Kris Whitfield Racer Blog – Mar 2019
West Coast Bracket Races: A Platform Built on Opportunity
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to escape the winter landscape of Denver, Colorado for the slightly warmer setting of Tucson, Arizona. I say slightly warmer, since despite being in the southwest desert region of the country most of our racing was done below the 70 degree mark, and even into the 40’s after the sun set each day.
Undeterred by cooler weather, the K&N Southwest Showdown, promoted by Chris Forsyth and crew under the umbrella of West Coast Bracket Races, went off without a hitch on the recently resurrected grounds of Tucson Dragway. The Southwest Showdown featured 3 days of racing with Super Pro and Pro classes for main event payouts of $10,000 and $4,500 respectively. Plus a $20,000 Super Pro-64 Shootout and a $10,000 Pro-64 Showdown. Bonus prizes for .000’s and dead-on runs as well as round prizes were featured throughout the entire event.
Following the conclusion of the Southwest Showdown I had a chance to speak with West Coast Bracket Races promoter Chris Forsyth to get his take on the outcome of the event in Tucson and the inspiration behind his decision to promote races. Between his two events, the Southwest Showdown and the West Coast Classic, the West Coast Bracket Races brand has quickly gained a foothold in the bracket racing market in the western half of the country.
Chris first saw an opportunity in the market following the success of races like the Spring Fling and seeing the potential for growth in bracket racing. After traveling to the east coast and familiarizing himself with successful formats and ways to conduct popular races he devised the formats that you see on West Coast Bracket Races flyers today.
Chris’s goal has never been to rival the mega-events like the Spring Fling, but rather he set out to provide a stepping stone for the grassroots racers to experience the stage of a high dollar bracket racing without the time or financial investment required by larger races. Since the west coast culture of drag racing has undergone changes and seen a disconnect between sanctioning bodies and racers in recent years, Chris’s goal was to “set the atmosphere back to the racetrack” and provide an experience to racers that brings back the family atmosphere that attracted people to our sport and drew a genuine interest in racing in the first place.
Capitalizing on a changing culture of racing, the genuine feel that West Coast Bracket races provides to the customer has already seen strong support from different demographics of racers. In the last 5 years of promoting events Chris and crew have already been a driving factor in the progression of bracket racing. Racer support is growing, payouts are up, and racing on the west coast has never been as competitive as it is today.
Above everything else, the format and guarantee of customer service that drives these events provides opportunity, which is the ultimate vision behind West Coast Bracket Races. Opportunity for racers to learn, opportunity grow, opportunity to win, and an opportunity for racers to establish themselves as some of the best in country.
With an unprecedented racer turnout of 239 entries and 35 different sponsors for the 2019 version of the Southwest Showdown, the future looks bright for Chris and his team.
On a personal aside, I can’t help but divulge the fact that my team and I found a little bit of fortune at the Southwest Showdown during the Saturday night Super Pro 64-Car Shootout presented by Kidd Performance and Dyno. My car performed flawlessly, posting a 4.66 E.T. 7 laps in a row, which consolidated my responsibilities strictly to letting go of the button at the right time. I got my lucky round when I needed it and posted solid runs all the way to the winner’s circle. The $20k check will hang proudly on our wall for years to come!
About the Author: Born and raised in Colorado, Kris Whitfield began racing juniors at age 8 and currently pilots a 2004 Undercover dragster and a ’27 T Super Gas roadster. He has 16 track championships as well as 2 NHRA national event wins. With seven years experience working race-operations at Bandimere Speedway and with a life spent in the sportsman pits, Kris offers DragChamp readers a unique and relatable perspective.
For the 2019 season, Kris will represent sponsors Go Fast Energy, Phantom Racing Graphics, DJ Safety, DMP Awnings, Nationwide Productions, Armed Forces Racing, NGK, Precision Specialties, Premier Diversified Insurance, and This is Bracket Racing Elite.
You can connect with Kris on Facebook @Whitfieldfamilyracing or email at Kris@dragchamp.com
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