People, Places & Racing News

SCELZI, PEDREGON READY TO TEAR UP THE CHILI BOWL AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

ALL BROWN WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS IS HIS DRIVER’S LICENSE: Antron Brown shocked POWERade Series faithful when the popular Pro Stock Motorcycle rider announced he’d be behind the wheel of one of the sport’s most powerful machines in 2008: the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster. Brown’s gotten in a few training passes since trading two wheels for four, and he’ll continue testing in Gainesville, Florida, this week.

“I’m real anxious and can’t wait to get started with our test session,” Brown said. “I’m excited to work with our new crew at the race track. I feel we have an all-star cast of crew members led by Lee Beard. We’re having a great time at the shop, but we really want to fire up this Matco Tools dragster. Our goal is to get my Top Fuel license and make some really consistent laps in the dragster.”

Maybe Atlanta-based Top Fuel driver Bob Vandergriff Jr. will give him some pointers. The driver of the UPS dragster tests in Florida this month.

NORM FROSCHER MEDIA CENTER, TOWER TAKE SHAPE: Speaking of Gainesville Raceway, new pictures have been released of the control tower under construction at the NHRA-owned track, one of the most popular events on the POWERade Series tour. The tower will house a state-of-the-art media center, named for Froscher, a long-time sportswriter. See the latest here

SCELZI, C. PEDREGON ADD STRAIGHT-LINE FLAVOR TO CHILI BOWL: There’s no doubt Gary Scelzi and Cruz Pedregon will represent the NHRA POWERade Series well at the 22nd annual Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma, January 12. But can they outrun the likes of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Jason Leffler and J.J. Yeley?

“I’m trying to get some experience because the last time I was at the Chili Bowl (for the Ford Focus celebrity race in 2003) I had 30 minutes of experience, so now I probably have three hours of experience,” said Scelzi, who owns a USAC pavement car and the USAC dirt car driven by 17-year-old Michael Faccinto. “I just want to go out there and have a good time. I don’t want to get upside down. I just want to see if I can hold my own against a bunch of these guys.”

NHRA 2007 YEAR IN REVIEW DVDs AVAILABLE: The NHRA Countdown to the Championship 2007 Year in Review, featuring 120 minutes of highlights and bonus features on Wally Parks and Eric Medlen, is available for order at http://www.nhradvd.com. For more on the DVD and remaining shipping options, visit www.nhra.com/content/news/25860.htm.  

COMING ATTRACTIONS

NITRO BLAST OFF, LAS VEGAS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, JANUARY 18–20: The elite teams of the NHRA POWERade Series will begin making preparations for competition in 2008 at this first of three optional showcase pre-season test sessions.

NATIONAL TIME TRIALS, PHOENIX, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, JANUARY 25–27: Pre-season action moves from Nevada to Arizona as the professional teams continue to tweak off-season changes at this second of three optional test sessions.

LAST-CHANCE TEST SESSION AND PONTIAC PRO STOCK SHOWDOWN, LAS VEGAS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, FEBRUARY 1–3: This aptly named test session is the final of three optional events that allow professional drivers to test their machines before formal competition opens for 2008. The 200-mph NHRA Pro Stock cars also will race for bragging rights in the annual Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown.

CARQUEST AUTO PARTS WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 7–10: Kick-off the 2008 NHRA POWERade Series Countdown to the Championship at the historic track where last year’s winners included J.R. Todd, Gary Scelzi and Greg Anderson.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

WANNA BE A HOLIDAY CHAMP? EAT YOUR POTATOES: The latest installment to NHRA.com’s Quarter-Mile Cuisine by Nicky Morse, team chef for 2007 NHRA POWERade Series Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin, can get you in top form in no time.

“We still cook some of the traditional meals at the house during Christmastime, but times change,” Morse said. “People do not live in the kitchen anymore. I remember my mom, grandma and aunts cooking for days just to get everything ready. Christmas Eve dinner was really special.” For more, check the recipe out here: Christmas Potatoes.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

31: Days until the first test session of the NHRA POWERade Series 2008 season, the Nitro Blast Off at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For more information, contact the track at 702/644-4444.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

EUROPEAN DRAG RACING CHAMP’S PLANS FOR NHRA TOUR, AS TOLD BY CREW CHIEF: Top Fuel driver Urs Erbacher, one of the latest drivers from across the pond to take on the POWERade Series’ best, has hired veteran tuner Wayne Dupuy to lead his team in 2008 with an eye on an expanded schedule here. Erbacher plans to compete in the first five POWERade Series events before going back to compete in the six-race FIA in England, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany.

Dupuy helped the Switzerland-based team with their NHRA debut in 2007. “We got along good and we’ve been talking ever since,” Dupuy told NHRA.com. “His crew guys all speak English so it was pretty easy communicating with them. I think the experience of racing on some different tracks over there can only help me in the long run. It’s certainly going to be a unique experience.”