One of the greatest aspects of the automotive community is the sense of belonging it can offer to those who need it, and there are few better examples of that than the DRAGG Program. An acronym for Drag Racing Against Gangs & Graffiti, the DRAGG Program is labeled as being a Youth Automotive After School Program, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what the program offers. After learning about DRAGG, AmericanMuscle seized the opportunity to assist the program with some much needed parts for their project cars.
Pioneered by Law Enforcement Officers from Oxnard, California, the DRAGG Program works with the marginalized youth of California to keep them from going down the wrong path, doing it in the best way possible—with modified Mustangs. By offering a completely hands on and submersive experience in a shop setting, kids have the option and the encouragement they need to stay off of the street and away from the misleading and corruptive influences of modern day gang culture. Officers volunteer their time to host weekly classes where they teach students and help them work on cars, while also fitting in a life lesson here and there.
Organized and lead by seasoned California Law Enforcement Officers who have a hobby for hot rodding, the DRAGG Program has opened up its doors to the willing and interested, giving them all the tools they need to succeed in and out of the classroom. Recently, the DRAGG Program made some large waves in the car world with their version of a 2015 EcoBoost Mustang that was built by the student in the program and prominently displayed at the heart of the Ford Booth at the 2015 SEMA Show.
The DRAGG Program has continued to pick up momentum and notoriety, and recently has begun expanding into new states and counties. It’s wild to think that just a few years ago, the DRAGG Programs biggest focus wasn’t that year’s SEMA Show, but actually getting the program off the ground.
Setting Up Shop
The DRAGG Program originated in 2008 as a way to help kids who were misguided and in need of a mentor. Officer Dan, who is a veteran of the force and one of the founding member of the program, wanted an effective way to reach out to California youth, and what better way to do that than with cars? California is the cradle of car culture and customization, and continues to be a geographical treasure chest for all things automotive.
DRAGG is a modified and improved version of another officer-lead program from the early 1990’s that focused more on building a Pro-Mod racecar. Taking the high level idea of having high school students working on a car, the DRAGG Program set out to have students learning valuable lifelong skills that will help them whether they are working on a car or not. “What’s the point of drag racing?” Officer Dan asked me, “The point is to be first. We set out with the idea that the kids in our program should be the first to finish school and then be the first to set out on their next life milestone.”
While the program officially kicked off in 2008, it really wasn’t until 2010 that things finally got up and running off the ground. “The program started out with fundraising to get money and supplies together to get things running—to get this started we put in our own money,” Officer Dan said. By the time 2010 rolled around the program was setup and ready to go, with the first enrollment of students and their first big project ahead of them.
Picking the Pony
While the DRAGG Program received a lot of attention for its 2015 EcoBoost that was on display at SEMA, it wasn’t their first rodeo with a Mustang as a project car; the first car the program used was a 2006 Mustang GT. “We didn’t want to go with a pro mod car, we actually wanted to drive the car. We were looking at both Camaros and Mustangs, but there was just so much more available for the Mustang in the aftermarket—it really is the cream of the crop,” Officer Dan remarked.
Taking a bone stock 2006 Mustang GT, students in the DRAGG Program transformed the 3-valve V8 into a tire slaying monster. Sporting a sick police themed livery, Vortech Supercharger, Eibach Suspension, Borla Exhaust, and a laundry list of other modifications, the ’06 DRAGG ‘Stang has been featured in an assortment of publications and showcased its ability to drift and destroy some rubber at different shows, such as SEMA.
Having as much success as they did with their 2006 GT, it is really no surprise that the DRAGG Team jumped at the opportunity to modify a 2015 EcoBoost to display in the Ford Booth at SEMA. Featuring an Air Lift Suspension, Vortech Intercooler, Bama Performance Tune, and a mix of other performance parts, the DRAGG EcoBoost went from being a stock cruiser to a pumped up patrol car that took center stage at SEMA with the help of their AmericanMuscle sponsorship.
Growing For The Future
When the program first launched in 2010 there were only 11 students enrolled, from 15 to 18 years old. By 2015, the class size has grown to be larger than 45 students. That’s 45 kids looking to better themselves, stay out of trouble and off the streets, all the while earning credits for school. The guiding officers of the DRAGG Program have opened up the classroom extra days during the week, even offering some shop time on Saturdays due to the high interest.
The success of the program in Oxnard has been noticed by other Law Enforcement agencies around the country, with some reaching out to try and start their own version of DRAGG. The program, which is free for students, has proved it value through the quality of students that have graduated; almost 100% of the students that went through the DRAGG Program have went on to high education and/or jobs immediately after graduation, with many receiving scholarships. “The program is really about showing these kids how to be part of a community and how to give back,” Officer Dan said.
As of right now, the DRAGG Program is working on expanding to other municipalities within California, as well as other states that struggle with gang presence in the communities. AmericanMuscle is honored to be a partner and sponsor of DRAGG and looks forward to the future Mustangs that they modify and graduates that they produce. If you are interested in helping to further the success of the DRAGG Program, contact them directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out some coverage of DRAGG’s modified Mustangs at SEMA by heading to: americanmuscle.com/dragg