DIXON TO DRIVE ALAN JOHNSON TOP FUEL DRAGSTER IN 2009: Two-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Larry Dixon will climb into the seat as the driver of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster for the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season, with Jason McCulloch as the team’s crew chief. Dixon, who won world championships in 2002 and 2003, will make the move to the new team after a 20-year career with Don Prudhomme Racing, which saw Dixon start out as a crewmember in 1988 and work his way into the cockpit in 1995.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to this opportunity and new chapter in my career,” Dixon said. “It’s a new team, and everybody will be in a new position. It could take us a while to jell as a team, but everyone on this team has won at least one championship in previous ventures, so I’d like to think we can hit the ground running.”
After more than five years with Don Schumacher Racing, legendary NHRA crew chief Johnson announced plans to return to team ownership in 2009 with Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing with a two-car, Top Fuel and Funny Car, entry. In September, Del Worsham and Aaron Brooks were named the team’s Funny Car driver and crew chief, respectively.
NHRA DRIVERS FAIR WELL AT BOBSLED CHALLENGE: Top Fuel pilot Morgan Lucas won the NHRA vs. NASCAR portion of the fourth annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge when his Team USA competition Bo-Dyn bobsled turned in a time of 47.78 seconds—just enough to get past final-round competitor and NASCAR driver Todd Bodine after Bodine flipped his sled on the final run. NHRA drivers J.R. Todd, Jeg Coughlin and Bob Vandergriff also competed in the annual event at Lake Placid, New York.
The charity event created by NASCAR veteran Bodine raises money for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, which designs and makes bobsleds exclusively for Team USA. For more information on the fourth annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge or to see how all NHRA drivers finished at the event, visit www.nhra.com.
WILL WINS SCOTT KALITTA MEMORIAL TROPHY IN SYDNEY: Top Fuel pilot Hillary Will claimed the inaugural Scott Kalitta Memorial Trophy during the Shannons USA vs. Australia Top Fuel Showdown at Western Sydney International Dragway in Sydney, Australia. Led by crew chief Jim Oberhofer and her Ken Black racing team, Will was able to overcome many mechanical problems throughout the event and post the quickest lap in the final round when she defeated Aussie Terry Sainty and posted a 4.743-second run at 303.16 mph.
“This means so much to me and this team,” Will said. “To get this trophy and take it back to the States is such an honor for us. Scott was my mentor, and he was like a brother to me. We miss him so much, but we are so happy to win this trophy for Connie, Doug, Scott’s wife, Kathy, and his boys, Corey and Colin, and the entire Kalitta family.”
Kalitta, a teammate of Will’s and the 2005 and 2006 champion of the USA vs. Australia Top Fuel Showdown, died June 21, 2008, from injuries he suffered in a Funny Car racing accident at Old Bridge Township Raceway park in Englishtown, New Jersey. The trophy was named in honor of the two-time Showdown champion.
KRAGEN O’REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 5–8: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season gets underway in sunny Southern California as drivers in three professional categories begin their bid for the NHRA Full Throttle world championship. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 20–22: From palm trees to cactus, the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle series makes its second stop of the season in the warm desert of Phoenix, Arizona. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); and V Gaines (Pro Stock).
ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 12–15: The Pro Stock Motorcycle category opens its 2009 season at the Gatornationals, annually one of the most popular stops on the NHRA Full Throttle Series tour. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
WINNING ONE FOR THE TEAM: Top Fuel pilot Morgan Lucas on his winning run during the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge: “We finally got the win light for the NHRA,” Lucas said. “It took us straight-liners a few years but we got it done, and I feel great. The Team USA guys decided to let us drive the real bobsleds in the final round, and they are completely different than the ones we’ve been driving. It was like going from a Yugo to a Ferrari; a totally different feeling of speed.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
31: Days until the official start of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season, the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Funny Car sensation Ashley Force and longtime fiancé Daniel Hood tied the knot in beautiful Lake Tahoe Saturday, December 13. Force officially became Ashley Force Hood in a reception attended by such NHRA guests as Brandon and Tracey Bernstein, Del and Connie Worsham and the Tim Wilkerson family.
For more information, visit www.nhra.com.