Compiled by SEMA Editors
PRITCHETT PLANS TO MAXIMIZE NEW OPPORTUNITY HEADING TO PHOENIX: Leah Pritchett is in uncharted territory in her young NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career, but this is the moment she has always wanted, and the Top Fuel driver plans to take advantage. Pritchett earned a full-time driving position behind the wheel of Bob Vandergriff Racing’s Quaker State/FireAde dragster before the season—a role that Pritchett has been aggressively pursuing since joining the Top Fuel ranks. But she also knows the full-time role leads to a bigger spotlight and demands results, which has Pritchett and her team working hard heading to this weekend’s CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
“It was a very positive high for me to partner with Vandergriff Racing, and, mentally, this is new territory for me,” said Pritchett, who suffered an opening-round loss at the season opener in Pomona. “I’ve never had an on-track standpoint where I’m thinking about Indy and the Countdown and things like that.”
SCHOOL OF AUTOMOTIVE MACHINISTS & TECHNOLOGY NAMED SPONSOR OF NHRA FACTORY STOCK SHOWDOWN: The School of Automotive Machinists & Technology has signed a multiyear agreement to sponsor the four NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events beginning this season. The first School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown of the year will take place at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway, March 17–20.
“In the five-year history of the School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Showdown, it has quickly become a favorite of the drag-racing community,” said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president-racing operations. “The School of Automotive Machinists & Technology is a leader in motorsports education, and their graduates can be found among many NHRA teams.”
SNOWMOBILING IN WISCONSIN: Living in North Carolina, there isn't a lot of opportunity to ride a snowmobile, but that didn't stop NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Matt and Angie Smith as they headed north to Wisconsin for a new motorized adventure.
He Said, She Said
“I’m focused for sure and very driven to win another championship this year. We have all the folks to do it, and I think DSR is one of those teams that will be a handful for everyone. I hope we’re one of those cars nobody wants to race. We’ve got good people, good parts, and it’s just a matter of executing on race day. As a driver, it’s about being focused, and when you have a great car, you don’t mess it up. I want to make sure I’m doing my job and holding up my end of the bargain.”
—Matt Hagan, a two-time Funny Car champion, on the start of the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Coming off a first-round loss at the season-opening race in Pomona, Hagan has high hopes heading to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, home to the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, February 26–28. Hagan is the defending winner of the event, making it the perfect opportunity to start his championship quest. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) joined Hagan in the winner’s circle last year. For fans watching at home, the race will be televised nationally on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including Saturday qualifying coverage and live coverage of Sunday’s finals at 5:00 p.m. (EST). The race is the second of 24 during the 2016 season.
Inside the Numbers
5: Number of wins eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher has at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in his career, including his 2015 victory. Last year he defeated Doug Kalitta to score his first win of three during the season. He also raced to four runner-up finishes and finished second in the points standings. He also is the track E.T. record holder with a run of 3.720 seconds. Schumacher suffered a rare first-round loss in Pomona at the season-opening event but is ready for continued success in the desert.
“We certainly would like to have the same results as we did last year in the U.S. Army machine,” said Schumacher. “Honestly, last year’s victory was made possible by my guys. I didn’t feel like I was on my game, but they kept putting such a great car under me that it did its job better than everyone else we raced. We love racing in Phoenix and I know (crew chief) Mike (Green) and (assistant crew chief) Neal (Strausbaugh) are going to be digging extremely deep in order for us to have a chance at getting not only our first win of the year, but a sixth victory in Phoenix and third in the last four years.”
Did You Know
HONDA POWERSPORTS DIVISION NAMED OFFICIAL ATV, SIDE-BY-SIDE AND SCOOTER OF NHRA: The NHRA has named Honda’s Powersports Division as the Official ATV, Side-by-Side, and Scooter. In the multi-year agreement, these vehicles will be used at 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national events and also at the five NHRA-owned and -operated drag-racing facilities across the country. Honda Powersports Division is an industry leader in the production of ATVs, Scooters, and Side-by-Side vehicles including the durable Pioneer 1000.
“The NHRA is pleased to partner with the Honda Powersports Division and looks forward to a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Brad Gerber, NHRA vice president, chief development officer. “Honda Powersports Division is known for producing high-quality scooters and ATVs, and these vehicles will help our NHRA Safety Safari members and other NHRA track officials do their jobs each season. In turn, we are confident we can provide a tremendous opportunity for Honda Powersports through direct access to our loyal fan base and exposure on our wide variety of media assets.”