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NHRA: Countdown to Mello Yello Series 2013 Opener

Edited By SEMA Staff



COUNTDOWN IS ON TO NHRA MELLO YELLO SERIES 2013 OPENER: The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Southern California and historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries, February 14–17. With kids 12 and younger allowed into general admission seating for free with a paying adult, this family-friendly event is one of the gems at the venerable Los Angeles County Fairplex. The season-opening event of what promises to be an action-packed 24-race schedule will be the perfect opportunity for dedicated NHRA fans to reconnect with their favorite drivers and continue to make memories they will carry with them for a lifetime. Many drivers will be sporting new sponsors, paint schemes and new crewmembers, and this event will allow fans to see the new combinations early in the competitive season. Fans will also be treated to a sensory-overload environment with the sights and sounds of the tradition-rich event as drivers rocket down the track at speeds of more than 320 mph in an attempt to join the list of O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals winners.

Defending Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown returns to the site where he clinched his first historic championship last November. His focus is set on a second championship at the controls of his Matco Tools dragster, but Tony Schumacher, Morgan Lucas, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein and Shawn Langdon will all be looking to unseat him from his throne during the season. The Top Fuel class will grow this season as rookie Brittany Force, daughter of drag-racing legend John Force, makes her historic debut in the class behind the wheel of the Castrol Edge dragster.

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CAPPS THE MICROPHONE TECH IS SUPER BOWL BOUND: Ron Capps is a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan and will be at Sunday's big game, but not in a grandstand seat or a luxury suite. The only ones at the game with a better view of the action will be players and game officials. The driver of Don Schumacher Racing's NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car will be working on the sidelines handling a satellite-dish-looking parabolic microphone for San Francisco radio station KNBR—the flagship station for the 49ers and San Francisco Giants. Capps' chances to be part of the working media resulted from a friendship he has with Mike Hohler of the station.

"First of all, just the Niners being in the Super Bowl is huge," Capps said. "To go to my first Super Bowl and be able to work on the sideline is going to be unbelievable. I've been watching Super Bowl coverage this week and highlights from other Super Bowls show how the sidelines are packed with media, movie stars and athletes. It will be fun working at the game and being that close to the action. It can't get any better than this."

It will be the second time the winner of five NHRA Funny Car races last season will have his ears glued to the action. The day after he won the Funny Car title at Las Vegas last October he debuted as a microphone holder when the 49ers beat Arizona 24–3 near Phoenix in a Monday Night Football game. Other than the best place to watch a game, he said handling a parabolic microphone requires you to wear headphones.

"That was so cool to hear all the chatter and smack talk going on with the players,” he said. “It's pretty wild. It will be a dream come true as a 49er fan."

If you think it's dangerous driving a Funny Car at 320 mph, Capps said working the sidelines at an NFL game might be riskier and you don't wear a helmet.

"When players would go out of bounds you could see me [on TV] holding the microphone, and I'd start getting into it. When guys would come toward me trying to make a tackle I found myself running to get closer to the action, almost risking myself at times, just to get that good sound. I really got into the job and tried to be the best microphone holder they ever had. After the game I started to wonder what I was doing."

He promises that when the 49ers score or if they win the Super Bowl, he will remain a committed, professional microphone technician.

"If the Niners win, I promise I won't throw it,” Capps said. “Mike and the guys at KNBR put a lot of trust in me, and I take this very seriously. But I might have to pay for a new one if I get too caught up in celebrating."


PRO STOCK ACE STANFIELD JOINS LUCAS OIL RACING FAMILY: Veteran NHRA Pro Stock driver Greg Stanfield will join the Lucas Oil racing family beginning at next month's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals when he unveils the MavTV/Lucas Oil Chevy Camaro.

"We're excited," Stanfield said. "We're going to go out and run the first eight races of the year and see where we stand and where we are performance-wise at that point. The plan right now is to run a minimum of 15 or 16 races."

Stanfield, who finished runner up in the Pro Stock standings in 2009 and has three career wins in the class, said the backing from MavTV and Lucas Oil came at just the right time.

"J.D. and Teresa Coffman are putting some money into this effort too," Stanfield said. "But we're thankful that Tom Bogner and Forrest Lucas jumped on board. I think it's a good fit since J.D. owns a trucking company that uses Lucas Oil. Hopefully with the help we're getting we can turn the corner. We had a lot of engine failures last year, which set us back. We're starting to put it together and it feels like we're getting things back to where they need to be to make the MavTV Camaro run fast."

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O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, February 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the start of the 2013 season with new colors. After a dramatic ending to the 2012 season, drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock are looking to pick up where they left off and bring more heat to the track for the season-opener. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to

NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, Firebird International Raceway, February 22–24: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the 2013 season just south of downtown Phoenix. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 602-268-0200 or visit

AMALIE OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS, Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, March 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its third of 24 stops of the 2013 season in the sunshine state of Florida. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-6472or log on to



ON THE HEELS OF A BREAKTHROUGH YEAR, TORRENCE IS READY FOR MORE: Steve Torrence has accumulated well-rounded experience in NHRA Drag Racing and a fair amount of success in the Sportsman ranks, but last season, he broke through as a competitor who could pack a punch as a pro. Notably, the second-generation driver earned the status in his first full season holding the reins of his own operation and driving the Capco/Torrence Racing Top Fuel dragster. Based in Kilgore, Texas, Torrence first demanded attention on the racetrack in 2005, his debut year as a Top Alcohol Dragster competitor, and won nine times in 11 final rounds en route to the national championship. The following year, he made his Top Fuel debut, and in 2011, Torrence and his family formed their own team with the support of Capco and began steady preparation for a full charge in 2012. Preparation paid off as the fledgling group upset the class with three victories in five final rounds and a pair of No. 1 qualifier awards to score a coveted position in the Countdown to the Championship. But was Torrence's quick rise to the status of title contender in his first season at the helm of his own enterprise really a surprise for a driver who had already proved magnetic to success?

"It was definitely beyond what I expected," said Torrence, who turns 30 in April. "I felt like we had everything to succeed; the parts and pieces were there and in place, but we just set out wanting to get our feet wet and establish ourselves, to see what being a Top Fuel owner as a family was about. We had goals that we wanted to achieve, but I think that we've by far surpassed anyone's expectations, including our own, with what we accomplished.”

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2: WALLY PARKS NHRA MOTORSPORTS MUSEUM ELECTS TWO NEW BOARD MEMBERS: The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California has announced the election of two new members to its board of directors. The museum welcomed newly elected board members Linda Louie, vice president and general counsel for the NHRA, and Glen Cromwell, vice president of national event marketing for the NHRA.

“The museum board is pleased to have the ongoing support of NHRA executives in helping to preserve the rich history of racing and its future success,” said Thomas McKernan, chairman of the NHRA Motorsports Museum Board. Louie joined NHRA in 1999. She received her bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles and her J.D. from the University of Southern California. Prior to NHRA, Louie was a business litigator in private law firms. She has been a lawyer for more than 20 years.

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NHRA WELCOMES THREE NEW FACILITIES TO NHRA MEMBER TRACK NETWORK: The NHRA has announced the addition of three new facilities to the NHRA Member Track network: Northland Dodge Motorsports Park in Prince George, British Columbia; Central Alberta Raceways in Rimbey, Alberta; and Rocky Mountain Raceways in West Valley City, Utah.

“It is a pleasure to have these three facilities come onboard as part of the NHRA Member Track network,” said Josh Peterson, NHRA vice president-racing administration. “It’s great to have Rocky Mountain Raceways back onboard as part of the Pacific Division, and the addition of the two tracks in Canada helps to expand NHRA’s presence in the Northwest Division.”

As NHRA member tracks, the three facilities will be eligible to offer racers a variety of NHRA racing opportunities, including the NHRA Summit Racing Series, the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. Additionally, the tracks have the opportunity to host the NHRA’s specialty events, including the National Dragster Challenge, Summit Racing NHRA King of the Track and NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League Challenge. Northland Dodge Motorsports Park ( is under new ownership with a variety of racing activities, including a quarter-mile dragstrip and a 2.7-kilometer (1.67-mile) road course. Central Alberta Raceways ( is a new 80-acre multipurpose motorsports facility; the quarter-mile dragstrip is expected to open this summer. Rocky Mountain Raceways ( is a multi-use facility and will host a round of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series as well as the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series.

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