Fair 2021: Anything goes at dirt drags

KOI Drag Racing hosted an event at the Madison County Fairgrounds on May 29. One of the entrants showed up with a snowmobile. Anything goes when it comes to vehicles at KOI races. The next chance to see what and who shows up is the July 11 event at the Madison County Fair.

(Posted July 8, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

You never know what or who will show up for a dirt drag race.

“We’ll run anything from kids’ ATVs all the way up to diesel trucks. You can bring semis, a golf cart, or whatever you drove to work in today. You bring it, we’ll run it,” said Lewis Cleaver, owner of KOI Drag Racing out of Owenton, Ky.

In business for nine years, Cleaver said he has seen it all, from an 80-year-old man racing a car to an 18-month-old along for the ride as his dad used a leash to pull a tiny dirtbike with training wheels.

“It’s just a fun event all the way around. Anyone can participate in it, it’s inexpensive, and you don’t have to have a special vehicle,” Cleaver said.

For the second time this year, the general public has the chance to get in on the dirt drag action at the Madison County Fairgrounds. KOI held an event on May 29 that drew a big field of racers and a great crowd. Cleaver is hoping, and almost expecting, the same with the July 11 event at the fair.

“We’ve done 15 events already this year. Every one of them has been unreal. Fairs have been setting attendance records. People are just ready to get out,” Cleaver said.

Drag race entrants race side by side down a 200-foot long track.

Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KOI only ran 27 of the 100 events it booked. One of those was the Madison County Fair where the dirt drags were the only entertainment during a fair week that was otherwise limited to youth exhibitions. This year, Cleaver has 105 events booked and counting.

The 2021 Madison County Fair dirt drags at 3 p.m. with open practice. Anyone can give drag racing a whirl for free with paid gate admission to the fair.

“It’s a chance to get a feel for it and see if they want to go ahead and race,” Cleaver said.

For those who decide to race, the entry fee is $10 per class with the exception of the diesel truck classes which are $20 each. Registration and practice runs from 3 to 5 p.m. followed by the races which pit entrants side by side for a 200-foot run. The children’s classes go first.

All of the entry fees go back into prizes for the class winners. Diesel truck entries can earn KOI points; these classes also feature prize money on top of the entry fee pool–$300 added for modified diesels, $200 added for hot street diesels, and $200 added for stock diesels. A full list of classes and rules can be found at koidragracing.com.

KOI, which stands for Kentucky Ohio Indiana, now serves nine states–the three in its name plus Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia.

General admission to the dirt drags is free with paid gate admission to the fair. Pit passes are an additional $10 per person.

The 2021 Madison County Fair runs July 10-17. For a full schedule of events, visit Madison County Fair.

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