DieHard Race Week Start-Up, Norwalk
Thursday, July 05, 2012
The United States of America celebrated its 236th birthday on Wednesday. And while it is called Independence Day, fans of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing have the unique opportunity to extend that celebration to the weekend. How? Be in Norwalk this weekend for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
A showman in addition to being great at promotion, Bill Bader and his staff will be rolling out the red, white, and blue for you this weekend with plenty of off-track excitement in addition to the on-track activity. You’ll notice right away as you drive toward Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, as Old Glory will line the routes into the track. And once there, the theme continues with patriotic décor and entertainers of various natures that will be on the grounds. Keep an eye out for fife and drum performers, plus other musicians who will keep the beat going all weekend. Friday night after qualifying concludes, Bob Motz, in his jet Kenworth, and jet dragster pilots Ernie Bogue and Jill Canuso will close the on-track action for the night before an enormous fireworks show. Saturday will feature John Force’s unveiling of an American pride-themed Funny Car as well as a wedding. Whew … (and I haven’t even mentioned a pound of ice cream for $1).
Have I whetted your whistle? Then come on down. Tickets are a breeze and can be had by calling Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, 419-668-5555, or logging on to SummitMotorsportsPark.tix.com.
If on-track action is more your thing, then this is a great race to attend for many reasons. All four Full Throttle categories are racing, as are the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. And this is also the place, and the race, where eight heavy-hitting Pro Stock drivers take off the gloves and duke it out in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, in which the winner takes home a cool $50,000. Jason Line, Mike Edwards, Allen Johnson, Greg Anderson, Erica Enders, Vincent Nobile, Ronnie Humphrey, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. are the great eight competing on Saturday.
And just in case you missed it, at our last race just days ago in Chicago, Pro Stock history was made when Enders became the category's first female winner. She’s the 12th woman to win as a Pro, but maybe you haven’t heard the rest of the story (is this a Paul Harvey moment or what?). Moments after she made on-track history, her longtime boyfriend, Richie Stevens Jr., pulled out the proposal, making the two officially engaged to be married. What a day!
Jeff Arend also scored an emotional win in the DHL Funny Car. You’ll recall that Jeff took over the controls of that car following the tragic death of Scott Kalitta in 2008. Both of Scott’s sons, Colin and Corey, were in Chicago to see the win over rookie Courtney Force in the final. Robert Hight continues to lead the points following the event, where Ron Capps’ crazy six-race streak of finals ended, coincidentally to the other Kalitta Motorsports Funny Car driven by rookie Alexis DeJoria.
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown earned his second win of the season in Chicago against a red-lighting Steve Torrence. It was a punctual finish to a Sunday that started with his team owner, Don Schumacher, a Windy City citizen, learning that he would be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., next year. Congrats to “the Don,” who went into the shrine on his first opportunity to be voted in! Brown’s win moved him to a scant three points behind Tony Schumacher, whose motor erupted in a first-round loss to another Chicago driver, TJ Zizzo.
And on two wheels, three-time world champ Andrew Hines’ rewiring of his Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson proved to be a difference maker as he defeated LE Tonglet, going for his third consecutive event win, in the final. The orange and black are streaking as Hines’ second win combines nicely with points leader and teammate Eddie Krawiec’s three to give them the bike season sweep through their first five events.
The ESPN2/ESPN3 showtimes for the weekend look like this (all times ET):
- Live second-session qualifying: Friday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN3.com
- Qualifying recap: Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2
- Live all-day eliminations: Sunday at 11 a.m. on ESPN3.com
- Eliminations recap: Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2
As always, questions, comments, story ideas, etc. are welcomed via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through Twitter, @DaveRieffNHRA. Whatever you’re doing this weekend, do it with pride! God bless America!