SEMA eNews Vol. 15, No. 7, February 16, 2012

NHRA: Full Throttle Series Returns to Firebird International Raceway

 

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NEWS NUGGETS

NHRA FULL THROTTLE SERIES RETURNS TO FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY FOR SECOND STOP OF 2012: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Firebird International Raceway for the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, February 17–19, with a ticket special the whole family can enjoy. Children 12 and younger will receive free admission to the NHRA's February return to Arizona when accompanied by a paying adult. The NHRA's second event of the 2012 season will allow all NHRA fans an opportunity to see and meet all of the drivers who will be racing at speeds of more than 320 mph during the 17-race regular season in hopes of qualifying for the Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA's six-race playoffs.

All of the biggest stars in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will be on hand. Rookie Funny Car pilot Alexis DeJoria—daughter of Paul Mitchell products co-founder John Paul DeJoria—will look to make a name for herself in the ultracompetitive 7,000-hp class with her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry tuned by 2011 Top Fuel Full Throttle champ Del Worsham. DeJoria will have to hold off a host of drivers, including rookie Courtney Force, defending world champion Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, Mike Neff, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, Beckman and 15-time Funny Car champ John Force. Popular Pro Stock driver Erica Enders will again lead the charge with her quest to become the first female winner in the factory hot-rod class. To win the event, she'll have to hold off Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Mike Edwards, Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr., who is making his much-anticipated return to action after sitting out the 2011 season.

Seven-time Top Fuel world champion and three-time NHRA Arizona Nationals winner Tony Schumacher will again be behind the wheel of his famed U.S. Army dragster. After going winless in 2011, Schumacher is more determined than ever to get back on the winning track. Several of his archrivals, including teammates Antron Brown and Spencer Massey, plus Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas, will be in the mix and focused on mounting a championship charge.

THIS WEEK AT NHRA

Event: NHRA Arizona Nationals
Track: Firebird International Raceway
Race number: 2 of 23
Track surface: concrete/asphalt
Elevation: 1,100 feet above sea level
Most NHRA Full Throttle victories at the track: 8, John Force, Funny Car
2011 event winners: Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock)
Tickets: Call 602-268-0200 or log on to firebirdraceway.com

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MASSEY, FORCE, ANDERSON KICK OFF 2012 SEASON WITH WINS IN POMONA: The 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries—the start of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season—lived up to the excitement as Top Fuel pilot Spencer Massey, Funny Car driver John Force and Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson raced past the competition to claim the first wins of 2012. Massey powered his FRAM/Prestone dragster to a 3.750-second run at 325.77 mph in the final to beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown. Even more impressive was Massey’s semifinal win against Tony Schumacher, in which Massey set the national record for speed at 328.62 mph.

“After the second round, we didn’t have any computer data, and [crew chiefs] Phil [Shuler] and Todd [Okuhara] tuned that thing like it was a Top Fuel car from 1968,” said Massey. “They looked at the plugs, looked at the bearings, and it went 3.74 at 328 mph. It’s awesome to start like this and have the No. 1 spot going into Phoenix. This is my life dream, and we’re living it.”

In Funny Car, Force held off teammate and former crew chief Mike Neff in the final to secure his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang a spot in the winner’s circle. The win was Force’s 15th at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona—the most of any driver—and 134th victory.

“You really want to perform,” said Force. “I know all those other kids on our teams and others, like Cruz Pedregon, the Schumacher teams, [Tim] Wilkerson and [Bob] Tasca, those guys are going to win races, and it was just nice to get a win under my belt. Those boys are bad out there. To make that top 10 is going to be tough. Somebody’s going to be left out, so I’m just going to keep fighting and keep my nose clean.”

The wins for Massey and Force secured both a spot in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts—special races within a race—which will be conducted at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Pro Stock driver Anderson held off four-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin in the final to secure his fifth NHRA Winternationals win and 10th at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP. It was Anderson’s 71st win.

“I wasn’t the quickest driver out here today, but I was very consistent,” said Anderson. “We managed to stop the big yellow Mopar (of Coughlin). He sure came out swinging. You’re always aware of how good Jeg is driving. I’ve never been very good at tuning that kind of stuff out, but it worked today.”

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season this weekend in Chandler, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, for the NHRA Arizona Nationals. For tickets, call 602-268-0200 or log on to firebirdraceway.com.

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AAA NAMED TITLE-RIGHTS SPONSOR OF INAUGURAL EVENT AT GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK: The NHRA announced an expansion of its long-standing relationship with the Automobile Club of Southern California, as the company has agreed to become the title-rights sponsor of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis. The inaugural event will take place September 28–30, and is the third of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

The Auto Club is entrenched in NHRA Drag Racing at all levels of the sport. The relationship also includes naming rights for Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, entitlement rights of the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals held at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, entitlement of the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas, sponsorship of the Auto Club Road to the Future Award annually recognizing the sport’s Professional rookie of the year, and presenting sponsorships of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, the Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the California Hot Rod Reunion at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield.

In addition, the Auto Club is presenting sponsor of the NHRA Safety Safari presented by AAA and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. As part of the title rights at Gateway Motorsports Park, AAA Insurance will receive exclusive promotional opportunities around the event, as well as broadcast elements, display space and signage on-site at the event, pre-event customer activities and corporate hospitality.

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NHRA LAUNCHES NITRO GENERATION SWEEPSTAKES: One of the NHRA’s most lucrative sweepstakes in its history—the NHRA Nitro Generation Sweepstakes—kicks off with the celebration of Nitro Generation—NHRA’s season-long tribute to the many families both on the track and in the stands who have made the NHRA the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning body. Fans can enter to win the NHRA Nitro Generation Sweepstakes by logging on to NHRA.com, visiting the official voting area on NHRA’s Facebook page or at kiosks that will be set up at every national event track during the 23-race season. Entries close at 12:00 a.m. (EST) December 7; winners will be announced after December 18. Residents of the United States/Washington, D.C., who are at least 18 years old can enter the 2012 NHRA Nitro Generation Sweepstakes.

The grand prize in the 2012 NHRA Nitro Generation Sweepstakes is a '12 Ford Harley-Davidson F-150 and a '12 Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two motorcycle. Combined, the grand prize has a total value of nearly $60,000. In addition to the grand prize, the NHRA will award other winners during the NHRA Nitro Generation Sweepstakes. First prize is a 55-in. Samsung LED 7000 Series Smart TV from BrandSource. Five second-place winners will be awarded a Traxxas E-Revo Brushless 65-mph R/C Monster Truck. Third prize is a set of four tires courtesy of Service Central Racing and five fourth-place winners will receive a Traxxas Boss 302 VXL 50-mph R/C car.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, February 17–19:
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in Phoenix. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 602-268-0200 or log on to firebirdraceway.com. For media credentials, contact Media Relations Manager Alex Baca at abaca@nhra.com.

TIRE KINGDOM NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 8–11:
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to historic Gainesville Raceway for the third stop of the series and season-opening race for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Defending event winners are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com. For media credentials, contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at ssmith@nhra.com.

SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, March 30–April 1:
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its first of two stops of the season in Sin City for the fourth race of the season. Defending event winners are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to LVMS.com. For media credentials, contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at zelcock@nhra.com.

HE SAID, SHE SAID   INSIDE THE NUMBERS
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BACK IN THE SADDLE: Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin after a runner-up
finish at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by
Super Start Batteries, his first return to Pro Stock action since
sitting out the 2011 season: “This is just a taste of what’s coming for
this team. Roy Simmons and Nick Ferri are going to continue to work hard
on the tune-up and the horsepower. I’m about as fired up as I get at a
race I didn’t win.”
 
3: Since 1991, when the NHRA Arizona Nationals moved to become
the second race of the season (except 2011), only three drivers in
either Top Fuel or Funny Car have won the season-opening O’Reilly Auto
Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries and NHRA
Arizona Nationals in the same year. However, five Pro Stock drivers have
accomplished the feat, one twice. Below are the drivers, the year they
won both races and their class.
 

Darrell Alderman: 1991, Pro Stock
Jerry Eckman: 1992, Pro Stock
Alderman: 1995, Pro Stock
Jim Yates: 1996, Pro Stock
Gary Scelzi: 1997, Top Fuel
John Force: 1997, Funny Car
Jeg Coughlin: 2000, Pro Stock
Ron Capps: 2009, Funny Car
Mike Edwards: 2010, Pro Stock

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  Barry Weiss (left) from the reality TV show Storage Wars was a guest of Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown and one of the many celebrities who attended the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries.

DID YOU KNOW

…that former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Super Bowl champ Danny White was one of many celebrities who attended the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Other celebs from the worlds of movies, television, music and sports who attended the season-opening race included actor Danny Trejo, who played in several movies including Predators and Anchorman; Andy Ashby, former starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies; Barry Weiss, from the reality TV series Storage Wars; Fred Dryer, star of the TV drama Hunter and longtime defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams; and James “Bubba” Stewart, professional motocross racer and multi-time Supercross champ.

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