POMONA Calif. - For the first time in more than 20 years, drag racing fans in Southern California will be treated to one of motorsports' most awesome spectacles. Bright orange flames will be raging from header pipes that are attached to ...
POMONA Calif. - For the first time in more than 20 years, drag racing fans in Southern California will be treated to one of motorsports' most awesome spectacles.
Bright orange flames will be raging from header pipes that are attached to sophisticated 6,000 horsepower race cars during the Pep Boys NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals presented by American Racing Wheels, July 5-7 at legendary Pomona Raceway.
The $2 million race, which will be televised live on ESPN, is the 13th of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series for 2001.
Not since the 1960s and '70s -- when many Southern California drag palaces such as famed Lions Dragstrip in Long Beach, Santa Ana Drags in Orange County, and San Gabriel Dragway hosted regular weekend night racing -- has there been an opportunity for fans to enjoy the electric atmosphere that is produced when two richly-tuned dragsters blaze side-by-side down the quarter-mile under the cover of darkness. It is the first time that Pomona Raceway, which has traditionally operated with a 7 p.m. curfew, will feature nighttime racing of any kind.
For many, it will be a rare opportunity to recapture the magic of a bygone era when the classic radio promo chant 'Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!' produced goosebumps and led the masses to the local drag strip to watch larger than life heroes in action on the track.
Indeed, it will be an event that turns back the clock. "When we race in the evening it's a real crowd pleaser," said Kenny Bernstein, driver of the Budweiser King dragster and current Winston points leader in Top Fuel. "The header flames dance in the night and it's really a unique kind of nitro fireworks display."
The unique event is a popular hit among drivers, many of whom were among the biggest fans sitting in the grandstands years ago.
"This is one of the coolest races NHRA has ever scheduled," said Funny Car driver Del Worsham, who has earned two victories this season. "This is all about the 50th Anniversary of NHRA, and as a kid growing up in the area there's nothing more nostalgic than to be draggin' under the lights in the summer time. It will be cool."
"As a kid my family would drive over to LA to places like Irwindale, Orange County and Lion's Drag Strip and watch night racing," said Ron Capps, who drives a Funny Car for NHRA legend Don Prudhomme. "For me this race is going to bring back a lot of history and memories from my childhood. I used to have posters all over my wall of funny cars and dragsters racing at night."
When the sun sets, track conditions become ideal for producing track and national record performances. "We are more likely to turn our best elapsed times in the cool of the evening," Bernstein explained. "So that's another reason the fans flock to watch nighttime racing."
Ten-time Winston Funny Car champion John Force, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang sums it up as only he can do: "It's a spectacular show -- it's a light show within a drag race."