INSIDE WON & DONE
(LEFT) No scripts, no
second takes, just
the Won & Done
crew shooting the
drama as it unfolds.
That’s about it. Everything else is negotiable
– it doesn’t mean you’re going to get it, but
you can ask,” says Christensen. That
process requires honesty for it to work.
“We’ve learned from the first tapings
that we don’t want people negotiating a
lie,” he adds. “If I catch you, you’re never
on the show again. It disrespects the
mechanism and the fact that you should
be able to beat someone on the basis of
a good negotiation and a great race.”
Christensen cites an example where they
believe a racer used nitrous oxide when he
claimed he wouldn’t. Result: banned.
So what makes Christensen walk away
smiling, knowing that what just happened
makes for good television?
“It’s like a great tennis match,” he
explains, describing one particularly good
negotiation segment. “There was good
rebuttal, great questions and tremendous
information. You got informed, you got
“ My dream race is very simple:
it’s a great negotiation with the
race at the end too close to call ”
entertained and there was drama and
strategy. For me, it was fascinating as a
fan of racing, but also in human behavior.”
In pleading their case, racers will look
for every advantage. It’s an activity that
Lucas, who races the Geico/Lucas Oil Top
Fuel Dragster in NHRA, doesn’t envy.
“I’m sure glad I don’t have to deal with
the negotiation process,” he says, “but I do
have a lot of respect for what these guys
are doing. Their inner salesman comes out
to play and they’re all really passionate.”
The process can turn a matchup between
two disparate vehicles into a great race.
“Perfection for me so far was a truck and
(ABOVE) That sticker
is more than bragging
rights – it means
you’ve earned the
right to race again.
Win 10 straight and
you’re working out
what to do with $50k.
negotiations draw a
crowd at Irwindale.
a motorcycle,” says Christensen. “Six or
seven lengths, with a diesel, supercharged
dually vs. a motorcycle. And the finish was
so close, I almost couldn’t call it – it was
within one or two inches. If I wrote that on a
script, people would say, ‘Rich, this is
unrealistic. Start again.’ That can’t happen
in real life, but it did. And it happened
because I created this format. I saw my
dream race, now I hope to top it. My dream
race is very simple: it’s a great negotiation,
with the race at the end too close to call.
That’s a perfect negotiation, a perfect race.”
It may not be drag racing in the image of
Wally Parks; it’s more a negotiated bracket
race. But that in itself makes it more real,
more identifiable to the average guy who
drives his car to the dragstrip for a few
passes on a weeknight. The whole scenario
may not play out this way in everyday life,
but the people are as real as they come,
and that makes for good reality television.
Sometimes the cars on Won &
Done are very similar, a pair of
well-prepared Chevy Novas, for
example. Sometimes the gulf is
huge – say, pickup vs. motorcycle.
In other cases, it’s the same model
separated by 40 years.
Bill Quay and Cassius Sanders
THE BARGAINING PROCESS IS KEY TO WON & DONE
both drag race fairly stock Ford
Mustangs. Quay’s example is a
1971 Mach 1; Sanders’ car is a
new Shelby GT500. There’s a
significant weight and power
disparity, so making a close race is
where the bargaining begins.
“The negotiations worked out
great for me because of the car
length I had to make up,” said
Sanders after the pair raced.
“He wanted four lengths, and
I couldn’t have done that. Two
lengths, if it came down to that
and the clock ran out…I could
have done two car lengths. That
would have been super-close.”
In the end, Quay settled for a
car length, but with him starting
on the line and Sanders pushed
back toward the waterbox.
“He just drove by me, out-
horsepowered me from square
one,” said Quay. “He caught me
at half track and stayed there.”