VW Bug In Winners Will Be Honored in Pit of Champions
ENNIS, Texas (Feb. 26, 2010) – The Texas Motorplex will have more than one reason to celebrate on May 2 this year. Not only is the first all-concrete stadium-style racing facility celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout 2010, but the VW Bug In turns 25 this year too.
To help honor the historic anniversaries, a series of five featured events, promotions or special details will be revealed over the next five weeks.
The first reason to celebrate will be the Pit of Champions. Champions from the first 24 years of the VW Bug In racing will be allowed to pit together and they will be honored at the track and with special merchandise.
The 2010 Bug In will honor past champions, crown new ones, offer up a swap meet area, a car show, unique vendors and more. Stay tuned for special ticket prices to be announced soon. Mark your calendars now to be at the 25th annual VW Bug In at the Texas Motorplex on May 2.
The Texas Motorplex was the first all-concrete stadium-style drag racing facility ever constructed. Built in 1986, The Texas Motorplex has been the place of many drag racing milestones and world record performances. The Billy Meyer-owned facility hosts a number of racing and car show events between March and November each year and also features the Champions Club – an 11,000 square-foot facility – that serves fully catered events throughout the year.
Join us for the annual Drivers Meeting at the Texas Motorplex, Sunday, Feb. 28.
9 a.m.: Gates open
10 a.m.: Drivers Meeting starts in the Champions Club
NOTE: The Test & Tune has been canceled due to cold conditions forecasted for Sunday. The next opportunity to race down the track will be Sunday March 7.
Chassis Certification by appointment only: Spaces are still available; you must CALL THE TRACK to reserve your spot for a Chassis Certification. Please call 972-878-2641 to book your time slot.
DALLAS — Long-time public relations and marketing specialist Gabrielle Stevenson, 35, was named Texas Motorplex General Manager today by owner Billy Meyer. Stevenson joins the Texas Motorplex after leaving her post at the United Way California Capital Region in Sacramento, California where she managed a broad range of marketing projects including donor relations, branding initiatives, marketing materials as well as Web site content. Stevenson has nearly 10 years of public relations experience working for both the Motorplex and the National Hot Rod Association sanctioning body.
“I am excited to bring someone with Gabrielle’s skill sets into the General Manager position. Her years of public relations and marketing experience will be a big asset for the Texas Motorplex in the North Texas region. She understands how critical public relations and marketing are to the growth of this facility and her positive, can-do attitude will make an immediate impact. We looked at a number of candidates and Gabrielle’s enthusiasm and ideas quickly moved her to the top of the list,” said Meyer.
Built in 1986, the Texas Motorplex was drag racing’s first super track and has hosted NHRA national events since its inception. The first all-concrete drag racing specific race track has consistently led the sport in both on-track performance records and innovative marketing and sponsorship promotions. This year the Motorplex in Ennis, Texas will host the 25th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, September 23-26.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity and a challenge that I am looking forward to tackling. The Dallas and particularly the North Texas region is one of the most competitive markets when it comes to sporting events and marketing. We have a great team here at the Texas Motorplex as well as a strong history. I am looking forward to continuing to grow our business, welcoming hundreds of thousands of fans through our turnstiles and developing strong marketing partnerships with our current and future sponsors in 2010 and beyond,” said Stevenson.
Stevenson joins a growing list of female executives and professionals rising to the top tiers of the motorsports industry. Currently Gillian Zucker is the President of Auto Club Speedway, Gill Campbell is CEO/GM of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Kim Isemann is GM of Daytona 500 Experience and Kim Walters is President of Universal Technical Institute.
The Texas Motorplex has a history of hiring women for management positions. In 2009 Meyer hired Ashley Kellough as Competition Director to oversee the weekly racing program. Kellough has grown the weekly racing program and developed a positive relationship with a number of racing promoters and race teams as the facility’s Competition Director.
“I reached out to Billy when the position became available and really didn’t consider the fact that there weren’t any other women in this kind of position in motorsports. I knew I could do the job and I was looking to get back into motorsports. This was the perfect opportunity and I appreciate Billy taking a chance on me,” added Stevenson.
Stevenson, a 1999 graduate of California State University in Sacramento started her career at the Contra Costa Times as a sports writer before joining the National Hot Rod Association as a media relations manager in 2001. While at the NHRA Stevenson managed all sports information duties for the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the world and expanded their media reach across all media platforms.
NHRA’s Technical Department made two announcements Friday effective at this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix regarding the Electrimotion Safety Shutoff Controllers and Alan Johnson Performance Engineering Superchargers.
Electrimotion Shutoff Receiver
NHRA has temporarily suspended mandatory use of the Electrimotion Shutoff Receiver while NHRA works with the manufacturer to meet driver requests.
Top Fuel and Funny Car teams, after the just-concluded Pomona event, raised certain concerns about the automatic shutoff process, including potential wear on certain engine components, and a desire among some drivers to keep their traditional routine in place at the end of the track and manually shut down the car when they were fully capable of doing so. As a result, NHRA and Electrimotion are working to develop an override to the Shutoff Receiver when both parachute handles have been enabled. When both chutes have been pulled, the driver will be able to shut down according to his or her normal procedures rather than having the automatic device shut off the vehicle. The override kit is expected to be available prior to the Gainesville event, which begins March 11.
The automatic shutoff procedure was implemented as a safety measure to stop a vehicle in the event of driver inability to do so. NHRA still encourages the use of the automatic shutoff even during this time period when its use is not mandatory. Therefore, NHRA will install Electrimotion Shutoff Transmitters to accommodate those teams wishing to continue to use the shutoff receivers.
The Electrimotion Safety Shutoff Controllers on Top Fuel and Funny Car vehicles, activated in the case of burst panel rupture, fire bottle activation or activation by the driver, will remain mandatory.
Alan Johnson Performance Engineering (AJPE) Superchargers
The NHRA Technical Department impounded superchargers on Top Fuel and Funny Car vehicles at the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals last weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. This week in Phoenix, NHRA inspected each impounded supercharger with a representative from the applicable team. It was determined that certain AJPE Superchargers do not meet certain NHRA specifications. In addition, the NHRA Rulebook states that all engine component development, including superchargers, must be submitted to the NHRA Technical Department for review. The subject AJPE Superchargers were not submitted to the NHRA Technical Department for review. Therefore, AJPE Superchargers that do not meet the current specification cannot be used in competition. This information has been conveyed to all affected teams and to the manufacturer, and NHRA is informed that they are working to resolve the issue.
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Cory McClenathan and Jack Beckman completed a Don Schumacher Racing sweep of the delayed final rounds Monday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. McClenathan’s win gives him the Full Throttle points lead in Top Fuel.
Weather delays Sunday had moved racing into the early evening, and deteriorating conditions forced the postponement of action. NHRA officials called a halt to Sunday’s racing after three rounds of Top Fuel and Funny Car and one round of Pro Stock and scheduled completion for Monday morning. More rain Monday delayed the final outcome, and the nitro cars didn’t hit the track until 2:45 p.m. local time.
The quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds of Pro Stock will be run during qualifying at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The unfinished rounds will be completed during the second, third, and fourth rounds of qualifying for the event in two weeks at the historic Florida dragstrip. Lucas Oil Sportsman eliminations will be completed Friday, Feb. 26, during the Division 7 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event.
Despite a cool racing surface (82 degrees) that had not been run on since the previous day, McClenathan collected his 32nd Top Fuel victory with a strong 3.813 at 316.67 to defeat Doug Kalitta, who shook and smoked the tires before recovering to a 4.73, 219.47 runner-up.
McClenathan, who won in Phoenix 20 years ago in Top Alcohol Dragster and has won two other times in Top Fuel (1994 and 1998), powered his Fram dragster past Mike Strasburg, Troy Buff, and a broken Steve Torrence with consecutively quicker blasts of 3.84, 3.82, and 3.81 to reach the final, the 58th of his Top Fuel career.
“The FRAM dragster has become a bracket car,” said McClenathan. “[Crew chiefs] Todd [Okuhara] and Phil [Shuler] have got the car running well enough that we know whoever we’re racing has to step up to beat us. Getting our car in stride this early is a big deal for us.”
“We lost in Pomona, because we didn’t take Doug Kalitta seriously when we raced him in the semi’s. This time, they obviously took him seriously to run a 3.81, 316 on what was really a green track after the rain. After the run, I told Doug, ‘We weren’t taking you lightly,’ and he said, ‘We were throwing the whole trailer at it.’ I expect that out of [car owner] Connie Kalitta.”
Kalitta, runner-up at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline in Pomona, reached his second straight Top Fuel final of the season by defeating Chris Karamesines, teammate Dave Grubnic, and Morgan Lucas with a 3.99 and two 3.98s.
Eliminations in Top Fuel were full of upsets. Independent runner Steve Chrisman notched a win against tire-shake-plagued Larry Dixon in the opening round, and Torrence put away No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher in the second round by virtue of a holeshot.
Sunday got off to a rough start in Top Fuel with rain interrupting the first round, which concluded with a crash involving Antron Brown. Brown was not injured in the accident, but a woman who was struck by a tire from Brown’s dragster was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital that evening. NHRA is investigating the incident. The entire NHRA community is deeply saddened by the incident and sends its thoughts and prayers to the woman’s family and friends.
Beckman got back into the win column in Funny Car for the first time since last summer when he drove his MTS/Valvoline Charger to a 4.12, 301.13 to defeat John Force, who shook to a 6.31. The two drivers engaged in a mini burndown before fully lighting the Tree, but neither got a substantial advantage from it at the green.
“We’ve had a lot of luck against John Force, and I don’t care what you say, that guy is still the man in nitro Funny Car,” said Beckman. “The fan in me is so happy to see him back in top form. The racer in me was glad they weren’t perfect against us in the final. But to go out beat those guys as dominant as they have been for both races this year is pretty cool.”
“The other cool thing is that you kind of want to make that statement early in the year that you’re a team capable of winning races. If you can go the final round and rack up a lot of points, that’s cool, but the trophy symbolized a lot of stuff, and when you get that trophy early in the year I think everybody on the team knows that we can be the best on any given day, and that’s the attitude that it’s going to take to run for the championship at the end of the year.”
With the exception of a semifinal pedalfest win against Tony Pedregon, past Phoenix champ Beckman wore out his opposition Sunday with remarkable consistency. Tuner Rahn Tobler dialed in the car with a pair of 4.13s to start eliminations after running a 4.13 during qualifying. Beckman turned away Bob Tasca III and teammate Matt Hagan before using his cunning in the cockpit to survive a tire-smoking affair against Pedregon.
Force opened his eliminations account Sunday by escaping with a narrow .001-second victory against Cruz Pedregon, then powered to low e.t. and a career-best 4.044 blast in round two to defeat Jim Head. Force reached the final by defeating his teammate, reigning world champ Robert Hight, with a 4.08 in the semifinals.
Second-round pairings in Pro Stock — Mike Edwards vs. Greg Anderson, Allen Johnson vs. Jason Line, Ron Krisher vs. Greg Stanfield, and Bob Yonke vs. Rodger Brogdon – will be contested during the second round of qualifying in Gainesville Friday, March 12; the semifinal pairs will run during the third round of qualifying Saturday, March 13; and the final round will be held during the final round of qualifying Saturday. The runs will occur during the scheduled qualifying sessions of the event, and the times posted on those runs will count toward qualifying for the event.
Friday: Kalitta, Hagan, and Edwards are opening-day leaders in Phoenix
Saturday: Force back atop the field; Schumacher, Edwards also front Phoenix fields
Arizona Nationals Sportsman racing to complete at Firebird LODRS
NHRA community saddened by loss in Phoenix