NHRA ANNOUNCES MELLO YELLO AS SERIES SPONSOR FOR 2013: The Coca-Cola Co. has extended its relationship with the NHRA and will continue its longstanding association as title sponsor of NHRA’s premier series through the year 2018. In addition, beginning in 2013, Mello Yello, The Coca-Cola Co.’s citrus-flavored soft-drink brand, will be the new series title sponsor: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Sharon Byers, senior vice president of sports and entertainment marketing partnerships at The Coca-Cola Co., and NHRA President Tom Compton jointly made the announcement in downtown Indianapolis at Monument Circle on the eve of the start of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus.
“The Coca-Cola Co. and our bottlers have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the NHRA,” said Byers. “Together, we have created a successful formula for many Coca-Cola brands to connect with the NHRA’s passionate and dedicated community. We know this trend will continue with the addition of Mello Yello, which boasts its own faithful following, to the equation.”
Throughout the decade-long partnership, the NHRA has helped Coca-Cola deliver growth for multiple brands in the portfolio. For the last four seasons, Full Throttle Energy Drink has been the lead brand on the NHRA’s signature series. Full Throttle will continue to play a key role in Coca-Cola’s 2013 NHRA activation.
“The Coca-Cola Co. has been a cornerstone of the sport since 2002, and this extension ensures our partnership will continue through at least 2018,” said Compton. “Over the past 11 years working with The Coca-Cola Co. and the bottlers, we have developed a deep professional and personal relationship. Transitioning to a brand as powerful as Mello Yello is exciting on a number of fronts, and the vision the brand team and the bottlers have shared with us regarding their plans to leverage this sponsorship will provide an extended reach nationwide for the sport of NHRA Drag Racing.”
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
NHRA ANNOUNCES 2013 MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE: With a new series sponsor and enthusiasm for continued growth in the sport, the NHRA announced its 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule as part of a whirlwind of announcements and activities at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis on the eve of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Highlighting the 24-race 2013 schedule is the inaugural NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, June 20–23. Pro Stock Motorcycle riders will compete in a 16-race schedule with six of those races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, a part of the ESPN network, will again provide exclusive television coverage, on a same-day basis, of all NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events featuring action from qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday’s race. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
BERNSTEIN, C. FORCE WIN FAN VOTE/LOTTERY SPOTS IN TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUTS: Top fan-vote getters Brandon Bernstein and Courtney Force were the lucky winners in the special lottery drawings for the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootouts during a press conference held in downtown Indianapolis to preview the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. Bernstein will face the top seed in Top Fuel, Antron Brown, in the first-round pairing of the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout, and the 24-year-old Force will meet Funny Car top seed Ron Capps in the Funny Car Traxxas Nitro Shootout first round.
"It's very exciting that the fans voted as much as they did for us and that my name got called," Bernstein said. "I was worried about Clay [Millican], so I knew it would be close, but it's fun that we got it, and I can't wait to race!”
"I'm so excited that my Traxxas Ford Mustang is in the Shootout! I'm so thankful to the fans for voting for me," said Force. "I knew it was up to chance with the lottery, so I can't believe we actually won. It'll be so awesome to be in my first Traxxas Nitro Shootout, and I can't wait to line up on Sunday."
The Traxxas Nitro Shootouts will be contested during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, August 29–September 3, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held Saturday, September 1, with rounds at 4, 7, and 8 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be contested Sunday, September 2, with rounds at 12:30, 3:30, and 4:30 p.m. Both Traxxas Nitro Shootouts will be showcased in ESPN2HD's Sunday race coverage. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
NHRA FUNNY CARS ON DISPLAY AT INDIANAPOLIS AIRPORT: Three NHRA Funny Cars are prominently on display at the Indianapolis International Airport and will greet fans when they arrive this weekend for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The NAPA Funny Car driven by series points leader Ron Capps and two Funny Cars driven by 15-time world champion John Force are the focal point of Civic Plaza. Fans can have their pictures taken and get an up-close-and-personal look at these machines when they exit the concourse.
“It is really an honor to have two of our Mustang Funny Cars on display in the Indianapolis Airport again,” said Force, a four-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner. “Last year, we got a great response, and I know this year will be even better. The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is the biggest race of the year for us, and it always gets my blood pumping when I see my Funny Car in the airport.”
The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus will take place at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis August 29–September 3. For tickets, log on to NHRATix.com.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS OPENS SEPTEMBER 14 AT ZMAX DRAGWAY IN CHARLOTTE WITH NIGHT OF FIRE: Fans will enjoy a special treat at zMAX Dragway on the first night of the September 14–16, O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. A night of fire will launch the first race of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Included are a fireworks show, jet cars and a nitro session under the lights.
“The header flames are way up high, you feel the percussion, when you hit the throttle it hits them in the stands,” said Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster and current points leader. “It’s like lightning happening, it’s like a thunderstorm. It’s a nighttime experience you can’t get anywhere else but NHRA drag racing.”
Fans will see two nitro qualifying sessions on Friday, one scheduled at 4:00 p.m. and one for 6:30 p.m. Under the lights, the flames that erupt from the headers of the 8,000-hp nitro machines shoot 10 ft. high.
“When you have a Funny Car going down the track and there are header flames two, three feet above the roof, there’s nothing like it,” said Robert Hight, driver of the Castrol/Auto Club Funny Car.
Last year at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Friday’s session under the lights, Matt Hagan made history with a 3.995-second run—the first Funny Car pass to break the three-second barrier. During the same session, Jack Beckman set the Funny Car national speed record at 318.99 mph. Friday’s night of fire will end with a fireworks show. General admission tickets for Friday are $20, and children 13 and under are admitted for free every day of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, but they must have a ticket. Tickets and camping are still available for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, September 14–16, at zMAX Dragway, by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 800-455-FANS (3267).
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY AUTO-PLUS, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, August 29–September 3: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 17th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points at the last race in the regular season for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS PRESENTED BY SUPER START BATTERIES, zMAX Dragway, September 14–16: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 18th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season for the first event of the Countdown to the Championship. The top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the Countdown—the NHRA’s playoffs. The 2011 winners were Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-455-FANS (3267) or log on to zMAXDragway.com.
AAA TEXAS NHRA FALL NATIONALS,Texas Motorplex, September 21–23: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 19th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and the second race of the Countdown. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners were Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-668-6775 or log on to TexasMotorplex.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
TONY SCHUMACHER SEEKING RETURN TO INDY WINNER’S CIRCLE: NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher has won a record eight Top Fuel titles at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. However, he hasn’t advanced to the final round at the event in two seasons and hopes this year will add win No. 9 to his Indy record, which would put him in a tie with Pro Stock great Bob Glidden for the most pro wins at the Big Go.
“Indy is just brutal,” Schumacher said. “I enjoy the challenge of going back there and trying to win it again even more than all the wins I’ve had there. I like it when you have to rise to the occasion and just get it done. I love that kind of pressure. Indy has that kind of pressure and it’s what makes it so special.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
3: ONLY THREE POINTS STAND BETWEEN VANDERGRIFF AND MILLICAN IN HUNT FOR 10TH PLACE IN FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Bob Vandergriff Jr. and Clay Millican are separated by only three points in the battle for the 10th and final Top Fuel playoff spot in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. Similar battles exist in each category and all of the drama will play out this weekend at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at historic Lucas Oil Raceway at Indinapolis.
In Funny Car, defending world champ Matt Hagan is 11th and is one of four drivers trying to earn the final two spots in Funny Car. He is joined in the hunt by Jeff Arend, Bob Tasca and Tim Wilkerson. As many as seven drivers are in the hunt to make the playoffs in Pro Stock, as 32 points separate the seventh-place driver to the 11th-place driver. Only 21 points stand between eighth-place Shane Gray and 11th-place Jeg Coughlin—a four-time Pro Stock world champ. Coughlin trails 10th-place V. Gaines by only two points. Ronnie Humphrey is 21 points out of 10th and Rodger Brogdon is a longshot in 13th place—81 points back of 10th. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, 11th-place John Hall trails 10th-place rider Shawn Gann by 22 points and two-time Indy winner Steve Johnson is 12th, 56 points back of Gann. For tickets to the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, call the NHRA at 800-884-NHRA or purchase online at www.nhratix.com.
DID YOU KNOW…
NHRA SEMA SHOW BREAKFAST TO PRESENT SNAKE AND MONGOOSE WORLD PREMIERE SNEAK PREVIEW MOVIE TRAILER: The NHRA Breakfast at the SEMA Show will give the standing-room-only crowd an opportunity to see the world premiere sneak preview trailer of the upcoming Snake & Mongoose motion picture. The movie, produced by Stephen Nemeth and Robin Broidy, whose company, Entertainment Universe, financed the production, is expected to be released in theaters in the spring of 2013. The NHRA Breakfast at the SEMA Show will be held Wednesday, October 31, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Las Vegas Hotel (LVH) Ballrooms A&B. The annual NHRA Breakfast is part of the 2012 SEMA Show, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, October 30–November 2, 2012. The NHRA Breakfast is open to all registered SEMA Show attendees. A continental breakfast will be served. For more information about this story, visit www.NHRA.com.