With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, the 2021 no prep season is about to kick off. And once again, “no prep’s original season opener” will be Bounty Hunters. The fifth running of the event will take place March 5-6 at Penwell Knights Raceway in Odessa, Texas, and feature 11 different classes.
Matt Plotkin, co-owner of Project X Promotions, says Bounty Hunters formed after he and fellow owner Jason Flores became unhappy with the way other no prep races were being organized. The two decided to take matters into their own hands – partnering with one of the most decorated drivers in the sport, Mike Murillo and Eat Race Die Productions.
“Around SEMA 2015, we really started diving into building the event,” says Plotkin. “All three of us come from the racing side of the sport first, before the promoting side, and see things that we thought could be improved upon – that if other people weren’t doing it, we might as well give it a shot. And it transpired into what you see today.”
Plotkin and his team have become notorious for giving racers and fans a true no prep experience, consistently scraping the surface down to bare concrete. As big money continues to pour into the sport and make it harder for smaller teams to compete, Bounty Hunters offers a unique opportunity for everyone.
“We all know that no prep racing got popular on the basis of trying to get street racers to the track,” Plotkin says. “We try our hardest to make sure that whoever shows up, with whatever equipment they have, that they’re faced with a surface that’s just as challenging as trying to go down a street. It’s not the same as the street – it probably never will be – but it’s still challenging. A lot of these no preps, they don’t scrape all the way down. By the time you get through first round, the track’s just as good as a prepped surface. We try to stay away from that, because we want as many people to have a chance as possible, to feel like it’s not gotten away from how it started. Don’t get me wrong – second and third round, it does start to get good, but the groove is very narrow. And if you take one step outside of that groove, it’s like they pulled the carpet out from under you. There’s nothing there.”
With the increasing trend in “invitation only” classes in no prep, Bounty Hunters also offers the chance for everyone to compete. No prep veterans can face first-time participants, allowing for a wide variety of cars in each class.
“Everybody has to start somewhere,” says Plotkin. “If there’s no place for these people to race, how are they ever going to get involved in the sport and try to make it great and grow everything? It’ll never happen. I understand the concept of the invite thing, and those types of races. But if there aren’t places where you can just show up and race, no matter what your name is or how much money you have, then there’s no foundation.”
With classes being open to anyone, the Project X team has seen an explosion in car counts, with 2021 being the largest pre-entry list to date. To reward racers, Bounty Hunters offers free entry to the first 21 pre-registered drivers in both Big Tire and Small Tire. Plotkin jokes that the pre-entry process has become an event in and of itself, with the free entries being completely taken within four minutes of registration opening.
Both the Big Tire and Small Tire fields are already stacked with pre-entries from top contenders. Fan favorites like Birdman, Mike Murillo, Scott Taylor, Kayla Morton, and Cody Baker headline the names going for $21,000 in Big Tire, but Plotkin says fans should watch out for an under-the-radar driver who’s on quite a winning streak.
“Robin Roberts is real hot right now,” Plotkin says. “With everything he’s been doing on the track and the street, I think he’s gonna have a pretty big target on his back. Even at the end of last year, he was winning these $15,000-$20,000 races every other week, and people were still not knowing what the deal was. I’m like, how do y’all not know who this dude is?”
In Small Tire, Brent Self will look to defend his title against Chase Kurszewski, Adam Plunkett, Chris Varni, and a field of over 40 cars competing for $21,000. While Plotkin firmly believes everyone has a chance to win his event, the defending champ is in his own league right now.
“Brent Self is probably going to be the person with the biggest target on his back. He won the previous Bounty Hunters and Winter Meltdown. He hasn’t lost a round of eliminations on Saturday in over a year. All those dudes in Black Sheep Mafia, those guys are gonna be ones to watch.”
Bounty Hunters also kicks off a brand new four-race “Tour de Texas” championship points series this year. Teams will continue the tour at Brawl in the Falls May 7-8 at Wichita Raceway Park, and Freedom & Fireworks July 2-3 at Houston Raceway Park. The series concludes December 3-4 with Winter Meltdown at HRP.
“We have a good following of racers that enjoy what we do,” says Plotkin. “It’s just our way of giving back a little bit. We haven’t put a prize on it yet. It’ll probably be less monetary, and more physical things – rings, jackets, stuff like that.”
With spring on the horizon in Texas, and both racers and fans itching to get back to the track, the combined effort of Project X Promotions and Eat Race Die Productions appears locked and loaded to deliver another killer event.
“We’ve tried to make Bounty Hunters a destination race, a race that people look forward to for more than just the actual class structure and payouts,” Plotkin says. “We have a really diverse vendor experience. We just want people to be able to show up and have a memorable experience that sticks out from other races throughout the year. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of diversifying both the program on the track, and the amenities off the track, to try to cumulate that entire experience into one weekend.”
Bounty Hunters 5
March 5-6 at Penwell Knights Raceway
General Admission tickets
$40 weekend pass
Friday classes and payouts
Big Tire Cash Days – 100% payback
Small Tire Cash Days – 100% payback
King of the Tailgate – $2,100 to win
Daily Driver Shootout – $1,000 to win
Saturday classes and payouts
Big Tire – $21,000 to win
Small Tire – $21,000 to win
True Street – 100% payback plus $2,100 on top
Full Size Truck – $2,100 to win
6.0 Index – $2,100 to win
7.0 Index – $2,100 to win
Junior Dragster – $2,100 to win