an opportunity for local hot rodders, tuners, and enthusiasts of street legal vehicles to race their pride-and-joy's against others who share the same passion. The prize: bragging rights.
These nostalgic races begin with a flashlight signal. The drivers then propel their vehicles down the track/airport as fast as they can. The vehicles were lined up randomly. Later, the drivers pitted themselves against their own opponents.
Due to the close proximity of houses, the vehicles must be equipped with real mufflers. The races used to transpire at night but due to an excessive amount of noise and in an attempt to provide a safer environment, the races are now held during daylight.
The vehicles must have a current state registration, cannot arrive on a trailer, and DOT tires are required. Slicks are not permitted. The drivers must have a valid license, proof of insurance and attend a driver's meeting prior to the start of the races.
Spectators are encouraged and ample space is provided. Trying to determine who is going to win before the start of the race is harder than it would seem. Who knew a Honda Civic hatchback would beat a Chevrolet Corvette or a Ford Mustang? Some of the vehicles were highly modified and purposely built for these types of events. The fastest vehicles on the track were the muscle cars of the 1960's and 1970's. They dominated the event making it look easy.
Some classic battles such as the Subaru Impreza Sti vs. the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo were settled over and over again. In most cases, the Subaru was faster off the line, but when the race finished it was the Lancer who had emerged victorious. It may have been the driver, it may have been the car, it may have been extra enhancements to the vehicle, but it was all good, clean fun.
This was not only an opportunity to prove your driving skills but also to show-off your vehicle. Many local gear nuts brought their vehicles and proudly displayed them on the lawn. This week's event was sponsored by the GTO club so there were plenty of Pontiac's in the crowd.
This was one of six racing events that will happen at the airport during the summer of 2005. Plenty of time for the drivers to settle the age-old question of who's car is the fastest.
Thanks Kyle McMullen for help with the photography.