Leave it to Donald Long to spin a negative situation into a positive.
The often brash, and outspoken drag radial promoter didn’t have a race planned until October, when his postponed Sweet 16 event, along with No Mercy 11 will run back-to-back.
With many drag radial racers displaced by a multitude of postponed events, Long wanted to ease the pain of stay safer at home orders throughout the United States.
As Long sees it, nothing soothes the soul like a record-setting event.
Thus was born the invitation-only COVID-8.
Long will stage the COVID-8 on May 22 – 23, at Orlando Speed World Dragway in Orlando, Fla. The future home for Long’s Sweet 16 events. The event will be broadcast as a pay-per-view on Speedvision.
“I love going after door car records, whether it’s big tire, small tires, radials or whatever,” Long said. “I want to have the fastest eight cars in Radial vs. The World, and the fastest eight cars in Pro 275.
“It’s one of those things also is that, as far as the sport goes, I don’t want everybody sitting around so long they decide to sell off their cars. Talking with Pro-Line and Eric Dillard and FuelTech and everybody, we need to get some people back out there racing. That’s what we’re trying to do is get somebody out there and make it more of that elite feeling, a lot more pit interviews, top-end interviews, the table out in the center [of the staging lanes] deal. Get it back to like the first Sweet 16-style atmosphere.”
Long confirmed entry lists will be limited 12 cars in each class, with possibly one or two entries added based on past accomplishments. The racers will compete for a winner’s share of a purse which is $20,000.
“I will open if there’s somebody that can make it from California or if something happens and we can,” Long said. “I promised a couple of people a spot from Canada. We’re shooting for is 12 to 13 cars. Which are pretty much all locked in and done right now.”
Long said he’s left the communication with local health officials to officials at Orlando Speed World Dragway. For his part, Long said the event will run at 25-percent capacity and without spectators. He plans to adhere to national social distancing guidelines.
“We’re spacing them out around 100 feet apiece,” Long explained. “We’ve got plenty of concrete.”
“I’m pumped up about it because there hasn’t been anything going on and it’s depressing the way the world is right now,” Long said. “I feel this will give people something to watch, and they love to see how fast these Radial Versus the World and Pro 275 cars can go. I know if I’m excited about it, usually everybody else is excited.”