In his father’s footsteps

Drag racing a family pastime for the Tidwells

Alex Eisen/MDN Tristan Tidwell, 10, from Stanley stands next to his junior dragster on Saturday at the Magic City International Dragway.

Launching his black with green lettering No. 199 junior dragster down the tarmac at 61 mph, 10-year old Tristan Tidwell is the youngest in his family to experience the acceleration adrenaline rush at the Magic City International Dragway (MCID).

Straight line drag racing has been a tradition that spans generations in the Tidwell family from Stanley.

“It’s been in the family for a long time,” Tristan’s mother Sarah Tidwell said. “My husband’s dad drag raced for many, many years. Then, my husband started drag racing and this one (Tristan) is now into the juniors.”

This is Tristan’s first season of racing his junior dragster. Coming into Saturday’s races, he was tied for sixth in the season point standings for his class, despite starting off with a smaller engine.

Entering the fourth weekend of racing at MCID, Tristan got an upgrade in horsepower and drasticly dropped his times. His father, Jerrad, was impressed and said he wasn’t nervous in the slightest when watching his son race.

“No nerves at all,” Jerrad Tidwell said. “We are always racing and maybe the very first time he raced (it was a little nerve-wracking). But, now that he has done it one time, you don’t really worry about it anymore after that point on. Even with this bigger motor this week. He was running 17’s (seconds) and it went all the way down to the 10’s (seconds). I mean, that’s a huge jump for someone his age.”

The junior dragsters are restricted and aren’t allowed to exceed 85 mph on the 1/8-mile asphalt track.

“The car has been doing well,” Jerrad Tidwell said. “It had some carburetor problems, but we got it all sorted out now. We are out here going for the second round of eliminations and we’ll see how far we can get.”

Tristan enjoys the competition of racing against his friends and has quickly adapted to life in the cockpit.

“It feels great and it’s really fast,” he said. “The first time it felt really scary. But, now that I have gotten used to it, it feels like I’m just sitting in a nice chair.”

Comfortable behind the wheel, just like his father. Jerrad Tidwell is currently on ‘The List’ with one of the ten fastest cars at the dragway with his matching black and green Ford Mustang.

For the Tidwells, to hang out and take part in the races at MCID means everything.

“We enjoy it so much,” Jerrad Tidwell said. “If we didn’t have our family out here together, it wouldn’t be the same. I got my car here, (Tristan) has his car, my wife is going to start driving our other car pretty soon and next year our six-year-old is going to be driving.”

Meaning, Tristan is going to lose his title as the youngest racer in the family to his lone brother Trace. A sibling rivalry is bound to ensue. But, more importantly, the racing legacy continues to be passed on and the close-knit community at the MCID gains another competitor.

“Family is everything,” Jerrad Tidwell said. “All of our friends out here, it’s their families too. Our family grows by having our friends and their families out here as well.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.