Racing is a test of pure speed, combined with desire to chase the artificial lure without interfering with other hounds. Whippet racing looks a lot like greyhound racing, except that this sport is purely for ribbons and titles, and not for any gambling or profit. There are two main types of racing: straight racing and oval racing.
In straight racing, Whippets break out of starting boxes wearing muzzles and numbered blankets. They run 200 yards, and the first one over the finish line is the winner. The dogs run in groups of 5 or 6. At a race meet, Whippets run four heats, and are matched with other Whippets who have shown similar ability in previous races. At the end of the meet, Whippets are assigned a score based on their performance in the four heats they have run. Their average score in their last three race meets determines the "grade" they are assigned. Grades are A, B, C, and D, with A being the fastest.
All photos on the page were taken by Lindsey Lobree
Oval track racing is almost exactly like straight racing, except that the race is run on a big U-shaped or oval track with an inner rail and for a distance of 220 to 440 yards. Smart oval racers know to go to the rail quickly and hold that position. Oval races are run in groups of three to five Whippets for three or four heats, depending on the length of the track and number of starters. The grades are the same as for straight racing.
The American Whippet Club sponsored straight racing for many years, and awarded the Award of Racing Merit (ARM) title to the best racers. Recently, the AWC suspended this program, but most of the participating clubs have been reorganized as the Whippet Racing Association which awards the title W.R.Ch. (Whippet Race Champion).
In addition, straight racing is also sponsored by the North American Whippet Racing Association
and the Continental Whippet Association (CWA).
NAWRA grants the Racing Champion title (R.Ch.) while CWA awards a variety of titles, some of which include a conformation (show ring) success requirement (Show and Racing Excellence). The National Oval Track Racing Association sponsors oval racing, and awards the Oval Racing Championship (ORC) and the Supreme ORC (SORC).
Although most Whippets enjoy racing, and it is fun to compete with Whippets of similar ability in the lower grades, racing-titled Whippets these days come almost exclusively from breeding programs where the focus is on breeding for speed. Therefore, those who wish to compete successfully at a high level in this activity should acquire a dog from a breeder who races.
All racing Whippets must be AKC (American Kennel Club) or CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) registered. Dogs with an AKC ILP (Indefinite Listing Privilege) number are not eligible to compete. Different racing organizations have different rules concerning the eligibility of dogs who have breed disqualifications, as defined by the AKC standard. CWA excludes any dog from competition that has a fault (height, eye color, teeth) that would disqualify it from show-ring competition. WRA excludes dogs on the basis of height (too tall or too short, as defined by the AKC standard) but will allow other breed disqualifications (eye color, teeth) if the dog has a vet certificate indicating that it is spayed or neutered. NAWRA only excludes dogs on the basis of height (other breed disqualifications are allowed regardless of neutering status) and NOTRA does not exclude dogs on the basis of any breed disqualification at all.
Racing and Oval Track are regionally located in CA, OR, WA, BC, OH, TX, NJ, DE, VA, and throughout the upper Midwest. NAWRA meets are most prevalent on the west coast, WRA racing is most common east of the Rockies, while CWA racing is currently being offered only in the Midwest. Oval track meets are generally found anywhere straight racing is offered.