GLENDORA, Calif. (Dec. 8, 2003) -- NHRA officials announced today the dates and locations of the 2004 NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway will host the Eastern Conference Finals, July 15-17, while the Western Conference Finals will return to Denver's Bandimere Speedway, July 29-31. Both facilities currently host a round of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
"We're extremely excited to be hosting the O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals," said Bristol Dragway Finance/Dragway vice president Fred King. "We have a very good Jr. Dragster program at Bristol and an event like this will only make our program that much stronger. This is a showcase event that draws more than 500 racers and we're looking forward to being part of it."
John Bandimere III, general manager of Bandimere Speedway, added, "We are thrilled to be hosting the NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League Western Conference Finals once again in 2004. From both a business and personal standpoint it means a lot to us to able to welcome the Jr. racers and their families to Bandimere Speedway. This event helps to carry on the legacy of drag racing that my grandfather started more than 40 years ago."
"We could not be happier about having the Eastern Conference Finals at Bristol Dragway," said Mark Fleming, special events coordinator for O'Reilly Auto Parts. "From a business standpoint it's a growing market for us and from a racing standpoint it's a wonderful venue. And, for the Western Conference Finals, Bandimere Speedway is a premiere facility and the Bandimere family has always made it a standout event."
The 2004 NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League Eastern and Western Conference Finals are a culmination of yearlong competition at NHRA Member Tracks across the country. Each track may bring a team of its top points earning drivers in their Jr. Drag Racing programs.
What was a one-day event with 70 participants in 1993 has grown into an Eastern and a Western conference final, each contested over multiple days. Last year nearly 1,000 children competed in both events.
During the events, drivers compete for team and individual honors and a share of the nearly $100,000 purse posted at each event. Team members earn points for their tracks, and the top scoring team wins the conference final. Prizes also go to the winning driver in each age category. A total of $11,500 in U.S. Savings Bonds is paid in each of the eight age categories.
Created in 1992, the NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League allows children, 8 to 17, to compete on an eighth-mile track in half-scale dragsters powered by five-horsepower engines. All Jr. Dragsters must meet stringent NHRA technical and safety standards and drivers must wear a helmet, neck collar, safety jacket and safety gloves.
The NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League creates family involvement in drag racing at an affordable level. Many of the league's graduates have gone on to compete in other NHRA classes. Some, like Pro Stock driver Richie Stevens, have earned NHRA national and divisional event victories.