People, Places & Racing News

FORCE PREPARES FOR HIS 500th RACE AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

DOWN  SOUTH—POWERade SERIES RETURNS TO ATLANTA FOR SIXTH  EVENT: Heading from the high desert of Las Vegas to the humid southland of Georgia, the NHRA POWERade Series travels cross-country for this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce. It was one year ago that the winners from Las Vegas—Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Robert Hight  (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock)—pulled off an amazing  feat by repeating their winning runs in Atlanta.
    Karen Stoffer also had a repeat of her own, picking up her second win of the 2007 season at that event in Pro Stock Motorcycle. SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals winners Cory McClenathan, Tim Wilkerson and Jason Line hope the formula for a repeat is the same this year as they too look to make it two wins in a row.
    Atlanta is also the spot where Funny Car legend John Force will compete in his 500th career race, becoming only the second driver to do so (Warren Johnson raced in 528). If Force leaves Atlanta with the Wally, he will also become the first driver to reach the 1,000-round win mark, needing only four more round wins entering the event to reach the achievement.

“GRUMPY” TO BE INDUCTED IN 2008 INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME: Following in the footsteps of such drivers as Warren Johnson and John Force, former Pro Stock driver and 13-time event winner Bill “Grumpy”  Jenkins will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega Superspeedway, April 24. Joining Jenkins in the Class of 2008 inductees is NHRA pioneer Art Afrons, Robert “Red”  Byron, Everett “Cotton” Owens, Frank Kurtis and Ralph Seagraves.
    “I have been quite honored by the whole thing,” said Jenkins. “I knew there had been some media effort afoot to get me inducted, and I know that’s where the push comes from to get the various set of people inducted into that system, so I wasn’t totally surprised.”

NHRA  DRIVERS FINISH IN TOP 10 AT PRO/CELEB RACE: Two-time and defending NHRA POWERade Series Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon showed his street course racing skills with a fifth-place finish in the Pro/Celebrity race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 19. NHRA drivers Whit Bazemore and Marty Nothstein also finished the event in the top 10, turning in a sixth and eighth-place finish, respectively. ESPN announcer Jamie Little won the event, which pitted celebrities against auto racers in a 10-lap race. SPEED Channel will provide coverage of the event, with airtimes scheduled for May 3 (3 p.m.), May 4 (11:30 p.m.), May 9 (11 p.m.), and May 25 (7:30 p.m.). 

IN  THE NEWS

A LIFE 330 MPH IN THE MAKING: In his column this week, AP writer Jim Litke discusses the life and turmoil the past 12 months have brought Funny Car driver John Force, ranging from his horrific crash in Dallas and the loss of Eric Medlen, to daughter Ashley becoming the first female ever to lead the points in Funny Car. Take a look at Litke’s article here.

COMING  ATTRACTIONS

SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS, ATLANTA DRAGWAY, APRIL 24-27
: The NHRA POWERade series heads back down south, as drivers in four categories will compete at the sixth event of the season. Defending event winners include Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Robert Hight  (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

O’REILLY NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS, GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, MAY  2-4: Traveling back to Madison, Ill., just outside of St. Louis in view of the archway, drivers from the NHRA POWERade Series will look to gain some advantage in the Countdown to the Championship just before the start of the summer months. Defending event champions include Melanie Troxel (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

O’REILLY NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS, BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY, MAY 16-18: The NHRA POWERade Series heads back to the Thunder Valley of Bristol, Tenn., for the eighth running of the event. Defending event winners  include Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock).

HE  SAID, SHE SAID

FIRST MEN’S FITNESS, NEXT (HOPEFULLY) NATIONAL DRAGSTER: With the Funny Car points lead heading into Atlanta and a feature in Men’s Fitness magazine, you’d think that Ashley Force has everything she’d want. But there seems to be only one publication Force is looking to make. “I am really aiming for getting the National DRAGSTER cover, which means I got my first win," said Force. “That would be the best way to kick off all these media things.”

INSIDE  THE NUMBERS

8: The most wins at Atlanta Dragway, set by late Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Dave Schultz, which also stands as the most wins by a Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor at any track.

DID  YOU KNOW?

…that NHRA drivers Melanie Troxel, Frank Hawley, Gary Scelzi, Jack Beckman and Matt Smith will be part of a special fundraising event for the Dream House for Medically Fragile Children in Braselton, Georgia? The charity helps provide medically-fragile children and their families with an easy transition from hospitals and institutions to homes.