March 1, 2022, San Dimas, Calif. – As part of the ongoing effort to keep pace with current trends in the high-performance automotive industry, the National Hot Rod Association has announced several enhancements to the Street Legal program. The program will allow a broader and more diverse range of vehicles for the participants and give recognition to their on-track performance.
Since its formation in 1951, the NHRA has worked tirelessly to combat and eliminate the dangerous and illegal practice of street racing. To this day, that continues to be the primary mission for the association. One of the most effective tools in the fight against illegal street racing has been establishing Street Legal events, which are held regularly at NHRA member tracks across North America.
“Updating and improving the Street Legal program couldn’t come at a more crucial time for our industry and sport,” said Matt DeYoung, Tucson Dragway’s track manager. “We continue to see manufacturers make faster vehicles available right off the showroom floor while increasing features that couldn’t be overlooked anymore. NHRA along with the help and input of NHRA member tracks across the country have worked to improve and grow the experience and sustainability of this program for our Street Legal customers. We believe our racers will embrace these changes and it will grow our grudge racing and Street Legal Program while helping prevent faster OEM cars taking to the streets.”
Changes to the Street Legal program will allow racers with 2014-and-newer OEM model-year production cars to run as quick as 9.00-seconds and/or 150-mph (5.40-eighth mile). In addition, racers with 2008-2013 OEM model-year cars will still be permitted to run as quickly as 10.00-seconds and/or 135-mph (6.40-eighth mile).
Unaltered OEM installed antilock brakes, OEM airbag functions, OEM stock frame\unibody construction, including OEM floors and firewall, as well as all other OEM safety-related systems must be functioning as per manufacturer’s specifications. Tires used may be other than OEM, but they must be DOT-approved.
Convertibles quicker than 13.49 (8.25) and T-tops quicker than 11.49 (7.35) must meet Summit Racing Series roll bar and roll cage requirements. An NHRA Level 6 license is required for drivers running quicker than 10.00 (*6.39) or faster than 135 mph. A NHRA Level 7 competition license is also available to racers whose elapse times are above 10.00/6.40.
NHRA will recognize racers at an NHRA member track for their on-track performance with unique Street Legal decals. Street Legal decals will be available for racers at a quarter-mile facility who break the 13, 12, 11, and 10-second benchmarks and at an eighth-mile facility who break the 9, 8, 7, and 6-second benchmarks. Racers who break into the 9s in a quarter-mile or 5s in an eighth-mile at an NHRA member track and submit to NHRA a license application will receive an exclusive decal, only available with the Street Legal NHRA competition license, to recognize their achievement.
“Each year, automotive manufacturers continue to push the limits of performance by building production vehicles that are quicker and faster than the previous year’s models, “said NHRA’s national tech director, Lonnie Grim. “At NHRA, we very much support their commitment to performance and recognize that there is still a very large market for performance cars. At the same time, we acknowledge that NHRA needs to keep pace with the current trends, which is why we’ve announced these rules adjustments. Under these new guidelines, owners of Shelby GT 500, Corvette ZR-1, Dodge Demon, Tesla Plaid, or other high performance vehicles will have the ability to participate in and enjoy NHRA Street Legal racing events without making extensive modifications to their cars.”
The Street Legal category is reserved for foreign and domestic OEM production-type automobiles and trucks. While the use of aftermarket parts is accepted, all vehicles must be street driven, and drivers must carry state-issued proof of registration and valid insurance information. All vehicles must also display a valid license plate.
“I want to stress that these limitations are not restricted when it comes to the use of aftermarket bolt-on products and other modifications,” said Grim. “This simply states that vehicles racing under the Street Legal guidelines do have to meet the OEM safety system requirements as noted.”
Vehicles participating in the Street Legal events must be able to pass all state highway safety requirements for the state in which the vehicle is registered and retains all OEM safety features. Only legitimate street-legal machines are permitted to participate at designated Street Legal events. Although the competition structure can vary from track to track, a strong emphasis is placed on fun and providing a welcoming environment for first-time new racers. Many Street Legal events feature open time trials and grudge racing only, which typically allows each participant an opportunity to make as many passes down the dragstrip as possible. The grudge racing element allows participants to choose their competition instead of participating in an organized eliminator. Win or lose, a grudge racing participant may return to the staging lanes for more time trials or more grudge runs. Losing a race at a Street Legal event does not typically mean it’s time to go home. Street Legal events provide a legal and controlled environment where racers of all skill levels enjoy the sport of NHRA Drag Racing.