Who We Are

My name is Matthew Day Jackson and I am an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. The MDJ Racing team has been running a Super Comp dragster for the last four years to great failure. Either because of money or time, we have not been able to spend a full season racing. This is a narrative well known by those who are a part of the amateur drag racing world: stuff breaks, money runs out and our lives often take over our pursuit. This foray into drag racing is my first attempt into the world of motor sports and I think I can safely say that it will also be my last. Regardless, I feel I have learned a lot in participation as a driver representing the fourth generation of racecar drivers in my family. Aside from the personal aspects of this project it has been a "successful" continuation of my work as an artist in understanding the society and culture in which I live.

Drag racing is terrestrial space travel. It employs common methods of engineering to bridle the power of an internal combustion motor pushing the boundaries of our collective physical experience. It may be a romantic overstatement, but I believe it does add to OUR experience even in the slightest of ways. The measure of success in the endeavor of drag racing lies in the victory over oneself or an opponent. Oftentimes this margin of victory is measured in thousandths of a second and immeasurably small distances. Every inch and every second of improvement is a light year away until attained.

The machine, one of perfect engineering, finds its existence in its purpose. Every piece of the machine is meant to accelerate to speeds in excess of 170mph/ 258kmh in around 7.8 seconds from a standstill within the distance of 1320 feet/ 402 meters. It is not meant to turn nor is it meant to stop fast; and it is not meant for the street, or for the auto show. The machine is a freak in motor sports, and is oftentimes seen as the unwanted stepchild to more "sophisticated" forms of auto racing. Drag racing finds its history in the street, and in the garage of the machinist engineer. The way in which stock engines and chassis were modified is a sort of anarchy. The Promethean hot rod builder trumps the university-trained engineer at the corporation.

I have been bracket racing my car, which is the most democratic competition of motorsports. This type of racing allows for the greatest spectrum of automobiles in terms of design and performance characteristics. The Bracket Race oftentimes called, "run-what-ya-brung", allows for a handicap between the predicted elapsed time of the two cars over a quarter mile distance. Consistency is what creates winners in this form of racing. The handicap makes the efficacy and consistency of the driver and car's performance the determinant rather than raw speed. This injects democracy and neutralizes the influence of money on winning. Some cars are driven from the home to the track and back again. In some cases, I have seen child seats left in the pit area while the parent drives the car on the strip.