NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals
The Strip’s high-flying neighbors have WJ’s attention ... and respect
Las Vegas, pre-race: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, is arguably the premier racetrack on the NHRA’s POWERade Drag Racing Series. Since its addition to the straight-line set six years ago, it has set the standard for every other stop on the circuit, offering unparalleled amenities to racers and fans alike.
However, within view of Bruton Smith’s magnificent speedplant is another facility, the Nellis Air Force Base, whose own display of power and speed is sure to capture the interest of every competitor in the professional pit area. Although their primary focus will naturally be on winning the race, Warren Johnson and the GM Performance Parts GTO Racing team will be among those who will take advantage of any free moment to look skyward.
“I have never been fortunate enough to be on the base at Nellis, but whenever we are in
As they competed in
The Professor first met Master Sergeant Marsh during his trip to Ramstein Air Force base last December, giving him pointers on his 1968 Firebird project car. The two were reunited when Marsh, who was attending training sessions at Lackland Air Force Base in
“I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sgt. Marsh during our visit to
“I’m glad that we were able to spend some time with them, showing them everything that goes on at the track with our GM Performance Parts GTO, and comparing notes. We each have our own areas that we enjoy. We work our tails off at the race track, sometimes breaking parts as we try to go faster than everyone else, while they blow stuff up. The big difference is that what they do allows us to do what we do, and I say that specifically, because they definitely come first.”
In addition to the kinship he shared with the servicemen, Johnson will now carry a memento of their meeting in future races. Sgt. Marsh presented The Professor with a pin of his company’s insignia, which the six-time champion immediately attached to his firesuit.
“It is my understanding that the insignia given to me by Sgt. Marsh is the oldest active emblem of its type in the armed forces, and traces its roots back to the 1700’s,” stated Johnson. “I will wear it proudly on my firesuit. I could tell what it means to the men of Sgt. Marsh’s unit when he gave it to me, and I hope to give it a ride worthy of its tremendous heritage.”
The Johnson crew enters this event on a mission, as The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the only stop on the POWERade Drag Racing circuit where “The Professor” has yet to reach the winner’s circle. In order to accomplish their goal, they must steer clear of the incidental items and unusual misfortune that befell them in
“Our final numbers haven’t necessarily shown it, but the incrementals tell us the performance is there,” said Johnson. “We’ve done our homework at the shop, and everyone on the crew is doing their job – we just need to start clicking a little bit better on race day. It’s not that anyone is being lax, we’re just in one of those unusual situations where we’re having unusual parts failures. For example, Kurt lost due a problem with a one-cent O-ring, and I had a ring and pinion gear break for the first time in 19 years.
“But we’re not about to let that deter us. We’ll just work harder, doing everything we can to help put our GM Performance Parts GTO in the winner’s circle on Sunday night. I may not have won yet in Vegas, but there is a first time for everything. As they say in the Air Force, we’re aiming high.”
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