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IHRA Media Day Hi-lites @SAR


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3rd Annual IHRA Amalie Oil Texas Nationals presented by Ancira Cars, Trucks & Vans and San Antonio Express-News @ San Antonio Raceway 3/25/04

Media Day

Marion, Texas. Media day kicked off with a luncheon catered by Hooters, :rolleyes: the title sponsor for the IHRA Drag Racing Series. Director of Media Relations, Travis Reynolds emceed the show. “We hope to make this a community event with the presenting sponsors on board being from the city”, Reynolds said. IHRA offers a uniqueness, it’s the drivers and people that make the difference. We give people what some other major forms motorsports don’t, an open pit area for fans, spectators to roam freely, visit with their favorite drivers and get autographs.

 

IHRA President, Bill Bader took over a floundering series six years ago and has quickly turned the series around into a 12 event national tour and getting Hooters Restaurants to come on board as the biggest non-automotive title sponsor. “We try to build one on one relationships with our fans, sponsors, drivers and tracks”, said Bader. Adding, “With the extensive coverage given by the media, the sport has grown tremendously”

 

The weekend show includes qualifying and eliminations for everyone from the elite, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Modified and Pro Stock, to the weekly sportsman racer, along with the Jet Kenworth truck of Bob Motz and the wheel-standers Ken Nelson’s, Cool Bus plus Jon Oswell’s Ladder Truck #33.

 

Robert De La Garza from the Ancira Group said, “We look to have a long term arrangement with IHRA, and are getting ticket request from dealerships from the valley to the D/FW area.”

 

Don Bosley, from Amalie Oil, the official oil of the IHRA and title sponsor for two of IHRA’s shows, the SAR event as well as the show in Epping, New Hampshire was on hand to unveil the new the new colors of Terry McMillen’s, Insta-Gator Funny Car. I got the chance to sit in the car, though they wouldn’t let me take it for spin. Once they closed the body down, it was like being your own little world, calm and serene. McMillan stated, “There’s a lot of pressure the first race of the year, especially with the car of the title sponsor on board.”

 

Three Top fuel pilots were on hand, Bruce Litton, who drives the Lucas Oil 6000 horsepower dragster looks to take the championship away from three-time winner, Clay Millican. Litton stated, “With IHRA opening up the field, you should see more cars attempt to qualify this year. Up to sixteen car may be in the pits to try to make an eight car field.”

 

A new face to the Top fuel ranks was driver Doug Foley, who has moved up from the Alcohol Funny Cars. Foley, who operates a drag racing school in Atco, New Jersey, acquired the car from Litton and earned his license in Jan.

 

The third a home state driver from Galveston, Mitch King. King, A 4th generation candy maker, looks to run select races is currently seeking full time sponsorship. The family runs LaKings Ice Cream Parlor and Candy Store on ‘The Strand’.

 

Pro Modified World Champion, Mitch Stott, showed off his Radiac Abrasives Pro Modifed. Stott was the first Pro Modified to break the 5 second barrier, making a pass of 5.985 during the Feb. 2003 race in Darlington South Carolina.

 

Now comes my biggest hi-lite of the show...... Mr Reynolds was looking for anyone interested in taking a ride in the two-seat dragster. Of course me, being a go fast, ain’t skeered, no fear type guy quickly raised my hand and was first to sign up. My photographer Marc, was second to volunteer.

Now to preface this, in my life I’ve done some strip/street racing before I discovered circle tracks. Have driven bad-fast street cars through the 1/4 mile in 13 seconds and have gone faster than my speedometer would register, back when they went up 120MPH. But what was in store was something I had never comprehended before. The Launch!

The chauffer for my “Ride of a Lifetime” was Brent Ritter. Ritter is local racer in the Top Dragster class that helps out during big shows giving rides in the two-seater. His wife, Candy gets you suited up and strapped in, giving you instructions along the way. Once in and buckled up, your now along for the ride.

We did a short wet burnout, where I thought, heck this is nothing. Then the dry burnout was next...YIKES.....the blast complete with a little tire shake quickly got my attention. After the burnouts are complete, they do allow those who are faint of heart the chance to back out. But not me, I gave them the thumbs up and we rolled into the staging lights.

As I watched the lights click down, my thoughts were hang on, hold your breath. GREEN! At a mere 2G’s(HA) you’re throw back in your seat, and it feels like someone’s sucking the breath out of your body. HOLY SH.....MOKE, I regained presence of mind just in time to see the scoring board flash by, 5.638 @ 123.18MPH on the 1/8 mile run.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to drive a Top Fuel or Funny Car and what their 5G take off was like. I now have a whole respect for what these guys go through and me thinks, me stick to circle tracks. Was I scared? NAH!, Was I intimidated? A little, maybe more because I wasn’t in control of the car. Would I do it again? WHERE DO I SIGN!!!!! Rides will be available over the weekend for anyone interested in the experience.

 

Speed Channel will show tape delayed broadcasts of all four pro classes in April.

Top Fuel and Pro Modified Saturday April 17th @ 4:00PM

Funny Car and Pro Stock Saturday April 17th @ 5:00PM

(Repeats Monday April 19th 3:00 and 4:00PM)

 

Defending event champions

Top Fuel–Clay Millican

Pro Modified–Mitch Stott

Funny Car–Tony Bogolo

Pro Stock–Rick Jones

Track Record Holders

Top Fuel–Clay Millican 4.591 @ 319.89

Pro Modified–Mike Janis 6.119

–Paul Athey 228.89

Funny Car–Mark Thomas 5.821 @ 242.76

Pro Stock–Charlie Peppers 6.590 @ 212.09

 

For tickets or race info go to www.ihra.com or www.sanantonioraceway.com

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I too must say that I had alot of fun in that dragster though I think I added weight on the back end of that rocketship gave it a tad bit more grip... Beating Reb's time by 8 hundreths of a second :D . I was really amazed at the amout of $$$ it costs for Top Fuel guys to make a run down the track some teams spend roughly $6000-$8000 a pass so when you add it up that comes out to $24000 to $32000 a mile... OUCH! I will have pictures up as soon as I get the CD's back tomorrow night...

 

Marc

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