Compiled by SEMA Editors
ANDERSON REMEMBERS KB RACING TEAM'S FIRST RACE AT THE STRIP AT LVMS: This weekend's SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will provide two opportunities to celebrate in the winner's circle for outstanding performers in the factory hot-rod crowd. Summit Racing driver Greg Anderson expects great things for his Chevy Camaro on the double-down weekend and rightfully so. The main event is his sponsor's title race, and the facility where it takes place is nestled in the hometown of his team owner, Ken Black. Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock national champion in NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, has made a habit of rising to the challenge of such pressure at the Las Vegas racetrack and has accumulated seven victories there, more than any other professional driver on the circuit. However, it was not by chance that the KB Racing team found a successful combination for the desert racetrack that sits some 2,100 ft. above sea level. They were deeply motivated by the outcome of their first showing at "The Strip."
"Las Vegas has been very good to this Summit Racing team, but it was a tough place to start out when we first formed this team with Ken Black," admitted Anderson. "I'll never forget our first race there; we didn't qualify. Ken was all about racing serious, but he also wanted to have fun and he told us, 'You know, I'll be happy as long as you do well in Vegas. That stuck with us, and starting off that way at his home track [in 2002] was a real heartbreaker. But because of that, we've spent a lot of time testing in Las Vegas since then, and we've won a lot of high pressure, high stakes, very pivotal and very important races there. It started out rough for us, but we were able to turn it around through hard work and create some special, special moments at that racetrack. We'll be looking forward to more of that this weekend."
For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to www.lvms.com.
PEDREGON TO DEBUT KOMATSU MACHINE IN VEGAS: Tony Pedregon Racing will sport a new look at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas this weekend. The Funny Car team is partnering with Komatsu, a worldwide manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. The brand will highlight its Komatsu Care program, which provides complimentary factory-scheduled maintenance on Komatsu equipment. With the added support of Komatsu, the team looks to make strides at the Las Vegas event.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Komatsu,” Pedregon said. “They have many customers that look forward to the race weekend.”
Pedregon will make an appearance at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall during his stay. The two-time NHRA Mello Yello champ will have his new Komatsu and Sam’s Town Toyota Funny Car on display at the hotel Wednesday, April 3, from 5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Fans can stop by for autographs and pictures and enter for a chance to win free race tickets and VIP hospitality passes to the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas.
NHRA FEMALE DRIVERS LOOK TO KEEP MOMENTUM GOING AT DOLLAR GENERAL NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS: In the world of motorsports, 2013 has been the year of the ladies, some of whom will look to make even more history at the upcoming Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway, April 19–21. Perhaps the biggest obstacle that the girls of the NHRA will tackle this year is the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. No female has won at zMAX Dragway in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but Courtney and Brittany Force are hungry to pick up that win.
“[zMAX Dragway] was probably the most nerve-wracking track I’ve ever competed at,” said Courtney. “This obviously is the Bellagio of drag strips. There’s no other race track on the planet that’s four-wide; there’s no other place you get to see 40,000 hp going down the track at once. These are 10,000hp cars and they’re going 300 mph in just under four seconds. That’s the great thing about this track. It’s rare and it’s not like you can go practice it at all the other race tracks. This is the only track that is this way and it definitely makes it exciting for the fans and for the drivers.”
Erica Enders-Stevens is also hoping to add a Four-Wide Wally to her collection in the Pro Stock category. "Winning at Charlotte—and any Bruton Smith track—is a big deal," Enders-Stevens said. "Bruton Smith has done a lot for our sport, and his tracks are the nicest facilities on the circuit. It would definitely be neat to get it done there. It's our backyard, and Charlotte is the only race track that Cagnazzi Racing has not conquered. It's definitely on our to-do list."
Fans who want to see Courtney, Brittany, Enders-Stevens, Smith and all of the other stars of the NHRA going for the Wally at the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals can purchase three tickets and get one free in select sections. Children 13 and under are admitted for free every day of the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Every ticket is a pit pass. Tickets and camping are still available for the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 19–21, at zMAX Dragway, by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) and online at www.4widedrags.com.
LEGENDARY RACER, TRACK OPERATOR MALONE DIES: Art Malone, a legendary figure in drag racing and other motorsports, died March 29. He suffered severe injuries in an airboat crash a few years ago and never fully recovered. Few automotive racers have enjoyed a more varied and exciting career than Malone, who not only was a successful dragstrip owner and Top Fuel campaigner, but also gained fame as a driver at the legendary Indy 500. Malone was also instrumental in providing financial assistance to longtime friend Don Garlits for his return to NHRA competition in the mid-’80s, a move that set the stage for “Big Daddy’s” three straight NHRA U.S. Nationals Top Fuel victories (’84–’86) and back-to-back NHRA Top Fuel championships (’85–’86). Raised in Tampa, Florida, Malone got his first taste of drag racing when he and a group of teenage buddies made the trek to the West Coast to attend the first NHRA event in Pomona in 1953. Upon returning to Florida, he began staging races at Henderson Airfield in Tampa, charging 25 cents a head to cover the cost of trophies for the winners. After substituting as a driver for Garlits, who was recovering from burns suffered during a June 20, 1959, engine explosion, Malone began Top Fuel match racing on his own. He soon ventured into the world of circle-track competition, where he became the first driver to exceed 180 mph on an oval course with a 181.561-mph lap at Daytona International Speedway in 1961. In early 1963, upon the recommendation of NHRA founder Wally Parks, Malone was introduced to Andy Granatelli, who later hired him to drive his V8-powered Novi in the Indy 500. He qualified for the ’63 and ’64 events and finished 11th in the latter. Following a brief stint with Funny Cars in the late ’60s, Malone continued to race in Top Fuel until he retired from active driving in 1975. He later operated a pair of Florida racetracks under NHRA sanction—Sunshine Dragstrip and DeSoto Memorial Speedway.
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 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were 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, 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 regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
O'REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS, Royal Purple Raceway, April 26–28: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to the Lone Star State for the sixth of 24 events of the 2013 season. 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 were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 281-383-7223 or visit www.royalpurpleraceway.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
BERNSTEIN LOVES RACING IN LAS VEGAS: After a solid test session and a nice spring break and following the Gainesville race, Brandon Bernstein and the ProtectTheHarvest.com/MATV Top Fuel team are anxious to get back to work at this weekend's SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. An improved car isn't the only thing that has Bernstein, who currently sits ninth in the Top Fuel standings, itching to get back to Sin City—one of his favorite stops on the NHRA schedule.
"I can't wait to get back to Vegas because the track has been a great one for me," Bernstein said. "There's something about that track that I just love and, of course, there's a lot of personal history there for me, winning at the same race as my dad."
Las Vegas also has its fair share of entertainment options, which Bernstein points to as one of the other high points of racing there. "There are tons of distractions in Vegas," Bernstein said. "There's great nightlife, and I do enjoy gambling as well. But the most fun I have is sitting with friends at one of the bars and just watching the people go by. People of all shapes, sizes, colors and everything come to Vegas, and it's cool to take it all in. It's one of the few places we go to that you can leave the issues on the track at the track. Plus there's no place better to celebrate a race win."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
8: NUMBER OF NHRA PRO STOCK DRIVERS WHO WILL BATTLE FOR $50,000 IN THE K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE IN LAS VEGAS: Allen Johnson will lead the K&N Horsepower Challenge field as the No. 1 seed for the first time in his career as the event takes center stage April 6 during the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A purse of $76,000 is available for the eight drivers competing in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. The winner of the 29th annual K&N Horsepower Challenge will earn $50,000. The runner-up will earn $10,000, the two semifinalists $3,000 each and the four first-round finishers $2,500 apiece. Johnson, of Greeneville, Tennessee, qualified No. 1 at five of the 15 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events where drivers could earn K&N Horsepower Challenge points. It will be Johnson’s 10th appearance in the bonus event. The driver of the Team Mopar Dodge Avenger is the defending NHRA Mello Yello Series Pro Stock world champion. The $121,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge showcases eight Pro Stock teams in a race-within-a-race bonus event. Seven of the teams qualified during a 15-race span from the 2012 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk through the 2013 Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. The eighth-place team was selected via a special fan vote on the K&N website. Besides the $76,000 available in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, bonuses of $45,000 were paid to the top Pro Stock qualifiers throughout the 15-race K&N Horsepower Challenge series, including $3,000 to the No. 1 qualifier at each race.
This year’s K&N Horsepower Challenge field features four past winners and four drivers who are looking for their first victory in the special event. The past winners were top-seed Johnson; defending champ Vincent Nobile; fifth-seed Greg Anderson, a four-time winner; and the fan-vote winner, Jeg Coughlin Jr., who is a three-time K&N Horsepower Challenge winner. Among the four drivers who have never won, two are multitime runners-up in the race: Mike Edwards (four) and Jason Line (three). Erica Enders-Stevens is making her fourth start in the special event and veteran driver V. Gaines is making his third start in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. In the opening round, top-seeded Johnson, the 2008 winner of the event, will face K&N fan-vote winner Coughlin, who is making his 11th appearance in the event. Second-seeded Line will meet Gaines; third-seeded Enders-Stevens will face defending winner Nobile; and four-time winner Anderson will meet Edwards, who is racing in the Challenge for the 10th time. Other past winners of the K&N Horsepower Challenge include Darrell Alderman, Bruce Allen, Dave Connolly, Bob Glidden, Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson, Larry Morgan, and Jim Yates. K&N Horsepower Challenge rounds are scheduled for 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m., and 3:25 p.m., April 6. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
DID YOU KNOW…
CAPPS WINS MOST POPULAR MAN IN SAN DIEGO TITLE: Powered by popularity and fueled by the NHRA Drag Racing community, Ron Capps made a late surge to win the March Man-ness contest to determine the most popular man in San Diego on local radio station Star 94.1. Capps, who was selected by the FM station as one of 16 contestants, made a hard move with an hour left in the online voting Thursday night and was informed on the air early Friday that he is the most popular male celebrity in the San Diego area.
“It was a little strange because I was up against San Diego celebrities that I watch on TV,” said Capps, who lives in Carlsbad, California. “It’s cool. I really didn’t think much about it the first week, but as it went on, I was getting more and more messages from friends and fans about how they were voting for me. This last week people were coming out of the woodwork. “I guarantee through this contest we opened the eyes of thousands who have never been to a race what NHRA Drag Racing is. It’s great for our sport.”
Capps easily won his first three matches in the single-elimination tournament but faced his strongest competition in the championship round when paired with YouTube and "America’s Got Talent" star Jorge Narvaez. But Narvaez’s popularity couldn’t overcome the power of the drag-racing family. From Capps’ sponsor NAPA Auto Parts and other NHRA teams to nearly every drag-racing website, the racing world rallied behind Capps.
“It blew me away how many racing sites, whether NHRA, NASCAR or IndyCar, were trying to get people to vote for me. I can’t thank all the people who posted messages on Twitter for me. “Some of the people I race against helped me get votes. That means so much to me. We race against each other on weekends, but we all support each other when something like this contest comes up,” said Capps.
Narvaez and his daughter Alexa, then 3, were wildly popular with a 2011 YouTube video with him playing guitar and Alexa singing. The following year they were picked for "America’s Got Talent" and advanced to the quarterfinals.
“Jorge destroyed his competition in each round up to the final,” Capps added. “I was happy just to hang in there against him for a while. It was kind of like a drag race; I popped ahead, then he did a video with his daughter and pulled ahead, and then it was tied for the last couple days, but we drove around him at the finish line. The producer told me we were almost tied with about an hour to go.”
Capps will be an in-studio guest on Star 94.1 after next weekend’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in Las Vegas.