Even before the calendar officially turned to 2021, the first race of the new season was staged; the race to enter the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Pre-entries for Lucas Oil Series sportsman racers opened on Wednesday, December 30, and within hours, the Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, and Super Gas classes had filled all 60 available spots. Racers in the Vortech Superchargers Top Sportsman and Top Dragster classes also began to submit their entries, which will be capped at 36 per class. All told, there are currently 270 sportsman racers pre-registered for the Gainesville event, held on March 11-14. This year, the Gatornationals will mark the official kick-off to the 2021 season in the Camping World NHRA Drag Racing Series.
The sportsman drivers who participate in the Gatornationals will once again have an opportunity to race and score points on consecutive weekends with the addition of the “Baby Gators”, the Lucas Oil Series Eastern Regional event held at Gainesville Raceway on March 4-6. That event will include competition in the Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car classes as well as traditional class run-offs for Super Stock and Stock.
Racers competing in the Pro Mod, Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp, Factory Stock Showdown, and Top Fuel Harley classes will soon have the opportunity to pre-enter the Gatornationals along with Camping World Series pro racers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle. All told, nearly 500 of the sport's best racers are expected to descend on venerable Gainesville Raceway for the event, which is now in its 52nd year.
Last year, Gatornationals sportsman champions were crowned in March before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. David Latino doubled-up in Super Stock and Stock and shared the winner’s circle with Brad Plourd (Comp), Ray Miller III (Super Comp), Jonathan Anderson (Super Gas), Ross Laris (Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers), and Sandy Wilkins (Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers). The rest of the champions, crowned during the event’s completion in September, included Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock), Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Rickie Smith (Pro Mod), Randal Andras (Top Fuel Harley), Aaron Stanfield Factory Stock), Julie Nataas (Top Alcohol Dragster) and Sean Bellemeur (Top Alcohol Funny Car).
The Camping World Drag Racing Series will run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (one qualifying session on Friday, two qualifying sessions on Saturday, and Final Eliminations on Sunday).