The mantra of late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis rang true for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series winners at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. The point was driven home where it was written on the white board outside of the Al-Anabi Gold trailer after Khalid alBalooshi won the event in Top Fuel with 3.7-, 3.8-, 3.9-, and 4.0-second runs in eliminations.
The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals is an event unlike any other. The high elevation at Bandimere Speedway nestled in the Rocky Mountains provides unique conditions for tuners to navigate at the start of the fabled Western Swing. Certain teams have taken to racing there better than others, and the event has developed the following traits that have held up in 2014.
The four-week span in which the Bristol, Epping, Chicago, and Norwalk events were contested shifted the momentum of several teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. We’re going to look at the teams who forged ahead and those scrambling to catch up.
A grand spectacle of horsepower on the racetrack and fireworks in the sky has become tradition at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk on Fourth of July weekend. This year’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in the house the Bader family built was no exception with Antron Brown thrashing to keep up his torrid pace, John Force scoring his long-awaited first win in Norwalk, Erica Enders-Stevens scoring a win and getting candid about several topics afterward, and Andrew Hines coming up big after a roll of the dice.
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour has reached the point where the teams that are going to be there at the end have shown evidence on the racetrack. We’re 12 races into it, and if you don’t think that’s a sufficient amount of time to get into shape, ask Top Fuel winner Antron Brown’s co-crew chief Mark Oswald. The last time an NHRA season was comprised of a dozen or less events was 30 years ago, which happened to be the most defining season of his career when he captured the 1984 Funny Car title. While the Matco Tools team has four wins and a solid hold on the No. 2 spot in the Mello Yello standings thus far, the three other Mello Yello winners at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals all struck gold for the first time this season to trend upward during a crucial point of the season.
The 2014 Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals zipped through the checklist of what makes a great race. Thrilling side-by-side racing: check. A standout run: Robert Hight took care of that in 3.98 seconds. A rapid fan base: The fans packed New England Dragway for the second edition of the event. A historic moment: How about the first husband-wife final in a Professional category in NHRA history (more on that later)?
Tommy Johnson Jr.’s long road back to the winner’s circle was complete with his first win in exactly seven years since Father’s Day in Englishtown in 2007. Fellow second-generation drivers Shawn Langdon and Erica Enders-Stevens also notched victories at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers in Bristol.
We are officially at the midway point of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season. With nine events complete, we have nine more to go until the start of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. As fast as the year has gone thus far, it will pick up even more steam with races on four consecutive weekends beginning in Bristol with only one week off before the Western Swing.
An especially memorable Toyota NHRA Summernationals is in the books with a new face in Top Fuel becoming the class’ 100th different winner, the all-time Funny Car elapsed time and Pro Stock speed and elapsed time marks being broken, and the Harley-Davidson resurgence in full swing in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
The milestone 100th female win in NHRA Pro competition had been up for grabs since Pro Stock’s Erica Enders-Stevens scored win No. 99 in Houston. The hype, the pressure, and the close calls finally culminated in Courtney Force taking home the commemorative Wally at the NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.