Texas Motorplex is one NHRA’s Top 60 Greatest Moments

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From a simple signature March 13, 1951, by NHRA founder Wally Parks to a far more complicated, championship-clinching comeback by John Force Nov. 14, 2010, NHRA has experienced its share of great moments in its first 59 years.

And as the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning body prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2011, NHRA officials have narrowed the many hundreds of memorable moments to a list of 60 Greatest Moments. The complete list, which can be found below, is officially being unveiled for the first time today.

The list includes such seminal moments in NHRA history as Don Garlits’ debut of the rear-engine dragster in 1971, Shirley Muldowney’s groundbreaking first win by a woman in Top Fuel in 1976, Kenny Bernstein breaking the 300-mph barrier in 1992, and Tony Schumacher’s “The Run” in 2006, to name a few.

NHRA fans can relive each of the 60 Greatest Moments via a soon-to-be-released DVD, and they can participate in a yearlong program to determine the 20, 10, and five greatest moments before ultimately identifying the moment that they believe is the greatest in NHRA history.

Beginning Monday, March 7, which opens race week for the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals that will serve as the Official Kick-Off Party for NHRA’s 60th Anniversary celebration, NHRA will post each of the 60 Greatest Moments (two to three per week) on its Facebook page, and fan Likes will be tallied to determine the 20 fan favorites.

After the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, the top 20 moments will be identified and, just as the top 10 drivers in the Countdown to the Championship will be determined at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the fans’ top 10 moments will be determined. Fans will have from the Monday after the Brainerd event (Aug. 22) to the end of the U.S. Nationals to vote, and the 10 moments with the most fan votes will be identified.

The Greatest Moments voting will then have its own playoffs, as one moment will be eliminated at each playoff race, leaving five moments still in play entering the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Fan voting will close prior to the beginning of the Auto Club NHRA Finals, and the fans’ top five will be unveiled during the race weekend.

Here is a snapshot look at the list of the 60 Greatest Moments in NHRA history (chronological order). A more detailed account of each moment will be released as each is posted for fan-voting throughout the course of the season.

1. Wally Parks founds NHRA (1951)
2. First NHRA-sanctioned event (1953)
3. Founding of NHRA Safety Safari (1954)
4. 1955 Indy Top Eliminator: Calvin Rice wins the first U.S. Nationals
5. National DRAGSTER founded (1960)
6. U.S. Nationals moves to permanent home at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (1961)
7. Christmas Tree introduced (1963)
8. End of nitro ban returns fuel to sport (1964)
9. “Big Daddy” Don Garlits cracks 200-mph barrier (1964)
10. Shirley Shahan first woman to win NHRA event (1966)
11. 1967 Indy Top Fuel: “Big Daddy” shaves
12. Wally trophy introduced (1969)
13. Funny Car class introduced (1969)
14. Mattel sponsorship opens door to corporate involvement (1970)
15. 1970 Indy Top Fuel final: The Crash
16. Garlits wins in debut of rear-engine dragster (1971)
17. 1971 Indy Top Fuel final: The Burndown
18. Jim Dunn wins in rear-engine Funny Car (1972)
19. Mike Snively makes first five-second Top Fuel pass (1972)
20. Winston partnership (1975)
21. Garlits’ 5.63 at 250.69 at World Finals considered by many greatest run ever (1975)
22. Don “the Snake” Prudhomme records first Funny Car five-second run (1975)
23. Shirley Muldowney first woman to win in Top Fuel (1976, Columbus)
24. Prudhomme wins seven of eight national events (1976)
25. Muldowney first female world champ (1977)
26. Bob Glidden unbeaten for calendar year (1978-79)
27. 1978 Indy Funny Car final: “Mongoose” bites “Snake”
28. Allen wins dramatic 1981 Top Fuel crown by 2 mph
29. 1982 Springnationals all-female Top Fuel final
30. Prudhomme posts first 250-mph Funny Car pass (1982)
31. Connie Kalitta vs. Muldowney (1982 U.S. Nationals)
32. Prudhomme makes arguably greatest Funny Car run of all time (1982, Indy)
33. ”Big Daddy” makes return to Indy (1984)
34. Building of Texas Motorplex, first stadium dragstrip (1986)
35. Glidden first to reach 50 wins (1986)
36. Garlits’ big blowover (1986, Englishtown)
37. Entire national event schedule on television for first time (1986)
38. Gene Snow records first NHRA four-second run (1988)
39. Joe Amato edges Gary Ormsby in closest Top Fuel finish (1990)
40. Pat Austin first double winner (1991, Topeka)
41. Kenny Bernstein breaks 300-mph barrier (1992, Gainesville)
42. First Hot Rod Reunion organized (1992)
43. NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League founded (1992)
44. Four-second, 300-mph Funny Car barriers broken on same weekend (1993)
45. Kurt Johnson (6.988) records first Pro Stock six-second run (1994)
46. Bernstein first to win championships in Top Fuel and Funny Car (1996)
47. John Force first NHRA driver named Driver of the Year (1996)
48. Warren Johnson (200.13 mph) records first Pro Stock 200-mph run (1997)
49. NHRA Museum opened (1998)
50. Coke partnership (2001)
51. Bernsteins first father-son to share winner’s circle (Las Vegas, 2001)
52. Lucas Oil becomes NHRA Sportsman Series sponsor (2002)
53. John Force’s 100th victory (2002, Houston-2)
54. Andrew Hines (6.991) records first Pro Stock Motorcycle six-second run (2005)
55. Tony Schumacher wins title with “The Run” (2006, NHRA Finals)
56. Ashley Force Hood wins first race in Atlanta (2008)
57. Schumacher breaks all Top Fuel season records (2008)
58. Countdown introduced (2007)
59. Four-wide national event at zMAX Dragway (2010)
60. Force comeback, wins 15th championship (2010)


Two-Car Team of Hossler, Todd Looking Forward To 2011 ADRL Season

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 O’FALLON, MO (January 28, 2011) – While he did not race a year ago, J.R. Todd spent plenty of time at American Drag Racing League (ADRL) events in 2010.

One of his usual stops was the pit of Pro Extreme driver Alex Hossler, where the duo talked, hung out and quickly became good friends.

That friendship turned into a partnership as they now form a two-car Pro Extreme team headed by Rob Flynn, Mike Guger and Al-Anabi Racing.

As teammates, the relationship has been just as fruitful and each has made quite an impact in the Arabian Drag Racing League, winning a combined three races. Todd, a former Top Fuel standout in the NHRA, has proven to be quick-learner in his stunning ’57 Chevy, winning two races, while Hossler won the latest race at Qatar Racing Club (QRC).

Todd is currently in the points lead for the 2010-2011 with three races remaining, and the strong winter already has the team thinking big for the 2011 ADRL Tour.

“Hopefully we can pick up where we left off in Qatar here in the U.S.,” Todd said. “We’re going to run both cars and do whatever it takes to get them both in the ‘Battle For The Belts.’ Just to qualify in the ADRL is going to be a tough chore, but I’m looking forward to racing with (Hossler) here in the states. We both work together well and that’s what it takes.”

Todd struck up a friendship with Al-Anabi owner KH Al-Thani, which led to Todd attending a number of ADRL races during the 2010 season.

That eventually led to an offer to drive a PX car and his fast friendship with Hossler helped it become a two-car team.

Hossler has also enjoyed how the two cars have operated, as team has been behind every decision.

“We’re definitely doing it the right way,” Hossler said. “We trade information and we’re swapping parts back and forth, seeing how they react differently with engine combinations.

“It’s been awesome. I know if I can’t win, I want to see my teammate do well.”

Todd shares a similar notion and that teamwork is a key reason why the ultra-talented driver has gotten off to such a hot start in his Pro Extreme career.

Consistently putting up times in the low-to-mid 3.6s, Todd won Round Two at QRC, adding a second victory two races later.

He compared his Garrett Livingston-built ’57 Chevy, which he admitted is a real “head-turner,” to a Cadillac in terms of how well it has performed, and Todd has already exceeded his own expectations in Qatar.

“I’ve definitely been blown away with the results we’ve had so far,” Todd said. “These cars have always been appealing to me and when I got offered to drive one, I couldn’t turn it down.

“(The team) kind of thinks outside the box and things seem to work for us. It’s been a dream to drive and we haven’t missed a beat yet. It’s been a win-win all the way around.”

Hossler finally overcame a flurry of minor frustrations to win Round Five in Qatar, putting up a career-best 3.62 at more than 210 miles per hour in the process.

He has been impressed with the job Flynn and Guger have done, as they’ve pushed the envelope while still enabling his car to go down the track. Todd’s laid-back and easygoing attitude has also meshed well with Hossler’s intense personality.

“He’s super cool and he’s proven winner for sure,” Hossler said. “He’s already proven that in a door car. It’s always going to help (me) succeed being around people like that.”

Reaching the 3.5s is the next goal for both and, like Todd, Hossler is excited to see what the 2011 ADRL Tour will hold for the two-car team.

“There’s a lot of good cars out there,” Hossler said. “It’s going to be real tough, but it’s going to be fun.”

Based in O’Fallon, Missouri, the American Drag Racing League is the nation’s premier sanctioning body for the sport of eighth-mile drag racing. The professional categories featured in the ADRL are Pro Junior Dragster, Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class in all of drag racing. The 2011 ADRL tour consists of nine national events run throughout the United States. For more information on the ADRL, visit www.ADRL.us


WINNERS FROM THE FIRST 30 YEARS: Mike Yannessa’s winning connection

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 27, 2011) — The Super Chevy Show has been a fixture on the automotive event circuit since the late 1970’s, and in a way of celebrating its history, the series is honoring “Winners from the First 30 Years”.

The second of the series features the story of Pennsylvania’s  Mike Yannessa, who has performed a triple play of sorts at Super Chevy Show events over the years. He’s competed as a racer,  a car show entrant and been a vendor.

He’s also been a winner, taking first at the Maple Grove Super Chevy Show in 1982 with his ’82 Chevy Camaro Pace Car.

“Although I never won in racing, I have appeared in the magazine with the original “Big Red” 1968 Camaro RS/Z28,” Yannessa said. “In 2008, my barn-fresh 1931 Chevy Roadster won first in its class. That vehicle has an incredible story by itself.”

Yannessa also won in 2010 with his 1967 Camaro Coupe.

“It took second in its class and received a Top 10 Editors’ Choice Award,” Yannessa said. “It is cream with a black vinyl top and has a rare factory-installed 273:1, 12-bolt rear-end with a traction-bar bracket. This rear-end was supposed to be only installed in Z/28 cars. It is one of five cars known to exist.”

The Camaro along with his “Big Red” Camaro have also been photographed in Super Chevy Magazine.

But the story of winning success doesn’t end there for Yannessa, whose day job is as the owner of Wheels in Motion, which specializes in classic, antique and muscle cars. One of his employees — Colin Montgomery — and two of his customers — Kevin Johnson and Robert Miller — also won respective classes at past Super Chevy Show events.

Montgomery won in 2008, with his 1988 Caprice Lowrider, while Johnson also won in 2008 with his 1968 Chevy Camaro Funny Car, titled, “Glory Daze.” Miller has several wins with his slick green 1996 Chevy Impala SS.

“I have quite a history with the Super Chevy Show,” Yannessa said.


SCSW, LLC., the new ownership group for the Super Chevy Show series, is encouraging as many past car show and bracket race winners as possible to send in their story along with a picture of their winning car to be posted on www.superchevyshow.com and shared with other enthusiasts.  Please submit your story and photo today by e-mail to: manager@superchevyshow.com


Hight, Force Hood to take new JFR leadership roles; Road Show display to debut

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In a series of announcements made Tuesday at his headquarters race shop in Yorba Linda, Calif., 15-time NHRA Funny Car world champ John Force laid the groundwork for the future of his drag racing empire by naming son-in-law Robert Hight the new president of John Force Racing and daughter Ashley Force Hood as president of John Force Entertainment to oversee a variety of multimedia projects, including a new reality TV show.

Force, who will assume the position of CEO of JFR, also named longtime team member and crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli as general manager of the John Force Racing facility in Brownsburg, Ind., and announced the creation of a mobile Road Show that will display at sites in the same market as NHRA events to further spread the word about his team and NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing.

Hight, the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car champion and 2005 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner as the NHRA rookie of the year, began his career at John Force Racing as a crewmember in 1995 and steadily assumed more responsibilities, including facility manager of the Yorba Linda shop, test driver, and, finally, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang in which he has won 18 NHRA tour events.

“Robert and my daughter Adria [Hight’s wife and JFR CFO] will run this company long after I am gone,” Force said. “Adria has been with this company her whole life. She used to sit in my lap and steer my truck. She had been running the business side with my brother-in-law David Arritt for over a decade. Robert is a strong leader, and he understands every side of this company. He lives it just like I do every day of the year. At Thanksgiving, he and I always wind up going off in a corner and talking about business.”

For Hight, this is just another acknowledgment of his dedication to JFR and particularly to his father-in-law.

“I have the highest respect for John. He never stops thinking about how to make this company better for everyone – from the crew guys to the crew chiefs to the sponsors to the fans. There is no way I could ever replace him, and, trust me, he isn’t going anywhere. I am excited to continue learning from him. This is an exciting day for me and Adria,” said Hight.

Force Hood, meanwhile, takes control of John Force Entertainment, a full-service entertainment company that will immediately begin developing a new reality television show, work toward completion and publication of a John Force biography, and explore the development of the biography into a feature-length film and documentary.

“Even before I started racing Funny Cars, I had a passion for moviemaking and photography,” said Force Hood, a radio, TV, and film graduate of Cal State-Fullerton. “This will be an exciting opportunity to develop some of my own projects as well as projects that John Force Racing has been trying to get off the ground for some time.

“Our projects will not solely be racing. We will constantly be looking for opportunities to work with the local community as well as the greater Southern California area,” said the former cheerleader at Yorba Linda’s Esperanza High School.

John Force Entertainment also has hired television producer Brent Travers to work with Force Hood, primarily on the development of the reality television show. Travers oversaw the development and production of Driving Force, A&E’s wildly popular television show that centered on Force and his three racing daughters. Travers insists that any new show will not be Driving Force Part 2.

“We are looking to develop a show around Courtney Force as she learns the ropes racing a Mustang Funny Car under the tutelage of her successful older sister Ashley, brother-in-law Robert, and her 15-time Funny Car champion father,” he said. “In addition to the television show, we are looking at developing a wide variety of media projects that range from mobile applications to feature-length films. There is a virtual treasure chest of content opportunities here, and my goal is to work with Ashley to maximize our efforts.”

In the past month, the Yorba Linda race shop has been completely remodeled to house a theater with stage and stadium seating for more than 50 people. Additionally, full production studios and edit bays have been added on two separate floors of the building. John Force Entertainment will use Red Digital Cinema technology for its productions. This is the same technology that Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson is using on The Hobbit and that directors such as Steven Soderbergh (Che) and David Fincher (The Social Network) have used.

Longtime JFR friend Rick Gamora has also been helpful in offering advice as well as additional studio space. Gamora has offered the use of his 150,000-square-foot Long Beach, Calif., studio for projects that need to utilize more space. JFR and Gamora have worked on a number of projects and look forward to growing their production studio relationship.

Force Hood and Travers have also been working directly with Jim Jannard, Red Digital Cinema founder, to begin putting together a technology and equipment plan for John Force Entertainment to use as the company grows.

Antonelli’s appointment is a progression for the popular crew chief, who tunes Force Hood’s Castrol Mustang. He has been instrumental in overseeing and managing the 150,000-square-foot Brownsburg shop since it was opened in 2005.

“ ‘Guido’ has been running the Brownsburg shop with his wife, Kelly [JFR’s marketing director], for me for a couple of years now,” said Force. “I am just making it official. This is about moving the next generation of leaders up in my organization. We will still work as a team, but every team needs a leader. ‘Guido’ used to be the team leader on my Funny Car, and now he has his own team as crew chief. Having him run the Brownsburg shop was a natural fit.”

Antonelli was team leader on Force’s car for 12 seasons, and in nine of those seasons, Force won the championship. In four seasons as co-crew chief for Force Hood, along with partner Ron Douglas, he sent the second-generation driver to 16 final rounds, four wins, and 15 No. 1 starts, culminating in back-to-back wins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil and top-three finishes in 2009 and 2010.

“Having John give me this opportunity is a real honor,” Antonelli said. “He is one of the best drivers I have ever seen, and his passion for growing the sport is unmatched. When you look at what he has created in Brownsburg with our shop and The Eric Medlen Project, it is just amazing. My goal is to continue the positive momentum John has started and to build and expand our business model for both our own success and the success of our partners.”

Force also unveiled the John Force Racing Road Show, a multiple-trailer caravan that will travel the country in conjunction with Force’s four Ford Mustang Funny Car teams, spreading the gospel of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing at drag race events, movie theaters, malls, airports, car shows, and anywhere else that Force thinks he can get a crowd and sell the sport with which he fell in love as a young man in Southern California.

“I love this sport, and I want as many people to see my hot rods as possible,” said the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection. “Last year, we added a sponsor trailer to help our sponsors like Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools, and BrandSource activate at the track with us. I want to take it to the next level and activate for my sponsors away from the track in the cities where we are racing.

“I know once fans see my Mustangs and maybe watch a video, they will want to see more. We have a great sport, and NHRA is a great partner. I want to do everything I can so my sponsors, my drivers, and our sport can continue to succeed,” said Force.

The John Force Racing Road Show will consist of multiple Ford Mustang show cars as well as an apparel trailer and interactive displays and will travel in conjunction with the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. In most instances, the JFR Road Show will set up Wednesday or Thursday and be open free to the public through the race weekend.

On Sunday night or early Monday morning, the trailers will load up and, just like the Barnum & Bailey Circus, leave town. In select markets, the BrandSource Funny Car, which will be part of the Road Show, will be tested by Courtney Force as the 22-year-old works toward her license.


NASCAR’s Kurt Busch plans on making his NHRA PRO Debut in 2011

January 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Latest News

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Busch will compete in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock category March 11-13 at Gainesville Raceway

GLENDORA, Calif. (Jan. 24, 2011) –  Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has announced that he will be making his NHRA Full Throttle Series debut at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, March 11-13, at historic Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. 

The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion will be competing for one of the 16 qualifying spots in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class in the Shell Dodge Avenger for Allen Johnson and J & J Racing. 

“Pro Stock is the tightest pro category as far as the elapsed time is concerned and it’s not going to be an easy task,’ Busch said.  “I feel me teaming up with Allen Johnson and the Mopar folks, we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to make the show.”

Busch spent a good part of his busy offseason testing with Allen Johnson and he earned his NHRA Pro Stock license with an impressive best-pass of 6.576 seconds at 210.43 mph at Bradenton, Fla.

As a matter of reference (understanding conditions are not identical), Mike Edwards was the No. 1 qualifier at the 2010 Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals with a 6.537 at 211.53 and Rickie Jones was on the bump with a 6.601 at 209.10. Busch’s 6.576 would have qualified him 11th.

When Busch arrives in Gainesville for the 41st running of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, he will get a total of four qualifying passes – two on Friday and two on Saturday – at which point the 16-car fields will be set for Sunday’s race.

Pro Stock cars have similar appearance to their showroom counterparts but feature extensive engine modifications, sophisticated chassis and suspension with a maximum 500 cubic-inch engine displacement.  On average a Pro Stock car will cover the quarter-mile in six and a half seconds with a speed of more than 200 mph. 
            “It’s a whole different world than NASCAR.  The toughest part is staging the car and of course cutting a good light, the thrill of the launch and the speed at the top-end is why I’m so fascinated with drag racing.  But I do know that heading to the Gatornationals and running with the pros, I will get a full dose of ‘humble pie.’”

At the 2010 Tire Kingdom Gatornationals, Busch competed in the Super Gas category, which is part of the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, in a rebuilt 1970 Dodge Charger.  Weather plagued the event which limited his time on the track and contributed to his first round loss in the category.

“The 2010 event was an experience of a lifetime, the camaraderie with the sportsman guys was a truly fun experience,” Busch said.  “Although it was tough to watch it rain for four days, the grassroots effort of the sportsman guys is what makes the true heart of NHRA racing.”

Busch, a native of Las Vegas, was introduced to drag racing in the early 1990s when he met two Las Vegas based NHRA racers – George Marnell, a Pro Stock racer, and Dave Bush (no relation), a Super Comp competitor.  He also became friends with three-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion Larry Dixon when both were sponsored by the same company. 

The Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals have long been a ‘must-see’ destination event for race fans across the world as they make the pilgrimage to the track based in north-central Florida.  Fans are always treated to tremendous racing at the track that has hosted NHRA events since 1970.  For tickets for the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, log on to www.NHRAtix.com or call 800-884-NHRA (6472).

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011.  As the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States, NHRA presents 22 national events featuring the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Two NHRA-sanctioned bracket racing series provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels: the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA.  NHRA also offers the Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 8 to 17.   In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.


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