FORCE RELEASES VETERAN CREW CHIEF JIMMY PROCK: With two races remaining in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship remaining, 16-time Funny Car world champion has released veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock effective immediately. Force is currently second in points, 36 behind Matt Hagan, and announced he was releasing Prock during a media conference call on Wednesday. Prock guided Force to his 16th championship in 2013.
“I spoke with Jimmy and he let me know that he was probably leaving JFR at the end of the season for another opportunity. A man has to do what a man has to do but I have sponsors that I am signing contracts with that look at JFR as a four-team powerhouse, and here I have people not committed to this team, long-term. They are willing to walk away from me. I can’t promise my people what I don’t have,” Force said. “No one is at fault here, and I am not blaming anyone, but John Force is going to do what he always does; I am going to make a change. As of today, Jimmy Prock will no longer be employed by John Force Racing. He has done a great job for me and I give him a lot of respect. I wish him well. I am not sure if some of my crew members will also be leaving, but if they choose to leave, I wish them luck. I have to honor my new sponsors and the sponsors that have stood by me as I may possibly have to build a team to finish the Countdown.”
FORMER THREE-TIME NHRA FUNNY CAR CHAMP BEADLE DIES: Raymond Beadle, a former three-time NHRA Funny Car world champion who was voted No. 20 on NHRA’s Top 50 racers list in 2001, died October 20 at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He was 70. Beadle assured his status as a racing immortal when he ended the four-year championship reign of Don Prudhomme, winning the title in 1979, then added crowns in 1980 and 1981 with his vaunted Blue Max entries.
"I was very sad to hear that Raymond Beadle had passed," said Prudhomme. "I really, really liked the guy and admired him. We always remained close, even during the days when we were racing against each other. He did so much in drag racing and in NASCAR. He led a life that most people could only dream of, like a high-stakes gambler, and was a cool guy to be around. When our rat pack of a group got together, he was at the top of the heap. I was glad to be a buddy of his, and he is going to be missed."
CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT CALIFORNIA HOT ROD REUNION: The California Hot Rod Reunion presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, came to a close October 20, as all eyes were on the dragstrip during a busy day of racing. In the Nostalgia Top Fuel final, Tony Bartone and Rick White were pitted in the championship round with Bartone eyeing his fifth win of the year and a clean sweep of the season. Bartone had secured the Top Fuel title before the event and had yet to lose a single round of eliminations. As the cars staged in the finals, White’s dragster deep-staged, rocked through the staging lights and red lit, giving the win to Bartone and completing his perfect season.
"I won’t know if this is for real until I wake up tomorrow," Bartone said. "I was nervous from the semifinals on and I was nervous in the car. We wanted to pull off the deed and wanted to pull off the sweep and win the race. I’ve been at this a long time but I was nervous today. We have the broom in the truck to celebrate the sweep and the great season."
He Said, She Said
"I just try to focus at the task at hand, that's one race, one round at a time, just not get too ahead of myself. We're definitely still in the hunt significantly. With the qualifying bonus points that we've been acquiring this year, it is certainly doable. We can go into Sunday in Vegas, if we're able to do what we've done at the last few races, qualify on the pole, be low, we can go into Sunday less than one round behind Jason Line. We're going to go in and focus and see what happens."
—Erica Enders-Stevens on the possibility of securing her first Pro Stock world championship with two races remaining in the 2014 Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. She is second in points trailing Jason Line by 35 markers. Enders-Stevens has four wins this season, five No. 1 qualifying positions, and only one first-round loss. She has led the points for 13 races this season.
Inside the Numbers
50: Number of years the Auto Club NHRA Finals has been included in the NHRA's national event schedule. A handsome book has been created to honor this golden anniversary of the season-ending race. The 76-page book is packed with photos and year-by-year recaps that highlight some of the most spectacular finishes in NHRA history: Tony Schumacher’s “The Run” from 2006, Don Garlits’ 5.63 pass from 1975, Shirley Muldowney’s come-from-behind title in 1980 and many more. The book also includes interviews with famous NHRA drivers sharing their recollections of their most memorable Finals outings, a look at the different venues that have hosted the season finale throughout the years, a complete listing of every driver to have won the race, plus stats and more.
Did You Know
SUMMIT AND HARLEY RACERS READY FOR OPERATION APPRECIATION: Summit Racing Equipment and Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) are ramping up for 2014’s Operation Appreciation—the annual visit by Summit Racing and Harley-Davidson racers to American troops stationed overseas, which will take place after the conclusion of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. This will be the second year that Summit Racing NHRA Pro Stock drivers Greg Anderson and Jason Line, Harley-Davidson NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racers Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec, and Summit Racing Bigfoot monster truck racer Dan Runte will visit troops in the Middle East.
"This is something that I look forward to every year," said Line. "It is an honor to make this trip and spend time with the troops. To have the opportunity to say thank you to them in person is something I don't take lightly. The troops really make us feel like we’re something special when it should be the other way around."
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.