SEMA eNews Vol. 19, No. 40, October 6, 2016

50 Years of Funny Car to Highlight NHRA Breakfast at 2016 SEMA Show

By SEMA Editors

  nhra
The women of the NHRA (L-R: Leah Pritchett, Alexis DeJoria, Shirley Muldowney, Courtney Force and Erica Enders) graced the stage at the 2015 SEMA Show’s NHRA Breakfast.
   

The 2016 NHRA Breakfast, held annually at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, will continue the celebration of NHRA’s 50 years of Funny Car with some of the sport’s biggest stars, Wednesday, November 2, from 7:30 a.m.–9:00 a.m., at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino Paradise Event Center South.

Funny Car drivers featured during the NHRA breakfast have included such pioneers as Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen and “Jungle Pam” Hardy, along with current Funny Car racers John Force and Del Worsham.

The popular annual SEMA Show event, which has showcased many of NHRA’s legendary drivers, team owners and other characters within the sport, has grown into a must-see affair for Show attendees, and this year’s program promises to continue that tradition.

NHRA has been celebrating 50 years of Funny Car in a season-long promotion that has featured fan-favorite cars, explained the evolution of the category, remembered the greatest rivalries, and put the spotlight on the legends who drove the cars in some of the most memorable side-by-side races in NHRA history. From the signature long, smoky burnouts to the wild and zany rides that are often the result of a full run in the volatile short-wheelbase, high-horsepower, nitro-fueled monsters, Funny Car has firmly established its place in the world of NHRA Drag Racing.

Continuing the celebration, NHRA will bring together some of the most notable Funny Car drivers in NHRA history at this year’s NHRA Breakfast. They will discuss their memories and legacies in the world’s most diverse motorsport.

Prudhomme, known as “The Snake,” had 49 NHRA national event victories—35 in Funny Car, 14 in Top Fuel—and four consecutive Funny Car world championships from 1975 to 1978. As a team owner, Prudhomme notched 63 victories and two Top Fuel world championships, which came in 2002 and 2003 with Larry Dixon as his driver.

McEwen, also known as “Mongoose,” won four national events in his career, but is most remembered for his storied rivalry with Prudhomme. McEwen chose the nickname “Mongoose” because it was the only animal that could kill a snake. McEwen only beat Prudhomme once in his career at the 1978 U.S. Nationals in a storybook ending as McEwen was mourning the loss of his son to leukemia just weeks before the race. After McEwen earned the victory and sat in his car overwhelmed with emotion, Prudhomme slipped under the body to join his rival for a moment that has been voted the Most Memorable Moment in U.S. Nationals history.

Hardy, or “Jungle Pam” as she is better known, was a legendary back-up girl who toured with historic racer “Jungle Jim” Liberman in the ’70s. Liberman met 18-year-old Pam while she was in high school. She went on to tour with him and helped him back up after burnouts. Liberman had one national event win in NHRA competition at the 1975 Summernationals in Englishtown New Jersey.

Force, a 16-time Funny Car world champion, has 146 career victories and counting. He is the winningest driver in NHRA history, and this season Force has three wins, two coming back-to-back during the famed NHRA Western Swing at the Denver and Sonoma events. Force, who also won the most recent race in Charlotte, North Carolina, to start the six-race Countdown playoff to the championship, is making a strong push for his 17th Funny Car world title.

Worsham is the reigning Funny Car world champion and one of only three drivers to have world titles in both Funny Car and Top Fuel (2011). He has 39 career victories—31 in Funny Car and eight in Top Fuel. Worsham has one win this season in Brainerd, Minnesota, and four runner-up finishes.

As part of the SEMA breakfast, NHRA will announce the top two Funny Cars of all-time from the fan voting this season that has counted down the top 20. The winner will be announced at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, California, November 10–13.

The NHRA Breakfast at the SEMA Show is open to all registered SEMA Show attendees, and although there is no cost to attend, tickets are required. A continental breakfast will be served. To order your event ticket or register for the Show, visit www.SEMAShow.com/register and click “Add Event Tickets.”

The panel will be moderated by longtime NHRA announcer Bob Frey. Following the NHRA Breakfast, all of the special panel guests will be at the NHRA on FOX Booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center Grand Lobby Booth #10000 signing autographs and handing out limited-edition autograph cards from 10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

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