Series Epping "Freedom Friday" news 2009-08-24

IHRA, New England Dragway to honor American heroes on 'Freedom Friday' at Amalie Oil North American Nationals September 11th, 2001 is a date that won't soon be forgotten. It is a date that struck the lives of every citizen in the United ...

IHRA, New England Dragway to honor American heroes on 'Freedom Friday' at Amalie Oil North American Nationals

September 11th, 2001 is a date that won't soon be forgotten.

It is a date that struck the lives of every citizen in the United States and will always be remembered with sorrow. In the years since that terrible day, memories have faded and lives have gone on, but as a nation it is a date that will forever live in infamy.

In an effort to honor those who gave everything during that tragic day, the team at the International Hot Rod Association and New England Dragway would like to take the opportunity to thank the men and women who continue to unselfishly give of themselves day in and day out and help keep this great nation safe during "Freedom Friday" on Friday, September 11th at the IHRA Amalie Oil North American Nationals presented by Dodge at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

Members of any police, fire, medical and rescue unit across this great nation will receive free entry during Friday's opening day of competition with a special ceremony to honor those brave Americans to take place prior to the 7 p.m. start of professional qualifying.

"This is a wonderful country, but we tend to forget the hero's and deeds that have made the United States so great," said IHRA President Aaron Polburn. "In our own small way we want to make sure that doesn't happen in IHRA."

One person who knows first hand of the hardships involved with keeping the nation safe is firefighter and IHRA Pro Modified driver Chris Russo.

Russo has had a career year in 2009 with one win while currently sitting third in points, but when Russo is not traveling speeds in excess of 240 miles per hour on the quarter-mile he is helping save lives in his home state of New Jersey.

Russo, a 16-year veteran with the Montclair Fire Department just minutes from Ground Zero, was one of the thousands of emergency personnel that assisted following the attacks on September 11th.

"I did work on Ground Zero and had a good friend who passed away on 9/11 so that day has a very special meaning to me," Russo said. "I think it is great that the IHRA has decided to recognize emergency service people for the jobs they do. We don't make a lot of money and we put ourselves in harms way for people we don't know and it is the small things that really mean a lot to people."

More importantly, Russo hopes that small gestures like the one shown in New Hampshire will keep the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice fresh in the hearts of the nation.

"When all of this happened there was a lot of good will, but as time goes on people tend to forget or it is not as sharp in their minds," Russo said. "For the IHRA to honor these great people on September 11th is really a great deal and I am proud to be a part of that."

When it comes to history, tradition and great racing, nothing matches the spectacle that is the Amalie Oil North American Nationals.

For the 12th consecutive year the IHRA Nitro Jam tour will be back at the historical Epping track for more over the top drag action that includes 300 mph Top Fuel dragsters, 240 mph Pro Modifieds and 220 mph Pro Stocks mixed in with weekend long sportsman racing and much more.

"The Amalie Motor Oil North American Nationals are always a fun event and we greatly look forward to our return to Epping in September," Polburn said. "While we already have a packed lineup, we have even more in the works that will be sure to maximize the entertainment value for the fans."

The history of the North American Nationals dates back to 1992, but the event did not become a regular fixture on the Nitro Jam circuit until 1998 where it has since become one of the biggest races of the year.

Some of the best drivers in the world have made passes on the historical quarter-mile and on September 11-13 someone else will try to add their name to the long list of legends who have graced New England Dragway's winners circle.

-credit: ihra

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