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IHRA Media Day highlights


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Amalie Oil Texas Nationals, presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks & RV’s and the San Antonio Express News @ San Antonio Raceway, March 24-26

By J M Hallas

 

San Antonio, Tx., (March 23) The eMax IHRA Drag Racing Series kicked off it’s 2006 season with the return trip to San Antonio Raceway. This is the fourth year for the series at the top notch facility, just outside of town in Marion. Thursday is move in day for all the teams that travel across the country and from bordering countries as well as Media Day for the press to meet and greet the distinguished guests.

 

This year eMax Production Company out of Nashville, Tenn. replaces Hooters as title sponsor for the series. EntertainMax, a multimedia, entertainment and broadcasting company, will partner with the sanctioning body, which enters its 36th year in 2006. As part of the announcement, EntertainMax will deliver cross-promotional entertainment packages, including a live concert series to be held during select national events for the 2006 season. The company will also provide marketing and promotional support, including advertising during IHRA’s exclusive television broadcast on SPEED Channel.

 

Travis Reynolds returns as Media Director and was emcee of the show. Reynolds, who served as IHRA’s media and public relations manager during the 2002 - 2004 racing seasons, has accepted the position of Director of Media Relations. Reynolds, a University of Akron graduate, left IHRA following the 2004 season to work in the automotive aftermarket field and will be relied on to further expand relationships between IHRA, its sponsors and national and local media outlets.

 

Chuck Quinn of Amalie Oil was first to address the gathering. “This is a great opportunity for us and our product line here in the San Antonio market. Todd and Judy(Zampese) do an excellent job with this facility and we look forward to a good weekend of racing.”

 

Vice President of Ancira Enterprises, April Ancira, was next to the podium. “We’re really excited this year in our fourth year here with the series. The IHRA provides a great family environment for everyone.”

 

A somewhat hometown favorite and Top Fuel Dragster underdog, Mitch King of Galveston followed. “Last year we ran 20 NHRA events which I have wanted to do all my life,” said King. “We have a lot of fun over here in the IHRA series and it’s going to fit our schedule a lot better. We’re going to run all the IHRA shows. We’d like to finish in the top five and I feel we have that capability. In reality, we can’t keep up with Team Werner and Clay(Millican). We don’t have the money to test and keep fresh parts. They’ve got a lot of R&D over there and will be the team to beat.”

“This is our first race of the season,” added King. “We’re looking to have a good time, not tear up any equipment, make a couple good solid runs(in qualifying) and then go out and make a couple rounds.”

 

 

Returning to the IHRA Series for the first time in 14 years, the Top Fuel Funny Cars had two representatives sum up the rebirth of the class. “Bringing the Nitro Funny Cars back puts a lot of excitement back into the sport,” said veteran campaigner Dale Creasy jr.

 

Former NHRA National Champion, Cruz Pedregon added, “We’re excited to be a part of the return of Nitro Funny Car drag racing to the IHRA after many years, and to do this in that region of Texas where our major sponsor, Advance Auto Parts, has such a large presence is a plus.”

“The Southern Texas market is also really important to us on the Advance Auto Parts team because of our Hispanic fan base,” said Pedregon. “We’re really looking forward to seeing and meeting new fans, and to entertaining all of Advance Auto Parts’ Customers at San Antonio Raceway with the full-blown show we’re bringing into town…the rig, hospitality and our souvenir trailer."

 

Driver of the Amalie Oil, Insta-Gator Alcohol Funny Car, Terry McMillan, rounded out the program with his relating his world famous G-force diet story, which had everyone laughing and introducing Alicia Genthry winner of the adopt a Junior Dragster program started by McMillan. The young lady driver will be making her debut in a Quick Rod Dragster, moving up from the Junior Dragster division.

 

Finally, and always the highlight of my Media Day experience, was the two-seat dragster ride-along. Local driver, Tim Lee was once again our pilot for the five second adrenalin rush. After suiting up, I was strapped in and briefed on the run. “No problem,” I told the assistant. “This isn’t my first rodeo.” We rolled out to the starting line for the burnout, just a quick reminder of the power in one of these machines.

 

Lee then rolled in to stage the car in the lights. I gave the thumbs up, scrunched down in the seat, grabbed the hand grips and was ready for the blast off, or so I thought. Green!! Lee mashed the gas. WHAM! My head banged off the seat and roll cage. Dummy me forgot to secure my pointed head against the seat back.(lesson learned–the hard way) Your breathing stops, your heart pounds, your stomach jumps up in your throat. Through the 1/8 mile traps at over 120 MPH in about five seconds.

 

You sit there in stunned silence for few seconds until you body comes to grips with the experience it’s just been put through and your adrenalin level falls back to normal. What a rush!

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