NHRA Fan Fest hot-rods shut down Washington Ave.

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Part of Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis was closed again Thursday night, but this time it was not to keep cars out, it was to let cars in. They weren't just any cars though; they were some of the hot rods in town for the NHRA Midwest Nationals Countdown to the Championship.

The cars were on display for a fan fest.  Drivers were also on hand to sign autographs. The races start Friday at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois.

"To race a top fuel car and go 330 miles an hour for a living, I am very lucky," said driver Shawn Langdon.

The NHRA Midwest Nationals have stopped here before, but this time Gateway Motorsports Park is under new ownership and recent improvements to the track`s surface could help some of these drivers make history.

"We have been seeing times all summer from racers that are pushing the envelope so with the big guys here, the top guns, top fuel dragsters we should see some great times," said track owner Curtis Francois."Our fingers are crossed that we are going to have a world record."

For fans, the obvious attraction is speed, but for some it is also nostalgia.

"When I was a teenager, all we did was work on our cars," said race fan Leonard Marsey. "We spent all of our money on cars."

And while all sports have their fans, drag racing fans are special, because the drivers they so admire seem equally as devoted to them.

'The drivers are all out there and they are all accessible signing autographs and it even makes it more fun for me as a driver to come out there and sign autographs for respectful fans,' said driver Robert Hight.

Marsey summed up the attraction more succinctly.

'They are just neat.'

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