TEAM MOPAR DRIVERS TO KICK OFF DENVER EVENT IN RUBBER RAFT RACE: According to Team Mopar, Gary Scelzi, Richie Stevens Jr., Allen Johnson and Ron Capps will trade in their Hemi power for hydro power in a four-way rubber raft competition down Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado, in what’s bound to become a historic quest for the Clear Creek Cup. The “Mopar Rumble in the Rapids” begins at 6:30 p.m. during the Mopar Block Party on July 12, held annually in the streets of Golden, Colorado, to preview the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado. The event also features a live band, an autograph session and a car show.
PARKS HEADLINES ‘LEGENDS OF THUNDER VALLEY’ INDUCTEES IN BRISTOL, TENNESSEE: NHRA founder Wally Parks; Larry Carrier, builder of Bristol Dragway; “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, a drag racing legend; and Rickie Smith, the winningest driver in Bristol, were selected as the inaugural class of inductees into the Legends of Thunder Valley during the O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals last weekend.
FORMER OLYMPIAN, BAZEMORE BACK ‘LARRY RIDES AMERICA’ CANCER RIDE: Gold and silver Olympic medalist Marty Nothstein, driver of the Texas Roadhouse Top Alcohol Funny Car, and Whit Bazemore, pilot of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster, have signed on to support former COO of O’Reilly Auto Parts Larry O’Reilly’s 4,500-mile ride from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia that he began April 30. His goal is to raise $250,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks. Bazemore and Nothstein each pledged $250 to O’Reilly.
FANS INVITED TO ICE CREAM SOCIAL, MEDLEN TRIBUTE DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO: Infineon Raceway will host the inaugural “Eric Medlen Ice Cream Social” courtesy of Dreyer’s Ice Cream, after the final round of the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals on July 29. Race fans will be invited onto the Raceway’s road-course surface for the social, a celebration of Medlen’s life and many contributions. They will be encouraged to make donations to the Infineon Raceway Eric Medlen Scholarship Fund which will be awarded annually to an Infineon Raceway high school bracket drag racer. Race fans are also invited to meet four of the top drivers of the NHRA POWERade Series while the sport and Infineon Raceway pay tribute to one of their own at the ‘Eric Medlen Nitro Night at the Fior’ in San Francisco’s North Beach. The event, featuring host Bob Frey and drivers Ron Capps, Robert Hight, Gary Scelzi and Cory McClenathan, begins at 6:30 p.m. on July 26 at Fior d’Italia Restaurant. Cost is $125 per person, with proceeds benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities. Seating is limited.
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.
SCHUCK’S AUTO SUPPLY NHRA NATIONALS, PACIFIC RACEWAYS, JULY 20–22: This fifth race in the string of six-in-six-weeks was traditionally the second stop of the legendary Western Swing. It’s sure to be an emotional one for Brandon Bernstein, who shared the winner’s circle with his friend, the late Eric Medlen, here in 2005.
FRAM-AUTOLITE NHRA NATIONALS, INFINEON RACEWAY, JULY 27–29: A favorite with the POWERade Series for its scenic local and Northern California weather, this event will be the last in the six-in-six-weeks stretch, the anchor of the longest stretch of back-to-back races in NHRA history.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5: Number of races left in the regular season before the first cutoff for the “Countdown to the Championship.” After the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania, the top eight in each professional category will be set and only those drivers will vie for 2007 POWERade Series world championships.
DRIVERS TELL ALL
JOHN FORCE, on his first win of the season: “At the beginning of the day, I did a bunch of apologizing to all my guys for being such a jerk. I told them I was just sorry for the way I’ve been. Then I said to Eric, ‘Eric, it’s time to forgive me and let’s get our stuff together and win you a race.’ I mean, the greatest kid in the world was Eric Medlen. Heart as big as Tennessee. I didn’t think I ever was gonna get the win for him, but this trophy is going to go to his dad and it’s gonna go to a place for Eric Medlen because he was our heart and he still is.”
For more information, www.nhra.com.