HAGER HILL -- With raindrops on their heads and mud in their shoes, fans were nonetheless undeterred from flocking to Combs Field by the thousands Saturday, eager for their annual taste of live drag-racing in the Big Sandy Valley.
And many of those same fans left wanting more, convinced the Hillbilly Arm Drop Drags could draw similar crowds every month or weekend, if made a regular event.
Robert Pigg was viewing the action from the pit. While he often races such events himself -- at Clay City, Fort Gay, London and "just all around" -- he was there Saturday to watch his grandson and granddaughters race.
"People have been wanting to do this for years, and right now, you have to drive 100 miles to do it, or close to it," he said.
Asked if he thought a regular event could draw similar numbers on a weekly or monthly basis, he replied, "I guarantee it. I mean, just look at the people that are here."
That seemed to be a common sentiment among the crowd.
Phillip Muncy, who drove in from Mingo County, W.Va., to race his 2002 Corvette, shared the belief that a regular event would draw similar crowds.
"They would have no problem getting an audience," Muncy said. "Look, it's a rainy day and look how many people turned out ... They could have this every weekend, if they turned this into a racetrack or had a regular event."
Muncy said the appeal of drag-racing could be summed up in one simple concept: excitement.
"It's an adrenaline rush, I guess," he said.
That appears to be a sentiment shared not only among drivers, but also fans.
Zachary Dials, who drove in from Warfield to watch the race with friends, had a hard time putting it into words, but he seemed to be attracted by the high-velocity action.
"I don't know, really," he said, when asked why he was drawn to drag-racing. "Just the 'fastness' of it, I guess."
"Speed," chimed in his friend, Shawn Jarvis, also of Warfield.
Others also mentioned the common appeal of drag-racing.
Danny Burkett, of Prestonsburg, who was watching the testing alongside Pigg, said the event hearkens back to a time for which many people still yearn.
"A lot of people like this because it's arm-drop," Burkett said. "It's old-fashioned."
That prompted Pigg to recall a time when people would flock to the airport to drag-race, with something less than official sanction.
"People used to come out here years ago and do it," Pigg recalled. "You'd get a few arm-drops in and, then, everybody would have to run off, before the law came."
"There's not a lot to do and it's exciting," said Bud Wireman, who was attending to watch his boss, Willard Kinzer, race. "You get to watch good racing that anybody can do. Anybody with a car can come."
Wireman also believes the Hillbilly Arm Drop Drags needs to expand from its current annual status.
"I think it's a great thing," Wireman said. "Everybody seems to love it. I think they need a place where they can have this regularly."