SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 7, February 17, 2011

NHRA: Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Ready to Begin 2011 With Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals

NEWS NUGGETS

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ONE WEEK TO GO! NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES READY TO BEGIN 2011 WITH KRAGEN O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS: After nearly three months off, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is just one week away from the 2011 season and the Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California. The opening race of the season also marks the start of a season-long celebration as the NHRA celebrates its 60th anniversary year, and the festivities begin in Pomona. Some of your favorite drivers will be descending on Auto Club Raceway at Pomona next weekend, including Top Fuel world champion Larry Dixon and seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher. Funny Car 15-time world champion John Force will be back, hunting for his 16th world title, with teammates Robert Hight and Mike Neff hot on his heels. Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the 60th celebration and see some of their favorite legendary drivers in person. NHRA Legend Don “The Snake” Prudhomme will be on hand all weekend meeting and greeting fans and signing autographs, and he’ll have some of his most famous and memorable cars on display in the pits in the special “Snake Pit” area.

“It’s an honor to be honored at the track,” said Prudhomme. “It’s something that was a hobby with junkyard parts when I started out. So it’s quite amazing to me, and I’m thrilled to play a part in the 60th anniversary.” Don’t miss out on your opportunity to be a part of history as NHRA kicks off its 60th anniversary in one week. Tickets are still available for the Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, by clicking here.

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NHRA ANNOUNCES SPECIAL FREE HARD CARD PROGRAM AS PART OF THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: The NHRA has announced that all past national event-winning drivers in the current professional categories, as well as Top Eliminator dating back to 1955 and Pro Stock Truck from 1998 to 2001, will be eligible for a free permanent hard car credential for the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Season. The categories eligible include Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pro Stock Truck and Top Eliminator.

“In celebration of our 60th anniversary, it is only fitting that we welcome with open arms our past drivers who have been such a part of our history and have made the NHRA what it is today,” said NHRA President Tom Compton.

The special hard car credential program is designed to honor the stars of the sport and encourage them to come out and partake in the 60th anniversary celebration throughout the 2011 season. The NHRA will be marking the 60th anniversary of the formation of NHRA with a year-long celebration that will pay homage to the evolution of the hot rod, the impact of the sport’s legendary racers and the lifeblood provided by the many millions of loyal and passionate NHRA fans. For more information, visit NHRA.com.

TRI-CITIES FORD DEALERS ANNOUNCE SPONSORSHIP OF THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS: Bristol Dragway officials and NHRA announced last week the Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers as a new partner in Thunder Valley. The agreement, which is for the next four years, includes title sponsorship of Bristol flagship event, the June 17–19 Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Your Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers. The group has already been in partnership with Bristol Motor Speedway for the past two years. Ford Motor Company is a staunch supporter of NHRA Drag Racing. Ford led the charge to help make the sport safer through several safety initiatives, including the Ford Blue Box data-collection system on all Top Fuel and Funny Cars. Ford also worked with longtime John Force Racing and NHRA to develop a new Funny Car Chassis to help protect drivers and is also the official vehicle of NHRA.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

KRAGEN O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, February 24–27: The 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and 60th anniversary season of NHRA kicks off at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona at the 51st running of this event. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800/844-NHRA or go online at NHRATIX.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Public Relations Michael Padian at mpadian@nhra.com.

TIRE KINGDOM NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 10–13: The second stop in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and first race for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, this showdown in the swamplands of Florida will bring added excitement as the NHRA celebrates its 60th anniversary. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/844-NHRA or go online at NHRATIX.com. For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at ssmith@nhra.com.

SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, April 13: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes the first of two stops in Sin City and its third stop of the 2011 season. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800/644-4444 or go online at Ticketmaster.com. For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at zelcock@nhra.com.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

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TAKING A DRIVING TEST AT MORE THAN 300 MPH:
Veteran NHRA driver Del Worsham on earning his Top Fuel License during pre-season testing in Florida last week: “It was unreal; Top Fuel cars have changed a lot since I last drove them. It accelerates very hard. The sensation of speed is so great in a Top Fuel car, and I didn’t remember that. You can just really feel the power and how fast you’re going. Dragsters are faster than Funny Cars by nature, but sitting so low, you can see things going by, which gives you a reference of how fast you’re actually going; Funny Cars don’t give you that at all.”

60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY

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1971, BIG DADDY BEGINS REAR-ENGINE REVOLUTION: Nearly a year after an exploding transmission in his front-engine Top Fuel dragster severed half of his right foot, Don Garlits debuted and won the season-opening Winternationals in a new rear-engine dragster that paved the way for today’s contemporary Top Fuelers.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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1983: That’s the last year that a driver won both the Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals and Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals in the same year, with the events being the first and second races of the season. The NHRA changed the schedule in 1989, and after 22 years, the two races are back to the one and two spots on the schedule. Frank Hawley won both races in Funny Car in 1983.

DID YOU KNOW…

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…that zMAX Dragway has been added to the 2011 NHRA Southeast Division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series schedule to host a round of competition? The event will be held August 26–28 in conjunction with the popular North Carolina track’s Food Lion AutoFair event, billed as the world’s largest automotive extravaganza. For more information, visit NHRA.com.

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