People, Places & Racing News

NHRA: 50th Anniversary Winternationals Website Launches

NEWS NUGGETS

50TH ANNIVERSARY WINTERNATIONALS WEB SITE LAUNCHED: NHRA kicked off the Countdown to the historic 50th running of the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline by unveiling a website dedicated specifically to the event. Fans can visit www.50thwinternationals.com for all information pertaining to the February 11–14 event at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The website is chock-full of features that will help fans heading to Pomona for the once-in-a-lifetime event, including details about autograph sessions with many of NHRA’s legendary drivers, the Golden 50 car show, Cacklefests and the Legends Dinner. The site also features lists of all past winners, plenty of vintage video and a decade-by-decade look back at the second-longest running event on the NHRA circuit behind only the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

To complement the online look back at the storied history of the Winternationals, NHRA fans can find and purchase a companion book or DVD on the site detailing the history of the Winternationals. The book is an encyclopedia of one of NHRA’s most prestigious events, complete with stats, facts, photos and feature profiles of NHRA Legends such as Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Jim Dunn, Connie Kalitta and Shirley Muldowney. It will be a great keepsake and, if you’re one of the tens of thousands of fans heading to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona February 11–14 for this historic NHRA event, a great autograph book.

To visit the 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals website, click here.

“GOLDEN 50 CORRAL” HEADLINES SERIES OF PREMIUM BONUS EVENTS ON DISPLAY AT THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY WINTERNATIONALS: Whatever your favorite sport or hobby, nothing stirs the emotions like a walk down memory lane. And nothing will compare to the walk down memory lane NHRA fans will get to take at the 50th running of the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, February 11–14 at Auto Club raceway at Pomona, when NHRA officials unveil the Golden 50 Corral, a car show to end all car shows.

From “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat 5 to the Kohler Brothers’ King Kong AA/GS to the Stone, Woods & Cook Willy’s coupe (voted No. 1 National DRAGSTER’s “Favorite Race Car Ever” poll) to so many more classics, this would be a drop-everything, must-attend event for every car enthusiast from Los Angeles to London—even if it stood as a standalone, paid-entry car show. But admission to the once-in-a-lifetime event, amazingly, will be free and open to all NHRA fans with their entry to the historic 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals.

For more on this event, including many of the other special events centered around the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, visit www.NHRA.com.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE RIDER ANGIE SMITH GETS FULL-RIDE WITH KLEMENT FOR 2010: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angie Smith will race a full schedule on the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour aboard Karl and Kim Klement’s Buell thanks to sponsorship from Coffman Tank Trucks. Smith’s husband, former NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Matt Smith, will build the team’s engines and oversee the program from the crew-chief role. Thanks to the sponsorship with Coffman, the Klement Racing team will be able to test as well as conduct research and development programs.

“We have a good program, and I feel like we have a team that will perform well,” said Smith. “Our biggest goal is to get in the top 10 this year, and we feel like we have a team that legitimately can do that.” For more on Angie Smith’s new ride, visit www.NHRA.com.

  Houston Tower
  The new Tower Club at Houston Raceway Park.

NEW TOWER CLUB TO DEBUT AT HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK: Continuing a multiyear effort to offer guests a first-class experience, the owners of Houston Raceway Park will soon christen a 12,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art Tower Club starting-line facility. Already near completion, the deluxe permanent structure on the west side of the conventional tower suites will transform a regular day at the drag races into a VIP experience for race fans, with numerous amenities never before offered at the track.

The official grand opening of the Tower Club is slated for 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 4. Members of the Baytown Chamber of Commerce will assist in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. and a reception will follow. The event is open to the public. Individual Darrell Russell Top Eliminator Club tickets in the brand-new Tower Club are on sale for the 23rd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil, April 9–11 at Houston Raceway Park. To purchase tickets, visit www.NHRA.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

KRAGEN O’REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 11–14: The 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will kick off in sunny Southern California with the 50th anniversary of the Winternationals. Defending event winners include Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock).

NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 19–21: The traditional second stop on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing tour, competitors will head to the Valley of the Sun for the second race in the 2010 season. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock).

NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 11–14: The traditional season opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to this historic event in the swamp lands of Florida. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Bob Tasca (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

PREMONITION?: Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher, who won his seventh world championship this season by a mere two points, at the first of the 2009 season: “It’s going to be a war right down to the final round in Pomona. Whoever wins this thing will have earned it big time.”

  Robert Hight
  Robert Hight

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

15-3: That’s the round win/loss record that Funny Car world champion Robert Hight had during the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs in 2009. Hight, in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, had a round winning percentage of .833 to earn his first world championship and 16th for John Force Racing.

DID YOU KNOW…

…that legendary driver, Don “Snake” Prudhomme won his first NHRA Winternationals event in 1965 in the Top Fuel category, but didn’t win his next Winternationals event until a decade later in 1975 in the Funny Car class. The Funny Car win was one of four-straight Winternationals wins for Prudhomme, who took the Wally home in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978.