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‘Burndown at Sundown’ returns to Route 66 Raceway this weekend

Courtesy of Chicagoland Speedway

It’s Route 66 Raceway’s most explosive night.

“Burndown at Sundown” will return to Joliet on Saturday, featuring fire-breathing jet dragsters racing down the quarter-mile track at speeds exceeding 300 mph.

Scott Holdridge, a driver from Aurora, has a front-row seat to all the action.

A jet car isn’t like your typical dragster — even the nitro-burning Top Fuel racers or Funny Cars —  which spectators will quickly notice. It shoots fire out of the back from a jet engine.

Holdridge’s life has always been about driving at fast speeds. He began riding motorbikes at age 5. And by 10, he competed in motorcross.

For a while, Holdridge drove in drag races as a full-time gig. But when it started to get increasingly more difficult for him to pay the bills, Holdridge picked up another job — which, naturally, included driving.

Most of the time, Holdridge spends his days on six wheels driving semitrucks around the Chicago area. But every so often, he finds himself with an opportunity to drive jet-propelled dragsters at exhibitions, which is what he’ll do this weekend. He said he gets paid $3,000 to $4,000 per exhibition appearance.

Saturday’s event will have several of these jet-propelled dragsters going head-to-head in exhibition races.

What can a spectator expect when seeing jet dragsters power down the track?

“Fast speeds,” Holdridge promised. “When we’re on the starting line and we hit the afterburner, you’ll actually feel it in your chest. Like if you’re standing there anywhere near the starting line, you’ll feel it. That’s what fans can’t believe.”

Holdridge said the vibrations of the cars nearly take spectators’ breath away.