Compiled by SEMA Editors
DRIVERS READY FOR SPECTACULAR RACING AT AUTO-PLUS RACEWAY AT GAINESVILLE: NHRA superstars are preparing for race three of 24 on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit as they head to Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville March 14–17. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners at the event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD. Track records were reset in all four categories last season. The competition should be just as tough this year at the traditional East Coast opener, which also marks the first race of the season for the Pro Stock Motorcycles. Defending world champion Krawiec is ready to challenge for his fourth consecutive win at the event.
“We’re excited, looking forward to Gainesville,” Krawiec said. “Hopefully, the performance side of it will steadily increase throughout the season. For me, I know the target is on my back, and everybody’s after me. They want my No. 1 plate. The hardest thing is to maintain it. When you’re in the No. 1 spot, the only place to go is backwards. From two on up, you can improve. From one, the only way to go is down.”
C. FORCE TAKES FLIGHT WITH U.S. NAVY BLUE ANGELS: Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Courtney Force took to the skies with the United States Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron, March 7. The driver of the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car flew in a Boeing F/A-18D Hornet strike fighter piloted by Lt. Ryan Chamberlain—Blue Angel No. 7. The pair took off from Naval Air Facility El Centro, California, for an hour-long flight on Thursday morning. Prior to the flight, Force spent time with the Blue Angels officers and enlisted support team.
“First, I want to thank the men and women of the U.S. Navy and the Blue Angels for their commitment to the United States. These folks are the best of the best, and I can’t thank them enough for the sacrifices they make every day along with all the other members of the armed services,” said Force. “I had an incredible time. We hit 7.3 Gs and went over 700 mph, and when we hit Mach 1 and broke the sound barrier, I was amazed at the feeling. This day wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Auto Club of Southern California, and I know I will never forget this experience.”
For more on this story, visit NHRA.com.
BROWN, C. FORCE HONORED BY READERS OF RACER MAGAZINE: NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel champion Antron Brown and Funny Car sensation Courtney Force were honored by readers of Racer magazine for their accomplishments in the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Brown, perennially one of the more popular drivers in drag racing, shrugged off frustrating near misses in recent years to win his first NHRA Top Fuel title and the first championship for any African-American in any major U.S. motorsport, and those achievements earned him a first Drag Racer of the Year accolade. The driver of Don Schumacher Racing’s Matco dragster last year won six races for the third time in four years to score the title in a battle that came down to the last round of the last race of the year. Force, the youngest daughter of drag racing’s most prolific and popular driver—15-time NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion John Force—was the runaway choice as Rookie of the Year. The driver of the Traxxas Funny Car and national event champion in Top Alcohol Dragster reached four Funny Car finals in her 2012 rookie season and posted one victory—in Seattle.
KORETSKY, NITRO FISH GEAR TO SPONSOR TONGLET’S BID FOR 2013 BIKE TITLE: Kenny Koretsky hopes that lightning will strike twice for 2010 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle champion LE Tonglet when he is reunited with Koretsky’s Nitro Fish Gear for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
“I am happy to be working with the Tonglets again,” said Koretsky after revealing that Nitro Fish will sponsor the Tonglet Racing team’s effort to reach the coveted goal. “This is a major sponsorship. We all want to win another championship.”
The outcome will officially be decided after 16 races in the next nine months. There is little doubt, however, that the determined Tonglet will be among the two-wheel contenders when their season starts Friday in Gainesville. Koretsky also said that his company will be an associate sponsor for the motorcycles of Matt and Angie Smith.
“I have worked with Matt and Angie before and am pleased to be associated with them again,” he said.
For more on this story, visit NHRA.com.
VIPER MOTORCYCLE CO. ANNOUNCES MARKETING AGREEMENT WITH MATT SMITH RACING: Viper Motorcycle Co. has announced a marketing agreement with Matt Smith Racing and its Pro Stock Motorcycle riders—Matt and Angie Smith and John Hall—for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Matt, the 2007 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, made a late-season charge in 2012 to finish sixth in points; he was the runner-up at the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. His wife, Angie, has competed in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle since the 2007 season and ran a limited schedule in 2012 due to a lack of funding. She qualified for three of the four races she entered; she was sidelined after a crash in Norwalk. Visit NHRA.com for more on this story.
UNI-SELECT WILL SPONSOR ALEXANDER FOR 12-RACE 2013 SCHEDULE: Uni-Select’s Auto Service Plus and SAX brands will provide sponsorship of 24-year-old Funny Car driver Blake Alexander for a 12-race 2013 schedule that will begin at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series East Coast opener—the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 14–17 at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. The Auto Service Plus powered by Auto-Plus Funny Car will compete at 10 NHRA events as well as the Auto-Plus Night Under Fire match race in Norwalk. Gates Automotive, a longtime supporter of Alexander’s racing program, will also provide support at the Houston and Charlotte events in April. For more on this story, visit NHRA.com.
AMALIE OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS, Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, March 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its third of 24 stops of the 2013 season in the Sunshine State of Florida. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event are Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-6472 or log on to NHRATix.com.
SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 5–7: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the fourth of 24 races on the circuit. Drivers in the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes will earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event are Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to www.lvms.com.
DOLLAR GENERAL NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS fueled by Full Throttle, zMAX Dragway, April 19–21: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to “the Bellagio of dragstrips” in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the fifth of 24 events. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete in a four-wide configuration and earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event are Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
FUNNY CAR DRIVER CAPPS CHASING GATORNATIONALS WIN NO. 3: Fresh off a win in Phoenix, NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car driver Ron Capps is looking to capitalize on this momentum as he rolls into Gainesville for the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. With two wins at the historic track (’06–’07), Capps knows what it takes to get to the winner’s circle. This event is among the most popular for drivers on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, especially Capps, who grew up on the West Coast.
“I knew it was a big race. It was always considered one of the big four that NHRA had,” Capps said. “I never got to go there as a kid growing up in California. I went to Irwindale, Orange County, Pomona, Bakersfield. I only read about this place. With that being said, I went along in my career not winning it until 'Ace' [Ed McCulloch] and I won it that first time. I realized what a big deal it was. Then we got to win it again. Now it's one of those trophies I look at on my mantel; it's like, ‘Man, I got to win the Gatornationals.’ For us to drive in Friday morning, get that feeling, everybody's there, they made it a destination, a vacation trip. It's such a huge crowd. It's one of the most prestigious races we go to.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
198: NUMBER OF DON SCHUMACHER RACING WINS: Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher and Funny Car driver Ron Capps raced to victories at Firebird International Raceway, giving Don Schumacher his 197th and 198th wins as a team owner. Pushing Don Schumacher Racing to the 200-win milestone is an accomplishment any DSR driver would love to achieve.
DID YOU KNOW…
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS EXTENDS TITLE-RIGHTS SPONSORSHIP OF HOUSTON EVENT: O’Reilly Auto Parts has agreed to a multiyear extension of its title-rights sponsorship of the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston. The 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, April 26–28, is the sixth of 24 races in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The event has been a staple in the early part of the season since the late 1980s and among the favorite stops for the racing community.
“We’re excited to extend O’Reilly Auto Parts’ sponsorship of the Houston event,” said John Siragusa, senior director of sales and business development, NHRA. “O’Reilly Auto Parts is a valued partner of the NHRA and a strong supporter of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.”
In addition to sponsorship of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, the auto-parts company maintains title rights for three additional NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events: the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago and the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Seattle.