Capps Looks for More Magic Under the Lights at Gateway MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2004) - Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Ron Capps, someone with a lifelong passion for the sport of drag racing, knows the significance of night drag racing in the late...
Capps Looks for More Magic Under the Lights at Gateway
MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2004) - Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Ron Capps, someone with a lifelong passion for the sport of drag racing, knows the significance of night drag racing in the late 1960s and early '70s to the sport's rich history.
Each June near the Gateway to the West, drag racing fans have the opportunity to experience what it was like when quarter-mile icons such as Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen, "Jungle" Jim Lieberman and "Big" John Mazmanian lit up the dark skies with their ground-pounding Funny Cars at match races all across the country. The NHRA will hold the first of two night races on the 2004 schedule, June 25-27, at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis with the eighth running of the Sears Craftsman Nationals.
"It's real exciting to have a night race," Capps said. "Going to Lions (Dragstrip) and Orange County (International Raceway) and watching all the drag racing under the lights at night is the way drag racing should be. It's great that we can give the fans a good show at night."
Capps, who won the inaugural event at Gateway Int'l Raceway in 1997, has experienced some pretty solid success at the Illinois facility over the years, including semifinal finishes the past two seasons. The 14-time NHRA winner raced to his first career Funny Car victory at Gateway in 1997 with a Roland Leong tune-up.
"St. Louis has always had a place in my heart," Capps said. "It's the first place that I won in the Funny Car category. Ironically, Roland Leong came on as our crew chief and had us in the winner's circle in just a few races after winning at St. Louis at the inaugural event. It was a great race and real exciting to get my first win in Funny Car, especially driving for Snake."
NHRA drivers are used to racing under the lights, but normally just on Friday's second qualifying session. At the St. Louis race, the racers will make four qualifying attempts under the lights and the later rounds on race day also will be contested at night.
"It's exciting to know that you're not only going to qualify under the lights, but you're going to be racing other cars and the flames will be shooting out of the headers," Capps said. "It's exciting driving one of these things at 320-mph during the day, but when you do it at night it's like 10 times as great on the excitement level.
"I think we need more night races. It's something that drag racing has over other forms of motor sports and I think we should take advantage of it. There's nothing like seeing the header flames shoot over the roof of a 300-mph Funny Car at night."