ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. – Every NHRA racer looks forward to competing at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park due to its storied history and rich tradition in the sport of NHRA Drag Racing, but for NHRA Full Throttle Series drivers Antron Brown, Dom Lagana and Vincent Nobile, their love for the track runs just a little bit deeper.
All three of the drivers grew up in the surrounding New Jersey and New York areas and spent plenty of time at Raceway Park watching their family members race, along with savoring the opportunity to see the many of the sport’s greatest legends, like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, John Force and Shirley Muldowney, to name a few, in action on the famed dragstrip.
“I grew up racing junior dragsters there and watched my dad (John) race there a lot too,” Nobile said. “Most of my memories as a kid are at the track from the times we raced juniors there and all of the local events during the weekends, which makes racing there so great because it feels like home to me.”
Last season Nobile earned a final round appearance at Raceway Park, but a rookie mistake cost him a win at his home track, as he eventually lost to Allen Johnson. He’ll try to improve on that effort at the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, May 31-June 3 at Raceway Park. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2 HD.
“I’m very confident in my driving and my car this year so I’m very excited about racing there again,” Nobile said. “Hopefully this year we can go just a little farther than last year. We made it to the final round, but unfortunately I red-lit. I still have nightmares about that moment because winning at Raceway Park would just be the ultimate.
“I’m hoping this time we can pull out the win at our home track. I would love nothing more than to win at Englishtown. It’s home; all my friends and family come out, which is easily the best part about that, so winning here would be the best.”
Brown knows what it feels like to win at home, but it was before he made the jump to Top Fuel, back in 2005, when he was racing Pro Stock Motorcycle that he took home a Wally at Raceway Park. The championship contender has earned two runner-up finishes in Top Fuel in recent seasons and would like nothing more than to be able to seal the deal and earn his second Wally trophy at Englishtown this season.
“It’s always good to go back to your drag racing roots and that’s what I get when we race at Englishtown,” Brown said. “I spent so many days at that track watching my dad and my uncle race and I spent a lot of time there racing myself, from my street bike days to testing the Pro Stock Motorcycle. I love going back there now to spend some time with the hometown crowd and give back to the fans. It’s a really special place for me.”
Brown says something about Englishtown is just magical and special moments in the sport tend to find a way to happen there.
“There is so much drag racing history at that place,” Brown said. “When you consider all of the records that have been set there over the years, the great night racing, and it was the place where you could always go out and see all of the greats in the sport. Today I am that same kid at heart heading out to Raceway Park with the same love and passion for the sport.”
Brown is going to have a lot of competition in Top Fuel for that Wally trophy, especially from Lagana, who is looking to for his first career Top Fuel win.
“I’m very excited to go to Englishtown,” Lagana said. “I’ve spent a good chunk of my childhood at that track. My dad would match race on Wednesday nights against the likes of Shirley Muldowney, Chuck Etchells and even John Force.”
Lagana runs a limited schedule throughout the season, but one race that the team always has listed on their schedule is the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, because it’s so close to home.
“Our pits are a zoo because everyone always wants to come to the track since it’s the closest race to home,” Lagan said. “It’s great for our friends and family to see why we do what we do. They get to really appreciate what we do and really enjoy NHRA Drag Racing. I’m excited to run the NTB colors this weekend. This car has come so far since we first started and we’re looking forward to putting on a great show for our home crowd and all those at Service Central and hopefully make it one for the books this weekend.”
Lagana and Brown have a lot of competition in the Top Fuel field this season as the racing is as tight as ever. Brown’s DSR teammate Spencer Massey is coming off his fourth final round appearance of the season and enters the Toyota NHRA Nationals with the series lead. Massey is followed closely by seven-time Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher, Morgan Lucas and recent first-time Top Fuel winner Steve Torrence.
Funny Car racing has also been extremely competitive this season with five different winners so far in 2012 including four wins by points leader Robert Hight. Ron Capps has been to four consecutive final round appearances and sits second, while Mike Neff is third, Jack Beckman is fourth and two-time Funny Car world champ Cruz Pedregon sits fifth.
The Summit Racing duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line are dominating the Pro Stock ranks as they sit one and two in championship points. Allen Johnson is coming off his second win of the season and sits third, while Nobile is in fourth and climbing. Mike Edwards, Erica Enders, Ronnie Humphrey, Shane Gray, Roger Brogdon and Greg Stanfield are all looking to make their move in the 200 mph factory hot rod class.
Pro Stock Motorcycle returns to action at Raceway Park after a one race break and the Vance & Hines duo of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines hope to continue their dominance in the two-wheel class. Krawiec, the 2011 world champ, is a native of the Englishtown area and used to be the track’s general manager. Krawiec’s lone final round appearance at the event he so desperately wants to win came in 2009, when he lost to Craig Treble. The father-son duo of Hector Arana and Hector Arana Jr. are hot on the tails of the Vance & Hines team, however, positioned perfectly in third and fourth on their Lucas Oil Buells in the championship point standings.