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Sports column: Drag races return to Duluth

Duluth car lovers and fans of cars speeding down a racetrack were in luck for the annual Kia of Duluth Drag Races Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7 and 8.

Sarah Packingham
Budgeteer sports columnist Sarah Packingham

Duluth car lovers and fans of cars speeding down a racetrack were in luck for the annual Kia of Duluth Drag Races Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7 and 8.

Cars reached speeds up to 150 miles per hour while racing down the track on Duluth's Garfield Avenue on a one-eighth-mile course.

Racer Robert Savageau credits his mother for passing along the "racing gene."

"I got my first muscle car when I was 17 and loved it," he said. "So in 2011, I asked my wife and daughter if they wanted to check out the Kia of Duluth Drag Races, and we were all hooked."

It was shortly after those races that Savageau got a new car and his wife realized that the vehicle actually had the potential to be pretty fast. She then encouraged him to start working on the car and start racing.

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He first raced at the Brainerd International Raceway last July, then Rock Falls, made his Duluth debut in the 2012 Kia Drag races, and competed again last weekend.

Savageau said he doesn't get scared or nervous behind the wheel.

"The people who do these events run a tight ship and we take all sorts of safety precautions including certified helmets," he said. "I think it's safer than driving on the freeway, honestly. The only worry is breaking something -- it is my family car too, after all. But I am sure to not push its limits."

Savageau says working on the car and then racing it is one of his favorite hobbies.

"I have a bit of competitiveness in me for sure, but getting a good launch and hitting high speeds gets you a great adrenaline rush especially if it's a close race," he said. "Plus there's the pride of building up your car and the fun of seeing other racers' builds and comparing notes."

Currently, Savageau is driving an Impala, but doesn't know how much faster the car can get without spending some serious cash. It was recently suggested to him to buy something like a Mustang, because they are able to get faster, without spending a lot of money.

The sport of drag racing, and car racing in general, is actually a very challenging one and Savageau said he has two major challenges.

"On the track, it's concentrating on a good launch, which is particularly hard with a front-wheel drive car on all-

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season tires with tons of torque," he said. "Off the track, it's all about having the time and money to make the upgrades that'll shave off times for next season -- but having a supportive family sure helps with that."

Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at budgeteersarah@ gmail.com.

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