Joliet II: Whit Bazemore preview

WHIT BAZEMORE: RAT FINK REDUX IN CHICAGO JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 28, 2005) - For the second straight year at the Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, Whit Bazemore will pilot the Rat Fink Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car to commemorate...

WHIT BAZEMORE: RAT FINK REDUX IN CHICAGO

JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 28, 2005) - For the second straight year at the Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, Whit Bazemore will pilot the Rat Fink Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car to commemorate Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and his drag-racing legacy.

Bazemore's longtime sponsor, Matco Tools, in cooperation with RC2 Corporation, one of the largest toy manufacturers in the U.S., which produces die-cast vehicle replicas under the Racing Champions, Johnny Lightning and ERTL brands, will introduce this new paint scheme this weekend in honor of the man who is widely credited with having spawned the pin-striper hot-rod and Kustom Kar Kulture that blossomed in the '50s and '60s.

Rat Fink was created in the early '60s by Roth, who died in 2001. The designer of eye-popping custom hot rods and far-out monster illustrations, Big Daddy brought a fantastic style and humor to the art and car cultures. Since the early 1960s his work has inspired the outlook and attitudes of young artists throughout the world.

"This is one of our most successful programs," said Bob Jacobsen, Vice President of Sales for RC2 Corporation.

"It's cool to be driving the Rat Fink Dodge Stratus again this year in Chicago," said Bazemore. "I'm excited about it because it certainly draws a lot of fans to our pits."

The Rat Fink die-casts are available for purchase through local Matco Tools dealers. For the name of a local Matco Tools dealer, call 866-289-8665. They will also be available on the Matco Tools Franchised Distributor trucks in the second week of October.

BAZEMORE RETURNS TO HIS RECORD-SETTING TRACK

Whit Bazemore is tied only with Del Worsham for most Funny Car victories (three) at Route 66 Raceway, which began hosting the POWERade Drag Racing Series in 1998. He is happy to be returning to this quarter-mile where he set his career-best elapsed time and speed last year at the first event of two here of 4.713 seconds at 333.25 mph, which at the time was the quickest and fastest pass in NHRA history.

The national Funny Car record is now held by John Force at 4.665 seconds at 333.58 mph, established at this event in 2004.

"We always like coming to Route 66 Raceway," said Bazemore. "It's been a magical track for us, really, having won the first race here in 1998 and having had success here since then by winning two more times, taking runner-up once, qualifying No. 1 twice and setting some records.

"The fact is, it's a great facility, and the weather is usually such that we are able to go out and run the Matco Tools Dodge, or the Rat Fink Dodge, as hard as we can.

"And, for any type of drag racer, that's what our sport is ultimately all about. It's about raw horsepower and showing what you're made of, and that's what you're able to do at Chicago, usually."

As for having an unexpected weekend off when the Dallas event was postponed because of Hurricane Rita, the two-time U.S. Nationals champion who is seeking his first Funny Car crown said, "It was great in that [the NHRA] made the right decision at the right time. You could just look at the weather and see it was going to be a waste of time and money. Plus, I don't think it would have been right to have had a race, which is a celebration of sorts, in light of the potential tragedy and hardship that Texans and people on the Gulf were going to have.

"So, I think the NHRA definitely made the right decision, even if the hurricane missed Dallas, 100 percent."

Bazemore is seventh in the Funny Car point standings, 208 points out of first place. While Bazemore's chances of winning his first Funny Car championship are a longshot, he is not out of the running. Strong results in the upcoming events could vault him higher in the standings.

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force