Compiled by SEMA Editors
BACK-UP CERTIFICATION NO LONGER REQUIRED FOR NHRA NATIONAL RECORDS: NHRA’s competition committee has announced that the longstanding 1% back-up policy to certify national record performances in the NHRA Mello Yello Series, J&A Service Pro Mod Series and Lucas Oil Series Alcohol categories will no longer be required at NHRA Drag Racing Series events starting in 2016. Under this new policy, NHRA teams who post performances for elapsed time and speed that are quicker or faster than the existing national records at any time during any national event, will be eligible for the national record. The driver holding the record at the conclusion of the race will be credited with the record. As is currently the case with all national speed records and Alcohol elapsed time records, points will no longer be awarded for elapsed time national records.
DENSO SPARK PLUGS NAMED TITLE SPONSOR OF NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES EVENT IN LAS VEGAS THIS SPRING: Denso Products and Services Americas Inc. has signed an agreement to become the title-rights sponsor of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this spring. The 17th annual Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals will be held April 1–3 and will feature competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock. The race is the fourth of 24 on the 2016 schedule and will be televised on FOX Sports 1 with two sessions of qualifying Friday, April 1, at 7:00 p.m. (PDT)/10:00 p.m. (EDT) and eliminations live at 2:00 p.m./5:00 p.m., Sunday, April 3.
“The NHRA appreciates Denso’s commitment to and involvement with the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series,” said Brad Gerber, NHRA vice president of sales and chief development officer. “We are excited to begin working with them to put on a great event in Las Vegas and develop beneficial activation plans around their sponsorship of the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.”
NHRA'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY FUNNY CAR CELEBRATION KICKS OFF AT CIRCLE K NHRA WINTERNATIONALS: NHRA will officially kick off its 50th anniversary Funny Car celebration at the tradition-rich Circle K NHRA Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, February 11–14. A wide variety of classic nostalgia Funny Cars will be on display in the Hot Rod Junction, and others will perform burnout demonstrations and make exhibition runs on the legendary dragstrip at the season-opening event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In addition, several legendary Funny Car drivers are scheduled to participate in a fan Q&A hosted by fan-favorite NHRA announcer Bob Frey, and they will greet fans during a very special autograph session. The first 500 fans who attend the fan Q&A will receive an NHRA Funny Car 50th anniversary commemorative autograph card. The all-star lineup of Funny Car legends who will be featured in the fan Q&A and autograph session, Saturday from 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., are Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, “The King of Speed” Kenny Bernstein, Ed “the Ace” McCulloch, famed New England campaigner Al Segrini, Funny Car innovator Tom Prock and the first Winternationals Funny Car winner Clare Sanders. In addition, a special appearance will be made by Southern California Funny Car pioneer Gas Ronda.
He Said, She Said
“The move into the Pro Stock class felt a little crazy last year. I had absolutely zero experience in the car before the Sonoma race. I had driven a lot of things, and you have to just start getting to where you can slow everything down. Then actually process what you are doing one step at a time. But now I have been able to gain the needed experience for 2016. We will have the Gas Monkey Garage Camaro ready to go in a few weeks at Pomona.”
—Second-year Pro Stock racer Alex Laughlin will return to the wheel of the Gas Monkey Garage Chevrolet Camaro in 2016 as Laughlin Motorsports and Gas Monkey Garage have announced a partnership for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with the young Texas driver. Led by principle Richard Rawlings, Gas Monkey Garage has been a successful car-restoration business in Dallas with a unique style and is featured on the worldwide television show Fast N’ Loud on the Discovery Channel. The Gas Monkey Garage staff travels throughout Texas and surrounding states to find forgotten classic cars to buy and restore.
Inside the Numbers
24: Number of Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races, which is the full 2016 season, that Leah Pritchett will be competing in for the 2016 racing season. This will mark the first time in her career that the versatile driver enters the season with a full-time ride. She will team with Dave Connolly at Bob Vandergriff Racing for the season, and in 2015, she raced to one runner-up finish along with one semifinal appearance.
“The thing that gets me going and gets my blood pumping is knowing that finally I have a real shot at the Countdown to the Championship, a real shot at getting in the Traxxas Shootout,” Pritchett said. “Yes we have high expectations of our team and we do expect to have a couple of Ws and have a Wally at the end of the weekend.”
Did You Know
NHRA HOSTS MEDIA DAY IN INDIANAPOLIS: Many Indianapolis-based NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series drivers took part in a media day at Harry & Izzy’s Steakhouse, January 26. Top Fuel racers Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd and Richie Crampton with Funny Car racers Cruz Pedregon and Tommy Johnson Jr., along with Pro Stock Motorcycle racers Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec as well as Fox Sports NHRA color commentator Tony Pedregon were all in attendance. The racers met with Indianapolis and national media members to preview the start of the coming 2016 season. Many of the NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams are based in the Brownsburg, Indiana, area, and the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals takes place annually over Labor Day weekend.