People, Places & Racing News

FORCE LEAVES HOSPITAL AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

NHRA XPLOD SPORT COMPACT CHAMPIONS CROWNED IN POMONA: Four of the champions of the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series were crowned during eliminations Sunday at the NHRA Sport Compact World Finals. Auto Club Raceway at Pomona was the place to be for Gary Gardella (Pro FWD), Brent Rau (Modified), Kenny Tran (Hot Rod), and Norris Prayoonto (Honda Tuning Magazine All Motor) as they all won their first career world championships.
   
Brad Personett, who won his championship in Pro RWD two weeks ago, walked away with the event win in his category. Other event winners included Marty Ladwig (Pro FWD); Ken Scheepers (Modified); Eric Del Rosario (Hot Rod); and Prayoonto (Honda Tuning Magazine All Motor). For more on this story visit www.nhrasportcompact.com/content/news.asp?articleid=24989&zoneid=103.   

FORCE BACK IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: After 27 days at Baylor University Medical Center following his September 23 crash at Texas Motorplex, 14-time NHRA POWERade Funny Car world champ John Force returned to his native Southern California to continue his rehabilitation. Force, 58, suffered a compound fracture of the left ankle, broken right foot, broken and mangled fingers on his right hand, ligament and tendon damage to the right knee and a badly dislocated left wrist when his drag racing Funny Car crashed at a speed exceeding 300 mph.
   
He will receive further physical therapy in his home state in anticipation of returning to competition in the 2008 season. The 125-time NHRA tour winner plans to attend at least one day of next week's race at Las Vegas to support the efforts of daughter Ashley Force, 24, and son-in-law Robert Hight, 38, who drive Castrol GTX and Automobile Club of Southern California-backed Ford Mustangs almost identical to the one in which he crashed into fellow competitor Kenny Bernstein.

FRIEND OF NHRA, MOTORSPORTS WRITING LEGEND GLICK PASSES AT 87: Legendary Los Angeles Times motorsports reporter Shav Glick died early Saturday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 87. The only two-time winner of the NHRA Media Award (1977 and 1985), the personable Glick was more than just a sports reporter from a major metro daily newspaper assigned to cover drag races; he became close friends with many racers in the NHRA POWERade Series, including Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Amato and John Force, among others. His last story that appeared in the Times was an obituary published three weeks ago in which he eloquently reported the passing of one of his best friends, 94-year-old NHRA founder Wally Parks.

In February 2006, NHRA hosted a retirement party for Glick at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, where he was offered special thanks in moving tributes by Prudhomme, Force and several others. NHRA President Tom Compton and Parks presented Glick with a custom-made NHRA POWERade Series golf bag and commemorative plaque for his many years of coverage of NHRA Drag Racing. More than 300 members of the NHRA community, including racers, sponsors, public relations representatives, and many of his peers in the journalism world, attended the event.

In the early 1990s Glick was honored by NHRA for his countless contributions to the sport of NHRA Drag Racing through four decades of consistent and accurate coverage with the naming of the Shav Glick Media Center at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. 

“Shav was a very special person in the world of motorsports, and he will forever hold a special place in the hearts of everyone at NHRA and in the NHRA Drag Racing community,” said Compton. “He was respected as a pioneer in motorsports reporting, and he had many personal relationships with the people who worked at NHRA and the generation of racers he covered. He will always be remembered as a consummate professional who loved what he did and the people he worked with.

He received many honors during his career, including being named the only two-time winner of the NHRA Media Award, and we are proud to say that the Shav Glick Media Center at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona will forever serve as a tribute to the man whose coverage on the pages of the Los Angeles Times helped NHRA to grow and prosper into the second largest motorsport organization in the country.”

NHRA RACERS TO RETURN TO GERMANY TO VISIT U.S. TROOPS: For the third consecutive year, five NHRA ambassadors will take part in a USO-sponsored goodwill trip to visit wounded American troops and Air Force/Army personnel stationed at Kaiserslautern Military Community in Germany. Just days following the completion of the 43rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson, two-time Pro Stock champion Jim Yates, Top Fuel drivers Melanie Troxel and Cory McClenathan, and Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. will depart the United States for a post-season support mission to KMC that will include a visit to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. For more on this story visit www.nhra.com/content/news/24979.htm

NHRA FAN FEST COMING TO LAS VEGAS OCTOBER 25: The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series is taking over the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas with a one-of-a-kind Fan Fest Thursday, October 25, from 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. In what should be one of the biggest Fan Fests in NHRA history, all 16 of the racers remaining in the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship are expected to be on hand for autographs and pictures with fans. Also expected to attend are many top racers not in the Countdown, including legendary Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson.

One of the highlights of the event will be an unbelievable video and light show scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on the famed Fremont Street Viva Vision. Seven-thousand horsepower will meet 550,000 watts and 12 million lights in a special NHRA POWERade Drag Racing video and light show. Towering 90 feet above the street, Viva Vision will bring to life the power of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing in a way never seen.

In addition, a limited number of special sports card sets, featuring the 16 racers remaining in the Countdown, will be available. The cards feature vibrant action photos of the Countdown competitors as well as statistics from the 2007 season. Only 500 of the 16-card sets will be distributed at the Fan Fest.

Also scheduled for the Fan Fest is the unveiling of a special paint scheme on the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Pro Stock car driven by Kurt Johnson. With driver autographs, live music, the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Pro Stock car, and 550,000 watts of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing on Viva Vision over the Fremont Street Experience, this is one Fan Fest not to miss.

COUNTDOWN IN FOCUS AS NHRA RACERS COMPLETE THREE-DAY TEST AT LAS VEGAS: Many NHRA teams who are battling in the inaugural POWERade Countdown to the Championship took advantage of a three-day test session last week at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to fine-tune their machines for this weekend’s race, the first of two events in the Countdown to 1 to decide NHRA POWERade Series world champions in the four professional categories.

Those drivers clocking the best performances during the three-day test included Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, posting a 4.521 second run at 330.55 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. In Funny Car, Tony Pedregon drove his Q Horsepower Chevy Impala to a 4.733 at 318.54; and Pro Stock’s Greg Anderson made more than 20 runs in his Summit Racing Pontac GTO, his best a 6.726 at 204.17. For more on this story visit www.nhra.com/content/news.asp?articleid=24963&zoneid=8.  

COMING ATTRACTIONS

ACDELCO LAS VEGAS NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, OCTOBER 25–28: The Countdown to 1 begins with the top four in each professional category battling it out for POWERade world championships. The 2007 Technicoat Top Fuel Shootout also will take place at the event, pitting the top drivers in Top Fuel battling against each other for a top prize of $100,000 and bragging rights.

AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, NOV. 1–4: In the final race of the season, the top four drivers in each professional category will all be fighting for the POWERade world championship. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher, John Force, Greg Anderson, and Craig Treble.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

8: That’s the maximum number of elimination rounds of racing remaining for all 16 championship-eligible teams in the 2007 POWERade Countdown to the Championship during the upcoming two-race shootout, the Countdown to 1. The final two events of the season will take place at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 25–28, and historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, November 1–4.

WHO’S HOT!

CONNOLLY SEEKS SEASON WINS RECORD IN PRO STOCK: Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly, winner of the last five NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in his Torco Chevy Cobalt, could become the single-season consecutive wins record holder in Pro Stock with a victory Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Only two racers in NHRA history, both in Pro Stock Motorcycle—Dave Schultz (8, 1994; and 6, 1993) and Matt Hines (6, 1998)—have won more than five consecutive races in a single season.

Currently, Connolly is tied with Bob Glidden, who won five consecutive races in two different seasons (’78 and ’87), and Greg Anderson, who won five straight in 2004, atop the category. Glidden holds the overall record for most consecutive victories in the 200 mph category with nine, spanning two seasons, including the final five races to end the ’78 season and first four races to open the ’79 season.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

JOHNSON DOES THE INDY EXPERIENCE: Popular Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Steve Johnson recently took a ride in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater around the 2.38-mile road course at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., with Indy 500 veteran Davey Hamilton at the controls of the open wheel machine. Johnson, the 2005 U.S. Nationals champion and veteran of the 190 mph two-wheel category in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, enjoyed the ride.

"Dancing with the Stars has a whole new meaning to me," Johnson said. "That was such a cool ride. Davey knew I was a drag racer and smoked them out of the pits to start the ride the right way. When we got to the back side of Barber Motorsports Park we went through some turns that pulled over three G's to the left, then three more to the right. Going around the turns, your body is moving back and forth like a ball just before it gets picked for a lottery number. You know it's everything you can do to hold on, especially while trying to use my digital camera."

DRIVERS TELL ALL

PEDREGON CONFIDENT AFTER TESTING: Tony Pedregon, who earned an NHRA POWERade Series Funny Car world championship in 2003 as a member of John Force Racing, is optimistic that he can earn his first championship title as an independent team owner this season. “We feel we’re as ready as we can be,” said Pedregon. “It gives us confidence that we tested on the same track that we’ll race on next week. We ran a 4.733 and a 4.760 at the Las Vegas test session and we made several other runs with a planned, early shut-off. We gathered enough data to help us with our qualifying and race day tune-ups. We are hoping for good conditions because we know that the track will be good, despite the weather conditions.”

Heading into the Countdown to 1, the competition for the championship is fierce. Only 30 points, less than two round wins, separates Pedregon from Ron Capps, the No. 4 seed in the Countdown. “We felt if we could make it to the top four, we would have as good a chance as any of the other three cars in the championship,” Pedregon said. “Dickie [Venables, crew chief] is confident in the way the car is responding which gives me confidence. We have great sponsors and great equipment and we will benefit from the extra horsepower and protection provided by our Q Horsepower.”

On May 30, 2007, the NHRA entered into an agreement with HD Partners Acquisition Corporation (AMEX: HDP) for the acquisition by HDP of the NHRA’s professional drag racing assets, including the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, together with a broad set of commercialization rights.  The transaction is subject to HDP shareholder approval.  Interested persons are advised to read HDP’s preliminary proxy statement on file at the SEC and the definitive proxy statement, when available.  More information about HDP and the agreement with the NHRA is also available at www.hdpartnersacquisition.com.

For more information, visit www.nrha.com.