People, Places & Racing News

PONTIAC-GMC RETURNS AS OFFICIAL VEHICLES OF THE NHRA AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

DEUCES WILD IN NORWALK: All four winners at the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, were second-time winners in 2007. Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, Mike Ashley in Funny Car, Dave Connolly in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle each garnered the all important wins to firmly plant themselves in the top eight of the Countdown to the Championship. The biggest surprise was Ashley, who had failed to qualify for the last two races after winning in Topeka, Kansas. Schumacher made it to the winner’s circle from the number 14 qualifying position. Connolly, the hometown favorite from Elyria, Ohio, was a crowd pleaser. Hines was the slower motorcycle off the line, but earned the win when opponent Matt Smith coasted to a 10.961 at 70.13.

K&N ENGINEERING SPONSORS K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE: NHRA announced that the K&N Horsepower Challenge for Pro Stock drivers will be held in 2008.  The K&N Horsepower Challenge is a special race-within-a-race bonus program for the top Pro Stock drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The $76,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge will move venues in 2008 and will be conducted at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. The race features a special elimination pairing with the eight quickest Pro Stock drivers who have accumulated the most points in qualifying during the 23-race Challenge series. Drivers began earning 2008 K&N Horsepower Challenge points at this past weekend’s event in Norwalk and will continue to accumulate points through the race prior to next year’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The winner of the K&N Horsepower Challenge will earn $50,000, and the runner-up will earn $10,000. The two semifinalists will earn $3,000 each, while the four first-round finishers will receive $2,500 each.

PONTIAC-GMC RETURN AS OFFICIAL VEHICLES OF NHRA: NHRA officials announced that it has signed a multi-year agreement with Pontiac-GMC to return in 2008 as the Official Car and Official Truck of the NHRA. It will be the 13th consecutive year that Pontiac has served as the Official Car of the NHRA and the 19th for GMC as the Official Truck of the NHRA, the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning organization.  “Pontiac-GMC has become synonymous with the sport of NHRA Drag Racing,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA.  “Clearly, over the last two decades, they have seen the incredible value of association with NHRA and the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and, in turn, we are proud to be associated with Pontiac-GMC and look forward to a mutually rewarding relationship in the future.”  Since becoming the Official Car of the NHRA in 1996, Pontiac has earned a winning reputation for amassing No. 1 qualifying awards, national event victories, performance records and series championships. Pontiac is the all-time win leader among auto manufacturers in the competitive world of NHRA Pro Stock racing, and a 10-time winner of the NHRA’s prestigious Manufacturer’s Cup.  As the Official Car of the National Hot Rod Association, Pontiac provides support vehicles for administrative and on-site personnel of the NHRA. As the Official Truck, GMC also provides support vehicles for NHRA staff, and GMC Sierras and Yukons for the NHRA Safety Safari, allowing them to perform their important trackside duties.

DOUG KALITTA SR. PASSES: Doug Kalitta Sr., father of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta and brother of drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, lost his battle with cancer Tuesday at the age of 67. Kalitta passed away at his home in Mount Clemens, Mich.  “Senior,” as he was known to the drag racing community, was a staple of the Kalitta Motorsports team even though he generally remained behind the scenes. He could usually be spotted at the racetrack working the pits in search of a joke and a cup of coffee. His laugh was unmistakable and could often be heard over the roar of his son’s 7,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster. His standard reply to questions, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” became a trademark, as did his habit of resting his eyeglasses on his forehead.  A tribute decal was displayed on all of the Team Kalitta race cars in Norwalk.

MORE NHRA PASSINGS: Two men who were influential to NHRA’s history died in recent days. Former NHRA Division 3 director and former O’Reilly Raceway Park general manager Bob Daniels died June 30. Daniels served as Division 3 director for 20 years, and then spent 12 years as general manager at the venerable Indianapolis facility, the home of the U.S. Nationals since 1961. The track was known at the time as Indianapolis Raceway Park. Daniels' many contributions to the sport include the establishment of prominent dragstrips in the North Central United States and significant advancements and renovations at ORP. Also, passing on June 30 was Don Gay Sr. He was known for his and brother Roy’s line of Infinity Pontiac race cars. Gay began his driving career in his teens with a Pontiac stocker and later switched to altered-wheelbase machines that ultimately became today's Funny Cars, and brother Roy later took over the helm.  In later years, he was active in the family automotive business, known as Gay Pontiac, Buick and GMC as well as Houston Raceway Park, where he had been a co-owner. Two of his sons, Don Jr. and Shane, followed their father to the cockpit on the dragstrip. Don Jr., had a successful career in Alcohol Funny Car but retired from the cockpit after an accident in a nitro Funny Car. Shane also had a winning career in the Super classes and in Alcohol Dragster.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

O’REILLY NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS, BRISTOL, TENNESSEE, BRISTOL DRAGWAY, JULY 6–8: Rescheduled from its original date due to track surface conditions, this favorite stop for drivers never fails to produce an exciting weekend for racing. Defending event winners include Doug Kalitta, Ron Capps and Jason Line. 

MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS, DENVER, BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY, JULY 13–15: The 13th stop on the 23-race schedule, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle drivers will head to the “Mile-High” city to compete in the fourth of a “six races, six weeks” schedule. Defending event winners include J.R. Todd, Gary Scelzi, Dave Connolly and Andrew Hines. 

LAS VEGAS NHRA SPORT COMPACT NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, JULY 13–14: The mid-season race in Las Vegas for the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series is sure to provide some exciting night racing when the drivers race The Strip. 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

12: The average number of points separating the number eight and number nine position in the four professional categories of the POWERade Series for the Countdown to Eight in the Countdown to the Championship.  The top eight drivers will continue on towards the championship after the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania, August 16–19.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

CHECKER SCHUCK’S KRAGEN FUNNY CAR DRIVER DEL WORSHAM DESCRIBES HIS HIGHLIGHT REEL EXPLOSION IN NORWALK, OHIO: “It was just trucking, running great, and then BOOM and all I saw was daylight,” Worsham said. “I couldn't believe it, but there it was. The absolutely only good thing that came from it was the E.T., which would have been a lot better had the car not blown apart.”  Worsham crossed the finish line in 4.873 seconds, knocking Gary Scelzi out of the field and put himself in the number 16 spot. Unfortunately, he lost to Robert Hight in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.