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Media Contact: Travis Reynolds - (419) 660-4225 - treynolds@ihra.com

Media Contact: Mike Perry - (419) 660-4213 - mperry@ihra.com



Nitro Funny Cars Make IHRA Debut After 15 Year Layoff


NORWALK, Ohio (February 17, 2006) – Though it seems like the 2005 season just ended, the time is drawing near when nitro-powered engines will light up the south Texas sky at San Antonio Raceway. The 5th Annual Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks and RVs and the San Antonio Express-News will kick off the 2006 IHRA season March 24-26, opening what is expected to be the most exciting season of IHRA drag racing in history.


The greatly anticipated season opener will re-introduce Nitro Funny Cars to IHRA fans after a 15-year absence. Not since Chuck Etchells claimed the 1990 IHRA World Championship have the Top Fuel Funnies made an appearance on the IHRA circuit as a regular class. Mike Ashley and Del Worsham brought their Nitro Funny Cars to the Udderly SMOOth World Finals in Rockingham last fall in an exhibition capacity, and when IHRA President Aaron Polburn saw the crowd interest and response to the exhibition he went to work with Torco Race Fuels owner Evan Knoll in an attempt to bring the Nitro Funnies back as a sanctioned, competitive class. A few weeks later, IHRA introduced the racing world to the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car class after Polburn and Knoll reached a three year agreement.


The Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car field in San Antonio is expected to be power-packed. Mike Ashley (pictured) will bring his Torco-sponsored entry to the season opener and has made a commitment to race the entire IHRA series. Frank Pedregon has also tentatively committed a car to run the full season. Brothers Tony and Cruz Pedregon are also expected to make the journey to San Antonio Raceway to try their hands at IHRA’s newest class. Tony Pedregon won the 2003 NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car World Championship while Cruz Pedregon was the only racer other than John Force to win an NHRA Funny Car World Championship in the 1990’s.


“San Antonio is going to be an awesome race,” Polburn said. “I am really looking forward to watching the great professional show we have put together for the fans. I’m especially anxious to see the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Cars. The fans will not believe their eyes.”


The Torco Pro Modified class will also be vastly improved in 2006. When AMS declined to sponsor the Pro Modified class in the NHRA next year a number of quality teams were left looking for another place to race. Add the influx of quality teams from the NHRA side to what was already the best professional Pro Modified class in the world, IHRA’s Torco Pro Modified, and the best Pro Mod competition gets a whole lot better.


Mike Castellana will begin the defense of his first career world championship along with teammate and crew chief Shannon Jenkins. Castellana and Jenkins finished 1-2 in the ’05 Torco Pro Mod standings, proving to the rest of the field that in the nitrous vs. blower battle the nitrous cars are in front for the time being.


“The nitrous-blower debate has been going on for awhile now,” Polburn said. “I think Skooter Peaco and Mike Baker have the rules to the point where it is pretty much anyone’s race every time out because the cars are so competitive. I’m looking forward to watching this class because anything can happen. You just never know.”


While the nitrous-blower debate is taking place in the Pro Mod pits, those in the Torco Pro Stock pits will be talking about who will be the next member of the Lenco Transmission 6.30’s Club. Last year, in the first year of the program, Brian Gahm, Steve Spiess, Frank Gugliotta, Jerry Haas, John Nobile, Rick Jones, Dan Seamon and Robert Patrick all ran in the 6.30’s to claim the first eight spots in the 16-driver club.


Spiess, in particular, was dominating last season. He won four national events, including a mid-season string of three in a row, to give the Chevrolet Cobalt its first-ever motor sports world championship. Robert Patrick, Brian Gahm and the other Ford boys want what Spiess has. Dan Seamon won the Torco Pro Stock Ironman in San Antonio last year, the first of his two ’06 national event victories.


Rob Atchison is looking to move into uncharted waters in Alcohol Funny Car. No IHRA driver has ever won four straight IHRA World Championships in the class. Atchison, with three consecutive, can do something his biggest rival, Mark Thomas, failed to do in 1993. Back then Thomas was coming off his third straight championship season, but Todd Paton (now racing Top Fuel) ended his quest for #4. The first of Atchison’s seven national event victories came in San Antonio last season, and he will look to repeat in Texas to kick his pursuit of title #4 off right.


Finally, the ’06 season promises to be the most exciting and competitive season of Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Top Fuel in IHRA history. Clay Millican has won five consecutive Top Fuel championships, but he will have the deepest and most talented field of pursuers after his crown this season. Andrew Cowin, who once held the IHRA world record for Top Fuel elapsed time, will run the entire ’06 IHRA schedule with Scott Griffin Motorsports. Doug Foley and Rick Cooper, Torco’s two-car team, have a year under their belts and are expected to be even more improved. The pair finished #2 and #5 in the world last season. Bobby Lagana, who split time between his own car on the IHRA side while driving Bill Miller’s Top Fuel entry on the NHRA side, has a new car and will run the full IHRA schedule this season.


The Dragstrip at San Antonio Raceway is located off Interstate 10 (Exit 597), west of Seguin, TX, 15 minutes from the I-410 beltway. For tickets and information, call 210-698-2310 or check out the race preview at www.ihra.com or www.sanantonioraceway.com.


About IHRA


Headquartered in Norwalk, Ohio, International Hot Rod Association (IHRA), a division of Live Nation, professional, semi-professional and local level racing provides competitive opportunities for drivers at all levels. The IHRA Drag Racing Series is an 11-event North American professional drag racing circuit. In 2006, the series will be comprised of eight events in major cities throughout the United States and three in Canada. The Mr. Gasket Pro-Am Championship consists of competition at national events and 35 events in six regional divisions, while IHRA’s Summit SuperSeries is conducted nearly every weekend at over 90 IHRA-sanctioned tracks. Providing a safe environment to develop future stars, IHRA offers the PM-1 Junior Dragster Racing Series for youths ages 8-17. Stand-alone events include Live Nation’s entertainment-filled “Thunder Jam” shows and the street legal racing and lifestyle event series Kumho Street Warriorz presented by Hooters. More information can be found at www.ihra.com.

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