Edited By SEMA Staff
AMALIE OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS SET FOR EXCITEMENT: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville March 14–17 for the 44th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, the third of 24 races in the 2013 season. The history and rich traditions at the annual East Coast opener have long made this race a strong draw for fans across the country, and for many, the Gators is a spring-break destination. Kids 12 and younger are admitted free with a paid adult. The Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, which will be telecast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, will also feature the season-debut of the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Riders will be looking to knock defending series champion Eddie Krawiec off his title perch. Last year, Krawiec and his Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle teammate Andrew Hines dominated the two-wheel category by winning 15 of the 16 events contested during the season.
This event has long been one of the premier stops on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, and a win in the Sunshine State is a huge feather in the cap for any racer. The roster of past winners reads like a who’s who of drag racing: Joe Amato (Top Fuel), Warren Johnson (Pro Stock), John Force (Funny Car) and the late Dave Schultz (Pro Stock Motorcycle) lead their categories in wins, and numerous national records have been set at the venerable facility. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel, pictured above), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Krawiec added their names to the history book with event wins in 2012. To purchase tickets, call 800-884-NHRA or visit NHRATIX.com online. For more information about the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, visit www.nhra.com.
SCHUMACHER, CAPPS, ENDERS-STEVENS COLLECT PHOENIX WINS: Tony Schumacher won a wild tire-smoking final round against Morgan Lucas last Sunday to claim the Top Fuel victory at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway (FIR). Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) also were winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near Phoenix. Schumacher raced to his 70th victory and fourth at FIR when he was able to get his 8,000-hp U.S. Army dragster under control and finish just in front of Lucas’ charging GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. Both dragsters lost traction early in the side-by-side race, and both drivers were on and off the throttle as they navigated the dragstrip. In Funny Car, Capps outran teammate Matt Hagan in a final round featuring DSR Dodge Chargers while Enders-Stevens defeated top qualifier Mike Edwards on a holeshot start in Pro Stock. Visit www.nhra.com for more on this story.
UNI-SELECT, AUTO-PLUS TO BECOME TITLE-RIGHTS SPONSOR OF INAUGURAL NHRA EVENT AT NEW ENGLAND DRAGWAY: Uni-Select USA and its Auto-Plus network of automotive retail stores have acquired title-rights sponsorship of the inaugural event at New England Dragway in Epping. The Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals is scheduled for June 20–23, and represents the first event in the New England area for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“We are extremely pleased to announce the expansion of our partnership with NHRA,” said Brent Windom, Uni-Select senior vice president, sales and marketing. “Our growth in participation with the NHRA saw more than 5,500 customers attend our events last year. We are excited to be an integral part of bringing NHRA Drag Racing to the New England market.”
Uni-Select USA and its Auto-Plus brand also serves as title-rights sponsor of the 29th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, October 3–6, at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading. In addition, the company holds naming rights to historic Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. Auto-Plus is also the official auto-parts store of Atlanta Dragway—an NHRA-owned and -operated facility—as well as Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk.
“We’re thrilled to bring the excitement and power of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing to New England and to have a great partner like Auto-Plus on the inaugural event,” said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Advance sales for the event continue to be extremely strong, and we look forward to working with Auto-Plus to create a memorable event for NHRA fans in the region.”
Tickets for the inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals are on sale now through NHRATix.com or by calling 800-884-NHRA (6472). For group tickets and camping, call 603-679-8001.
“Uni-Select and its Auto-Plus network is the industry’s gold standard,” said Joe Lombardo, New England Dragway general manager. “This partnership makes them an integral part of NHRA history in the New England marketplace.”
ELLIS TO RIDE SAVOIE’S WHITE ALLIGATOR RACING SUZUKI IN GAINESVILLE, CHARLOTTE: Veteran NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chip Ellis will ride Jerry Savoie's White Alligator Racing Suzuki at the first two events of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series while Savoie continues to recover from minor surgery during the off-season. They also announced a partnership with Vance & Hines, which will provide power for the WAR Suzuki in 2013. Ellis will ride the WAR Suzuki as a stand-in for Savoie at the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville—the Pro Stock Motorcycle season opener—and again at the next race on the schedule, the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle in Charlotte.
"I'm feeling fine, and I'm definitely on the road to recovery, but the doctors recommended that I don't jump right back on the motorcycle," said Savoie, who underwent surgery to eliminate bone spurs in his neck. "It's tough for me to sit still for too long, but I'm going to respect their wishes so that I can be 100% when it's time for me to get back on the bike. In the meantime, we feel that Chip was the right choice for us as a fill-in rider, and he's a friend of ours. I think he'll do a great job, and he has a lot of experience with the Vance & Hines product. We know he'll be an asset to our team, and we appreciate him coming onboard for Gainesville and Charlotte."
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
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 toward 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 800-884-6472 or log on to NHRATix.com.
SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 5–7: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the fourth of 24 races on the circuit. Drivers in the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes will earn points towards the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to www.lvms.com.
DOLLAR GENERAL NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS, zMAX Dragway, April 19–21: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to the Bellagio of Dragstrips in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the fifth of 24 events. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete in a four-wide configuration and earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
SCHUMACHER SAYS HE PREFERS TO ‘WIN UGLY’: In taking his 70th career victory at Phoenix last Sunday, Tony Schumacher was forced to get on and off the throttle to guide his U.S. Army dragster to the finish line in front of final-round opponent Morgan Lucas. It was a thrilling tire-smoking battle that brought the NHRA Arizona Nationals crowd to its feet.
“When you can win ugly like that it is so much fun,” Schumacher said. “Both cars were set up to run really fast, and we both lost it and smoked the tires. It was lift, pedal, lift, pedal all the way down. I could hear Morgan beside me the whole time. As a driver, that kind of race is so much fun, and I enjoy winning like that more than a record run.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
75: NHRA LEGEND CONNIE KALITTA CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY IN PHOENIX: One of the pioneers of the sport of NHRA drag racing, Connie Kalitta, celebrated his 75th birthday on Sunday in Phoenix. Kalitta owns the Top Fuel dragsters driven by his nephew Doug Kalitta and David Grubnic and the Funny Car piloted by Del Worsham. The team also manages the Funny Car driven by Alexis DeJoria. During his career as a driver, Kalitta raced to 10 victories in Top Fuel. He has been heavily involved in the sport since the 1950s.
DID YOU KNOW…
FORCE MENTORS ASPIRING FUNNY CAR DRIVER ON EPISODE OF NEW TV SERIES: Aspiring nitro Funny Car driver Brian Olatunji, who is part of a new SPEED channel reality series "Dreams To Champions," had a special mentor in 15-time NHRA Mello Yello champ John Force on Wednesday night’s episode, entitled "Perseverance Pays Off." In the episode, Olatunji, a mechanical engineer from Detroit with more than 15 years of racing experience, took viewers on a visit to the John Force Racing headquarters in Brownsburg, Indiana, where he seeks advice from one of drag racing's greatest icons.
"Advice from the champ is invaluable and has been an instrumental aspect of my development as a driver," said Olatunji, who has been chasing nitro dreams his entire life. His passion is closely tied to his family's involvement as management of the now defunct Detroit and Motor City Dragway beginning in 1971. His grandfather John Broaden was the first African-American manager of an NHRA-sanctioned facility. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.