KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — Fourteen years ago, a Heartland man took a leap of faith when he turned his family’s love of drag racing into a worldwide business, by telling the stories of the racers.
Drag racing isn’t a difficult sport to understand. Two cars line up at a track, and the winner is the first one that crosses the finish line.
For Buck, who grew up at the racetrack, watching drag races every warm-weather weekend with his father, it’s an easy sport to love.
“In my opinion, it’s the great American motor sport,” Buck said. “It truly is, and it’s as American as apple pie.”
It’s also enjoyed all over the world too.
“I think people don’t understand how large of a sport this is," Buck said. "It's afforded me the opportunity to travel the world. I’ve been all over the United States, I’ve been all over the Middle East, to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar.”
Wes has traveled the globe to tell the racers' stories.
“It’s not like I’m so into cars – it’s the culture and the people,” he said.
It was the racers and the people in the sport who provided the inspiration for creating "Drag Illustrated."
He, along with a group of friends, saw a need for an independent voice on the sport.
“We had no experience in what we were doing, but we knew the story we wanted to tell,” Buck said. “We knew all these racers, and all these great people, young and old, from every different imaginable walk of life, who all had these awesome stories. These stories of triumph and struggle and everything in between, and we really just went to work, one by one, telling the story of the incredible men and women who make up the sport of drag racing.”
They first imagined it as a small midwestern drag racing newsletter.
But now, the company publishes a monthly magazine that’s sent to 14,000 subscribers worldwide, in addition to publishing content online and on social media for the thousands of people who also love drag racing.
"Drag Illustrated" has a team of 20 full-time employees at offices in Nashville, Ohio, North Carolina and Kirksville.
“It takes an army of people to do this, but especially as the audience has grown. It was more manageable when it was smaller, but now we cater to about 400,000 people a month,” Buck said. “So to keep them fed so to speak, it takes a lot of cooks in the kitchen.”
Buck’s responsibilities as editor-in-chief of the magazine are demanding as well, and with an intense travel schedule, he has to be on the road away from his wife and two kids. While he says it’s challenging, it’s all worth it to be able to share the stories from the race track.
“I love this stuff so much that it hurts. Drag racing is so much a part of me, that I would be lost without it. So that adage that, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ I feel like I’m living the dream, that’s talking about me,” Buck said. “I literally cannot wait to get in here, and I can’t wait to get to the next race.”
"Drag Illustrated" also puts on The Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod every summer in Colorado, which is one of the biggest independent drag races.