Nothing says Father’s Day weekend quite like 11,000-horsepower in picturesque Thunder Valley, and that’s exactly what the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will provide when its 300-mph nitro-breathing machines roar back to life at the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway on June 14-16.
It marks the 11th of 24 events during the 2019 season and comes as the third race in a rigorous stretch of four straight race weekends. With the mountains in Thunder Valley providing one of the most memorable scenes in the sport, the nitro cars come to life, with their power echoing through the famed facility. Taking place on Father’s Day weekend, it’s also become a destination race for the whole family. Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying action at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night helps start the weekend in memorable fashion with fireworks after the second round of qualifying, and it concludes with winners being crowned on Father’s Day.
All the top stars in Top Fuel and Funny Car will battle for a win and championship points as the season nears the halfway mark. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) were last year’s winners of an event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, June 16.
Nobody has been hotter in Top Fuel than current points leader and defending world champion Steve Torrence. He has recorded five straight victories and will look to strengthen his hold at the top of the talent-filled class when he races for his second career victory at Bristol Dragway. Looking to stop him will be a host of competitors, including 2017 world champion Brittany Force, Pomona winner Doug Kalitta, Gainesville winner Richie Crampton, Clay Millican, whose first career NHRA Top Fuel win came at Bristol in 2017, 2018 runner-up Mike Salinas, three-time world champion Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Terry McMillen and rookie star Austin Prock.
Ron Capps will look for his third straight Funny Car victory in Thunder Valley, racking up his fifth career win at the track a year ago. That gave him the most in class history in Bristol, and Capps, the 2016 world champion, enters with plenty of momentum after his victory in Atlanta. But keeping that streak going in Bristol will be difficult, as Capps will face off against the likes of points leader Robert Hight, who is coming off of his most recent win last weekend in Topeka, defending world champion J.R. Todd, John Force, who has four wins at Bristol and is a victory away from 150 wins in his career, Shawn Langdon, Phoenix winner Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., Bob Tasca and Tim Wilkerson.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes the seventh of 12 stops during its 2019 season in Bristol. Stevie “Fast” Jackson is the points leader in the popular class that also features standouts like Todd Tutterow, defending world champion Mike Janis and three-time world champ Rickie Smith. Khalid alBalooshi is the defending winner in the class.
Making its third of four NHRA appearances in 2019, the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class will return to action at Bristol, bringing their popular and powerful 800-plus cubic-inch engines with them to Thunder Valley. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
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 more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Bristol Dragway 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. A can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event 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 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals 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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 14 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 15, at 1 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 16.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also are available online at www.bristoldragway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.