Thursday, February 28, 2013


Veteran NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chip Ellis will ride Jerry Savoie's White Alligator Racing Suzuki at the first two events of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series while Savoie continues to recover from minor surgery during the off-season.

They also announced a partnership with Vance & Hines, which will provide power for the WAR Suzuki in 2013. Ellis will ride the WAR Suzuki as a stand-in for Savoie at the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville – the Pro Stock Motorcycle season opener – and again at the next race on the schedule, the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle in Charlotte. "I'm feeling fine, and I'm definitely on the road to recovery, but the doctors recommended that I don't jump right back on the motorcycle," said Savoie, who underwent surgery to eliminate bone spurs in his neck. "It's tough for me to sit still for too long, but I'm going to respect their wishes so that I can be 100 percent when it's time for me to get back on the bike.

In the meantime, we feel that Chip was the right choice for us as a fill-in rider, and he's a friend of ours. I think he'll do a great job, and he has a lot of experience with the Vance & Hines product. We know he'll be an asset to our team, and we appreciate him coming onboard for Gainesville and Charlotte." For more on this story, please visit 


Uni-Select USA and its Auto-Plus network of automotive retail stores have acquired title-rights sponsorship of the inaugural event at New England Dragway in Epping. The Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals is scheduled for June 20-23 and represents the first event in the New England area for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. “We are extremely pleased to announce the expansion of our partnership with NHRA,” said Brent Windom, Uni-Select senior vice president, sales and marketing. “Our growth in participation with NHRA saw more than 5,500 customers attend our events last year.

We are excited to be an integral part of bringing NHRA Drag Racing to the New England market.” Uni-Select USA and its Auto-Plus brand also serves as title-rights sponsor of the 29th annual Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals, Oct. 3-6, at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading. In addition, the company holds naming rights to historic Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. Auto-Plus is also the official auto-parts store of Atlanta Dragway, an NHRA-owned and -operated facility, as well as Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk. “We’re thrilled to bring the excitement and power of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing to New England and to have a great partner like Auto-Plus on the inaugural event,” said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Advance sales for the event continue to be extremely strong, and we look forward to working with Auto-Plus to create a memorable event for NHRA fans in the region.”

Tickets for the inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals are on sale now through or by calling 800-884-NHRA (6472). For group tickets and camping, call 603-679-8001. “Uni-Select and its Auto-Plus network is the industry’s gold standard,” said Joe Lombardo, New England Dragway general manager. “This partnership makes them an integral part of NHRA history in the New England marketplace.” 


The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to historic Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville March 14-17 for the 44th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, the third of 24 races in the 2013 season.

The history and rich traditions at the annual East Coast opener have long made this race a strong draw for fans across the country, and for many, the Gators is a spring-break destination. And with kids 12 and younger admitted free with a paid adult, the event is a can’t-miss family attraction for NHRA fans. 

The Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, which will be telecast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, will also feature the season-debut of the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Riders will be looking to knock defending series champion Eddie Krawiec off his title perch. Last year, Krawiec and his Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle teammate, Andrew Hines, dominated the two-wheel category by winning 15 of the 16 events contested during the season. 

This event has long been one of the premier stops on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, and a win in the Sunshine State is a huge feather in the cap for any racer. The roster of past winners reads like a who’s who of drag racing: Joe Amato (Top Fuel), Warren Johnson (Pro Stock), John Force (Funny Car) and the late Dave Schultz (Pro Stock Motorcycle) lead their categories in wins, and numerous national records have been set at the venerable facility. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel, pictured above), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Krawiec added their names to the history book with event wins in 2012.

To purchase tickets call (800) 884-NHRA or visit online. For more information about the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals, please visit

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Detroit AutoRama News: Pfaff Designs Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Announcing the Pfaff Designs 10th Anniversary Celebration Presented by Flowmaster

Noted hot rod and concept car designer Murray Pfaff is excited to announce that his firm, Pfaff Designs, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. To salute the occasion, Murray and friends are throwing a little party: the Pfaff Designs 10th Anniversary Celebration Presented by Flowmaster, to be held at the 2013 Detroit Autorama this coming March 8-10.

Murray’s career got an early boost when he designed the G-Force Pontiac GTO for Hot Rod Magazine. From a whole field of leading rod stylists, readers voted his design their favorite and the car was featured on the Hot Rod Power Tour. Since then Murray has gone on to design many top rods in the industry, including concepts for the King himself, Richard Petty. And then there’s Murray’s own famed creation, the fabulous Imperial Speedster, which has been featured in major publications and car shows across the country.

Detroit Autorama veterans, Murray and Pfaff Designs will have a very special exhibit on the floor at Cobo Center this year, thanks to presenting sponsor Flowmaster, the Exhaust Technology Company. Vehicles from the Pfaff Design family confirmed for the one-of-a-kind display include: Boost, Randy Weaver’s 1950 Chevrolet Speedster; the twin turbo Full Force Trans Am from Schwartz Performance; and Mayhem, the Optima Challenge-winning ‘67 Camaro prepped and raced by Pro Touring guru Mark Stielow.

Along with presenting sponsor Flowmaster, event partners include Pilot Transport, Painless Performance, Optima Batteries, National Parts Depot, AirLift Performance, PPG, and Nitto Tires. Murray plans to catch up with all his old friends at the Autorama and hopefully, meet many more new ones. “In these past ten years, we’ve done over 300 designs and counting,” he says. “All along the way I have met great people who embody the hot rodding spirit and truly make my work a dream job.”

Monday, February 25, 2013


Tony Schumacher won a wild tire-smoking final round against Morgan Lucas Sunday to claim the Top Fuel victory at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) also were winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near Phoenix.

Schumacher raced to his 70th career victory and fourth at FIR when he was able to get his 8,000-horsepower U.S. Army dragster under control and finish just in front of Lucas’ charging GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. Both dragsters lost traction early in the side-by-side race and both drivers were on and off the throttle as they navigated the dragstrip.

“When you can win ugly like that it is so much fun,” said Schumacher, who beat Sidnei Frigo, Khalid alBalooshi and Antron Brown in earlier rounds. “Both cars were set up to run really fast and we both lost it and smoked the tires. It was lift, pedal, lift, pedal all the way down. I could hear Morgan beside me the whole time. As a driver that kind of race is so much fun and I enjoy winning like that more than a record run.”

It was the fourth consecutive final round appearance for Schumacher dating back to last season and he moves into the series points lead with the victory.

“Four finals in a row, it’s unbelievable that our team is that good,” Schumacher said. “Win number 70. I like that number. I was stuck on 69 for a long time.”

In Funny Car, Capps earned his 39th career victory and third at this event, outrunning Matt Hagan in the final round. Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to a 4.064 at 314.90 to finish in front of Hagan’s Mopar/Rocky Footwear Charger, which trailed with a 4.158 at 300.33.

Capps reeled off a series of quick runs in the mid 4.0 second range in early round wins over Tony and Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson. His machine was just as quick in the final round over Hagan.

“This new car really likes to be planted early, and so [crew chief] Rahn Tobler has been working on a new clutch package,” Capps said. “In (the final qualifying session) yesterday, we finally found out what it really liked. And when you give Tobler a new combination, he’s going to ‘bracket car’ it to death.”

With the victory Capps moves into the series points lead. With back-to-back final rounds to open the season, Capps says his NAPA team is picking up right where it left off last season.

“We are starting to feel like we are getting into the same rhythm that we were last year when we went to six finals in a row,” Capps said. “I think that both Rahn and I built up some confidence in each other [with our runner-up] at Pomona, and now here.”

Enders-Stevens outran top qualifier Mike Edwards in the Pro Stock final round to earn her fifth career victory. She used a quicker reaction time in her GK Racing Chevy Cobalt to take the win from Edwards in his Interstate Batteries / I Am Second Chevy Camaro. Enders-Stevens finished in 6.538 at 211.99, just in front of Edwards’ quicker but losing performance of 6.520 at 213.74.

“Coming off the season we had last year, and starting the way that we did this year, it was a kind of a gut check in that we wonder if we can ever get it done again,” Enders-Stevens said. “Our guys really worked their butts off during the winter, but we didn’t get the chance to test a lot. And I was a little bit nervous coming into this year because the other big teams got to test a lot. But our guys proved that they can pick up where they left off, and I’m excited.”

Enders, who moved to second in the points standings with the win, defeated Shane Gray, V. Gaines and Jason Line in the first three rounds and won from the No. 7 qualifying position.

“My crew chief, Dave Connolly, reminded me that every time that Jimmie Johnson wins, we win,” Enders-Stevens said with a smile. “And he told me that Jimmie won today’s Daytona 500 prior to the final. So needless to say, we’re going to be cheering for Jimmie all year.”
Following Courtney Force’s Funny Car win at Pomona, Calif. last weekend, this is the first time in NHRA history that two female drivers have won races in back-to-back events to open a season.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues March 14-17 with the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville (Fla.).

* * *

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Final finish order (1-16) at the 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.  The race is the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL: 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Morgan Lucas; 3.  Antron Brown; 4.  Spencer Massey; 5.  Larry Dixon; 6. Khalid alBalooshi; 7.  Leah Pruett; 8.  David Grubnic; 9.  Doug Kalitta; 10.  Clay Millican; 11.
Terry McMillen; 12.  Brandon Bernstein; 13.  Shawn Langdon; 14.  Brittany Force; 15.  Sidnei Frigo; 16.  Bob Vandergriff.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Matt Hagan; 3.  John Force; 4.  Tim Wilkerson; 5.  Bob Tasca III; 6.  Robert Hight; 7.  Cruz Pedregon; 8.  Todd Lesenko; 9.  Tony Pedregon; 10.  Alexis DeJoria; 11.  Phil Burkart; 12.  Del Worsham; 13.  Jack Beckman; 14.  Courtney Force; 15.  Jeff Arend; 16.  Johnny Gray.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 2.  Mike Edwards; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Greg Anderson; 5.  Allen Johnson; 6.  V. Gaines; 7.  Jeg Coughlin; 8.  Vincent Nobile; 9.  Chris McGaha; 10.  Steve Kent; 11.  Matt Hartford; 12.  Deric Kramer; 13.  Shane Gray; 14.  Larry Morgan; 15.  Greg Stanfield; 16.  Rodger Brogdon.

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Sunday's final results from the 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. The race is the second of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel -- Tony Schumacher, 4.606 seconds, 213.20 mph  def. Morgan Lucas, 4.652 seconds, 258.67 mph.

Funny Car -- Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.064, 314.90  def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.158, 300.33.

Pro Stock -- Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Cobalt, 6.538, 211.99  def. Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.520, 213.74.

Super Stock -- Harry Doolittle, Pontiac Firebird, 12.069, 109.67  def. Mike Graham, Ford Mustang, 10.265, 129.74.

Stock Eliminator -- Zack Torres, Chevy Camaro, 11.622, 110.88  def. Matthew Hawk, Ford Mustang, 12.367, 100.56.

Super Comp -- Jack DeRencin, Dragster, 8.905, 164.47  def. Jim Berry, Dragster, 8.924, 166.89.

Super Gas -- Brad Pierce, Chevy Corvette, 9.899, 141.34  def. Russ Ginger, Dodge Aspen, 9.857, 161.21.

Super Street -- Kevin Kleineweber, Chevy Lumina, 11.001, 143.26  def. Ryan Giacone, Ford Thunderbird, 11.127, 119.57.

Top Dragster -- Chuck Hawk, Dragster, 6.914, 197.16  def. Moe Trujillo, Dragster, foul.

Top Sportsman -- JR Lobner, Chevy S-10, 7.457, 184.22  def. Ted Carli, Chevy Cobalt, 6.682, 207.75.

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Final round-by-round results from the 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE -- Leah Pruett, 4.522, 234.25 def. Shawn Langdon, 5.466, 144.30; Morgan Lucas, 4.074, 211.99 def. Clay Millican, 4.073, 256.89; David Grubnic, 5.580, 198.38 def. Brittany Force, 5.851, 115.95; Antron Brown, 3.798, 321.96 def. Terry McMillen, 4.752, 156.15; Spencer Massey, 3.774, 326.00 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.756, 329.67; Tony Schumacher, 3.806, 313.80 def. Sidnei Frigo, 9.965, 80.81; Khalid alBalooshi, 3.770, 325.85 def. Bob Vandergriff, broke; Larry Dixon, 4.942, 283.13 def. Brandon Bernstein, 4.991, 168.66;

QUARTERFINALS -- Lucas, 3.773, 327.43 def. Grubnic, 9.378, 62.38; Brown, 3.786, 307.93 def. Pruett, 7.773, 81.33; Massey, 3.750, 324.05 def. Dixon, 5.151, 149.03; Schumacher, 3.747, 329.91 def. alBalooshi, 5.172, 154.78;

SEMIFINALS -- Lucas, 3.860, 316.08 def. Massey, 5.137, 141.82; Schumacher, 3.765, 327.82 def. Brown, 3.752, 325.45;

FINAL -- Schumacher, 4.606, 213.20 def. Lucas, 4.652, 258.67.


ROUND ONE -- Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.061, 313.51 def. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.097, 299.06; Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 5.703, 150.77 def. Johnny Gray, Charger, DQ; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.078, 310.27 def. Phil Burkart, Chevy Impala, 4.389, 285.47; Todd Lesenko, Charger, 5.206, 191.92 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 11.228, 46.83; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.094, 289.76 def.
Jeff Arend, Charger, 12.595, 66.51; John Force, Mustang, 4.047, 316.82 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.164, 305.22; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.336, 221.78 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 6.342, 111.57; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.252, 245.94 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 5.295, 165.07;

QUARTERFINALS -- Capps, 4.059, 310.55 def. C. Pedregon, DQ; Hagan, 4.259, 254.76 def. Tasca III, 6.845, 97.60; J. Force, 8.107, 74.04 def. Lesenko, broke; Wilkerson, 4.102, 309.06 def. Hight, 6.937, 97.81;

SEMIFINALS -- Capps, 4.037, 316.67 def. Wilkerson, 10.942, 85.73; Hagan, 4.049, 311.13 def. J. Force, 4.105, 315.56;

FINAL -- Capps, 4.064, 314.90 def. Hagan, 4.158, 300.33.


ROUND ONE -- Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 8.750, 109.09 def. Greg Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, foul; Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Cobalt, 6.561, 212.39 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.652, 188.44; Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.537, 212.49 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 17.529, 46.85; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.543, 212.63 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.608, 210.73; V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.564, 212.06 def.
Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.713, 182.85; Mike Edwards, Camaro, 6.541, 212.83 def. Steve Kent, Pontiac GXP, 6.592, 210.21; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.554, 212.83 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 6.609, 209.79; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.540, 212.79 def. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.576, 211.36;

QUARTERFINALS -- Enders-Stevens, 6.553, 212.79 def. Gaines, 6.553, 211.83; Edwards, 6.505, 213.77 def. Nobile, 6.582, 210.73; Anderson, 6.556, 211.96 def. A. Johnson, 6.549, 212.53; Line, 6.538, 212.76 def. Coughlin, 6.581, 212.59;

SEMIFINALS -- Enders-Stevens, 6.563, 212.19 def. Line, 6.619, 212.76; Edwards, 6.522, 213.50 def. Anderson, 7.552, 132.32;

FINAL -- Enders-Stevens, 6.538, 211.99 def. Edwards, 6.520, 213.74.

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel

1.  Tony Schumacher, 228; 2.  Shawn Langdon, 149; 3.  Antron Brown, 148; 4.  Khalid alBalooshi, 131; 5.  Morgan Lucas, 124; 6.  David Grubnic, 112; 7.  Doug Kalitta, 103; 8.  Spencer Massey, 100; 9.  Brandon Bernstein, 93; 10.  Larry Dixon, 86.

Funny Car

1.  Ron Capps, 210; 2.  Courtney Force, 165; 3.  Matt Hagan, 151; 4.  Bob Tasca III, 124; 5. Johnny Gray, 122; 6.  Cruz Pedregon, 117; 7.  (tie) John Force, 106; Tim Wilkerson, 106; 9.  Todd Lesenko, 102; 10.  Robert Hight, 83.

Pro Stock

1.  Vincent Nobile, 171; 2.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 155; 3.  Mike Edwards, 153; 4.  Jeg Coughlin, 149; 5.  V. Gaines, 142; 6.  Jason Line, 119; 7.  (tie) Greg Anderson, 109; Allen Johnson, 109; 9. Greg Stanfield, 104; 10.  (tie) Shane Gray, 83. Chris McGaha, 83.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Last-minute surge earns Morgan a coveted spot in Firebird field

The Pro Stock national title will likely not be settled until November but for Lucas Oil/MAVTV driver Larry Morgan, Saturday's racing at Firebird International Raceway felt like a championship battle.

Morgan was No. 18 and out of Sunday's eliminations field after three rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Arizona Nationals before recording a solid pass in the final session to qualify for his first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event of the season.

"It was like we won the championship," Morgan said. "That's how important that run was to all of us."

Morgan's Q4 pass, a 6.633 at 209.10 mph, placed his Ford Mustang No. 15 in the field.

"We've had so many problems with ignition boxes and a little bit of everything," Morgan said. "We couldn't figure out where we were at and the clutch and the track went away. We really had a tough time but we got lucky and hit everything right in the last session."

In Sunday's first round of eliminations, Morgan will face good friend Vieri Gaines, who qualified No. 2 with a 6.529 at 212.63 mph.

"I'm just real pleased for everybody who worked their butts off here," Morgan said. "Everybody stuck with it and we put our heads together and made it happen."

Morgan's struggles date back to the first race of the season last weekend in Pomona, Calif. After testing well in Florida, his car began developing mysterious engine issues and he failed to qualify for the season-opening race.

"We went testing and went extremely fast," Morgan said. "We knew we were OK. Then we started tearing up engines and we thought, 'What in the world is going on here?' We found out the ignition box was adding two degrees (of timing) instead of taking it out and we were just burning them up. That's all it was.

"We ended up chasing stuff we didn't have any business chasing and it got us behind. We at least have a direction to go now."

Morgan has enjoyed recent success racing higher-qualified drivers. Of his 11 round victories a year ago, five were on holeshots over favored opponents.

"I look forward to tomorrow," Morgan said.


Doug Kalitta raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Saturday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near Phoenix.

Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster to a track record performance of 3.733 seconds at 329.02 mph to take his 32nd No. 1 of his career and second at this event.

He will face Spencer Massey in the opening round of eliminations as he tries to give team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta a victory on his 75th birthday.

“It would be awesome to win tomorrow,” Kalitta said. “He’s 75 and doing great. He’s been here for so many years and just loves it out here. It would be awesome to see if we could pull it off.”

Kalitta has had success on Sunday at this event in the past as he has one win in three final rounds here. Although he has 32 career victories, he is looking to end a winless drought that dates back to July 2010.

“I’m not going to try and pay any attention to anything except my lane and that light,” Kalitta said. “There’s a bunch of good running cars out here. All the rounds are tough, and anybody who makes the top 16 can win.”

Defending Top Fuel event winner Antron Brown qualified second in his Matco Tools dragster and will open eliminations against Amalie Oil dragster driver Terry McMillen, while U.S. Army dragster driver Tony Schumacher will try to add to his three career victories at this event when he faces rookie driver Sidnei Frigo in the first round.

In Funny Car, Gray earned his fourth No. 1 of his career and second in a row at this event, as no one improved on his Friday run of 4.034 at 313.80 in his Pitch Energy Dodge Charger.

“We wanted to run both [of today’s qualifying runs] real good,” said Gray, who will race defending event winner Robert Hight in the first round. “We made just a spectacular run this morning [4.04]. It was ‘stupid fast’ for the session. But we had some things go wrong with the car on the second run, and the track got better than the car. But you learn something every time you go to the starting line, and we feel really, really confident going into tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe I can get this win off of my ‘bucket list’.”

Matt Hagan qualified second in his Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger and will race Plueger Racing Chevy driver Phil Burkart in the opening round while No. 3 qualifier Courtney Force, who won the season-opener in Pomona, Calif. last weekend and is the current category points leader in her Traxxas Ford Mustang, will face Todd Lesenko in his Canadian Tribute/Worsham Racing Dodge Charger.

In Pro Stock, Edwards claimed his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 43rd of his career with his Friday track record performance of 6.498 seconds at 213.13 mph in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro. He will face Steve Kent in the opening round of eliminations.

“We tried some different things today, like a different engine, to see if we could improve,” said Edwards of his fifth consecutive No. 1 at this event and sixth overall. “We’ll put it all back to the way we had it yesterday [Friday] and we should be able to run like we did earlier. The conditions were a little bit different today. The track got a little bit hotter. But I still feel like we could have run pretty close to yesterday’s times if we had the same set-up. We always run good here. I never know exactly why.”

V. Gaines will start second in his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger and face Lucas Oil Ford Mustang driver Larry Morgan, while defending event winner Jason Line qualified third in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro and will race Deric Kramer in the opening round.

Gray takes Phoenix Funny Car pole for second straight year; Brown knocked to No. 2 heading to Sunday's eliminations

For the second consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, Don Schumacher Racing teams were the quickest qualifiers in Top Fuel and Funny Car after the first two sessions.

And just like the season-opener a week ago at Pomona, Calif., only one survived to hold the No. 1 qualifying position after Saturday's two sessions heading into Sunday's championship eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals near Phoenix.

It took a track-record run by Doug Kalitta of Kalitta Motorsports in the last session on Saturday to drop reigning world champion Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team to the No. 2 position.

But Johnny Gray in DSR's Pitch Energy Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car with crew chief Rob Wendland dominated qualifying with the two best runs of the weekend. Gray's time on Friday of 4.034 seconds at 313.80 mph held up and is 0.028 quicker than DSR teammate Matt Hagan's Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge who holds the No. 2 spot.

It's the second straight year Gray has won the pole at Phoenix and the fourth of his career.

Gray showed the strength of his car by posting Saturday's best run with a time of 4.045 and his best speed of the young season at 314.46 in the third session. No other Funny Car ran below the 4.06 range.

The following are qualifying results and other notes from the NHRA Arizona Nationals:

No. 1 qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.733 sec., 329.02 mph (track records)

Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Qualified: No. 2
Sunday's first-round opponent: Terry McMillen
Session 1: 4.007 sec., 229.90 mph
Session 2: 3.765, 314.83
Session 3: 3.845, 318.77
Session 4: 3.805, 317.57

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army dragster
Qualified: No. 3
Sunday's first-round opponent: Sidnei Frigo
Session 1: 3.768 sec., 321.96 mph
Session 2: 3.772, 321.81
Session 3: 5.924, 107.39
Session 4: 3.768, 325.37

Spencer Massey, Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher dragster
Qualified: No. 16
Sunday's first-round opponent: Doug Kalitta
Session 1: 4.034 sec., 222.22 mph
Session 2: 8.232, 74.04
Session 3: 3.874, 292.84
Session 4: 3.938, 256.31

No. 1 qualifier: Johnny Gray (DSR) 4.034 sec., 313.80 mph

Johnny Gray, Pitch Energy Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1
Sunday's first-round opponent: Robert Hight
Session 1: 4.124 sec., 301.00 mph
Session 2: 4.034, 313.80
Session 3: 4.045, 314.46
Session 4: 8.364, 76.64

Matt Hagan, Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 2
Sunday's first-round opponent: Phil Burkhart FRIDAY Session 1: 4.142 sec., 293.15 mph Session 2: 4.062, 311.20 SATURDAY Session 3: 12.082/71.41, Session 4: 4.319, 212.49

Ron Capps, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 5
Sunday's first-round opponent: Tony Pedregon
Session 1: 4.167 sec., 293.15 mph
Session 2: 8.077, 84.24
Session 3: 8.077, 84.24
Session 4: 4.081, 308.35

Jack Beckman, MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 10
Sunday's first-round opponent: Bob Tasca III
Session 1: 4.445 sec., 198.15 mph
Session 2: 4.322, 215.58
SATURDAY Session 3: 4.322, 215.58
Session 4: 4.139, 262.49

WHAT: 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals
WHERE: Firebird International Raceway, south of Phoenix
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11:00 a.m.

Sunday: Qualifying, 1 a.m., 8 a.m. (ET)
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 8 p.m. (ET)

Steve Torrence misses Phoenix line-up by slim margin

Steve Torrence attempted to overcome a faulty throttle cable and a sometimes cantankerous race car during his four qualifying runs in the Arizona Nationals at Firebird Raceway Friday and Saturday.

He produced his best 1,000-foot elapsed time of 3.883 seconds at 308.00 mph on his final run Saturday afternoon in the Torrence Racing/Capco Contractors Inc. Top fuel dragster. He then watched several minutes later as he was bumped from the final starting berth by a slim margin of nine-thousandths of a second.

“We are very disappointed,” Torrence remarked. “The broken throttle cable couldn’t have come at a worse time because the car was on a very good run. But that’s the way this sport is. Anything can happen.

“We do have a few weeks to figure out just what happened and get ready to get back on the winning track at Gainesville (Fla., March 15-7).”

Friday, February 22, 2013

SOHR Radio Broadcast Update: February 23rd Guests

Make sure to tune into the weeks broadcast of School of HOT ROD Radio as we welcome Shelby American President John Luft....

Dana Point Concours d’Elegance Chairman Mark Buehle... 

....and Mary Jean Wesche to talk about the Mystical Build Mustang. To find station listing go to or to listen to the live stream go to – you can also call into the program 1.800.510.8255 – email me during the show

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NHRA NEWS: Worsham looks to deliver on qualifying promise at the NHRA Arizona Nationals

Del Worsham, a 43-year old resident of Chino Hills, Calif., returned to class that established his NHRA career, as he began his stint as driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car in Pomona last weekend. This weekend he is hopeful he will return to the winner’s circle at the annual running of the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just a few miles from the Phoenix city limits.

In Worsham’s first weekend back in the Funny Car saddle in over two years, he was a qualifying star. All four passes were better than 4.12 seconds. His best, a 4.054,, was good enough for the No. 4 spot for eliminations and was part of the three bonus points he picked up throughout the weekend. Although Sunday did not achieve the same success, Worsham is excited to see what the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has in store for him and the DHL “Yella Fellas” team.

“I am looking forward to going back to Phoenix to race,” said Worsham, a two-time Phoenix winner. “I have a lot of history with this track and city. I have been fortunate to have won here a few times and am looking forward to rebounding from our disappointing loss last Sunday in Pomona. This DHL Toyota Camry is a fast and consistent Funny Car and I can't wait to show everyone how good we can be!”

Even though Sunday did not produce the results that Worsham and the DHL Yella Fellas were hoping for, they left Pomona in the Countdown for the Championship hunt in the 10th position.

Worsham began his racing career at Pomona in the fall of 1990, and has gone on to secure 33 career wins, including 25 in the Funny Car class. After clinching the 2011 Top Fuel NHRA World Championship, the popular Worsham retired from driving and took to leading the crew of fellow Kalitta Motorsports driver Alexis DeJoria. After one season out of the driver’s seat, he returned to the drivers’ seat this season as the driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. 

Team leader and legendary NHRA figure Connie Kalitta celebrates his 75th birthday on race day this Sunday in Phoenix. 

NHRA NEWS: Grubnic charged up for the Phoenix heat

Native Australian David Grubnic, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster for Kalitta Motorsports, is optimistic about continuing his team’s performance momentum this weekend at the annual running of the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just a few miles from the Phoenix city limits.

“Grubby”, known affectionately by his peers and fans, started the season last weekend in Pomona, Calif., with a bonus point-winning 3.776-second run in qualifying at the NHRA Winternationals, and backed that up by winning the first round of eliminations with an elapsed time of 3.741, which was the best of the round.

The 2008 Phoenix runner-up looks to make the next step into the winner’s circle this weekend. Grubnic’s first round victory in Pomona put him in the seventh position in the standings, less than ten points outside of the top five of the Mello Yello championship point ranks.

"We're obviously looking forward to carrying our Pomona performance into Phoenix,” Grubnic, a 50-year old resident of Bozeman, Mont., said. “Qualifying well and going rounds is the standard objectives for the Optima Batteries team and our goal is to continue this trend in Phoenix. Connie (Kalitta, legendary team owner and crew chief) is doing a great job with the tune-up and the crew is equally doing great preparing the race car. We're all excited to get on the track." 

Grubnic is an 18-year Top Fuel veteran and earned his first career Top Fuel victory in Topeka in 2005, becoming the first racer born outside North America to win an NHRA Top Fuel event. Grubnic, known affectionately by his peers and fans as “Grubby,” is coming off another great NHRA season in 2012. He picked up his third career victory at Topeka early in the season and combined the win with semi-final finishes at Norwalk, Seattle and St. Louis to give him another Countdown to the Championship placement and another season in the top ten in the final standings.

Team owner and crew chief Connie Kalitta, a drag racing icon and pioneer, will celebrate his 75th birthday this Sunday in Phoenix.

NHRA NEWS: Kalitta ready to continue the 2013 journey in Phoenix

Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster, is eager to get right back to racing this weekend at the annual running of the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just a few miles from the Phoenix city limits.

The “Big Red” Mac Tools dragster showed a lot of promise in the first event of the year, the historic Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., last weekend as it picked up three bonus qualifying points on its way to a third place qualifying effort. Kalitta was quick throughout the weekend, but achieved his best time of 3.763 in the final qualifying session. On Sunday, Kalitta added to his massive round win count by picking up his first round-win over Leah Pruett, who was in her debut Top Fuel race. 

Kalitta has seen success at almost every NHRA drag strip, and Firebird International Raceway is no different. He is the 2001 event winner and was in the final round just three years ago. That combined with his performance in Pomona, which left him just one point outside of the top five in the Mello Yello championship points standings, has Kalitta ready for Phoenix.

“I love racing in Phoenix and I’m super excited about how my guys have the Mac Tools car running,” Kalitta, a 48-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., said. “We are looking forward to hitting the ground running at Firebird.”

Kalitta has amassed 32 NHRA Top Fuel title trophies in 65 final-round appearances. He has finished in the top ten in Full Throttle championship points in every season of his 16-year straight-line career. He was the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car champion.

This is a big weekend for Kalitta Motorsports, as team patriarch and Doug’s Uncle Connie Kalitta will celebrate his 75th birthday on Sunday. 

The one that got 409 Impala

This is not a new story, but rather just another in a string of stupid and clouded judgment calls I made throughout my adolescent life.

Most know the story of my first car - the 1964 Chevrolet Bel Air sedan, but some of you have not known about this car. After the Bel Air had gone through what some might call the automotive-ringer I was given another chance to capture greatness and was the proud owner of a 1963 Impala Sport Coupe with a 400-horse 409 backed by a Powerglide. Complete with little dog-dish hubcaps and all four T3's lighting the way down the path of regret.

It was spectacular, covered in Ermine white paint and filled with medium red guts this car was just about bad the new owner was a moron.

So with that all said you know where this is going...yes, I got rid of the car and even decided to ruin one of the door panels in the process. But I will always look back and be able to say I owned a 409-powered Impala if even for a short period of time.

So why write this? Why kill myself with guilt and the pain of what "could have been"? Because I don't want others to follow in my footsteps and to make the point of what make us car-guys...sometimes we are brilliant and sometimes we (or better said I) are complete morons.

What was the one that got away or you knew you never should have got rid of?
Share your story with me and the listener of my radio show - Saturdays 1-2pm School of Hot Rod Radio by calling into 1.800.510.8255 and we can all try not to make the same mistakes twice. 

Monday, February 18, 2013


U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher had an incredible 2012 season that brought him to within seven points of earning another world championship trophy. During the brand new 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, the seven-time world champion is ready to go back to work with his U.S. Army team as they pursue another title.

Riding the momentum from a runner-up finish at the season-opening event at Pomona, Calif. last weekend and three career victories at Firebird International Raceway, Schumacher is anxious to return to the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Feb. 22-24.  Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Jason Line (Pro Stock) are the defending event champions at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, which will be televised on ESPN2 HD.

“We ran 330 mph for the first time there (Phoenix), and we’ve won there a lot,” Schumacher said. “We perform good there for the U.S. Army. I really enjoy going there. For one reason, it’s early in the year and the weather is wonderful and better in February than where I live near Chicago, where it’s 10 degrees. The fans are phenomenal and the fans have always been really good to us in Phoenix.”

Last season Schumacher was runner-up at the event to his teammate, reigning world champion Antron Brown.  Schumacher says the new season presents more opportunities to bring his A-game and take advantage of more big moments.

“I’m ready to do it all over again and win another championship,” Schumacher said. “We’ve had so many blessed moments.  Those moments are a gift, and that’s what anyone dreams about who has ever been on the starting line. That is the lesson that we learned again last year and we’ll be able to build from and can expect to have much better days this coming season.”

From ending a winless drought at Bristol that dated back to the 2010 season, to a record-setting victory at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Schumacher’s scorecard filled up fast last season and he’s confident that his resilient U.S. Army team can once again push deep into the 2013 season.

“Our U.S. Army team exemplified the mental, emotional and physical strength like no other down the stretch, just like our U.S. Army Soldiers do every day of the year,” Schumacher said.  “So, as we head into this season, what you do the year before, in every way, shape and form is going to guide you through what the next year holds.”

In order to earn another victory at FIR, Schumacher will need to be lean and mean to outrun a host of talented drivers, including defending world champ Brown, national speed record holder Spencer Massey, Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon, the current points leader who won the season-opening Winternationals last weekend, former FIR winners Doug Kalitta and Brandon Bernstein and Top Fuel rookie Brittany Force.

In Funny Car, defending event champion Hight will lead a field of tough competitors including reigning world champion Jack Beckman, who has won three-times at FIR, teammate John Force, who is an eight-time event winner at FIR, and sophomore-sensation Courtney Force, the current points leader who won at the Winternationals. Others to watch include veteran drivers Ron Capps and Del Worsham, who is back behind the wheel after a one-year retirement in 2012.
Defending Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson will try to continue last season’s pace and rebound from a slow start at Pomona, while new Team Mopar driver Jeg Coughlin is eager to build on his runner-up finish from last weekend.  Greg Anderson, Line, Mike Edwards, Erica Enders, and points leader and Pomona winner Vincent Nobile are all past FIR winners and fan-favorites in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.

As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful motorsports attraction on the planet. While visiting the pits, fans will also want to check out the interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.

Fans also will want to take advantage of the popular Championship Sunday Track Walk, which is free to all Sunday ticket holders. This popular event gives fans the opportunity to walk down the legendary drag strip alongside some of the NHRA’s biggest stars.