AMALIE OIL NAMED TITLE SPONSOR OF NHRA GATORNATIONALS: Amalie Oil Co. has agreed to a multi-year title-rights sponsorship of the NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. The Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals is scheduled for March 14–17, and is the third event in the 24-race 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
“We are pleased to see Amalie Oil increase its presence in NHRA Drag Racing,” said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president of sales and marketing. “For many years, we have valued Amalie’s sponsorship of Terry McMillen’s Top Fuel dragster. Their desire to expand their role by becoming the title sponsor of the tradition-rich NHRA Gatornationals shows their support and dedication to the sport and is another example of the strong value of association with the NHRA at both the team and league levels.”
As title-rights sponsor, Amalie Oil will conduct marketing activities, including themed advertising and promotions, in the Gainesville marketplace. The company will also have a presence on-site at the event, including signage and display space, as well as in the race broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD.
“On behalf of everyone at Amalie Oil, we are very proud to become the title sponsor of the NHRA Gatornationals—one of the most popular and tradition-rich events on the NHRA circuit,” said Dennis Madden, Amalie Oil senior vice president, global sales and marketing. “Throughout our long association in the sport of drag racing, the opportunity to align our company with such an historic and exciting event is truly a dream come true. We are looking forward to expanding our presence in NHRA, and we can’t wait to fire up the first pair of cars at the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals.”
One of NHRA’s largest events, the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals serves as the East Coast opener for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, featuring Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and the season opener for Pro Stock Motorcycle. The historic event and venue has been the stage for some of NHRA’s most memorable moments, none more significant than the first 300-mph pass, made by legendary NHRA driver Kenny Bernstein in 1992.
C. FORCE, KALITTA LEAD FLORIDA PRE-SEASON TESTING: Last year’s top rookie is off to a fast start in her second season as Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future winner Courtney Force led the performance parade in Funny Car during pre-season testing in Florida. Force wheeled her Ron Douglas-tuned Traxxas Mustang to a pass of 4.018 seconds at 322 mph, the best performance among 12 teams present. Doug Kalitta had two of three best two elapsed times of the 11 Top Fuel drivers on hand, but did it in two different cars. Kalitta’s own Mac Tools dragster stormed to a 3.75 in the first session, then he ran a 3.78 pass as a fill-in driver behind the wheel of Morgan Lucas’ GEICO Top Fueler after Lucas had to leave testing early. Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, made the quickest runs during the day’s first session—a 4.048—and the second quickest in the second session—a 4.021—along with Force’s 4.01.
“It felt like an amazing run,” said Force. “You can always tell when you are going down there and Robert was right out my window. I could tell he was on a good run too. I didn’t think it would be a 4.01 but I thought it would be a low 4.0. We had been running 4.03s and 4.05s all week in testing. It is a great feeling. I am proud of my Traxxas team led by Ron Douglas and Dan Hood. They gave me a fast race car. We are just having a lot of fun. We are pushing the limits to see what our car can take. I think we have seen what our Traxxas Ford Mustang can do. That was my quickest ET and the fastest mile-per-hour run for me. I feel good going into a new season.”
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NHRA CHANGES OILDOWN POLICY, DISCONTINUES TESTING LIMITATIONS: NHRA officials have announced changes to the 2013 NHRA Oildown Policy for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events. The most significant oildown policy change in 2013 includes the elimination of points penalties during the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Participants qualifying for the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begin the playoffs with one credit and points penalties will be waived during those final six events. Monetary fines will remain in effect for the entire 24-race season. In addition, the NHRA announced that the in-season testing policy, initially implemented at the request of Top Fuel and Funny Car teams in 2009, has been discontinued. Last year, Top Fuel and Funny Car teams were only allowed six test days during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. During the off-season, team owners asked the NHRA to reconsider the limitations and, as a result, beginning in 2013, there will be no in-season testing policy.
Recognizing the need to continue to deter oildowns at national events to maintain and enhance the entertainment value for the fans, the NHRA has increased the monetary fines associated with oildowns. The fine for a first violation at an event will increase to $1,500 in the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, with subsequent violations at the same event doubling to $3,000. Monetary fines for Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will remain the same as 2012: $1,000 for first-time offenders and $2,000 for all subsequent violations at the same event. In addition to the monetary fines, teams will also lose NHRA Mello Yello championship points except, as mentioned earlier, at the final six events of the season. Points penalties remain the same as 2012: first violations result in a loss of five points during qualifying, and first violations during eliminations result in a loss of 10 points. Subsequent violations at the same event will result in each team losing 10 points during qualifying and 20 points during eliminations.
Since the NHRA has implemented its oildown policy, track preparation and oildown clean-up capabilities have improved through additional equipment for the NHRA Safety Safari presented by AAA, including additional drag tractors and more jets to be employed during NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events. The 2013 NHRA Oildown Policy is available online.
NHRA LAUNCHES NATIONALDRAGSTER.NET; ANNOUNCES NEW FORMAT FOR MAGAZINE: The NHRA has announced that its 54-year-old print publication, National DRAGSTER, has changed frequency from weekly to biweekly and that it will be supplemented by a robust new companion website for NHRA members only, NationalDRAGSTER.net.
“We are excited to usher in a new era for National DRAGSTER,” said NHRA Vice President of Publications Adriane Ridder. “The new comprehensive format and delivery method is designed to bring all the news our fans want and the in-depth and feature stories they’ve come to expect from the staff of National DRAGSTER, in a timely fashion, and in a format of their choosing.” National DRAGSTER will be printed biweekly in 25 issues, including the annual Fan Guide. The publication will become a feature-based magazine with bigger photos, attractive presentation, extensive sportsman coverage and more technical and racing how-to articles NHRA members have requested. In addition, NHRA members will receive both the print and digital edition of National DRAGSTER. The digital edition was introduced in 2012. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
GARY NASTASE WINS RUSS CATLIN AWARD FOR PHOTOJOURNALISM: Veteran sports photographer Gary Nastase of Rancho Cucamonga, California, received the Russ Catlin Award during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte early this week. Nastase, who primarily shoots for a variety of publications on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, won this year’s photojournalism award for a shot of the Grime Boss Chevrolet Impala Funny Car being driven by Todd Lesenko suffering an engine explosion at the finish line during last season’s NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
“This is a huge personal honor for me,” Nastase said. “To be recognized by such a distinguished group from the Indiana School of Journalism is amazing. It is unusual for an image from NHRA to be recognized, so I am thrilled to help raise the awareness of a sport that I love to cover. Last year, Will Lester won this award with an NHRA image. To join Will and all the other amazing professional photographers covering motorsports as a Russ Catlin award winner is very cool. I am pleased to announce that my $1,000 scholarship will be going to the Mt. San Antonio College photography department.”
Nastase, who has been covering the NHRA for more than 30 years and has also covered NHL, NBA and NASCAR events, captured the image with a Nikon D3 camera equipped with a 600mm lens.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, February 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the start of the 2013 season with new colors. After a dramatic ending to the 2012 season, drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock are looking to pick up where they left off and bring more heat to the track for the season-opener. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, Firebird International Raceway, February 22–24: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the 2013 season just south of downtown Phoenix. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock).
NHRA GATORNATIONALS, Gainesville Raceway, March 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its third of 24 stops of the 2013 season in the sunshine state of Florida. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
FUNNY CAR DRIVER GRAY REFLECTS ON HONORING FATHER IN FINAL SEASON AS FULL-TIME DRIVER: After 12 years of competing on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, Funny Car driver Johnny Gray announced he would be taking a step back from full-time racing at season’s end to focus on other aspects of his life, especially family. Gray will be running a special tribute paint scheme in all 24 NHRA Mello Yello Series events sponsored by Pitch Energy—a family-backed business. However, Gray isn’t giving up on racing that easily.
“I’m certainly not saying that I won’t race anymore, but I won’t chase the points after this year, and I won’t participate in the grueling schedule of a full season,” Gray said. “It’s time to pay attention to the kids and the grandkids and quit driving full-time after this year. The fact is I’ve always promised my wife that I’d quit at 60—and I’m good with it. Trust me, I’m good with it. It’s been real, and it’s been fun. But it’s time for me to be done.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
100: NHRA’S FOUNDING FATHER WALLY PARKS 100TH BIRTHDAY: In celebration of what would have been NHRA founder Wally Parks’ 100th birthday, NHRA fans have exactly 100 hours to take advantage of special ticket promotions in his honor for the first and third of 24 races in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season: the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries, February 14–17, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, and the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 14–17, at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in northern Florida. Titled the Wally’s 100th Ticket Pack, the special discounted ticket packages went on sale at 12:00 p.m. (EST) and 12:00 p.m. (PST), respectively, for the Gainesville and Pomona events.
The Wally’s 100th Ticket Pack provides two Tier 2 adult reserved-seat tickets to Saturday's or Sunday’s racing for only $100. The offer, which also waives the $9 service fee for each transaction, is available for a 100-hour time period only and ends Sunday, January 27, at 4:00 p.m. (EST) and 4:00 p.m. (PST) for the Gainesville and Pomona events, respectively. Parks, who passed away in September 2007 at age 94, founded the NHRA in 1951 to get hot rodders off the streets and to take their racing activities to safer dragstrips. The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries is the season opener for the NHRA Mello Yello Series, where teams unveil the new cars and sponsors for the season and NHRA rookie drivers hit the track for the first time in official competition. Defending series world champions Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) will begin defense of their titles at this event at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals is the annual East Coast opener for the NHRA Mello Yello Series and provides some of the quickest and fastest performances of the season as Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock teams compete to become a part of racing history at the Swamp. The event is also the traditional season opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. To take advantage of these special offers, call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center, 800-884-NHRA (6472).
DID YOU KNOW…
NHRA ANNOUNCES 2013 JEGS SPORTSNATIONALS SCHEDULE: NHRA has released the 2013 JEGS SPORTSnationals schedule, which will feature events at three facilities during the coming year. These sportsman-focused events will showcase the talents of racers in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and will be held at No Problem Raceway, National Trail Raceway and The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We are really excited about the 2013 NHRA season. There are three great JEGS SPORTSnationals events on the schedule again in 2013,” said Scott Woodruff, JEGS director of media and motorsports. “All three events have their own character and personality. If you haven’t been to one of the JEGS SPORTSnationals events you are missing out and owe it to yourself to add one or more to your NHRA racing schedule this year. You will not be disappointed. The events are a lot of fun on and off the track.”
The JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals will celebrate its 10th anniversary at No Problem Raceway; the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals returns to National Trail Raceway for the ninth time; and the JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals returns to The Strip at LVMS for the second year.
“We are excited to return to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals. I know this is something the racers are very excited about,” Woodruff continued. “The staff at the facility has always been great to deal with and we thank them on behalf of all of the NHRA sportsman racers. Having additional time to plan for the JEGS Pacific SPORTSnationals will only make the event more successful on and off the track,”
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