The National Hot Rod Association Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series is coming to Great Bend again this weekend. “Thunder on the Plains” opened Thursday and runs through Sunday at the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association’s dragstrip, located at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town.
“Last year, the Lucas Oil races brought thousands of people to Great Bend from all over,” said Community Coordinator Christina Hays. It is expected to do the same this year.
Spectator admission is as follows: Friday pass, $10; Saturday pass, $20; and Sunday pass, $20. A two-day pass for Saturday and Sunday is $35, and three-day pass for Friday, Saturday and Sunday is $45. Children 12 and under are free with a paid adult.
Gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and open again at 7 a.m. on Sunday. There will be time trials and qualifying races Friday and Saturday, with finals on Sunday.
And, again, the races will be bigger than normal this year, Hayes said.
After heavy rains forced the cancelation of races in at the Tri-State Raceway in Iowa last year, the National Rod and Custom Association contacted Great Bend about absorbing the cancelled events at the SRCA site.
“This year, their last day got rained out as well,” Hayes said. “So, we’ll have extra visitors. Our raceway will be packed again.”
The expanded event that brought as many as 800 cars to the facility was part of what was called the “Mega Motor Weekend.” It included the races, the Great Bend Airfest and the Hahn Brothers Motocross Shootout.
“This is a huge weekend for Great Bend,” Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said. Indeed, the expo area was packed with campers, trailer and dragsters as the roar of the engines could be heard.
These folks fill hotels, pack restaurants and patronize retail stores, Hayes said. In addition, some of the racers find themselves needing specialized parts.