Top Fuel racer Larry Dixon will return to competition in next week’s 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway on March 17-19. Dixon will compete for the first time as a team owner with his Dixon Racing dragster.
Dixon, 50, is returning to the site of his spectacular qualifying accident two years ago at Gainesville Raceway. At that event, Dixon’s car went airborne near the finish line but he was able to climb from the wreckage. Dixon was later diagnosed with two fractured vertebrae but managed to return to competition and post a fourth place finish in the season standings.
“I don’t have any second thoughts about returning to Gainesville,” said Dixon, winner of 62 NHRA Top Fuel national events. “I was there last year as a spectator and to be honest, it’s not as much fun. The fans were great to me last year but I had a lot of them that wanted to see me back in a Top Fuel car, as would I.”
Now, the four-time NHRA Gatornationals champion comes back to Gainesville with his own Top Fuel dragster and racing team (Larry Dixon Racing). Dixon competed in two NHRA national events in 2016 for another team while developing his own organization.
“It is especially intriguing that we are running our own Top Fuel car at Gainesville Raceway,” said Dixon. “I have so many big moments from Gainesville. Of course, the most recent with the crash in 2015 but I won four Top Fuel Wally’s at the Gatornationals and I actually took my Top Fuel license runs in ‘Snake’s’ [Don Prudhomme’s] car at Gainesville back in 1994. That was ‘Snake’s’ final season driving and he wanted to put me in his Top Fueler the next year. That was quite an honor.”
Dixon didn’t disappoint with a victory at his first NHRA Gatornationals in 1995 and he later won drag racing’s biggest race, U.S. Nationals, that year. Dixon also captured Top Fuel titles at the Gatornationals, in 2001, 2002 and 2009. He was also diagnosed with throat cancer prior to his 2015 Gainesville accident.
“Despite what happened in that year of my life, with cancer and a broken back, I always wanted to continue Top Fuel racing and possibly compete with our own team,” said Dixon. “Within the last six months, we have been able to collect the race cars and equipment to get back to an NHRA national event. With the help of a few partners and quite a few teams in the Indy area, we are coming to Gainesville to see how things can go. We know we need additional support to get a regular program together, but we want to see if we can make some solid runs with this equipment. I can’t thank everyone enough. It’s time to get a glove and get in the game.”
Dixon has invested in preparing a strong team to assist him in his return to the NHRA national circuit at Gainesville.
“I think we have some excellent personnel led by our crew chief, Mike Domagala. A lot of them have won races and championships and we have some new parts and pieces for the engines,” Larry said. “Obviously, we will be sorting out our combination and there is no better place to go than Gainesville. NHRA does a great job preparing the track and the conditions will be outstanding as always. We have been working hard in the race shop to get ready for this one.”