GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE; ASHLEY’S CHARITY TRIBUTE CAR GETS BIG BUCKS AT BARRETT-JACKSON AUCTION: The Eric Blake Foundation Dodge Charger Funny Car that Mike Ashley drove to the 2007 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals title went up for auction at the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction this past weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. Phoenix-area construction mogul Ron Pratt was the highest bidder, picking up the Chip Foose-designed vehicle for $130,000. The proceeds benefit the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation charity, which supports the Perinatal Loss Program at St. Vincent Health System Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“I think it’s awesome,” Ashley said. “That’s a whole lot of money for a rolling chassis show car, and it will do so much good for so many hurt people. I am very pleased.”
The Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation was created by Donnie and Hollie Faulkner in memory of their stillborn son, Eric Blake, with the single goal of helping other parents who have suffered a similar loss. For photos of the famed Funny Car, click here.
ROCKSTAR ENTERS THE BUILDING; TOLIVER JOINS SCHUMACHER RACING FOR 2008: Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver has found a new place to park his Rockstar Energy Drink ride: in the garages of famed NHRA owner Don Schumacher. Toliver joins Ron Capps, Gary Scelzi and Jack Beckman as the fourth Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car in an already impressive stable. Phil Shuler, who along with Todd Okuhara tuned Beckman's MTS Dodge Charger in 2007, will move to the crew chief position for the Rockstar Dodge Charger R/T. As well as serving as primary sponsor on Toliver’s ride, Rockstar Energy Drink will serve as a major associate sponsor on the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger driven by Ron Capps.
RIVAS GEARED UP TO RUN G-SQUARED/DRAG SPECIALITIES S&S BUELL IN 2008: In yet another off-season move, G-Squared announced that Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chris Rivas will be the rider of the Drag Specialties S&S Cycle Proven Performance-powered Buell for the 2008 season. Rivas moves to the G-Squared team after racing an S&S Buell in the POWERade series since 2005. George Smith, G-Squared president, will serve as the primary crew chief for the S&S Buell. Smith had served as a co-crew chief along with George Bryce last year on the Drag Specialties S&S Buell, driven by Chip Ellis. Ellis will pilot the Schumacher Electric Suzuki in 2008 for Don Schumacher Racing.
TASCA TEAMS WITH MOTORCRAFT TO FIELD FUNNY CAR IN 2008: NHRA Alcohol Funny Car record holder for E.T., Bob Tasca III, will make the move to the POWERade Drag Racing Series as he joins the Funny Car class in 2008. Joining forces with Motorcraft, Tasca III will field the Motorcraft Shelby Mustang, starting at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. As part of their move into NHRA, Motorcraft has also announced that along with Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers, the group will have a major interactive trackside presence at 14 NHRA events around the country.
CARQUEST AUTO PARTS WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY. 7–10: Kick-off the 2008 NHRA POWERade Series Countdown to the Championship at the historic track where last year’s winners included J.R. Todd, Gary Scelzi and Greg Anderson.
CHECKER SCHUCK’S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 22–24: This second race in the regular season features two defending event winners who eventually launched serious attacks for 2007 POWERade Series titles: Tony Pedregon, the season world champion in Funny Car, and Rod Fuller, who earned runner-up honors in Top Fuel after the best season of his career. Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) also reached the winner’s circle in Phoenix last year.
ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS,GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 13–16: The Pro Stock Motorcycle category opens its 2008 season at the Gatornationals, annually one of the most popular stops on the NHRA POWERade Series tour. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
JUST HAPPY TO RACE: In an interview for NHRA.com, Kalitta Motorsports driver Dave Grubnic joked about the worries that come with competing for a major team in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. “My worst day since I joined Kalitta Motorsports is still better than my best day before I got here,” Grubnic said. “You won’t hear me complaining, mate. Life is good.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
90: The percentage of nitromethane mixture in the fuel that will be used in Top Fuel and Funny Car for the 2008 season, an increase of 5% from the previous year.
DRIVERS TELL ALL
JOHNSON AND TROXEL ON THE POSSIBILITIES OF RACING AGAINST EACH OTHER IN 2008: After a stellar career in the Top Fuel category, Melanie Troxel will make the move to Funny Car in 2008. The move is one that will inevitably pit her against fellow Funny Car driver—and husband—Tommy Johnson Jr. In this week’s issue of National Dragster, the two briefly discussed what a Johnson-Troxel final round could mean.
“I think it’ll be easy to deal with a final round with both of us in it, or even racing each other at some point at an event,” Johnson said. “But if one has a lot more success than the other, or if we race each other a lot and one of us wins all the time, well, that’s when it gets tough. You hate to lose to somebody all the time, and if it happens to be the person you live with, that might make it a little worse.”
Though Troxel is excited to see what the outcome will be, she too feels the same way about competing against Johnson. “I think that’s a good weekend,” Troxel said. “Ask us later if we get five final rounds down the road racing each other and one of us always wins, then we’re probably not going to have such a happy answer about it.”
For more information, visit www.nhra.com.