NHRA DRIVERS ARE PRIMED AND READY FOR GRUELING THREE-RACE WESTERN SWING: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads west for the Western Swing—back-to-back-to-back races that start in Denver, head to Sonoma, California, then finish in Seattle. The 33rd annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals kicks off the Western Swing at Bandimere Speedway, followed by the 25th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals and the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Without breaks between these three races, teams have to work hard to make sure they are ready and have enough parts and willpower. Ron Capps sits second in the Funny Car championship points battle, and he is ready to battle.
“You have to pace yourself for sure. It's really hard on the crew chiefs to go from Denver down to sea level at Sonoma. As a driver, you've just got to pace yourself and try to be in the best shape you can because Denver will test every bit of what you've got. Then, of course, Seattle is just some of the best air. With all the trees around, people forget oxygen, and it's close to sea level, and it can have records set there. I think probably one thing if I had to answer would be pace yourself.”
For more information and tickets, log on to www.NHRA.com.
MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS SET TO KICK OFF THE SWING: The traditional three-week NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Western Swing kicks off at scenic Bandimere Speedway with the 33rd annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 20–22. The 13th of 23 events in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series marks the middle of the season and the deal breaker to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA’s playoffs. Drivers in all four categories—Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle—will race to the top of the mountain.
The Full Throttle teams travel high and deep into the Rocky Mountains to more than 5,800 ft., where the altitude affects everything from engine tune-ups to aerodynamics, to begin the Western Swing. Crews must make changes to established power-making combinations and battle lack of downforce to tackle the environs. The event is a testament to the skill and adaptability of the racers. In addition to the racing action, a host of activities will be held in celebration of the 33rd annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. On Thursday, July 19, fans are invited to attend the lively Mopar Block Party in downtown Golden, Colorado, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., featuring a live band, car displays and a driver autograph session. On Saturday before racing, the Go Red for Women Track Walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. to bring awareness to heart disease (www.goredforwomen.org). This experience gives fans the chance to walk the same track where NHRA drivers compete at speeds of 300 mph and be joined by NHRA racers. The event is free for all Saturday ticket holders. For tickets, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or log on to Bandimere.com.
MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS, BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY, July 20–22: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 13th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or log on to Bandimere.com.
NHRA SONOMA NATIONALS, SONOMA, July 27–29: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 14th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or log on to RaceSonoma.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS, PACIFIC RACEWAYS, Aug. 3–5: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 15th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season in the Northwest, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
TORRENCE PROUD AS CAN BE OF NEW TEAM’S SUCCESS: After starting his own team in the middle of 2011, Steve Torrence is in awe of its success in such a short time. With two wins in four final-round appearances and two No. 1 qualifying positions, earning him fourth place in the points battle, the Texas native is proud that his single-car team can beat the powerhouse multi-car teams and have a fighting chance at the Full Throttle world championship.
“I'm very proud; I'm proud of every one of the guys who have had any part to do with it. The team that I have right now has performed flawlessly. Richard Hogan has a very good tune-up for the hot-weather setup, and it shows. We were low of every session this weekend (in Norwalk, Ohio) on a racetrack that's 140 degrees. It's very gratifying to be able to go out and (compete with what) I call Schumacher Racing, that's the racing factory. They produce top-notch drivers, top-notch crew chiefs, top-notch crew guys. Everything over there is built about being the best. To be able to come out and race with those guys and being fourth in the points right behind all three of those cars, that's huge. I couldn't be more proud of my guys and what we've put together here.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
7: ONLY SEVEN DRIVERS HAVE SWEPT THE WESTERN SWING: The NHRA embarks on the Western Swing starting in Denver July 20–22, then moves to Sonoma, California, July 27–29 and finishes up in Seattle, August 3–5. Since the beginning of the Western Swing, only seven drivers have won all three races in a row: Joe Amato (1991), John Force (1994), Cory McClenathan (1997), Larry Dixon (2003), Greg Anderson (2004), Tony Schumacher (2008) and Antron Brown (2009).
DID YOU KNOW…
CAR AND DRIVER TV TEAMS WITH KALITTA MOTORSPORTS TO EXPLAIN HOW A TOP FUEL DRAGSTER WORKS: Earlier this year, the producers for Car and Driver TV—Car and Driver magazine’s new YouTube channel—asked Kalitta Motorsports to participate in a segment titled “How’d They Do That?” for the Popular Mechanics section of the channel about how an NHRA Top Fuel dragster works and what it takes to cover the track in less than 3.9 seconds at more than 320 mph.
At the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals in June, an eight-person video-production crew filmed Team Kalitta driver David Grubnic and the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster team putting their dragster through its paces both on and off the racetrack at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The video crew spent all day Saturday, June 2, filming in the Team Kalitta pit area during qualifying for the event. The video breaks down a Top Fuel run and all of the critical components of the Optima Batteries Top Fueler used to make it happen. Grubnic not only drives the Optima Batteries hot rod, but he is also very much hands-on with all of its mechanical workings and advises team owner, crew chief and drag-racing legend Connie Kalitta on his race car’s tune-up. It’s Grubnic’s multifaceted nitro knowledge that helps him give in-depth analysis of all of the Optima Batteries dragster’s systems throughout the video. Visit www.NHRA.com for the video.