Whether it's the rush of going 85 mph in 7.7 seconds or simply being out on the track, drag racing is in the blood of the Dokken and Wright families
Forty-year race veteran John Dokken has raced at Magic City International Dragway since it opened 15 years ago. His two sons, Tim and Chris, are also heavily involved in drag racing. John and Tim race in the most competitive class, Top ET, while Chris races in Mod ET.
It was at the race track that Chris met his wife, Liz, who has raced for eight years. Liz's mother, Angela Wright, has raced for 10 years at the track along with her husband, Bruce, and two sons, Josh and Jason.
Two drag racers take off on the straighaway during the Motor Magic event on Sunday at Magic City International Dragway.
"It's like a fever in the blood," Wright said. "I grew up with it. My kids grew up with it and it just went from there."
Chris and Liz met when her brother's car broke down during a race. Chris, a mechanic, offered to help with the repairs. One year later, Chris and Liz married and the two racing families became one.
With eight racers between the two families, it's inevitable that they face off on the track.
Liz and her mother have gone head-to-head on many occasions, competing for the Street ET Class championship. Angela won the Street ET Class championship in 2009 and was named driver of the year at MCID. One year prior, she finished runner-up to Josh. On the weekend of July 6, Angela claimed the 2012 Iron Man Classic championship.
"Winning is gravy," Angela said. "Doing this is my stress relief. If they told me tomorrow that I couldn't get into my race car I don't know what I'd do."
Liz is no slouch either, as she currently leads her division in points. In a close second is her mother.
"They're family until I'm in the lanes with them and then they're competition," Liz said. "I love my family dearly, but when they are in the lanes with me I have to go up against them. They are fair game."
Chris and his brothers would occasionally bet a bottle of soda on their races.
Jim Grote, president of MCID, said he envisioned the 1/8-mile track to be a family-friendly place that would help keep kids off the street and out of trouble. His race track, which is the only sanctioned track in North Dakota by the International Hot Rod Association, has lived up to his expectations.
Chris' brother Tim was caught street racing on a few occasions. As a result, his father helped build him a race car so that he could race at the track. Tim finished fifth in points in the Top ET Class in 2010.
Even in the darkest of times, the race track has proved to be a great distraction. In the aftermath of the 2011 flood, both families were able to put their minds at ease, even if it was just for a weekend, and not worry about the rebuilding process.
The flood nearly cost John his racing career, as his Super Comp Dragster was buried under nine feet of water. With all his efforts concentrated on repairing his house, he didn't have time to fix the dragster.
But fellow racer and friend Lucky Buckman offered to repair the car. After more than six months, the dragster was in running condition and John was back in the driver's seat. Now, he's just happy to have the opportunity to do what he loves.
"Every time I race, whether I win or lose, I have a big smile on my face," he said.
The eight-event season at the track ended this past weekend with the Motor Magic event. Grote said he would like to see 10 races a year with a Wednesday night race once a month, but that would depend on the availability of the drivers, who come from parts of Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota.
Grote believes drag racing is coming back to the forefront.
"It's the ultimate thrill and speed," he said. "It's almost like being on the street racing. It's a one-on-one sport."