NHRA ANNOUNCES FAN-RELIEF PROGRAM IN 2009: NHRA announced this past week several fan-relief programs for the 2009 season, including general-admission tickets for a reduced price, the admittance of children 12 and under for free and a military-appreciation offer. The fan-relief program will be available at all NHRA company-owned facilities in Pomona, California, Gainesville, Atlanta and Indianapolis, as well as at additional participating national event tracks.
The program will begin with the season-opening race, the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, while details on subsequent events will be announced after the season opener.
“We want to let our fans know that we understand these are difficult times, and we value their loyalty to the sport,” said Tom Compton, NHRA president. For more information on the NHRA fan-relief program or for tickets to the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, visit www.nhra.com or call 800/884-NHRA (6472).
SUPER COMP CHAMP LANGDON TAPPED TO DRIVE SECOND LUCAS TOP FUEL DRAGSTER: Two-time Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champion Shawn Langdon will team up with Top Fuel pilot Morgan Lucas as he makes the jump from Sportsman to Pro for the 2009 season. Langdon enters the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing series in the Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers dragster tuned by crew chief John Stewart.
Aside from Langdon’s two Super Comp titles in 2007 and 2008, he also won Junior Dragster national titles in 1997 and 1999 at ages 14 and 16. Over his racing career, Langdon has competed in Top Alcohol dragster, Super Comp, Super Gas, Stock, Super Stock and Junior dragsters.
“This is definitely an exciting time,” said Langdon. “I’ve got lots of nervous energy right now. I know it’s going to be a big step up, and I’m really lucky to have Morgan as my teammate because he’ll be there to bounce things off of as I learn to drive these things.” Both drivers will test this coming weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, where Langdon hopes to earn his Top Fuel license.
BEARD JOINS DON SCHUMACHER RACING AS TEAM MANAGER: NHRA Full Throttle Series team Don Schumacher Racing has announced that famed tuner Lee Beard will join as team manager for the 2009 season. Beard will oversee the operations of each of the six Full Throttle teams (Two Top Fuel dragsters, three Funny Cars and one Pro Stock Motorcycle) under the DSR umbrella, as well as the in-house research and development programs at the DSR facility in Indiana.
Beard returns to DSR where he had originally worked as crew chief for the Whit Bazemore driven Funny Car from 2001 to 2005. Beard has served as a crew chief for various teams since 1976 and more recently was the tuner for the Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown.
“Certainly Don Schumacher has put together the premier organization in drag racing, with his excellent facility, research and development programs and the top-of-the-line sponsors that he has acquired,” said Beard. “So, being in upper-level management of this premier team is certainly a very exciting move for me.”
NATIONAL DRAGSTER TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF PUBLICATION: National Dragster, the official newsweekly of NHRA, will celebrate its 50th year of publication in 2009 with a series of retrospective articles on the publication’s history and evolution since its debut in February 1960. The first retrospective will be presented in the February 6 issue, which will also feature National Dragster's preview of the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
NHRA began its own publication efforts in 1955 with the introduction of Drag Link, a small quarterly bulletin sent to its members to keep individuals and groups posted on items of interest.
The publication was rechristened Tie Rod shortly after and remained in publication until 1960, when National Dragster was developed to fill, in NHRA founder Wally Parks’ words, “a growing need for a publication devoted expressly to factual, interesting and informative coverage of activities and accomplishments that take place year-round within this fast-growing sport.”
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). For tickets, call 800/884-6472 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 20–22: 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). For tickets, call 602/268-0200 or visit www.ticketforce.com.
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. For tickets, call 800/884-6472 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
LEARNING AS HE GOES: Funny Car rookie Matt Hagan got a small taste of what life will be like behind the wheel of his BrakeSafe Rear-End Collision Avoidance System Dodge Charger this past week during a test session held at Palm Beach International Raceway in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“I learned so much this weekend from talking to all the guys. Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) is helping me out with my driving, and I’m bouncing stuff off of him and everybody else. I’m just trying to act like a sponge to absorb all the knowledge that’s floating around here.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
4.50: That’s the time required for a driver to become licensed in the Top Fuel category. Drivers must make two runs of 4.50 seconds at 240 mph or faster down the 1,000-foot racing surface in order to receive a license to compete in the top class in the NHRA Full Throttle series. Many rookie drivers will be looking to hit those numbers during testing at Firebird International Raceway this weekend in Phoenix, in hopes of earning their license.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that NHRA Senior Graphic Designer Tommy Walker will be a contestant on the popular television game show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" The episode airs Friday, January 23, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on FOX.