How Much Does A Drag Boat Cost?


New drag boat

Drag boat racing has been around for awhile now. It is similar to drag racing but obviously carried out on water. Despite the costs involved with drag boat racing there are a growing number of enthusiasts who invest in the sport. Here we will take a look at the different price points of drag boats.

New drag boats can cost from $30,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the boat type and its modifications. The price for a standard new hydroplane is about $70,000. A new flat bottom drag boat costs about $30,000 and a new jet drag boat costs about $20,000. The cost of a used drag boat will range from $7,000 to $700,000 depending on its type, age and condition.

Types of drag boats and their costs

There are a lot of varieties of drag boats because drag boat owners tend to modify their boats to make them more competitive.

Although you can choose from a lot of options, with slightly different types of hull designs and propulsion methods, there are three main drag boat types each with different price points.

The three main drag boat types are:

  • Hydroplane drag boats.
  • Flat bottom drag boats.
  • Jet drag boats.

Below is a quick overview of the three different categories of drag boat along with their prices. If you want to know more about these types of boats read our article about drag boats here.

Hydroplane drag boats

Hydroplane drag boats are the Rolls Royce of drag boats, or perhaps a better analogy would be to say that they are the Formula One racers of the waters. They are referred to as Top Fuel Hydroplane Drag Boats to show that they are the equivalent to land-based racing’s Top Fuel Dragsters.

This type of drag boat uses a three point hull design, enabling the boat to trap air for better lift out of the water rather than relying on buoyancy and speed alone to get on plane fast.

When travelling at high speeds, the boat’s hull pushes the water downwards and as we know, since there is a push of the water downwards, the water then pushes the boat in the opposite direction resulting in a lift of the majority of the hull, essentially lifting the boat out of the water.

The hull design of most hydroplanes today is not much different than the first ones designed and used back the in the 1950’s. These boats have two sponsons, which are torpedo-shaped projections from the hull that form a tunnel similar to that of Catamaran pontoons. They are located at the front of the boat with one at each side of the bow.

The engines used on these boats are usually sourced from the aviation industry. The engine that was used by Warby when he broke and set the fastest water speed record was a Westinghouse J34 turbojet with a velocity of 290.313 miles per hour (464.5 km/h).

The hydroplanes that we see today are all powered by a Lycoming T-55 L-7 turbine engine. This engine has a capability of up to 3000 HP and runes on Jet-A (kerosene) fuel.

Hydroplane costs

If you are planning to pursue a career in hydroplane drag boat racing, here’s a breakdown of prices for you.

A factory-bought hydroplane is about $200,000 but it is unlikely to win any races without modifications being made.

Building your own can prove to be actually more expensive. The engines alone will cost about $80,000 a piece and at least $150,000 for a pair. The running gear, gearbox, rudder, and steering mechanism will cost you about another $100,000, and the hull comes in at around $200,000.

The total overall estimated cost of building a hydroplane drag boat is $380,000 to $450,000.

Though costs for custom boats can ride as high as 1 million dollars.

However, if you are just opting to start out slow and work your way up then you can look for a used hydroplane drag boat.

You can probably find the cheapest aged models priced at around $20,000.

While newer ones could cost you $70,000 or more.

Hydroplane drag boat
Hydroplane drag boats can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Flat Bottom Drag Boats

The boat design of flat bottom drag boats are similar to flat bottom ski boats. Thus, the reason why flat bottom drag boats are often converted to family ski boats when their racing career has come to a halt.

This type of drag boat cannot be structured to have a tunnel-like hull because this modification means it wouldn’t be officially considered as a flat bottom drag boat. One key modification can be made however, called a ‘runner bottom’, which aids the boat in reaching faster speeds.

Flat bottom drag boats usually have sharp bows to counter the excessive vertical drag.

Comparing the speed of a flat bottom drag boat to a hydroplane, flat bottoms usually only peak at around 50 miles per hour.

Flat bottom drag boat costs

Flat bottom drag boats are considerably cheaper than top fuel boats.

New flat bottom drag boats start at about $30,000.

If the price of a new flat bottom drag boat is still too high then you can pick up a used boat for much less.

Usually, you can pick up a used older model flat bottom drag boat for around $8,000 and can expect to pay up to $50,000 for a fully kitted out newer model.

Flat bottom drag boat showing runner bottom
Flat bottom drag boats cost from $30,000 up

Jet drag boat

The average speed of a typical Jet drag boat is the same as that of a flat bottom drag boat hitting speeds around 50 miles per hour.

Jet drag boats can have different types of hull designs: one point, two point, or a three point design.

The one common thing with this type of drag boat is its jet propulsion system which is for both propulsion and steering.

New jet drag boats cost about $20,000 to $100,000.

The average cost of a used Jet drag boat ranges from about $5,000 to $63,000.

 

Jet drag boat
Jet drag boat’s cots from $20,000 to $100,000

Costs associated with owning a drag boat

Of course, spending money doesn’t end with the purchase of the drag boat. Drag boat racing is an expensive pastime and even after you own the boat you will need to dig into your pockets to maintain it.

Below are some additional costs associated with owning a drag boat.

Running costs

The price of the jet fuel for a drag boat is currently about $1.70 per gallon, though it might vary depending on where you are located and with fluctuations in the oil market.

The cost of fuel for a competition can amount to as much as $8,000.

Maintenance Cost

Once you commit to buying a drag boat, it also costs money to take care of it and maintain it. This is an additional cost that will be long term, this means that as long as you have the boat and you are using it then you are going to have to spend money for maintenance.

Additionally, if you do not pay attention to maintaining your boat then it might cost you more money in the long run due to the damage caused by poor maintenance.

Typically, the cost for maintenance and repairs starts from around $1,000+ per year though it can be as much as 10% of the boat’s initial purchase price. That is, of course, if you do not get into an accident or have a crash that results in you having to replace parts.

Boat Storage Cost

If you decide to buy a drag boat and you do not have sufficient amount of storage near your house then it is absolutely necessary for you to consider boat storage costs as well.

Two options for you to choose from are indoor and outdoor storage.

Indoor storage space without a trailer would cost you approximately $8.25 per square foot, or around $7.25 per square foot for a boat with a trailer. Meanwhile, outdoor storage rates are at around $7.50 per linear foot with a trailer.

Those are just, of course, approximations and prices can drastically vary from one storage facility to another and from state to state.

Registration costs for drag boat races

If you plan on going professional, this would be another cost to consider because registration fees for drag boat races are not cheap. These registration prices vary depending on the category of the boat and the race.

Below are some typical registration fees:

  • For modified eliminator, stock eliminator and river races – $250.
  • For pro modified and pro outlaw – $450.
  • For pro jet and comp flat – $300.
  • For personal watercraft – $200.
  • Quick eliminator, pro eliminator, top eliminator – $300.
  • Top alcohol flat or hydro and top fuel jet – $450.

But before you are able to join a race, you will first have to pay a membership fee of $50 based on the Southern Drag Boat Association current pricing.

Should you buy a used or brand new drag boat?

Now that we’ve covered the majority of the factors you should consider when deciding to buy a drag boat or not, it is also good to be able to consider if you want to buy a brand new drag boat or just settle for a used drag boat for a cheaper price.

While it is a good idea to buy a brand new drag boat, it is cost-efficient for you to go online and look at used drag boats.

If you decide to go down the used boat route then you should make sure you do your due diligence looking for signs of damage and previous repair. The cost of fixing things on a bad purchase can often amount to the same, or more, than that of a brand new boat.

You can also opt to buy from a dealer with good feedback because then you will be able to ensure that the boat you are purchasing is high-quality and has been checked by professional technicians.

Although this buyers guide is geared towards the purchase of a Jon boat the due diligence you are guided to follow applies equally as well to any other boat including drag boats.

Making a good offer

You could opt for getting a broker to do your bidding for you as you can get a really cheap price as well as ensuring that the offer you are giving is the right amount.

Of course, when buying used goods in general, you will want to receive something that is still fully-functional and, as much as possible, with extra equipment and accessories that you would not typically get when you purchase a brand new boat.

With this, I would suggest you request the inclusion of such equipment and accessories to be included in the purchase price, especially if you are buying from a dealer. Also be sure that you are able to get the chance of subjecting the boat to a water trial to make sure that there are no issues with the boat once you own it.

Surveying

Once you have set a deal, it is important to do some surveying. You can also ask your broker to take care of this for you. Surveyors are typically members of, and governed by the code of ethics from, the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and the National Associations of Marine Surveyors (NAMS).

The rigorousness of the surveying will also depend on the boat’s age. If the warranty of the used boat you are buying is still intact, then a day’s worth of surveying will suffice. Otherwise, it would take multiple days for the survey team to inspect the boat for any faults.

Summary

If you want to buy a drag boat then you need to be prepared to dish out a huge amount of money for the boat itself and then dig a little deeper to pay for the costs of maintenance, storage and racing not to mention boat modifications.

A new drag boat can cost from $30,000 to $1,000,000 depending on its type and the modifications made to it.

A new hydroplane is about $70,000 and a used one is about $20,000.

A new flat bottom drag boat will cost you at least $30,000 while an old one will cost between $8,000 – $50,000.

A new jet drag boat will cost from $20,000 to $100,000 while used ones can be usually bought for between $5,000 to about $63,000.

Aside from the initial purchase cost of the boat you have to factor in the costs of maintenance. You can expect to pay at least $1,000 annually for maintenance.

Storage space costs from $7.25 to $8.25 per square foot for indoor storage and around $7.50 per linear foot with trailer for outdoor storage.

To get a cheaper price for a drag boat, you can opt for buying a used one online if you do not have enough money to buy a new one or you just want to be cost-efficient.

You just have to take necessary measures when it comes to buying used boats, in general, because you might end up spending more than you should instead of the opposite because you failed to check the boat for defects.

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