New format, new excitement highlights Nitro Jam's return to Maryland this weekend

MECHANICSVILLE, Md. (August 24, 2010) -- At the end of the 2009 season the IHRA Nitro Jam series moved forward with a new format designed to increase the entertainment value of its show and generate new excitement in the series through the use of new classes, a new format and a new entertainment-first approach.

Now, after eight months of sold out shows and incredible competition, the all-new Nitro Jam series is making its debut at one of the oldest venues on the schedule as Maryland International Raceway prepares to host one of the biggest events in its 43-year history, the Maryland Nitro Jam August 28-29 in southern Maryland.

Featuring three nitro classes composed of Top Fuel and Pro Fuel Dragsters, the all-new Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class and dozens of extras, the Maryland Nitro Jam will be one of the biggest nitro races on the east coast as the legendary track prepares for record runs and an exciting weekend of drag racing entertainment.

"We are very excited to show our fans the thrilling new Nitro Jam format, especially the new Prostalgia Nitro Funny Cars and the side-by-side jet trucks," said MIR track owner Royce Miller. "We are also looking forward to seeing all the IHRA sportsman racers that put on a great show every year. This is truly going to be a memorable event."

For the 11th consecutive year Nitro Jam's best will compete on the Maryland quarter-mile for a chance to take home a coveted Ironman trophy, but this season will mark the first under the new format. Featuring two new classes, a new Chicago-style format, more fan activities and a new schedule, the Maryland Nitro Jam will still include the same incredible competition that has been a part of this race for the past decade, but in a new fan-friendly format.

Instead of qualifying the professional show will dive straight into eliminations with drivers making two passes each day with continuous racing throughout the show. From the first Top Fuel pass of the evening to the big finale, all of the classes will run twice with a new winner crowned each night. The new look will allow fans to see a complete race during each day of competition.

Following the completion of round one the two quickest winners will move on to the final in each class, preceded by a second pass by the rest of the field. The event will close out with a huge fireworks display and dozens of extras including the debut of side-by-side jet trucks as the Shockwave jet semi takes on the Super Shockwave '57 Chevy in a battle of 60,000 horsepower machines, the "Cool Bus" wheelstanding school bus, the Harland Sharp Top Sportsman and Top Dragster Elite 8 shootout, FanFest, two full days of sportsman action, a huge fireworks display and more.

When all is said and done two winners will walk away with Nitro Jam hardware from each professional class and points and payout will be awarded accordingly.

In addition to the familiar Top Fuel field, the Maryland Nitro Jam will also feature the debut of the Pro Fuel and Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car classes. Pro Fuel Dragsters are similar to Top Fuel, but with 100-percent nitro in the tank making for incredible nitro racing with a different feel and sound.

Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car, the most popular new addition on the tour, showcases vintage funny car bodies with wild paint schemes and colorful designs wrapped around a Nitro Funny Car frame. In addition to the typical nitro funny car feel and smell, these funny cars truly put on a show with halftrack burnouts, dry hops and out-of-control racing that has made this one of the most popular classes in the country.

The two new classes will join the 320 mile-per-hour "Kings of the Sport" as Top Fuel Dragsters retain their spot as the headlining attraction at each and every Nitro Jam event.

Through the first seven races of 2009 the Top Fuel field features one of the tightest battles in history as '07 champion Bruce Litton and Bobby Lagana have traded the top spot back-and-fourth nearly half-a-dozen times already. Both drivers will be hungry to establish a firm championship lead entering the event at MIR.

Defending race winner Del Cox Jr. will also be among the favorites to win the Maryland Nitro Jam as he joins team owner Mitch King to round out the Top Fuel field.

The Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class also features an exciting championship battle as Steve Nichols and his "Mill Road Boys" team tries to hold off the hard charging Peter Gallen in the "Poverty Stricken" Vega.

Other top contenders in the Prostalgia field include Greg Jacobsmeyer in the "All-Star" Dodge, Mike "McAttack" McIntire, John Dunn and the "Dunn and Gone" team, Aaron "Army" Armstrong, John Lawson in the "Bullet Bob" machine and Rick Krafft's "Chicago Fire."

Rounding out the pro ranks is the new Pro Fuel Dragster class as Jeff Hamelink in the "Stealth" dragster takes a narrow lead into Maryland. He is being chased by Bill Evans in the "Black Pearl" and Mike Manners in the "Shredder" dragster. Robin Samsel is also among the group contending for the inaugural Pro Fuel title.

Despite the vastly different pro show the sportsman action will remain the same with qualifying on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday. In addition to the regular sportsman racing the Maryland Nitro Jam will also feature the Harland Sharp Elite 8 Shootout as part of its pro show as the top qualifiers from the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster fields compete in an eight-car heads-up shootout Sunday afternoon.

Another exciting new feature for 2010 is Fanfest. Prior to the start of the professional show racing will cease on the track and fans will be invited to the pits to interact with the Nitro Jam experience like never before. Everything at Fanfest is geared towards giving fans a chance to actually be a part of the show.

Fanfest will get underway at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and at noon on Sunday. Fans will have an hour or more to explore the pits. Along with meeting the drivers and crews, several stations will be set up in the pit area for fans to interact with the event. Included in the list of fan activities is a chance to sign fan-favorite Bobby Lagana's Top Fuel dragster moments before he makes a 300+ mph pass, a coloring contest where fans can design their own Top Fuel dragster with the winning picture being used as an actual wrap on a dragster later in the season, a reaction time tournament with an actual IHRA tree and a chance to be the race director for a day as fans are selected to draw the first-round pairings of the professional rounds.

Fanfest will come to a close with Nitro Thunder as nearly two dozen nitro vehicles warm up at the same time, creating an experience unlike any other. And if it's more pyrotechnic entertainment you're seeking, each day's action is capped by an awesome fireworks display.

Don't miss your chance to be a part of the largest nitro party in town August 27-28 at Maryland International Raceway. For more information visit www.nitrojam.com or www.mirdrag.com.

-source: ihra