SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 6, February 11, 2010

NHRA Newsmakers: Racers Celebrate 50 Years of Dragging at Season Kick-Off Winternationals

NEWS NUGGETS

  NHRA Winternationals
  It all kicks off at the annual Winternationals this weekend.

START 'EM UP! 2010 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SEASON BEGINS WITH THE KRAGEN O'REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS: The off-season is gone. The months of preparation are at an end. The wait is officially over as the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season official begins this week at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. And what better way to kick it off than with one of the most anticipated events of the year: the 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals?

The official start of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season has always been an exciting one, but with the celebration of 50 years of drag racing in the heart of Southern California, past truly meets present, as NHRA stars will swap stories with drag racing legends and fans will have the chance to see some of their favorite drag racing vehicles on display during the event.

"It all starts at the Winternationals," said seven-time and defending NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher. "The biggest names that have ever won championships in racing and just races in general started right there. So that's the place. The history of racing comes from California. To go out and perform at that race from the first get-go, man, you just can't beat it.”

Schumacher and all the famous drivers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will be on hand to compete in this historical event, which will include more than just great drag racing. Here is a list of some of the special events scheduled for the weekend:

  • The Golden 50 Corral Car Show, effectively a museum displaying the cars including Roland Leong's Hawaiian and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Hot Wheels Funny Car that laid the foundation for today's 7,000hp, 300-mph dragsters
  • Daily Cacklefests, featuring top cars from the last 50 years in one of the oldest traditions in drag racing
  • Autograph sessions with NHRA legends, including Shirley Muldowney, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Bob Glidden, Kenny Bernstein and many, many more
  • Exhibition runs by legendary tribute cars on the Auto Club Raceway track
  • The unveiling of the Greatest Moments in Winternationals history: Plus, see NHRA Full Throttle world champions Schumacher, Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) begin their title defense against an impressive and highly competitive pool of drivers.

With so much excitement centered around one weekend, one thing is for certain. The 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals is the one race you don't want to miss.

OSCEOLA DRAGWAY JOINS NHRA MEMBER TRACK LISTING: NHRA officials have announced that Osceola Dragway in Osceola, Indiana, has switched to NHRA affiliation for the upcoming 2010 season. This is the first time that the quarter-mile facility, originally built in 1957, has operated under the NHRA banner. Osceola Dragway will participate in the North Central Division's NHRA Summit Racing Series, culminating with the track sending a team of their season's top qualifiers to the Summit Racing Series Finals at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, September 17–19.

Division champions from that event will advance to the Summit Racing Series National Championships held in conjunction with the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, California, November 11–14. The track will also offer racers the special National DRAGSTER Challenge, the Aerospace Components King of the Track, the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League Challenge and NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA.

The National DRAGSTER Challenge and the King of the Track events give local racers the opportunity to earn a coveted Wally trophy at their home track.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

KRAGEN O'REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, February 11–14: The 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will kick off in sunny Southern California with the 50th anniversary of the Winternationals. Defending event winners include Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock).

NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, February 19–21: The traditional second stop on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing tour, competitors will head to the Valley of the Sun for the second race in the 2010 season. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock).

NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 11–14: The traditional season opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to this historic event in the swamp lands of Florida. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Bob Tasca (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

MORE THAN JUST THE SEASON-OPENER: NHRA Full Throttle Series drivers discuss what it means to participate in the 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals:

ANTRON BROWN, MATCO TOOLS DRAGSTER: "This is a great way to kick off 2010 with such an important race. That gold 'Wally' trophy is one that you want to have in your trophy case one day. I can tell you, our whole Don Schumacher Racing Matco Tools team is excited to get back in the swing of things at Pomona. Our goal is to start off the season where we left off last season and that's with a win at Pomona."

Ashley Force Hood  

ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, CASTROL GTX FORD MUSTANG: "It's a huge event. Everybody is new out there—new sponsors, new fans—it's the race you want to do well at and start your year strong. It definitely gives you a great confidence boost if you are able to start your season on such a great note. It's such a special one, it's going to be cool."

JACK BECKMAN, VALVOLINE/MTS DODGE CHARGER:
"The Winternationals has always been the kickoff of the season. It's the race where you get to see all of the new paint schemes, but for me it's always been the local race, too. When you think about it, for a Southern California boy, it's triply exciting to be at my home race track, at the opening season of the year, and where there are so many new things to see."

GREG ANDERSON, SUMMIT RACING PONTIAC GXP: "The first time I ever went to the Winternationals I was about 10 or 12 years old, and my father and I traveled cross-country to go see a big-time drag race. I remember getting to the track and seeing all the heroes that I had watched on TV, and looking up at the snow on the mountains when I was sitting in the stands where it was 80 degrees. It was a sight unlike any other I had experienced growing up in Minnesota. It was such a neat setting that gave me a special feeling that I still have today whenever I pull into the track, and probably the reason why I am racing today."

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

7: That's how many Full Throttle Drag Racing Series drivers have won back-to-back Winternationals titles. Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and Bob Glidden are the only drivers to have won back-to-back Winternationals twice, with Glidden doing it in 1975 and 1976, then repeating in 1978 and 1979, and Prudhomme winning four-straight in Funny Car in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. Doug Kalitta, Ron Capps and Jason Line will try to add their names to that list this weekend at the 50th annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.

DID YOU KNOW...

...that NHRA unveiled the logo for its newest exciting and interactive experience for spectators and participants, NHRA Unleashed. NHRA Unleashed embraces a new breed of drag racing enthusiast who is looking for pure, doorslammer heads-up competition on the track and a festival environment off the track. NHRA Unleashed will be featured in a series of televised specials that celebrate pure American horsepower. The first of the 2010 NHRA Unleashed events will be June 11–13 at Atlanta Dragway.

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