Legal drag racing on Woodward Avenue draws thousands

Roadkill Nights hosted for two days by Dodge had 120 racers taking part, as well as a sheriffs ‘grudge match’

Who would even dream that you could drag race – legally – on Detroit’s famed Woodward Avenue?  With the police taking part in the smoky action, no less. 

That was the scene when part of the Detroit-area boulevard was shut down for MotorTrend Group’s Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge, a two-day high-horsepower celebration held as a prelude to the Woodward Dream Cruise. 

It was on Woodward Avenue back in the 1960s that engineers from the Detroit automakers honed the original muscle cars in stoplight-to-stoplight drag races.

Nearly 50,000 fans showed up for this, the fifth annual event, when Woodward between Rapid Street and South Boulevard is “transformed into a specially prepped 1/8-mile drag strip for legal street drag racing,” according to a Roadkill news release. 

More than 12o street-legal cars competed in two classes – Big Tire and Small Tire – for a cash purse of $30,000.

The Big Tire winner was Lil Jimmer Kline of Michigan, who smoked the competition in a 1966 Pontiac GTO. Small Tire winner was Alen Daniel, also of Michigan, who ran a 1979 Chevrolet Malibu. 

The team of Leah Pritchett and David Freiburger won the celebrity showdown challenge, with a $10,000 prize purse donated to United Way. In total, $21,210 was donated to United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Pritchett in her NHRA Top Fuel Dragster and Matt Hagan in his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody NHRA Funny Car wowed the crowd with exhibition runs.

Sherrifs go head-to-head

Oh, and let’s not forget the police pursuit, with Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham beating Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard in the Sheriff Showdown, described as an “old-school grudge” match, with each sheriff driving 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeyes with respective county decals. 

 “When we first introduced ‘Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge’ five years ago as a pop-up car show and drag race, we never imagined it would grow to nearly 50,000 performance enthusiasts over two days,” said Tim Kuniskis, global head of Alfa Romeo and head of passenger cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. 

“The positive reaction from our fans and continued growth of this one-of-a-kind event fuels our passion to keep delivering products and marketing for performance enthusiasts.”


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  • Ed Esposito
    August 13, 2019, 2:35 PM

    We need some one to come to Long Island and show the authorities how to do this , there is absolutely nothing going on on Long Island anymore . We need events like that , people still love this

  • nelson montgomery
    August 13, 2019, 3:19 PM

    first time we saw the roadkill nights drags, my sister and son loved the flamethrowers , and when leah stepped on all that hp. everyone jumped. not quite green but great. nm

  • Don Webb
    August 15, 2019, 5:50 AM

    I was one of the Woodward Boys back in the ’60’s. 7 days a week from the Pole (Totem Pole Drive-in) to Big Ted’s Drive-in at Maple we were out there. Cars came from all over the Mid-west to race there. Four lanes north…and south. We would block the traffic behind us and line up four across at every light. Fun till the cops started passing out tickets. Excessive noise, then Show-of- performance, then drag racing. Glad to see there’s still an interest in the sport.