The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will celebrate its 40th year of racing at scenic Bandimere Speedway in style, kicking off the famed Western Swing at the 40th annual Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, July 19-21. The popular Mopar Big Block Party on Thursday, July 18, will kick off the weekend. The celebration will include Friday Prime Time qualifying and the final sessions on both Friday and Saturday night will start at 8 p.m. and include must-see nitro racing under the lights, as well as jet car and pyrotechnics. The memorable event concludes on Sunday with a live broadcast of the finals on the FOX national network.
The Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil is the 14th of 24 events during the 2019 NHRA season and is the traditional starting point of the challenging and iconic three-race Western Swing.
The Western Swing includes stops at scenic Bandimere Speedway, Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Pacific Raceways in Seattle. The Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil poses one of the most unique challenges in motorsports, as competitors race at an elevation of more than 5,800 feet. That affects everything from engine tune-ups to aerodynamics, as teams try and solve the challenge of racing in the Rocky Mountains.
With the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship closing in, all the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will look to have a big weekend on the mountain. Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations on FOX at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 21.
Pritchett won her sponsor’s race a year ago in Top Fuel, leading to one of the highlights of the year for the driver. She’ll look to do it again in 2019 and pick up her first win of the year against top drivers like defending world champ and points leader Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, three-time world champ Antron Brown, Terry McMillen, Mike Salinas, Doug Kalitta, Richie Crampton, rookie Austin Prock, and Clay Millican.
Legendary Funny Car driver John Force picked up his lone win of 2018 last year in Denver, putting him at 149 career victories. The 16-time world champion is still looking for his 150th career win, something that could happen at Bandimere. But there are plenty of star drivers who will look to prevent that in the loaded class, including teammate Robert Hight, the current points leader, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, defending world champ J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon and Cruz Pedregon.
Anderson picked up his first Pro Stock win in Denver in a decade, taking over the points lead a year ago with his victory. He’ll try to make it repeat wins at Bandimere for the first time, but to do it the four-time world champ will have to knock off the likes of points leader Bo Butner, a four-time winner in 2019, five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., who last won at the track in 1999, Erica Enders, Chicago winner and area native Deric Kramer, Alex Laughlin and Jason Line.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. grabbed his first career win at the track a year ago, and the talented rider will look for his second win of the 2019 season. To do so, he’ll have to get past points leader Andrew Hines, who has five wins in 2019 and four career wins at Bandimere, Eddie Krawiec, another four-time Denver winner, defending world champ Matt Smith, Karen Stoffer, Angie Smith, Angelle Sampey and Ryan Oehler.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. Fans will want to be sure to catch the Dodge Pennzoil celebrity race on Friday as well as a No-Prep exhibition on Saturday.
After Nitro qualifying on both Friday and Saturday, fans can watch a pair of spectacular Muy Caliente jet cars. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows. Friday and Saturday conclude with a spectacular pyrotechnic display.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration. Actress and model Carmen Electra, who has graced the side of Jim Campbell’s Cattleman’s Cut Funny Car this season, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the event on Sunday.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Nitro School to learn how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Bandimere Speedway will host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Cruising with Castello Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil victories.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The 18th annual Mopar Big Block Party Presented by Pennzoil will return on Thursday, July 18, from 6-10 p.m. in downtown Golden. The event includes an autographing signing with NHRA stars, as well as the chance to check out Dodge//SRT Mopar drag cars and FCA US production vehicles. The free-admission fan event includes live music from the Steve Thomas Band, the chance to grab seat time in Dodge Demon race simulators and Pennzoil virtual simulators, food and drink stations and much more. Fans can also share their Block Party experience on social media by using #MoparBP19 or #MoParty. For more information, visit the blog section at www.Mopar.com.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, July 19, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 20, at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 21.
To purchase general admission or reserved seats, call 800-664-UWIN (8946). Tickets also are available online at www.bandimere.com. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.