Compiled by SEMA Editors
MOPAR CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY AS TITLE SPONSOR OF MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series fans will be able to take part in the celebration of the partnership between Mopar and Bandimere Speedway during the upcoming event this weekend. To honor the 25-year partnership, four-time NHRA world champion (3 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) Gary Scelzi will serve as the grand marshal and Don Schumacher will be the honorary starter of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. Scelzi has one career win at Bandimere Speedway in Funny Car in 2006.
"I'm humbled and excited to be asked by Mopar to serve as grand marshal and be part of such an amazing event once again," Scelzi said. "There are only a few NHRA Nationals that have prestige and meaning and where winning really means something extra special. I'd put the Mopar Mile-High Nationals among the Gatornationals and Englishtown."
To be part of the weekend's events call 800-664-UWIN for tickets or log onto www.bandimere.com.
WESTERN SWING BEGINS AT MOPAR MILE-HIGH NATIONALS AT BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY: The Mopar Mile-High Nationals is the 14th of 24 races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and marks the beginning of the Western Swing, which is three consecutive races that test the strength of both the teams and the drivers. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home wins in 2012 and will again look for wins at the track on the mountain. Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion, has two wins at the track and fell in love with Bandimere Speedway when stationed near the track in the U.S. Air Force in 1984.
"I was raised on Southern California drag racing. It was so completely different seeing a dragstrip carved into the side of a mountain," Beckman said. "For the next three years while I was still in the Air Force, I drove 1,000 miles roundtrip to be at that race. To go there as a two-time and defending champion is a pinch-me moment."
Tickets can be purchased call 800-664-UWIN for tickets or log onto www.bandimere.com.
A. JOHNSON AND HINES PREPARED FOR HIGH ALTITUDE RACING: When the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series thunders into Bandimere Speedway for the Mopar Mile-High Nationals they will race at a track located 5,860 ft. above sea level. All the teams will face tuning challenges they won't see at any other track, but the naturally aspirated categories of Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle have the hardest tasks making horsepower in the thin air. Allen Johnson in Pro Stock is the defending champion and has three other wins at the facility (2012, 2010, 2009, 2007) and has a mastery of what it takes to win in Denver.
"We test a bunch out there and the combinations we've developed out there, chassis-wise, gear-wise and engine-wise have proven successful," Johnson said. "It just takes a different combination, and we were able to hit on one years ago."
Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle has two wins on the mountain (2010, 2006) and he, along with his brother Matt and teammate Eddie Krawiec, have eight wins at the track. "We do have a lot of knowledge there because our shop was based there for eight years so we did a lot of development work there at high altitude," Hines said. "We knew at the time what it would be like."
NHRA SONOMA NATIONALS, Sonoma Raceway, July 26–28: Located in the Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Raceway will host the second stop of the Western Swing when the NHRA takes to the track July 26–28 for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will attempt to defend their 2012 race victories. To purchase tickets call 800-870-7223 or visit www.racesonoma.com.
O'REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS, Pacific Raceways, August 2–4: The final race of the Western Swing takes to one of the most scenic tracks on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series—Pacific Raceways. The O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals is the 16th of 24 events and is one of the final races for racers looking to make the Countdown to the Championship. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) all took home wins at the event in 2012. To purchase tickets call 253-639-5927 or visit www.pacificraceways.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
“I think we've got one of the most consistent race cars out here. I guess to say because of Dickie Venables [crew chief], the guy is phenomenal. He's the baddest crew chief I've worked with, the most consistent. I think the points show how consistent our car is. We have a 100-point lead on everybody. I think this thing will turn out the way we need it to in the end. Things change fast. They're going to reset the points pretty soon. As nice as it is to have that nice of a lead, have a race on everybody, it changes quick. So we understand that and we know once they reset these points out here, it doesn't really matter, you have to start all over and make the next six races after that count."
—2011 Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan on his current points lead and the upcoming Countdown to the Championship.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
7: Drivers who have swept the Western Swing—the trio of races, including Denver, Sonoma and Seattle. Those who have swept the swing are Joe Amato in Top Fuel in 1991; John Force in Funny Car in 1994; Cory McClenathan in Top Fuel in 1997; Larry Dixon in Top Fuel in 2003; Greg Anderson in Pro Stock in 2004; Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel in 2008; and most recently Antron Brown in Top Fuel in 2009. No drivers have swept the races twice in their careers.
DID YOU KNOW…
DIXON PREPARES FOR 2014; JOHNSON JR. TAKES RAPISARDA SEAT AT SELECT RACES: Three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Larry Dixon has left the part-time effort of the Rapisarda Autosport International team to continue working toward securing sponsorship to compete full time in Top Fuel in 2014. "I want to thank Santo Rapisarda and the entire Rapisarda Autosport International team for their efforts this year," Dixon said. "However, I have decided to concentrate on 2014 now and work to be ready to go when the season opens in Pomona. I wish the Rapisarda family all the best in its future racing endeavors."
Replacing Dixon will be one of Dixon's former teammates, Tommy Johnson Jr. Johnson's first race with the team will be in Sonoma and he will be with the team the remainder of the year. Johnson has driven for the team twice this season. "We're delighted that Tommy has come on board for the remainder of the season," said Santo Rapisarda co-tuner of the team. "TJ is an excellent fit with our team, great on the Christmas Tree, a genuine down-to-earth character and was a valuable contributor to our family team when he raced for RAI at Sydney Dragway and Willowbank earlier this season."