Compiled by SEMA Editors
SCHUMACHER, FORCE END VICTORY DROUGHTS ON LIVE NATIONAL STAGE; A.J., HINES CONTINUE MOUNTAIN DOMINANCE: The two winningest drivers in their respective classes in NHRA history—John Force and Tony Schumacher—scored historic victories last Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver. Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series finals in history to be televised live on a national broadcast network.
It was the first win of the season for both legendary drivers Force and Schumacher, who have earned the most world championships and victories in Funny Car and Top Fuel, respectively. They gave epic performances to the national television audience watching the finals live on FOX. Force defeated his daughter Courtney in a close Funny Car final. In a battle between Chevy Camaros, he finished in 3.965 seconds at 319.45 mph in his Realtree Peak Antifreeze Camaro to her performance of 3.963 at 314.75 in her Traxxas Camaro. It was the elder Force’s first win of the season, seventh in Denver, and 144th of his career. Force hadn’t won a race since June 2015 in Epping.
“I didn’t have a monkey on my back—it was a gorilla,” said Force, the 16-time world champ who at age 67 becomes the oldest driver in NHRA history to win a Funny Car race.
TORRENCE DETERMINED TO DISPLAY WINNING COMBINATION AGAIN: Even though the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals is not part of the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship—a six-race playoff that decides the champions of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series—it has major championship implications. The winners of the event, held at Sonoma Raceway, which will be televised by the FOX national broadcast network, often go on to be crowned champions of the series, or very close to it, and fans should expect nothing less than championship-worthy performances this year. The 29th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, July 29–31, is the second stop of NHRA’s Western Swing—a treacherous three-race stretch in the Western United States and the fourth-to-last race of the regular season. Only the top-10 drivers in each category earn a spot in the Countdown, and with limited points remaining, a lot more is on the line than a victory.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES EVENT AGREEMENT EXTENDED WITH HOUSTON'S ROYAL PURPLE RACEWAY: Officials from the NHRA and Royal Purple Raceway near Houston have announced that they have reached a multiyear contract extension for the NHRA Spring Nationals. In the agreement, the track will continue to host NHRA national events well into the future. The 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals, round five of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, will be held April 21–23 at the dragstrip in Baytown, Texas.
“We’re proud to have the opportunity to continue to provide the loyal fans of the Southeast Texas region and greater Houston area with exciting side-by-side competition for many years to come,” said Peter Clifford, NHRA president. “We are confident Royal Purple Raceway will continue to build upon its great legacy as one of the world’s fastest dragstrips.”
He Said, She Said
“It feels amazing. I do 200 speeches a year to kids, and I tell them that preparation is important and it’s all about overcoming adversity and digging and digging and digging. And you get to the end of this Traxxas [Shootout] thing and sometimes you get so concerned about winning your way into the Shootout, but people were saying, ‘Don't worry, there’s always the vote.’ My feeling is, I’m winning a race to get in or else I’m telling the people, ‘Do not vote for me.’ I'm serious. I can’t go through 200 speeches a year telling kids they have to earn everything, that you don’t get free trophies, and then ask people to vote for me even though I didn’t earn it just because I want a shot.”
—Top Fuel racer Tony Scumacher on getting his first win of the year and the 81st of his career. Schumacher also earned a berth in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Top Fuel with the win.
Inside the Numbers
7: Number of wins Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson has at Bandimere Speedway following his most recent victory at the mile-high track. His dominance started at the event in 2007, and he has won four of the past five races at the facility. He ties Bob Glidden for the most wins at Bandimere Speedway.
“I wouldn't have given ourselves a 1% chance to win this thing today,” Johnson said. “You know what, this team dug down deep, and we got a little better every run. We just hung right in there, and maybe we had a break or two. The magic up here is just on our side for some reason. We’ve done it for MOPAR all these years, and now we get to do it for Marathon, and MOPAR is still with us also, so we've got dual partnership there. It feels twice as good.”
Did You Know
COLER NAMED NHRA VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING AND BRAND STRATEGY: Kasey Coler, a sports marketing professional, has been named NHRA vice president of marketing and brand strategy, NHRA President Peter Clifford has announced. Coler will join NHRA’s leadership team and play a key role in leading consumer marketing strategy and overall brand development efforts. In the newly created position, Coler will develop and oversee the NHRA’s overall brand strategy, including communicating the strategy to internal and external audiences, all aimed to build lasting emotional connections with customers and fans.