Troxel takes bobsled gold in Lake Placid; Coughlin slides to silver

January 10, 2010 by  
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Team NHRA had its best showing ever in the annual Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering Sunday with rookie competitor Melanie Troxel earning the gold medal at the charity event.

Fellow drag racer Jeg Coughlin Jr. was just .07-seconds back of Troxel’s two-run combined time of 1:39.33 seconds, bringing home silver in his JEGS.com bobsled with a 1:39.40. NASCAR road race specialist and multi-time Challenge winner Boris Said ended up third, filling out the podium with a 1:39.69.

In the second contest of the day, the NASCAR vs. NHRA showdown, Troxel once again shined, blazing through the NHRA side of the ladder before taking runner-up honors behind NASCAR rookie of the year Joey Logano, 49.81 to 50.07.

“I’m shocked,” said Troxel, the first woman to ever compete in the event. “That final (gold medal) run didn’t even feel that fast. It seemed like I hit the walls a lot, but I guess it was quick enough to win. There was definitely some beginner’s luck on my side today.

“I sure came a long way in a few days. At first I was getting so much advice and it didn’t even make sense to me but as the weekend went along I started understanding what they were telling me and what areas of the track they were talking about. I think driving my R2B2 Voodoo Corvette was probably some pretty good training because those Pro Mod cars are right on the edge also.

“The whole atmosphere of this event and the fact we’re helping our Olympic athletes go for the gold with these ‘Made in America’ bobsleds from the Bo-Dyn Project makes it so special. It’s been a real honor to be here.”

Top Fuel teammates Shawn Langdon and Morgan Lucas finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the first race with combined times of 1:40.12 and 1:40.32. Langdon, the driver of the Lucas Oil/MAV TV Top Fuel dragster, was competing in his first Lucas Oil Bobsled Challenge.

Lucas, who usually drives the GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster, is the most tenured member of Team NHRA, having competed in the race four times overall. The defending event champion, Lucas reached the semifinals in the NASCAR vs. NHRA Challenge but lost to Troxel by .02 seconds, 50.12 to 50.14.

Pro Stock racer Coughlin had the fastest pass of the event, reaching 102.62 kilometers per hour on the 20-turn Olympic course on Mount Van Hoevenberg. His two runs of 49.31 and 50.09 seconds in the first event looked smooth, although the five-time world champion said he could have been quicker.

“I skidded through a few of the lower turns in both runs and that scrubbed off a bit of speed,” he said. “But I’m really pleased with this result. Two years ago I came in third here and got the bronze. Now I’ve got a silver medal to go with it so we’ve improved and that’s exciting. I guess I need to come back and get a gold to finish the set.

“What Geoff Bodine has done for bobsledding is phenomenal and this event is not only a lot of fun but it’s something that just makes you feel great. I’m excited to go up to the Olympic Games in Vancouver next month with Team USA and watch them on the world’s biggest stage. We all wish them the very best.”

NASCAR legend Bodine conceived the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project more than a decade ago after watching U.S. athletes struggle to compete with old, used sleds from their European rivals. Bodine contracted racecar designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., to create “Made-in-America” bobsleds for the United States men’s and women’s national teams. Since switching to Bo-Dyn sleds, U.S. athletes have risen to the top of the sport, winning multiple Olympic and World Cup medals in both two-man and four-man competition.

Official results of timed Olympic-style race:
1:39.33    Melanie Troxel
1:39.40    Jeg Coughlin Jr.
1:39.69    Boris Said
1:39.82    Todd Bodine
1:40.12    Shawn Langdon
1:40.32    Morgan Lucas
1:40.40    Joey Logano
1:40.53    Phillip Morris
1:40.97    George Brunnhoelzl III
1:41.19    Carl Renezeder

Official results of NASCAR vs. NHRA Challenge:
Team NHRA
49.60    Troxel
50.06    Lucas
50.25    Renezeder
50.26    Coughlin
50.32    Langdon

Team NASCAR
50.16    Bodine
50.31    Logano
50.32    Said
50.71    Morris
50.90    Brunnhoelzl

Round 1: Logano 50.00 defeats Said 50.03; Lucas DNF beats Renezeder DNF (better incrementals)
Round 2: Logano 49.70 defeats Bodine 50.12; Troxel 50.12 defeats Lucas 50.14
Final round: Logano 49.81 defeats Troxel 50.07

Related stories:
Coughlin quickest member of Team NHRA at Bobsled Challenge (1/19/2010)
12 drivers set for Bodine Bobsled Challenge (1/4/2010)


The field is set, and the weather is forecast to be quintessential Adirondack in January.

With ample snow, a typical chill in the air, and the 30th anniversary of the 1980 Winter Olympics just a month away, Lake Placid will present a Currier & Ives winter scene Jan. 8-10 to the 12 drivers from NHRA and NASCAR who will converge on the two-time Winter Olympics village for the fifth annual Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering.

The daring dozen will leave their comfort zones and drive modified bobsleds down the three-quarter-mile, 16-turn Mount Van Hoevenberg track, site of the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games as well as the 2003 and 2009 World Bobsled Championships.

NHRA will be represented by Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas, Shawn Langdon, and Melanie Troxel and Pro Stock standout Jeg Coughlin Jr. Joey Logano, the 2009 NASCAR rookie of the year, and road racer Boris Said, who has been the dominant performer at the previous four challenges, also will be in the field. Other competitors are Geoff Bodine, named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers; two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie; 2009 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified champion George Brunnhoelzl III; 2009 NASCAR Whelen All American Series driver Philip Morris; off-road racer Carl Renezeder; and past NASCAR champion Todd Bodine, younger brother of Geoff and Brett Bodine.

The competitors will have practice sessions Friday, Jan. 8, at 2:30; practice and qualification Saturday, Jan. 9, beginning at 9 a.m.; and a pair of races, including the NASCAR versus NHRA head-to-head confrontation, Sunday, Jan.10, at 10 a.m.; pre-race festivities will commence at 9 a.m.

Though the goal for any race car driver is to win, the mission of the event is to create awareness and greater funding for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project Inc. Bodine, winner of the 1986 Daytona 500, joined forces with auto racing designer Bob Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics in Oxford, Conn., to create made-in-America bobsleds for the United States men’s and women’s national teams.

Since 2002, the Bo-Dyn effort has produced one Olympic gold medal (Jill Bakken), two silver medals (Todd Hays and Shauna Rohbock), and a bronze (Brian Shimer). Additionally, U.S. team member Steve Holcomb ended a 50-year world championship drought when he drove his four-man Bo-Dyn sled to the world title in Lake Placid last February.

The men’s and women’s squads have claimed numerous World Cup medals this season — five gold medals among them — in the run-up to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. With the help of Bo-Dyn technology, the team is poised to end a 62-year gold medal drought in the Winter Olympics.

The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project Inc. graciously accepts and appreciates support of its made-in-America efforts. To make a donation, log on to www.bodinebobsled.com.

Tickets are available for the gala banquet and auction Saturday night at the Lake Placid Crowne Plaza Resort. To purchase, log on to  http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase.

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NHRA, producers of popular drag racing show announce agreement to produce media properties

January 8, 2010 by  
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NHRA and producers of the popular drag racing show Pinks, Stephen Pullin and Jack Schaeffer, have agreed to create, develop, and produce media properties, including new racing competitions, new events, and television programs. The first project, NHRA Unleashed, will celebrate pure American horsepower in an interactive festival environment.

Pullin and Schaeffer’s Disrupt/ive Studios and NHRA will explore and develop innovative properties focused on wide-open, wheelstanding, heads-up competition embracing the car enthusiast, the roots of NHRA. NHRA Unleashed is the first of these properties to be staged in 2010, in Atlanta; Indianapolis; Hebron, Ohio; and Gainesville. A schedule of events is listed below. The plan is to expand NHRA Unleashed to other premier drag racing facilities in the United States in 2011.

“We have been working for several months with Stephen, Jack, and the team at Disrupt/ive Studios to create this unique relationship,” said Tom Compton, NHRA president. “We are excited about creating new entertainment media properties and developing entertaining, interactive events aligned with television programming that highlight the foundation of NHRA, the grassroots racer and car enthusiast.”

NHRA Unleashed will provide a fully interactive experience for spectators and participants, embracing a new breed of drag racing enthusiast looking for pure, doorslammer heads-up competition on the track, ranging from the 10.5 Outlaw to the 13-second weekend warrior, and a festival environment off the track. At an NHRA Unleashed event, everyone and everything is part of the show, which will feature heads-up, no-index racing on the track; interactive events, including Kart Track and Autocross activities; and the traditional car show, car/parts swap meet, and car corrals. The drag racing format on the track will have the sole purpose of highlighting competition for the pure heads-up grassroots competitors in the country, vying for the coveted Wally trophy. Each event will be as much a regional happening as it will be a drag racing event and will include exhibition runs by a variety of race vehicles.

“We want to develop events and broadcast programs that capture the sport, lifestyle, culture, and original brand of NHRA Drag Racing,” Pullin said. “We believe the NHRA Unleashed event embodies everything we are looking to create jointly, a celebration of pure American horsepower.”

Further details on NHRA Unleashed will be announced later in January. In addition, NHRA and Disrupt/ive Studios intend to make announcements in the coming months about additional creative ideas and proposals currently in the planning process.

2010 NHRA Unleashed schedule
June 11-13: Atlanta Dragway, Atlanta
Aug. 6-8: O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Indianapolis
Sept. 10-12: National Trail Raceway, Hebron, Ohio
Nov. 5-7: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville

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Prudhomme announces retirement from drag racing

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Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, one of the most accomplished drivers and revered team owners in the history of motorsports, announced his retirement today, ending a career spanning five decades in drag racing.

Prudhomme’s 47-year career featured him behind the wheel for 32 seasons before he retired from driving at the end of his 1994 Final Strike campaign. He then transitioned to the role of team owner. Overall, Prudhomme has an impressive combination of six NHRA world championships and 112 national event victories.

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to make a living in drag racing and to have enjoyed some success along the way,” said Prudhomme. “I would like to thank all of the great sponsors we’ve worked with over the years, everyone at NHRA, the many track owners, operators, and promoters, our past employees and team members, and all of the drag racing fans that have supported Snake Racing.”


About Don “the Snake” Prudhomme

Ask even the most casual of motorsports fans who the biggest name in drag racing is, and you are almost always sure to hear one name — Don “the Snake” Prudhomme. A true legend of the sport, Prudhomme, 68, concluded his 47th year in drag racing in 2009, his 15th season as an owner after logging 32 seasons behind the wheel as one of the sport’s elite drivers.

“Snake’s” remarkable driving career began in 1962 with his first Top Fuel victory at the Smokers March Meet in Bakersfield, Calif., and ended with 49 NHRA victories — the sixth-most in NHRA history — following his farewell Final Strike tour in 1994. Prudhomme reached the final 68 times, posting a remarkable 35 wins in 45 Funny Car finals (.777 win percentage) and 14 wins in 23 Top Fuel final rounds (.609 win percentage). Overall, he won 389 of 589 rounds of competition for a .660 win percentage.

Along the way, Prudhomme reached many important milestones and broke several barriers. He became the first driver to earn four consecutive NHRA world titles, won the prestigious U.S. Nationals seven times, was the first Funny Car driver to break the 250-mph mark (250.00 mph), was the first to post an elapsed time under 5.20 seconds (5.193), became the first to win seven of eight national events in one season (1976), was the first NHRA Winston world champion (1975), and was the first driver to win the U.S. Nationals and Winternationals in the same season (1965). At age 51, he became the third Top Fuel driver to pass the 300-mph mark (301.60), in 1993.

Off the track, Prudhomme gained notice in the early 1970s when Mattel released the “Mongoose” (Tom McEwen) and “Snake” Hot Wheels car sets, helping to introduce drag racing to a larger, more mainstream audience.

Prudhomme did not stop rewriting the NHRA record books despite leaving his role as a driver to become a multicar team owner. Wins by Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) at the 1998 Winternationals made “Snake” only the fifth owner in history to have cars in two categories earn titles at the season-opening event. Prudhomme’s Dixon-Capps tandem repeated at the 2001 Brainerd race, then again in 2002 near Columbus, Ohio.

The 2000 season included many highlights for Prudhomme. Dixon and Capps finished in the top three in the season standings, and Prudhomme was honored for his accomplishments as a driver with his induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., with such other racing heroes as A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Aryton Senna. “Talladega really was a highlight for me, and I don’t think it can get much better than that,” said Prudhomme.

The 2001 season was one of the brightest for “the Snake” as an owner; Dixon finished just 95 points shy of giving Prudhomme his first championship as an owner. In the 2001 campaign, each of “Snake’s” drivers posted wins — Dixon had six, Capps two, and Tommy Johnson Jr. one; wins by Johnson in Las Vegas, Dixon in Gainesville, and Capps in Bristol gave Prudhomme three consecutive winning weekends.

During the 2002 season, “the Snake” watched Dixon power his Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster to nine victories en route to his first NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel world championship and the fifth of Prudhomme’s career. In addition, Prudhomme was named the No. 3 driver in NHRA history by a panel of drag racing historians as NHRA celebrated its historic 50th anniversary season.

The 2003 NHRA season was another banner year for Snake Racing as Dixon drove his Dick LaHaie-tuned dragster to its second consecutive NHRA championship, winning eight races in 13 final-round appearances to earn the $400,000 championship bonus.

Prudhomme inched ever closer to his milestone 100th victory in 2004 as Dixon earned two victories, moving the legendary driver and owner to within two victories of the century mark. Dixon’s 35th win in August equaled drag racing icon “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for third on the all-time Top Fuel win list. Johnson also posted career-best performance marks in his blue Skoal Racing Chevy flopper at the season finale in Pomona.

The 2005 season for “Snake” included Johnson breaking an 89-race winless streak when he dusted the field to score at the Winternationals at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Two months later, Prudhomme become just the third driver and owner in NHRA history to reach the 100-win plateau when Dixon triumphed at the spring Las Vegas event. Dixon added two more victories, including at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, to give the “Snake” 102 Wally trophies. Dixon’s third U.S. Nationals victory was Indy win No. 10 for Prudhomme, who won the Big Go seven times as a driver. Dixon raced to a second-place finish in Top Fuel, and Johnson’s sixth-place finish was a career best for the veteran Funny Car driver.

In 2006, Prudhomme enjoyed two more victories from Johnson and the Skoal Racing Funny Car team as well as a runner-up finish in the lucrative NHRA Showdown bonus event at the U.S. Nationals to finish the season sixth in the points standings. Dixon’s Top Fuel team reached one final round in the season, finishing seventh in the team’s final season with longtime sponsor Miller Lite. That brought “Snake’s” win total to 104 victories as a driver and owner. In 2007, Prudhomme fielded Johnson’s Skoal Racing Chevy Impala Funny Car, which doubled up with Dixon in Top Fuel as Snake Racing swept the Englishtown event. Dixon, who drove that season for SkyTel, also recorded wins in Chicago and Dallas to increase Prudhomme’s win total to 108.

For the 2008 NHRA season, Prudhomme guided Dixon in the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Top Fuel dragster to five final rounds and two victories (Phoenix, Pomona 2) en route to a second-place finish in the season points standings; the two victories brought Prudhomme’s total win count to 110.

The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle campaign featured the debut of rookie driver Spencer Massey taking over the role as pilot of the U.S. Smokeless Racing dragster for Don Prudhomme Racing. Massey, the 2008 IHRA Top Fuel champion, reached five final rounds and collected his first NHRA Top Fuel win in Chicago and his second in Las Vegas (wins 111 and 112 for Prudhomme). At the end of the season, Massey was named the winner of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as NHRA’s rookie of the year. Prudhomme also teamed with Carroll Shelby as Shelby Autos announced the limited production of the Shelby Super Snake Prudhomme Edition GT 500. Motorbooks International also published Tom Madigan’s book: Mongoose vs. Snake – How a Rivalry Changed Drag Racing Forever.

Personal Information
Date of birth: April 6, 1941
Residence: Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Birthplace: San Fernando Valley, Calif.
Wife: Lynn
Daughter: Donna
Height/Weight: 6 feet, 1 inch/175 pounds
Hobbies: Dogs, fishing, golf, and landscaping

Career accomplishments and highlights
Career wins/final rounds (driver): 49/68 (35/45 FC, 14/23 TF)
Career wins/final rounds (owner): 63/128 (18/41 FC, 45/87 TF)
Career total victories: 112
Career No. 1 qualifying awards (driver): 58
Career No. 1 qualifying awards (owner): 40
First Professional victory (TF): Bakersfield March Meet (1962)
First NHRA victory (TF): Pomona 1 (1965)
First NHRA victory (FC): Indianapolis (1973)
Best points finish (driver): First (1975-78 FC)
Best points finish (owner): First (2002-03 TF)
Career-best elapsed time (TF): 4.736 (Reading 1994)
Career-best elapsed time (FC): 5.157 (Dallas 1989)
Career-best speed (TF): 302.72 (Brainerd 1994)
Career-best speed (FC): 279.67 (Reading 1989)

• 49 victories (driver)
• 63 victories (owner)
• Eighth-winningest driver in NHRA history (49 wins)
• Fourth-winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history (35 wins)
• Four NHRA championships as a driver
• Two NHRA championships as an owner
• 1989 NHRA Showdown winner
• Three NHRA Showdown wins as team owner (Ron Capps, 1998-99, 2002)
• Three NHRA Shootout wins as team owner (Larry Dixon, 1995, 2001-02)
• First member of Cragar Five-Second Club (FC, 5.98 seconds, Oct. 12, 1975, Ontario, Calif.)
• First member of Crane Cams Funny Car 250-mph Club (250.00 mph, May 29, 1982, Baton Rouge, La.)
• 15th member of Cragar 4-Second Club (TF, 4.980 seconds, Feb. 2, 1991, Pomona)
• Third member of Slick 50 300-mph Club (301.60 mph, March 6, 1993, Houston)
• First NHRA driver to win in both Top Fuel (1965 Pomona) and Funny Car (1973 Indy)
• Second NHRA driver to qualify No. 1 in both Top Fuel (1965 Pomona) and Funny Car (1970 Ontario)
• One of three driver/owners (John Force and Warren Johnson) to have reached 100 wins
• Still holds the NHRA record with seven consecutive Funny Car national event victories (1975-76)
• Still holds the NHRA record with 30 consecutive Funny Car round-wins (1976-77)
• Still holds the NHRA record with 13 consecutive Funny Car final-round appearances (1975-77)
• Still holds the NHRA record with eight consecutive Funny Car final rounds to start a season (1976)
• Shares the NHRA record at seven consecutive Funny Car No. 1 qualifying positions (1976-77)
• No. 8 all-time with 52 NHRA No. 1 qualifying efforts


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NHRA’s Greatest Races series to air on Fox Sports Net

Bill Stephens hosts NHRA’s Greatest Races

Take a step down memory lane as NHRA, in cooperation with longtime announcer, television commentator, and author Bill Stephens, relives the great history of NHRA’s most memorable events in a 13-week series entitled NHRA’s Greatest Races presented by ProCare Rx. NHRA’s Greatest Races airs each Sunday at 11:30 a.m. in all time zones for 13 consecutive weeks on Fox Sports Net. The first show aired Sunday, Jan. 3.

“This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Stephens. “Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I was that guy sitting on his couch every weekend watching tape-delayed telecasts of NHRA national events.”

NHRA’s Greatest Races has been produced to preserve and present the great history and tradition of NHRA and its greatest heroes of the time period, focusing on the people, personalities, and their performances. The 30-minute shows highlight key stories from NHRA national event television coverage from 1972 to 1999, featuring the original race call and commentary of the legendary broadcast team of Dave McClelland and the late Steve Evans. The original footage has been selected from NHRA’s extensive video library, much of which hasn’t been broadcast for decades.

The shows also feature recent interviews with many of the drivers spotlighted in the races, who reflect on their memorable performances, along with historical commentary and personal observations from longtime NHRA announcer Bob Frey.

The series is sponsored by ProCare Rx and produced by Stephens’ production company, Ultimate Garage Productions Inc. Each episode will be on DVD and available exclusively online at www.nhradvd.com.

Shirley Muldowney, far lane, defeated Lucille Lee in the first all-female Top Fuel final at the 1982 Springnationals, one of the featured Greatest Races.

The schedule includes the 1982 NHRA Springnationals at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, where NHRA’s first all-female Top Fuel final round was contested between three-time world champion Shirley Muldowney and Lucille Lee; the 1978 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, featuring the dramatic Funny Car final round between Don “the Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen shortly after McEwen’s teenage son passed away from leukemia; and the 1984 NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, where Joe Amato unveiled an enormous rear wing on his Top Fuel dragster that revolutionized the performance capabilities in that category.

NHRA’s Greatest Races will reach two audiences: the longtime fans of the sport who want to relive the great history of NHRA’s most memorable events that haven’t been seen for many years and the new generation of fans who never got to see the legends of the sport race each other.

“I think anyone who watches this series and is a true drag racing fan will get goosebumps seeing the old footage and so many legendary stars racing head to head at the peak of their careers,” said Stephens.

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39 Days remain to renew tickets for the 25th Annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals

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Time is flying by, there are only 39 days left until the 2010 O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals ticket renewal deadline.   Renewing your tickets is the only way that you can guarantee that you will have the same great seats that you had in 2009 for this years event celebrating 25 years of NHRA Drag racing at the Texas Motorplex on September 23-26, 2010.

You can renew your tickets now by clicking here, by calling 800-Motorplex (800-668-6775) or by visiting www.texasmotorplex.com.

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For event information or tickets please call 972-878-2641
or 1-800-MOTORPLEX (1-800-668-6775)