ROOKIES PREPARED FOR O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS AND START OF 2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE SEASON: Just one week remains before the beginning of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season at the 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries, February 9–12, at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. For three drivers, the season-opening race will mark their first full-season debuts as competitors in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
In Top Fuel, NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion Khalid al Balooshi will make his debut behind the wheel of the Al-Anabi Racing dragster that raced to the Top Fuel world championship last season. alBalooshi, whose machine will be tuned by 2010 Top Fuel championship crew chief Jason McCulloch, licensed with a series of 3.8-second runs during winter testing and will make his first competitive pass down the track during qualifying at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
In the Funny Car class, a pair of rookie drivers will begin their first full seasons in their 7,000hp machines. Courtney Force, daughter of NHRA legend John Force, will pull into the staging lanes in one week ready to power her Traxxas Ford Mustang into the field, and Alexis DeJoria, daughter of entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, will showcase her driving talents behind the wheel of her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry. Former NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series competitor Todd Lesenko will also make his first full-season debut in Funny Car behind the wheel of the Jim Dunn-owned Tap It Brewing Co. Funny Car.
alBalooshi, Force, DeJoria and Lesenko will compete throughout the season for the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top performing rookie driver of the season. Which driver will have what it takes to earn the prize?
PRO STOCK CLASS READY FOR AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA AND START OF 2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SEASON: With the start of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season just one week away, Pro Stock drivers are ready for a class showdown beginning at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries. With the highly anticipated return of four-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin, who sat out the 2011 season, many eyes in the sport will be watching the JEGS Dodge Avenger, along with its new engine program, to see how the former champ will handle the juggernaut KB Racing team of Jason Line and Greg Anderson, who have won the last two world championships.
Line is the defending world champion and the defending event winner at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and Anderson has racked up an impressive nine victories at the track, including four O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals titles. But don’t count out 2009 world champion Mike Edwards, who won an impressive four races in five final-round appearances last season and finished the year second in the points standings. Edwards also won the event in 2010. Other Pro Stock drivers looking to have an impact in the class include sophomore driver Vincent Nobile, fan favorite Erica Enders and Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson.
RACING ELECTRONICS RENEWS AS OFFICIAL RADIO COMMUNICATIONS PROVIDER OF NHRA: Racing Electronics has renewed its official sponsorship as the official radio communications provider of the NHRA. For two decades, Racing Electronics has been the official radio communications sponsor of the NHRA, providing handheld radios, headsets, mobile units, ancillary products, base radios, antennas, on-site setup and support for NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events, divisional NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events, NHRA’s owned and operated facilities and broadcasting. In addition, Racing Electronics has a major presence at the NHRA Manufacturers Midway at NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events, providing on-site sales, rentals and service for scanners, headsets and communication needs for NHRA race teams and fans.
Racing Electronics is a manufacturer and supplier of a complete line of race communication products and accessories, providing its customers two-way radios, scanners, headphones and headsets as well as a complete selection of accessories and sportswear and a guide listing the year’s races and scanner frequencies for specific events. For more on this story, log on to NHRA.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS PRESENTED BY SUPER START BATTERIES, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, February 9–12: The 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series kicks off in Southern California. Defending event winners are Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock).
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, February 17–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in Phoenix. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
TIRE KINGDOM NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 8–11: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to historic Gainesville Raceway for the third stop of the series and season-opening race for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Defending event winners are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
NOT THE NEW GUY ANYMORE: Top Fuel pilot Spencer Massey on his 2011 season with Don Schumacher Racing behind the wheel of the FRAM/Prestone dragster—his second full campaign in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series: “A year ago, I was new to the team and didn’t really know anyone. Now it’s like I’ve always been part of the family. We’re coming off a great year and don’t plan on changing anything. We’re treating this season like we never had an off-season and want to just pick up like last year never ended.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Tony Schumacher won the 2008 and 2004 O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals. He also went on to win the world championship in those years.
9: In the past 10 seasons, nine O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals winners have gone on to win the world championship in the same year. Below is a list of those drivers, the category they won in, and the year they won:
2010 – Larry Dixon, Top Fuel
2010 – John Force, Funny Car
2008 – Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel
2004 – Schumacher, Top Fuel
2004 – Greg Anderson, Pro Stock
2003 – Dixon, Top Fuel
2003 – Tony Pedregon, Funny Car
2002 – Dixon, Top Fuel
2002 – Force, Funny Car
DID YOU KNOW
…that members of the national motorsports media met with NHRA rookie drivers Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria during a press conference conducted as part of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway last week. Both drivers joined NHRA President Tom Compton during the season-preview event, which was held in front of more than 100 of the nation’s top motorsports journalists. For more on this story, visit NHRA.com.