Mac Tools US Nationals
MONDAY - SCHUMACHER, DENSHAM, ANDERSON AND BROWN TAKE WINS AT 50TH ANNUAL MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
(9-6-2004) - Gary Densham turned the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals into the biggest payday of his career, winning the national event Monday after winning the Skoal Showdown bonus event on Sunday.
By winning both events, NHRA will pay Densham a $50,000 double-up bonus on top of the nearly $200,000 he pockets for the two victories.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Antron Brown (Pro Stock Bike) also earned victories in their respective categories at the $2.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Densham used a 4.890-second pass at 317.64 mph to earn his second win of the season and eighth of his career in the Auto Club Ford Mustang. He beat Cruz Pedregon’s Advance Auto Parts Chevy Monte Carlo, which smoked the tires before halftrack and slowed to a run of 6.479 at 147.15.
Densham beat his teammate John Force in the final of the Skoal Showdown on Sunday.
“To be able to win both the race and the Skoal Showdown is just incredible,” Densham said. “I’ll probably get thrown out of the NHRA for picking their pocket, but it was worth it. I came to the 25th U.S. Nationals without a lot of money, but I just had to be here. It was the biggest race and now it’s even bigger.”
The double victory weekend was made even more special for Densham
because of his family.
"My son Steven has never seen me win a race before and now he comes out this weekend and sees me win two times,” Densham said. “He's gonna think it's easy. Believe me, it's anything but easy. You know, the fact it's taken me so long to get it though probably makes it all the more sweeter. If this is a dream and I'm sleeping, please don't wake me up."
Schumacher beat Doug Kalitta to earn his seventh victory this season, 18th of his career in the U.S. Army dragster. Schumacher went 4.597 at 323.66 to beat Kalitta’s 4.621 at 316.45 in the Mac Tools dragster.
Schumacher is only the second Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to win the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals three consecutive seasons (Don Garlits, 1984-’86). He has four career wins at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
"This is a huge win. Garlits won Indy eight times and we've won it four times now,” Schumacher said. “Of course, he did it back when there were 100 cars in the field. Now we race every pass and the margin of victory is measured in thousandths of a second. I don't know how you compare the two eras but I know Don Garlits was my hero and to even be mentioned with him is something. I'm in shock, to be honest."
Anderson earned the 13th win of season and 29th of his career by beating Kenny Korestsky in the final. Anderson leads the Pro Stock points and is inching toward his second consecutive NHRA POWERade championship. He turned in a 6.839 pass at 202.09 in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am to cover Koretsky’s 6.870 at 201.37 in his Nitro Fish Dodge Stratus.
"This is where I wanted to get this win," Anderson said. "We just tied John Force's record with our 13th win of the year. That's history baby. Our Pontiac beat that Mopar's butt and we did it at the 50th anniversary of our biggest race. It's awesome.
"To be next to John Force in the record books is mind-boggling. To actually have five chances to go ahead of him is too hard to get my arms around. This is one of the major records in our sport and we've got a shot at it. This team of mine gets all the credit. From top to bottom we've got the best guys in the business and that's why I'm able to go out and win 13 races. It's unbelievable."
Brown went 7.213 at 185.77 on his U.S. Army Suzuki to earn his second victory of the season. He beat Shawn Gann’s 7.238 at 185.74 on his Mac Tools Suzuki.
"All those troops doing all that hard work overseas, this one is for you," Brown said. "If this has given us some momentum to win more races and maybe even get us closer to the championship then I'm all for it. We're not looking that far ahead. We're just gonna keep racing with this awesome team we have put together and not look up until they tell us the season's over."
The 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues Sept. 16-19, with the 20th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
Sportsman Final Rounds
MONDAY NOTES - Everyone’s a Marshall, When Force ain’t happy and Schumacher’s inspiration
Lead Zeppelin? – The name of the engine in Clay Millican’s Top Fueler is Zeppelin. Is it a coincidence that the driver of the 104-Octane-sponsored machine worked in a plug for Goodyear since they have the most famous blimp in the world? His praise was for the quality of the Goodyear blower belts. Millican won a pedaling effort over David Grubnic.
U.S. Marshalls – Instead of having a Grand Marshall for the event, each paying spectator was given a card proclaiming them to hold that position. The cards were also given a limited edition number. At the end of the event, a special drawing will be held for a special commemorative toolbox.
Must be the Torco – T.J. Zizzo, carrying a one-race deal from Torco Race Fuels, scored a huge bonus by taking out Doug Herbert in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations. He also gained lane choice in the second round against Larry Dixon.
Sell Zee wins a close one – Gary Scelzi scored a crucial victory when he took out points leader John Force in the quarter-finals. Scelzi used a quicker reaction time to take measure of Force, carrying on a holeshot battle that the two have traded back and forth for three races in a row.
If Boss Ain’t Happy – Gary Densham likes nice and easy days in the office, but when someone beats boss John Force like Gary Scelzi did, it just makes him madder than heck. Well, in a joking way.
Densham laughed, “I want to go over there and slap Scelzi. Every time he beats the boss, he makes my life miserable.”
Mo TV – When Hurricane Frances created havoc with the state of Florida, it greatly affected the major league baseball schedule, thus opening some time on ESPN2. That enabled drag racing to score an extra three hours of broadcast coverage. ESPN and ESPN2 will combine for nearly 15 total hours of coverage.
That just throttles my cable – After a history-making debut, Chip Ellis’ bid for a win at the 50th annual NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals was ended by a five-dollar part.
Ellis, aboard the G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell, campaigned by G Squared Motorsports, was in the staging lanes preparing for his first round match up with Kurt Matte, when the team discovered a problem with the throttle linkage. Subsequent efforts to correct the problem were unsuccessful and a broken throttle linkage prevented Ellis from continuing his pursuit of the Pro Stock Bike title.
Speaking of throttled cables… - It’s a good problem to have if you’re on the ticket-selling side of the fence, but it stinks if you’ve gotten used to tradition. Track officials had no other choice due to the overwhelming crowd but to take away a portion of the right side general admission seats and convert them to reserved seats. The happy ones were selling tickets. However, there were plenty of upset faces that belonged to those that had camped out day in and day out for many years prior.
The Force is with him – Greg Anderson’s Pro Stock victory at Indy tied him with John Force for the most professional wins in one season. Force still swears he can whip Anderson in a Pro Stocker.
Oh No, Not the Pink Slip – This little gem was heard in the pressroom following Gary Densham’s double up victory. “I guess they’ll have to fire a few NHRA VP’s to cover the cost of that one.”
It is said Densham’s victory will net the team over $400,000.
Vote of confidence – “Captain Kaos” (Kenny Koretsky) is going to the finals, the world is spinning backwards.” – NHRA announcer Bob Frey after Pro Stock racer Kenny Koretsky beat Mike Edwards in the semi-finals.
Army Details – Indy marked the second time this season that more than one Army-sponsored ride was in the finals. In Brainerd, Tony Schumacher won while Angelle Savoie finished runner-up. This time, it was a clean sweep as both Schumacher and Antron Brown won their respective divisions.
Tony and the lost CD – Two years ago, Schumacher used a particular song for inspiration prior to beating Larry Dixon in the final round. “The Sarge” latched onto Kid Rock’s “Only God knows why” as a source of inspiration. He needed a little inspiration before today’s final round and looked for the same CD, but it was missing. After asking one of the crewmembers on his team to find a station, the first song they came across – you guessed it, “Only God knows why.”
Someone had earlier brought Schumacher a picture of Darrell Russell and on it was inscribed “Only God knows why.”
Schumacher added, “From that point, I knew it was our race to win.”
Schumacher presented his winning trophy to Julie Russell, Darrell’s
Final round-by-round results from the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series -
ROUND ONE -- Clay Millican, 5.039, 279.38 def. David Grubnic, 6.537, 119.13; Morgan Lucas, 4.661, 319.07 def. Cory McClenathan, 5.456, 183.15; Brandon Bernstein, 4.676, 317.57 def. Brady Kalivoda, 9.022, 83.22; Larry Dixon, 4.972, 276.13 def. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 5.890, 200.98; T.J. Zizzo, 4.702, 311.05 def. Doug Herbert, 4.720, 305.98; Scott Kalitta, 4.660, 320.81 def. Andrew Cowin, 4.940, 287.35; Tony Schumacher, 4.559, 325.53 def. Mike Strasburg, 5.781, 176.93; Doug Kalitta, 4.784, 313.15 def. Bruce Litton, 7.085, 126.35;
QUARTERFINALS -- Dixon, 4.652, 316.08 def. Zizzo, 4.729, 305.08; D. Kalitta, 4.658, 315.78 def. Millican, 4.738, 299.86; S. Kalitta, 4.653, 317.57 def. Bernstein, 6.261, 152.35; Schumacher, 4.602, 322.11 def. Lucas, foul;
SEMIFINALS -- D. Kalitta, 4.628, 315.78 def. Dixon, 4.919, 274.66; Schumacher, 4.743, 297.88 def. S. Kalitta, 8.232, 87.36;
FINAL -- Schumacher, 4.597, 323.66 def. D. Kalitta, 4.621, 316.45.
ROUND ONE -- Phil Burkart, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.927, 312.93 def. Ron Capps, Monte Carlo, 5.804, 177.37; Cruz Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.915, 314.39 def. Del Worsham, Monte Carlo, 4.993, 315.42; John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.840, 322.81 def. Jim Head, Toyota Celica, 9.647, 82.13; Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.857, 319.07 def. Tony Bartone, Pontiac Firebird, 10.920, 69.31; Tony Pedregon, Monte Carlo, 4.942, 303.23 def. Jeff Arend, Chevy Corvette, 5.017, 305.63; Tim Wilkerson, Monte Carlo, 4.971, 311.77 def. Eric Medlen, Mustang, 5.293, 267.43; Whit Bazemore, Dodge Stratus, 4.941, 314.83 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Monte Carlo, 4.997, 312.93; Gary Scelzi, Stratus, 4.897, 312.28 def. Johnny Gray, Stratus, 11.060, 89.73;
QUARTERFINALS -- Bazemore, 4.896, 312.50 def. T. Pedregon, 5.015, 272.56; C. Pedregon, 4.899, 315.86 def. Wilkerson, 5.023, 299.26; Scelzi, 4.909, 318.99 def. Force, 4.885, 314.90; Densham, 4.920, 317.27 def. Burkart, 4.943, 310.05;
SEMIFINALS -- C. Pedregon, 5.378, 249.30 def. Scelzi, 5.554, 234.09; Densham, 4.934, 315.05 def. Bazemore, 6.220, 173.32;
FINAL -- Densham, 4.890, 317.64 def. C. Pedregon, 6.497, 147.15.
ROUND ONE -- Bruce Allen, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.881, 201.88 def. Steve Johns, Chevy Cavalier, 6.996, 180.26; Kenny Koretsky, Dodge Stratus, 6.836, 201.46 def. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.879, 200.74; Greg Stanfield, Cavalier, 6.893, 201.04 def. Rickie Smith, Cavalier, 6.859, 201.34; Warren Johnson, Grand Am, 6.905, 200.53 def. Jason Line, Grand Am, 6.887, 200.59; Mike Edwards, Grand Am, 6.857, 201.13 def. V. Gaines, Stratus, 6.855, 201.43; Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.845, 202.33 def. Mike Corvo Jr., Stratus, 6.901, 199.94; Greg Anderson, Grand Am, 6.840, 202.06 def. Steve Schmidt, Cavalier, 6.923, 201.19; Jeg Coughlin, Cavalier, 6.823, 202.18 def. Dave Connolly, Cavalier, 6.881, 200.83;
QUARTERFINALS -- Edwards, 6.870, 200.47 def. Stanfield, 6.888, 201.10; Anderson, 6.832, 201.91 def. Allen, 6.875, 201.43; Koretsky, 6.856, 201.91 def. Morgan, foul; Coughlin, 6.852, 201.70 def. W. Johnson, 6.886, 200.68;
SEMIFINALS -- Koretsky, 6.847, 201.34 def. Edwards, 6.851, 201.34; Anderson, 6.838, 202.15 def. Coughlin, 6.866, 201.70;
FINAL -- Anderson, 6.839, 202.09 def. Koretsky, 6.870, 201.37.
PRO STOCK BIKE:
ROUND ONE -- Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.192, 187.42 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.274, 183.52; Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.225, 184.12 def. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 7.303, 181.13; Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.195, 185.49 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.223, 184.45; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.161, 186.46 def. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.288, 182.53; Kurt Matte, Suzuki, 7.334, 182.13 def. Chip Ellis, broke; Antron Brown, Suzuki, 7.210, 185.08 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, foul; Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 7.181, 185.26 def. Josh Helvie, Kawasaki, foul; GT Tonglet, Harley-Davidson, 7.288, 185.33 def. Chip Hunter, Suzuki, 7.330, 181.30;
QUARTERFINALS -- Brown, 7.280, 182.21 def. Treble, 7.337, 179.68; Gann, 7.161, 188.17 def. Matte, 8.101, 124.18; Bostick, 7.289, 181.74 def. Savoie, 7.330, 185.43; Hines, 7.145, 187.96 def. Tonglet, foul;
SEMIFINALS -- Brown, 7.196, 183.99 def. Bostick, 7.316, 183.59; Gann, 7.264, 183.37 def. Hines, 7.268, 183.99;
FINAL -- Brown, 7.213, 185.77 def. Gann, 7.238, 185.74.
SUNDAY - KALITTA, FORCE, ANDERSON AND ELLIS TAKE THE TOP QUALIFYING SPOTS FOR 50TH ANNUAL MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS; DENSHAM BAGS $100,000 FOR SKOAL SHOWDOWN VICTORY
(9-4-2004) - Greg Anderson earned the 13th No. 1 qualifying award of the season and 30th of his career Sunday as racers finished qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Bike) also earned the top qualifying spots in their respective categories at the $2.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. Funny Car's Gary Densham earned a $100,000 bonus for winning the Skoal Showdown bonus event.
Anderson has two victories at Indianapolis, but this was the first time he earned the No. 1 qualifying award in Pro Stock here. Anderson drove his Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.794-second pass at 202.87 mph.
"We need that lucky 13th win to go with this lucky 13th low qualifier," Anderson said. "It'll be exciting. We didn't exactly show 'em up today and I can tell you we've got a lot of work to do tonight to get ready for tomorrow. There are a lot of great cars in the field and that's the way it should be because this is Indy."
Anderson could tie 12-time NHRA POWERade champion Force for the most wins in a season, 13, this weekend.
"My No. 1 priority right now is to get my 13th win of the season right here at Indy," Anderson said. "There's something about this race that makes it so special. It's exciting just to be here and look around at everyone else. There's so much history here and we need to make a little of it tomorrow."
Densham earned a briefcase full of cash by winning the Skoal Showdown, a bonus event for the top eight drivers in qualifying in a calendar year. Densham beat his teammate, Force, to earn the bonus check. Densham drove to a 4.893 run at 316.08 to earn the victory over Force's 5.083 at 270.05 in a battle between two Ford Mustangs.
"I never saw him," Densham said. "I don't have a rear-view mirror in my car. That was a great time. It was just a couple of old friends having a great drag race. Seriously, John's such a great guy to work for, even though he just fired me at the top end. Hey, we knew all the money was going to John Force Racing so we just lined 'em up and raced. John got the money but I got the trophy and that's okay with me.
"This Skoal Showdown win is big to me. This is the best eight cars from the last year and to end up as the winner is really something. I can't describe the feeling but it's very cool."
Densham could earn more cash if he can win the race Monday. NHRA will provide a $50,000 double-up bonus for winning the Skoal Showdown and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
"Anything to do with Indy is special," Densham said. "Just like today, if you give [crew chief] Jimmy Prock enough chances he'll figure things out. Hopefully we can carry this over to tomorrow and really have a big weekend."
Kalitta kept his top qualifying spot with a 4.544-second run at 320.51 mph in the Mac Tools dragster. It's his fourth top qualifier this season and 20th of his career.
"They're running strong over there [in Tony Schumacher's camp] and they had another nice one this evening," Kalitta said. "The thing is there are a lot of good cars here. We had a good run Friday when it was cooler but we've just been mid-pack since then. I'd rather have run a few more big numbers but we didn't so we'll just press on and try to win this thing. It would be a great win for us since all the people from Mac are here."
Force earned the 121st qualifying award of his career and eighth at this track with a pass of 4.749 at 323.12 in his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang. He was the top qualifier for Monday's 16-car elimination round, but he was the runner-up in the bonus race.
"I want a recount," Force said. "Densham beat me in the Showdown. He must be cheating. We were good in the heat but the weather came in and it cooled a little and [Densham's crew chief Jimmy] Prock was loving it. We just overcooked it and he beat us. How can I be upset? Has anyone ever deserved a win more than Gary? I love the guy, even though I had to fire him just now.
"We're happy to get low E.T. of the race. That's important because it means we got more points than anyone else. To me, every single point is critical. They all add up to championships if you do it right."
Ellis rode his S&S/Star Buell to the front of the two-wheel category with a 7.137 at 185.69 in his first NHRA national event appearance.
"I'm not getting too excited about this," Ellis said. "Everyone else has been racing all year and most are involved in some pretty heavy points battles. Not me. I'm just having fun. Like I said yesterday, we're just testing. I mean, this is fun for me. It's what I've always wanted to do. There's just a lot more people watching me than what I'm used to."
Final eliminations kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday.
SUNDAY NOTES - Tire issues continue, Grandpa Force and J.R. Todd getting a ride?
The tire issue continues – Despite new tire designs, the same old problems still exist. In an unofficial count, it has been reported that at least twenty tires have been chunked during the course of the event thus far.
After a strong 4.725 E.T. in today's early round, the Amato Racing team skipped the final qualifying session when one of the rear tires looked suspicious.
"We were happy with the first run," driver Morgan Lucas said. "But then we got back to the pits we found the tires had chunked up and parts of it hit the wing. We had plenty of time to fix it, but we decided skipping the final qualifying session was the best thing to do."
The crew spent the extra time looking over the car and getting
"I'm thankful for the decision that Wayne, Joe and Morgan
Densham Unemployed? - “John’s a great guy to work for, even though he fired me at the other end.” – Gary Densham joked after beating Force in the final round of the Skoal Showdown. This marked the second consecutive time that he’s lost to a teammate in the final round of this event.
The victory also marked the very first round of competition that Densham has won in the event. Force traditionally splits the prize money amongst all the crewmembers on his team.
Psychological Foreplay – “A couple of guys have said we’ve won the championship already. I told them that’s nothing but psychological foreplay.” – Force on preparing for Monday’s eliminations.
Thanks Dad – The monkey of DNQ is now officially removed from the back of Warren Johnson. The bad part of it all is that WJ’s qualifying effort bumped his son Kurt Johnson from the field.
Force versus Anderson – “If I had been in Pro Stock, he wouldn’t have won a race this year.” – Force on Anderson’s bid to break his single-season record win mark at thirteen.
Buell Rules – Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, USMC, back when black and white were the only colors you could get on a television set, had a favorite saying: Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
How aptly this saying applies to the G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell, prepared and owned by G Squared Motorsports and driven by newcomer Chip Ellis.
G Squared Motorsports, owned by George Bryce and George Smith, returned to action at the 50th annual NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals after a four-race hiatus and immediately became the talk of the pit area by qualifying No. 2 on Friday.
After five sessions of qualifying ended at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the Bryce & Smith G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell with Ellis aboard was No.1. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!
“Like I’ve said before, the time off has paid off for us,” said Bryce. “Let me explain what time off is for us. It means we work a lot harder than when we come to the races. We stayed home and did the development work required. The S&S guys came up with some more horsepower. The team at G Squared and Star Racing did a lot of changes to the bike to make it user friendly and tunable, resulting in better performance.”
Silver and Gold – Winning the Skoal Funny Car Showdown was very effective in jogging Gary Densham’s memory banks. He said, “I thought to myself when the 25th anniversary came around, I had better go out there and race in case the sport dried up and went away. I wanted to at least be there. I wasn’t even close to qualifying, but it was a real memory.”
Out in a puff – Both Team Schumacher entries in the Skoal Showdown fell in the first round of the special $100,000-to-win shootout. Gary Scelzi smoked the tires and was eliminated opposite of defending World Champion Tony Pedregon. In the next pair, Whit Bazemore got after it too much and smoked the tires against Tim Wilkerson.
No Team Player – Of the eight participants in the Skoal Funny Car Showdown, Wilkerson is the only driver that is not part of a multi-team effort.
It’s a girl – John Force is very happy that he is gonna be a grandfather very soon – maybe next week. However, don’t expect him to be too eager to teach daughter Adria’s firstborn child how to ride a bike.
As Force so eloquently puts it, “That doctors are trying to induce labor before Wednesday. Get this – he’s got to do it because he’s supposed to participate in a bicycle event. I said to myself, ‘Bazemore is into those bicycles, what’s up with that mess?”
Force also revealed the baby will be a girl.
“Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that the Force’s can’t have a boy.”
It’s getting hot in here – In losing his first round match against John Force, Phil Burkart suffered a serious fire. Burkart was uninjured.
Delayed – The Pro Stock car session was delayed until 3:45 from the initial scheduled time of 11 AM. The change in atmospheric conditions enabled only 3 out of 39 entries to improve.
Happy Birthday Boss – Monday will not only serve as final eliminations for the 50th anniversary NHRA MAC Tools U. S. Nationals, but it also is team owner George Bryce’s 50th birthday.
Has J.R. got a gig? – The word floating
around the pits at I.R.P. is that J.R. Todd will be behind the wheel
of a Funny Car soon. Todd will be a teammate to Frank Pedregon on
his new Underdog Racing gig. The former junior dragster standout
is a former crewmember for Bob Gilbertson and once drove a Top Fuel
dragster for Bruce Litton.
First-round pairings for professional eliminations Monday for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Sunday.
ROUND ONE -- Tony Pedregon, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.152, 284.21 def. Gary Scelzi, Dodge Stratus, 7.713, 110.10; Tim Wilkerson, Monte Carlo, 4.918, 314.39 def. Whit Bazemore, Stratus, 10.548, 73.76; Gary Densham, Ford Mustang, 5.135, 275.79 def. Del Worsham, Monte Carlo, 6.677, 168.20; John Force, Mustang, 4.903, 318.47 def. Phil Burkart, Monte Carlo, 5.523, 209.36;
SEMIFINALS -- Densham, 5.179, 260.11 def. Wilkerson, 11.351, 81.98; Force, 4.875, 316.52 def. Pedregon, 5.028, 264.03;
FINALS -- Densham, 4.893, 316.08 def. Force, 5.083,
SATURDAY - KALITTA, FORCE, ANDERSON AND ELLIS SNAG THE TOP SPOTS DURING SATURDAY QUALIFYING AT MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
(9-3-2004) - John Force drove to the top of the Funny Car category Saturday night as qualifying continued for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Bike) also led qualifying in their respective categories at the $2.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Force went to the top of the Funny Car category with a track record pass of 4.749 seconds at 323.12 mph in his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang.
"I got out of the car and thanked ol' (crew chief) Austin Coil and he said, 'For what,' and I said, 'For making me No. 1 at the biggest race of the year,' " Force said. "For one night we got to make a statement with all the big hitters from the past watching us. Indy goes back to our roots and all the old guys I grew up idolizing are here."
Force took the top spot away from teammate Gary Densham, who was in the No. 1 position after Friday's qualifying.
"We're really communicating well within our team. I was able to talk to [Gary] Densham and [Eric] Medlen before I ran and they told me what to look out for," Force said.
"There's a lot of good teamwork going on. It helped, because
this wasn't just another low E.T. run to me."
Kalitta stayed ahead of the quickest and fastest category in Top Fuel with a 4.544-second run at 320.51 mph in the Mac Tools dragster.
"We had it set for kill in the evening session and it just wouldn't hold it," Kalitta said. "Normally you can feel it coming but this time it just blew the tires right off. We were going for whatever the track would give us but it wasn't feeling that generous.
"Now it's time to see how to get this car down the track in the heat. Play time is over. The opportunities to catch Tony [Schumacher] are starting to run out so we need to make the most of every round. The races we have left are on the good tracks but that's the same for everyone. We've got work to do if we want to win it all but we still have a chance."
Anderson paced the door-slammer field, driving his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.794 pass at 201.88. He has earned 12 event victories this season and can tie Force for the most wins in a season (13) this weekend.
"I wouldn't say our little slump is over but I can tell you that it sure feels good to be back up here [in the media room] as the No. 1 qualifier," Anderson said. "It's Indy and everyone absolutely brings their A game with them. If you wan the pole, you have to earn it and we're not done fighting for it yet. It could certainly change tomorrow."
Anderson has earned two wins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Ellis - participating in his first NHRA national event - rode his S&S Star Buell to the front of the two-wheel category with a 7.137 at 185.69.
"Basically I'm out here testing," Ellis said. "I know that nobody knows me. The guys at S&S have just put together an awesome bike that ran a great number. That's a great team over there. There's a lot of talent on that crew. I only made four runs on that bike before this race and that was a few months ago. We were actually just hoping to qualify.
"There are a lot of heavy hitters in this class and there's still two more qualifying sessions so we won't get too excited. I'll just try to hold on and give this team the pole."
Andrew Hines already earned a paycheck by winning the K&N Filters Pro Stock Bike Klash bonus event for the bikers. Hines beat his teammate, GT Tonglet, in a battle between two Harley-Davidson entries. Hines took home the $15,000 award by riding a 7.203 pass at 186.10, besting Tonglet's 7.270 at 183.99.
"It's an honor to follow in my brother's footsteps and win this event," Hines said of his brother Matt Hines, a three time NHRA champion who now serves as Andrew's crew chief. "He won it four times so I've at least got one on him now. I hope that one day I can reach his stature and accomplish some of the things he did in his career. I look up to Matt so much. It's awesome to do some of the things he's done."
If Hines can win the event on Monday too, he will earn a $10,000 double up bonus from NHRA as well.
"That's a nice paycheck and I thank the people at K&N for all they do," Hines said. "Now we need to double-up and win the race. We figured it out that when Matt doubled-up it was worth $45,000. That would be great for this team."
The longest-running race on the NHRA schedule has five qualifying sessions for all four pro categories. Teams have two more chances to qualify on Sunday before final eliminations kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday.
Results Saturday after qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Sunday for Monday's final eliminations.
Saturday's final results from the 14th annual K&N Filters Pro Bike Klash at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The $36,000 special race within a race at the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park
ROUND ONE -- Antron Brown, Suzuki, 7.175, 185.15 def. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.208, 181.01; GT Tonglet, V-Rod, 7.195, 180.00 def. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.286, 183.69; Angelle Savoie, Suzuki, 11.010, 80.06 def. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, foul; Andrew Hines, V-Rod, 7.194, 180.81 def. Michael Philips, Suzuki, broke;
SEMIFINALS -- Tonglet, 7.364, 171.88 def. Savoie, foul; Hines, 7.190, 181.37 def. Brown, 7.205, 185.15;
FINALS -- Hines, 7.203, 186.10 def. Tonglet, 7.270,
Move Over Valdez...
As you can see at the hit, this Top Alcohol Dragster oildown provided the Safety Safari with quite a challenge. The ensuing clean-up lasted over an hour.
SATURDAY - Let the silly season begin, 5 mm plug wires and Force's memories
Melanie Back? – Word has it that the Top Fuel team to be announced for Sport Compact racer Lisa Kubo will now go to veteran runner Melanie Troxel. This team, which will make their official announcement in Las Vegas in a few months, will be owned by former Pro Modified team owners Ken and Sylvia Westbrook along with television figure Bob Margolis.
This team will actually be a two-vehicle operation that will also feature a Pro Modified entry driven by longtime Westbrook driver Alan Pittman.
Plans call for the team to run the 2005 NHRA POWERade tour.
New Sponsor for 2005? - Sources indicate this is the last season for K&N's sponsorship for the Pro Stock Bike Shootout. Word has it that Ringer's Gloves could be next in line.
That’s a lot – According to NHRA officials, the car count for this weekend’s event is 1,250.
Late Night with Tim Wilkerson - In the day's first qualifying session, Wilkerson was the only Funny Car to run quicker in the heat of the afternoon than he did last night. Even though he improved to a 4.923, it was not enough to move him out of the No. 10 spot.
It was on his late night pass, where Wilkerson ran into some trouble and slowed to a 4.974 at 260.26 mph. As he neared the finish line, the burst panel sailed into the air and Wilkerson experienced a percussion that did heavy damage to the hood and nose of the beautiful Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo. At the end of the session, Wilkerson found himself in the 15th qualifying position.
"Our first pass was a step in the right direction," said Wilkerson. "On the second run it was doing just what we expected. It was trucking right on through there and was going to run a 4.84 or 85. We still don't know what happened to it. We've got one little piece of Teflon missing out of the blower is all we could find. It obviously run down there and got underneath the valve. There's nothing wrong with it, the motor doesn't look like we ran it, which is what it should look like.
"We're working on repairing the body. The guys are going to try and glue her back together tonight so it can cure. And we've got a brand new Monte Carlo back at home and I've already called the guys there and they're going to drag it over here in case we need it."
Man, that’s a fine line – Accel, a brand under the Mr. Gasket umbrella, has a new ignition wire that is supposed to be debuted at this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. However, we happened upon their new unreleased 5 mm wires on display at Indy. The wires are intended to provide the same performance as their larger predecessors while providing the benefit of better flexibility along with taking up less space. As of now, the wires are employing the standard boots, but plans for the future include a downsized boot as well. The initial impact will be made in drag racing, but sources indicate this product will make its way to the streets.
The idea for the wire actually began in the computer industry and has since made its way to the automotive scene through Accel. In a drag racing world that often proclaims that “bigger is better,” the core is actually the same on the 5 mm as it is on the standard size being employed now. The initial testbed was in motorcycles and migrated to Sport Compact. Last week at the IHRA event in Norwalk, Damon Dabbs tested the wire on his 632-inch, 1200 horsepower engine and it ran flawlessly.
Accel is looking ahead and has even hinted this new wire could be tested soon on some Pro Modified nitrous doorslammers. The jury is still out on using them with the blown applications of the doorslammer category.
Plans call for the wire to come in red, black, yellow and blue.
Just like real – Frank Hawley’s two-seater was put into use this weekend providing special rides courtesy of POWERade. This special ride is a 1998 creation from Dave Uyehara and it joins their two-seater Firebird. The intent of this design on the dragster is to provide an even more realistic version than the previous sequential configuration.
“This is very comparable to the real dragsters that run down the track. It even has a steering wheel and that pretty much prevents waving to the crowd as you make a run,” added former Blue Angel crewchief Bob Highlands, who just joined Frank Hawley’s team about four months ago.
Highlands is well-known for arranging Top Fuel legend Shirley Muldowney’s ride with the famous jet exhibition team.
Man, he’s a savage – Denny Savage is happy to be at the 50th anniversary Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. The former nitro Funny Car driver, who boasts having secured the most rides of any driver at 18, is enjoying his time these days behind the wheel of a 10.5” tire car around his Georgia home. His resume puts him one ride ahead of Pat Foster.
Savage formerly drove the Chi-Town Hustler, but is best known for his time behind the wheel of the Power’s Steel car. His last competitive ride came in 1984 when he drove the Joe Pisano entry.
Would Savage drive another nitro flopper if the opportunity presented itself? “You betcha,” he answered.
“This event is awesome…especially when the Fuel Altereds fired up. I can still remember driving one for Tom Topping in 1976.”
Hey, I remember you – John Force prides himself on never forgetting a good deed. Case in point, the winningest professional drag racer in NHRA history made his way to the Fuel Altered display where he ran into one of the class’ more colorful figures in Dave Hough. That quickly jogged his mind to the early-Seventies.
Hough assisted Force in 1972 in setting the mag on the L.A. Hooker Funny Car when the crew hadn’t arrived.
“I never forgot you helping me,” Force said to Hough. “I still don’t know how to set that stuff up. If I can do anything to help you, you let me know.”
As a matter of fact, Hough pointed out to Force that he needed some help with tuning for humid conditions. Force immediately dispatched Bernie Federley, who suggested changing gaskets.
Hough responded, “I never pull the heads on this thing.”
FRIDAY - KALITTA, DENSHAM, LINE AND TONGLET SNAG THE PROVISIONAL TOP SPOTS AT 50TH ANNUAL MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
(9-3-2004) - Doug Kalitta paced the Top Fuel class Friday as qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals kicked off its golden anniversary celebration at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Gary Densham (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and GT Tonglet (Pro Stock Bike) also led qualifying in their respective categories at the $2.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Kalitta earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying award in Top Fuel with a 4.544-second run at 320.51 mph in the Mac Tools dragster.
Kalitta has been the No. 1 qualifier three times this season and is looking to be the top qualifier for his sponsor's race.
"It's great to be here at Mac's biggest race and see my car on all the flags," Kalitta said. "But it's even better to get a good lap in right from the start and get away from the bump spot. I'm not going to let the fact that this is a Mac race put any extra pressure on me. I'm just going to race like we normally do and hope we can get some luck, or at least a little consistency, on race day so we can get a win.
"The guys are definitely on a roll. They've found something that's working really well for us and it's showing with our performances on the race track. That was a good start for us and we hope to continue with a memorable weekend."
The longest-running race on the NHRA schedule has five qualifying sessions for all four pro categories. Teams have two sessions on Saturday and two on Sunday before final eliminations kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday.
Densham went to the top of the Funny Car category with a pass of 4.795 at 320.28 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang.
Densham has yet to earn a victory at the famed U.S. Nationals.
"Every Indy is special but the 50th is really something," Densham said. "I don't think I've ever been so nervous before a first round of qualifying before. You just look around this place and feel all the history. Then you see the crowd and it all hits you that you're racing at Indy.
"I clearly remember the 25th anniversary of this race and at that point I had never been east of Denver. I did all my racing on the West Coast. But I thought I'd better go to Indy because I was sure they'd be getting rid of drag racing real soon. I figured people would get tired of these stinky, loud hot rods. Now we're here for the 50th anniversary and I'm No. 1, at least for now. Our sport didn't dry up and blow away after all."
Line drove his KB Framers Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.810 pass at 201.64 to pace the Pro Stock category.
Teammates with current points leader Greg Anderson, Line is looking to earn his first professional win at Indy. He is second in the point standings with three victories so far this season. Line and Anderson faced each other during the first qualifying session.
"That's only the second time ever that the win light has come on in my lane when Greg was in the other lane," Line said. "The other time was in the final at Chicago when he red-lit and I won. I couldn't believe my eyes. I had to look over a few times to make sure I wasn't seeing things.
"My win in Memphis has been a real big boost for me mentally. I have the same equipment as Greg but I wasn't driving as well. We switched back to my old car and I won. I doubt there was anything wrong with the newer car I'd been driving but drivers are head cases and I just felt like I couldn't drive it right. The crew guys are teasing me and saying they'll have to bury me in this car one day."
Tonglet rode his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to a 7.193 run at 186.92. Tonglet has earned one top qualifier in his career - the top spot at Denver in 2003. He's not only looking to keep his top position, but he wants to win the K&N Filters Pro Bike Klash, the bonus event for the two-wheel category.
"It makes the whole weekend so much easier when you come right out of the box and everything is together and working right," Tonglet said. "It's a big mental advantage. That wasn't a perfect run by any means but it's a good start and now we can work on tomorrow's K&N Klash and trying to win that race for Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson.
"Everyone's gunning for (teammate) Andrew because he's No. 1 in the points but we are a two-bike team. I'd love to be the low qualifier here at Indy. This is the biggest race of the year."
Results Friday after qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park, 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
FRIDAY - Jeg Coughlin, Jr. wins HEMI Shootout
(9-3-2004) - Jeg Coughlin's quest to collect three trophies at the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is off to a great start after his big victory in the prestigious Mopar Performance Parts Super Stock Hemi Challenge. Coughlin took care of class veteran Rick Houser in the finals by just one-hundredth of a second.
Piloting Michael Ogburn and Harry Holton's record-setting West Coast Hemis 1968 Plymouth Barracuda, Coughlin posted the quickest pass of all five elimination rounds en route to his win. In the final round, Coughlin caught and passed Houser, taking the stripe in 8.790 seconds at 149.80 mph to Houser's 8.807 at 149.51 mph.
"The final was close," said Coughlin, who has seven national event wins in Super Stock. "He was ahead at the start the first time I peeked over and he was still ahead the next time I looked at about 330 foot. But once Harry's horsepower started kicking in I could just feel the car creep up on him. Then we passed him and got to that stripe first.
"It was extremely exciting to roll around the corner at the top end and see all of those lights and cameras pointing at me. I really liked seeing that big check also. It's a really cool deal to win the first trophy handed out this weekend. This is the biggest race of the year and the fact it's the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Nationals makes it even more special. I'm very, very proud of this win.
"I feel like my driving was all over the place today. Having the quickest and fastest car in the country puts a lot of pressure on the driver. Fortunately, the car was fast enough to keep me out of trouble."
FRIDAY NOTES - All in the family, Jeggie wins big and Last call for Alcohol as we know it?
Gee thanks Cuz – Doug Kalitta decided it was best to keep the provisional top spot in the family. However, his bid to snag the top spot came at the expense of his cousin Scott. Scott had earned the top spot with a 4.573, 318.99, but just two pairs later Doug made his mark with a 4.544, 320.51. Ironically, his run came alongside of point leader Tony Schumacher, a driver that Kalitta is battling for the Top Fuel Crown.
Ohhhh Barracuda – Jeg Coughlin, Jr., had all the right moves as he pocketed $10,000 in defeating Rick Houser to win the Mopar Hemi Challenge on Friday.
The two-time U.S. Nationals winner (1995, 2001) blasted his Dick LaHaie-tuned rail to the 4.608, 315.19 performance on his opening qualifying attempt at the 50th running of drag racing’s premier event.
“It was a pretty nice run,” Dixon said. “That’s the best run we’ve made on 85-percent nitro(methane). It’s only one run, but it appears we’ve gotten things corrected with our blower belt problems. We’re solidly in the field and hopefully we can come out tomorrow night and improve our position.”
Preparation G-Squared – They’ve done their homework and it shows.
G Squared Motorsports, owned by George Bryce and George Smith, returned to action at the 50th annual NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with a new rider, Chip Ellis and immediately got the attention of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Ellis, in his debut race aboard the G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell and first-ever NHRA race, cruised the Indianapolis Raceway Park quarter-mile in 7.201 seconds at 184.27, good for No. 2 after the first of five qualifying sessions. Ellis finished just eight thousandths of a second behind the top spot.
“We wanted to make sure we were ready,” said Bryce. “We sat out four races while we worked closely with S&S to make changes that were needed on the motorcycle and to develop more horsepower. Tonight we were ready.
“Todd Olson and the boys at S&S, along with our new driver Chip Ellis and the gang back at the shop did an incredible job to prepare this bike to perform like it did tonight. It was a great comeback.”
“This is my first race on the G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell,” recounted Ellis after the run. “No one was expecting anything out of me and I think we sort of caught them by surprise. To lay one down like that, right off the truck, was awesome. And the best part is that I think we have more for them tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s a better day – Ron Capps, a three-time Skoal Showdown (1998, '99, 2002) winner fell short of making the show in his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte.
“We ran pretty well during testing here at I.R.P. last week,” Capps said. “We’ve got a good baseline and I’m confident that Roland (Leong), Todd (Okuhara) and the gang will get the car where it needs to be on Saturday.”
Nothing Blue about Friday – On the other hand, Tommy Johnson Jr. powered the blue Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte Carlo to the No. 9 qualifying spot Friday at Indianapolis Raceway Park after clocking an opening performance of 4.879 seconds at 316.60 mph.
The five-time NHRA winner used a tune-up from crew chief Mike Green to record the 4.879, 316.60 effort on the first of five scheduled qualifying attempts at drag racing’s ‘Super Bowl’ event, the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
“I’m extremely pleased with the run” Johnson said. “We’d like to be No. 1, but I’m really happy with that pass. That guarantees that we’re in the show. It’s so important to make a good pass on your first qualifying run. Now, we can stand on it on Saturday night.”
THURSDAY - Sportsman Qualifying Results
Order after one round of qualifying in Top Alcohol Dragster at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals:
Psn---Num-Driver, Home Town, Car Type---------------Qual-ET--Qual-Spd-Top Spd
1 7321 A/FD Ashley Force, Yorba Linda CA, McKinney-B 5.343 265.17
------------ Not Qualified ------------
17 39 B/AD Jared Dreher, Clinton IN, Burgan-BAE 10.465 78.31 78.31
Order after one round of qualifying in Top Alcohol Funny Car at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals:
Psn---Num-Driver, Home Town, Car Type---------------Qual-ET--Qual-Spd-Top Spd
1 1 Frank Manzo, Morganville NJ, '03 Avenger 5.637 258.86 258.86
------------ Not Qualified ------------
17 7 Chuck Cheeseman, Galena OH, '01 Firebird 8.369 108.61 108.61
Order after 2 rounds of qualifying in Competition Eliminator at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals:
Psn--Num--Class-Driver, Home Town, Machine-----------------ET---Index---(+/-)
1 15 F/D Al Ackerman, Saddle Brook NJ, ProStart-Che 8.069 8.77
Order after 4 rounds of qualifying in Stock Eliminator at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals:
Psn--Num--Class-Driver, Home Town, Machine-----------------ET---Index---(+/-)
1 3383 T/SA Larry Hill, Hickory KY, '86 C-10 13.072 14.70 -1.628
For complete results, visit DragRaceCentral.com.
THURSDAY - COUNTRY MUSIC SUPERSTAR CLAY WALKER TO SING NATIONAL ANTHEM IN HONOR OF RUSSELL AT 50TH MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS
(9-2-2004) -- Country music superstar Clay Walker will honor Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell with the singing of the national anthem Labor Day morning during pre-race ceremonies for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Prior to becoming a professional racecar driver, Russell, who lost his life in a tragic, high-speed accident two months ago in St. Louis, served as Walker's tour manager for several months.
"I feel a great person like Darrell deserves every accolade," Walker said. "I remember the man as a champion in life and if I can voice that to everyone at the race and watching on television then I will have really accomplished something."
Walker and Russell met through their wives, Lori and Julie, who both compete on the show horse circuit. A few years ago, when Walker's manager left for personal reasons midway through a tour, Walker reached out to Russell and asked him to fill-in for the remainder of the tour. Russell readily agreed and their friendship was solidified as they spent numerous days together on the road.
"It seems like we spent years with each other because we became very close in a very short amount of time," Walker said. "It was a big decision that needed to be made because the previous tour manager had been with me for a long time. But as soon as I thought about Darrell the decision became a no-brainer because he was the perfect person for the job.
"Darrell was always very detail-oriented and meticulous in everything he did. I knew whatever he handled for me would be done right. The same things that made him a champion drag racer made him an excellent tour manager for me. I feel privileged to have had him around as my manager and a friend. He was very special."
With a whopping four platinum and two gold albums to his credit, Walker is one of the most successful country singers of all-time. He's topped the Billboard charts 11 times with No. 1 hits like “Live Until I Die,” “If I Could Make A Living,” “This Woman And This Man,” “Then What,” and most recently, “Chain Of Love.”
His hit “Live Until I Die” was played during Russell's funeral in Tomball, Texas, before an estimated 2,000 mourners, including many of the top names in drag racing.
"I continue to be amazed at the impact Darrell had on so many people from so many different walks of life," Russell's widow Julie said. "It's such a thrill and an honor that Clay and his band are taking time out of their current tour and flying to Indy to sing the national anthem. I'm touched beyond words.”
"Darrell really enjoyed his time with Clay," Julie said. "He got to see so many places across the country and he was really interested in how the music industry works. It was a lot of hard work but they really enjoyed themselves. Clay loves to play golf so they played some of the best courses in the U.S. in between tour stops. Darrell would always call home and say, 'You'll never believe where we went today.' They had fun together."
A native Texan, like Russell, Walker is one of a small handful of country singers to have musical pieces included on Billboard's year-end Top 10 country list for five consecutive years. Each year Walker is listed as one of the top 10-grossing touring acts in the music industry.
Russell had asked Walker to sing the national anthem at the U.S. Nationals prior to his death. Walker had agreed and he never wavered on keeping his commitment.
"Darrell asked me about this some time ago and I was very excited to go to my first drag race and watch him win," Walker said. "It certainly won't be the same without him there, but it will all be in his honor.
"I'm excited about seeing my first race live. I've watched Darrell many times on ESPN and I did attend a NASCAR race once, but Darrell was always quick to point out that there's nothing like watching a pair of Top Fuel cars take off from the starting line. I can't imagine what it will be like."
Julie Russell, together with Darrell's parents, Burnell and Gwen, brothers Ronnie and Chris, and close family friends Bob and Pat Haygood and David Powers, are attending the U.S. Nationals and will be on hand at the starting line when Walker sings the national anthem.
"We've all had an interwoven friendship with Darrell's family from the start," Walker said. "We love to show horses with them and we've always considered them great friends. I look forward to seeing everyone again this weekend in Indy."
WEDNESDAY - CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS DECLARES AUG. 30-SEPT. 6 AS NHRA MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS WEEK
(9-1-2004) - As part of the ongoing 50th anniversary celebration for the historic Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race, the city of Indianapolis has proclaimed the week of Aug. 30-Sept. 6, 2004 as “NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Week,” it was announced Wednesday by city officials during a press conference at Monument Circle.
The $2.6 million ‘Super Bowl’ of drag racing takes place at nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park, Sept. 1-6. It is the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series for 2004 and will be showcased nationwide during the weekend by ESPN’s family of networks, set to air more than 10 hours of coverage of the high-horsepower tradition on ESPN and ESPN2.
As NHRA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the showcase of speed and high performance continues. More than 1,000 competitors in 12 different racing categories are expected to perform in front of a standing-room only crowd during this weekend’s much-anticipated event at IRP.
Beth White, public access counselor and director of constituent services for the City of Indianapolis presented NHRA President Tom Compton with the proclamation during the official press conference to kick-off the weekend’s racing festivities.
“Drag racing has been a great success across the country, but everyone knows that the heart and soul of all motorsports is right here in the ‘Racing Capital of the World,’” White said. “The City of Indianapolis is extremely proud to take part in the celebration of the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals by offering this well deserved proclamation and we look forward to many more years of exciting and successful NHRA Drag Racing at Indianapolis Raceway Park.”
In 1955 NHRA held the first U.S. Nationals in Great Bend, Kan., which boasted a competitive field of more than 200 cars. That event moved to Kansas City in 1956; on to Oklahoma City from 1957 to ‘58; and finally to Detroit for two more years (1959-‘60) before settling permanently in Indianapolis in 1961. Since then, the IRP quarter-mile drag strip has played host to many memorable moments in the sport, and the legend of the facility has grown. Today, a victory here is the ultimate achievement for any drag racer.
“This is truly a very special day for NHRA, Indianapolis Raceway Park, the city of Indianapolis and the sport of drag racing,” Compton said. “We’re proud to call Indianapolis home to our most prestigious and historic event. The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals has given drag racing fans many thrilling and memorable moments during the last 49 years and as we celebrate our 50th anniversary of this spectacular event, we look forward to the next 50 years of the event with great anticipation. We’re very appreciative of the overwhelming support we’ve received from the City of Indianapolis since moving the event here in 1961. We look forward to a great partnership with the city for many years to come.”
'GOLDEN 50' RACE CARS TO BE ON DISPLAY AT HISTORIC MAC TOOLS U.S.
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