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NHRA.com Notebook
presented by Strange Engineering

News and notes from the NHRA POWERade
and Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series


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7/30/04

Capps hosts rocker: NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps (pictured), who pilots the green Skoal Chevy Monte Carlo for Don Prudhomme Racing, is hosting as a very special guest this weekend: James Hetfield, lead singer for the popular rock band Metallica.

Hetfield, who plays guitar and does lead vocals for the group that has recorded such hits as "One", "Enter Sandman" and "I Disappear," also serves as Metallica's main song writer. Hetfield is a self-proclaimed gearhead and hot rod guru. He owns a '55 Chevy Bel Air that he helped to restore.

"I've been on the starting line a few times and the feeling is just awesome," Hetfield said. "The power, the sound, the smell is just amazing. I bring my onstage earplugs and put them to use; they're not just for loud guitars. They work for loud engines too.

"What I really like about the sport is that everyone is super cool. I've been friends with Ron (Capps) for awhile and he always treats us great. Drag racing is filled with nice people."


7/27/04

Racing for Russell: Competitors at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway recently raised a total of $1,385 for the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund during a "Dash for Darrell" race. Racers donated a $20 entry fee to compete for prizes donated by Jeg's Mail Order, Marie Callender's, Lamb Motorsports, custom car specialist Tom Daniel, Jerry Mock Motorsports, and Rick Rosen Photography. For information on the Darrell Russell Memorial Fund, click here.


7/27/04

Alard aiding Bode: Funny Car driver and team owner Bob Bode has announced that Alard Machine Products of Gardena, Calif., will be stepping up from an associate-level sponsor to title sponsor for the 17th annual Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, Calif.

"We'd like to thank Gregg Thompson, president of Alard Machine, for his continued support of our race team," Bode said. "We are excited to have Alard signed on as our title sponsor for the Sonoma event."

Alard Machine Products is a leading production machining facility serving the Automotive, Aerospace, Defense and Electronics Industries and is one of the largest Brown & Sharpe Screw Machine, CNC Turning, and CNC Milling contract machine shops on the West Coast.


7/26/04
Tom Pierce
Jeff Stake

Wine Country winners: Realtor Jeff Stake and Barbecue business owner Tom Pierce have been selected as the nitro interns for Bob Gilbertson's Trick Tank Funny Car team at this weekend's Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

"Awesome," Stake said. "I have followed the nitro cars for years and to be in the pits working with the team and taking the car to the starting line will be an incredible learning experience that I know I'll never forget."

"I can't describe how excited I am about being picked," Pierce said. "To be one of the lucky winners out of the 4,500 entries is a great honor and I'm looking forward to helping out any way I can."


7/23/04
(Photo courtesy of The Daily Item)

Scott loses operation in garage fire: 1980 NHRA Super Stock champion Joe Scott lost his SS/GT Chevy race truck, pickup truck, and trailer and much of his equipment in a garage fire July 21 that caused approximately $500,000 in damage

"There is about 50 years of work gone just like that," said Scott. "We had the race car inside the garage and a brand new crew-cab (pickup), and now that's all gone."

According to Newsitem.com, State Fire Marshal Norman Fedder said the fire broke out at approximately 6 a.m. in Scott's Sunbury, Pa., garage. The fire completely destroyed the race car but, because the garage was detached from Scott's residence, no other damage was reported.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do now; my hands are pretty tied," said Scott. "I thought about retiring from the whole deal, but you never really retire. The important thing is that no one was killed or hurt. But it is just hard to recover from something like this."

Scott has been through a similar devastation and recovered. In 1980 – the year he won his championship – a gas explosion destroyed his home. His family lost all of its possessions, including racing awards, trophies and mementos.


7/22/04

Highway fire claims Cofini's racecar, trailer: Top Alcohol Dragster Mike Cofini, who recently drove his Mopar/Dave Smith Motors dragster to victory at the Division 6 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Woodburn Dragstrip, lost his race car and trailer in a highway fire en route to Pacific Raceways for the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals. Witnesses reported seeing his burning trailer in the Snoqualmie Pass, the lowest and most heavily traveled east-west highway crossing in Washington state. No injuries were reported and no further details were available.


7/21/04

Ashley's Shelby featured on The Learning Channel NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge competitor Mike Ashley put the exhibition category in the spotlight with his appearance on the highly-acclaimed series "Rides" on The Learning Channel. The New York Mortgage Banker, who runs exclusively on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, was featured an the episode focusing on the build-up of well-known major league baseball player Jason Giambi's street-driven 1967 Shelby GT500E prepared by Ashley's sponsor Unique Performance. This particular muscle car is best known for its inclusion in the movie "Gone in 60 Seconds." It was originally built by noted muscle car icon Carroll Shelby.

Ashley was honored to be included in the script for the show hosted by former Beverly Hills 90120 star Jason Priestley. "It was great to see Unique Performance get the credit they deserve for producing an amazing high quality reproduction of the 67 Shelby GT 500 that starred in the movie Gone in 60 seconds," Ashley said. "The show was awesome from opening to closing and I'm totally thrilled to be a part of it."

The show will air Sunday, July 25th at 3 p.m. More information on the show and this episode can be accessed by clicking here.


7/20/04

RSBN hosts Pros on internet audio: Internet broadcaster RSBN.Net, which hosts audio broadcasts for the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series, has a big POWERade week scheduled for its "Beatin the Bushes" show. Based in Seattle, home of this weekend's CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, RSBN had Top Fuel ace Tony Schumacher on last night and will host John and Ashley Force Tuesday, Larry Dixon Wednesday, and Don Prudhomme and Cruz Pedregon Thursday. Beatin the Bushes airs at 9 p.m. Pacific time and can be heard by logging on to www.rsbn.net.


7/19/04
Joe McLoughlin
Bryan Robbins

Seattle-bound: Joe McLoughlin and Bryan Robbins have been chosen as the next Nitro Interns for Bob Gilbertson's Trick Tank Funny Car team. They will get their chance at living the dream at this weekend's 17th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Seattle.

"We're scheduled to deploy to Iraq later this year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and being picked as an intern for Bob Gilbertson's team will be a great send-off," said McLoughlin, a maintenance technician for the Army's 1/5 Infantry based in Fort Lewis. "I'm going to be taking a lot of memories and photos with me to share with my buddies over there."

"I've loved drag racing since I was a little kid and have raced Jr. Dragsters and the high-school bracket at Pacific Raceways and to spend the weekend working with a nitro Funny Car team at my home track is way cool," said Robbins, a high school student. "Hopefully this will be the chance I need to prove myself. I'd love to work on these cars full-time."


7/15/04

Ed Sarkisian, early National DRAGSTER contributor, passes away: Ed Sarkisian, a key East Coast contributor in National DRAGSTER's early history, died July 13 in Bristol, R.I. Sarkisian was New England's premier drag racing photojournalist of the 1950s and 1960s. Sarkisian worked in the early 1960s with ND West Coast Editor Dick Wells, who now serves on NHRA's board of directors.

"Ed reported in on the Eastern tracks and also wrote a column for each issue, again referring to activities in the East, and was a fairly good photographer," recalled Wells. "He was a great guy, fun to talk with."

Despite suffering from a severe case of multiple sclerosis for nearly 20 years, Sarkisian remained active in hot rodding. His last public appearance was in June for the Charlestown (R.I.) Dragway Reunion, an annual benefit staged in his honor by old racing friends. The event has evolved into one of the Northeast's most prestigious car shows. Sarkisian is survived by his wife Marge and daughter Pat. (Photo: Mark Hovsepian)


7/15/04

Wheelstanding veteran Perry dies: Before Tony Schumacher in the late 1990s and even before Don Prudhomme in the mid 1970s, drag racing's "Army of One" was wheelstander veteran Bob Perry, whose Hell on Wheels tank wowed fans for years. The retired quarter-mile showman, whose two-wheel antics were viewed by hundreds of thousands, died July 8 at his home in Tucson of natural causes. He was 65.

Perry was inspired by the movie Patton to build his spectauclar machine. After initially approaching the Army's 2nd Division in Fort Hood, Texas, about an M-60 tank in 1971, Perry began to build. "Hell on Wheels" – the motto of the 2nd Army Division – made its track debut at the 1972 NHRA Supernationals at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. Although initially skeptical, the Army eventually bought advertising on the car and in some instances airlifted the machine into events by military helicopter, much to the delight of the crowd.

"Driving the tank at speeds approaching 140 mph is like trying to carry a piece of plywood in a 30 mph wind," Perry told the Tucson Citizen in 1973.

Perry, whose other memorable wheelstanders including the "Fugitive" Corvette, retired from racing in 1979, where he established Star Automotive before selling it in 1991. In 1993, he opened a government surplus store. He built a "Hell on Wheels II" in the late 1980s, using an M-113 rocket-launcher chassis as the platform for a car-crushing monster tank.

Perry is survived by his wife, Anita; and three children from a previous marriage, Bobby, Linda and Donna. Services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Evergreen Chapel, 3015 N. Oracle Road in Tucson. (photos and some information courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star).


7/14/04

Darrell Russell tribute: It will certainly be emotional for everyone on the POWERade tour this weekend as the NHRA makes it first stop since the death of Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell. One of the ways to remember one of the most beloved racers in the NHRA family will be a video tribute played each weekend to honor the Texas native.


7/14/04

Anderson's second run: Greg Anderson smashed the records in 2003 en route to his first NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship. This year, however, could make 2003 look like a warm-up. At this time, Anderson needs to earn 47 points more than the second-place driver (at this time, Kurt Johnson) at the next six events in order to clinch his second consecutive title at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He clinched the title in Dallas, the No. 21st race of the season, last year. Anderson has nine wins in 10 final rounds after the first 12 races of the season.


7/14/04

Dixon would love a repeat: Larry Dixon, the two-time defending Top Fuel champion, swept the Western Swing in 2003, becoming just the fourth driver to win all three races in one season. He joined Joe Amato, Cory McClenathan, and John Force in the sweep and will be looking to repeat the performances in 2004.


7/13/04

Gasser Reunion at Thompson: Thompson Drag Raceway will be featuring its third annual Gasser Magazine Nostalgia Gasser Reunion event this weekend. The event will include exhibition runs and a show-and-shine featuring an assortment of famous gassers from the 60s. Saturday evening's festivities will include exhibition match races featuring nitro dragsters as well as nostalgia themed Pro Mods. There will be racing all three days opened to any car 1966 and older. Gates open each day at 7:00 a.m. For more information, visit http://www.thompsondragraceway.com/.


7/12/04

'Honest Gary' Scelzi: Funny Car driver Gary Scelzi, fresh off his big win in St. Louis, will take to the airwaves in San Francisco on The Last Honest Sports Show, a 30-minute sports show set in a roundtable format with a host, some writers from the Bay Area, and a guest. Scelzi will be promoting the upcoming Fram-Autolite Nationals, which take place July 30-Aug. 1 at Infineon Raceway. A native of Fresno, Calif., Scelzi is the defending champion of the event.

The show will air three times on Saturday July 17, beginning with a 3 p.m. broadcast on CBS, followed by a 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. showings on UPN. All air times are listed in PDT. Check your local listings for exact data.


7/12/04

The Coughlin's like the mountain: Jeg Coughlin was a back-to-back winner in Denver in 1998 and 1999, and was a runner-up in 2003. The 1999 final was an all-Coughlin affair with Jeg claiming the win over brother Troy. It was just the second time the famous racing brothers faced each other in a final. In six appearances at Bandimere Speedway, Jeg has a 12-4 record in elimination rounds.

Troy has qualified for the Denver event every year since 1995 except for 2002, when he choose not compete after the death if his mother-in-law. His record in elimination rounds is 9-8. His best qualifying performance came in 1999, when he was fourth.


7/11/04
Geri Durbin
Jeremy Oldham

Denver duo ready for internship: Phys-Ed teacher Geri Durbin and auto tech Jeremy Oldham have been chosen as nitro interns for Bob Gilbertson's Trick Tank Funny Car team for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals this weekend at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.

"I'm thrilled to have been selected," Durbin said. "I'll be only the second woman to do this and I'm going to go all out to help the crew any way I can. I read about the team's first female intern, Michelle Read, and the fun she had and I just can't wait to get my hands dirty."

"This is a dream come true for me," Oldham said. "I've been bracket racing for three years at Bandimere and to have the chance to be a part of a nitro team at my home track is beyond belief. I can't wait for the gates to open and hopefully I'll learn a lot."


7/9/04

G Squared Motorsports to skip Denver: After experiencing the affect of the 40-pound weight addition imposed on the V-Twins at the Sears Craftsman Nationals, George Bryce and George Smith of G Squared Motorsports announced they will not be attending the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver.

"It's obvious that the 40-pounds have had a greater impact than we initially thought and we need additional time to prepare as a result of the change," said Smith. "Prior to George Bryce and I forming G Squared Motorsports, he and Jackie (Bryce) had a remarkable track record over the last 188 consecutive NHRA national event entries with 61 No. 1 qualifiers, 110 final rounds, and 67 wins. The reason that the record is so good is Star Racing was more prepared than anyone else.

"We know we have an outstanding package with the G2/S&S/Star Racing Buell and the S&S V-Twin engine has shown great durability and has tremendous potential. I'm not used to losing and neither is George Bryce, and it's our intent to continue the winning tradition at G Squared."

"New projects take time to fully develop," Bryce said. "We are committed to succeeding with this V-Twin. When we finally decided to unveil this new machine, we felt we would be competitive with it, and we are. The extra weight has had a significant impact."


7/7/04

Johnson to be guest on Good Day Alabama: Steve Johnson will be a guest on Good Day Alabama Thursday. The show is shot live in studio, but will do some live shots from Steve Johnson Racing in Irondale just after 7 a.m. Johnson's segment will air on the FOX Network at 7:45 a.m. CST.

The segment will highlight a few aspects of the K&N Filters/Snap-on Tools racing team, Johnson's school programs, and his latest involvement with students from Skills USA. Along with that, Johnson will talk about his recent Pro Stock Bike win at the eighth annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals in St. Louis, the first big professional motorsports win for someone from Alabama since 1997.

"It was a great day for our whole team," Johnson said. "Since our move from California a couple of years ago, I knew with the right team members and our new facility in Irondale we could get on track to win for our team and the great state of Alabama."


7/7/04

Scelzi to appear on Wind Tunnel: Three-time series champion Gary Scelzi, driver of the Hemi-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car and winner of the most recent event in St. Louis, will appear live on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, which airs at 10 p.m. ET, Tuesday, July 13, on the Speed channel.

Scelzi is No. 4 in the Funny Car point standings. He has won two Funny Car events since entering that class full-time in 2003 with Don Schumacher Racing and was the first to break the 330-mph Funny Car barrier, setting the national top-speed record of 330.55 mph.

Viewers interested in interacting with Despain and Scelzi during the program are encouraged to call the show at 1-866-WTUNNEL or e-mail their questions and comments to windtunnel@speedtv.com.


7/1/04

CARQUEST signs two-race associate sponsorship with Carrier Boyz Racing: CARQUEST Auto Parts has agreed to a two-race associate sponsorship of the Carrier Boyz Racing Berryman Products Top Fuel dragster, owned by Mark and Andy Carrier and driven by 28-time NHRA national event winner Cory McClenathan (pictured).

The Berryman Products Top Fuel dragster will carry the CARQUEST Auto Parts colors at the two CARQUEST-sponsored NHRA events, July 23-25 in Seattle, Wash. and Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Chicago, Ill.

"We are proud to have Mark and Andy Carrier and Cory McClenathan represent us at our two CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals," said Scott Ginsburg, director of advertising and communications for CARQUEST. "The Carrier Boyz team already has one win and a runner-up finish in 2004 and we look forward to having them carry our colors to additional wins at our two events."

"We look forward to carrying the CARQUEST Auto Parts banner and will do everything we can to promote CARQUEST and direct the consumers we reach through NHRA drag racing into the CARQUEST Auto Parts stores," said Andy Carrier on behalf of Carrier Boyz Racing. "Our common interest to be leaders in our respective businesses is what binds this relationship together."


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