Rookie candidates named for the Future Award

Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award candidates include NHRA rookies Carr, Hines, Miceli and Wilson.                 GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2002) - Four National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rookies...

Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award candidates include NHRA rookies Carr, Hines, Miceli and Wilson.

                GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2002) - Four National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rookies have been selected as the nominees for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, it was announced today by officials from the NHRA and Automobile Club of Southern California.

        Pro Stock drivers JR Carr and Gene Wilson, along with Pro Stock Bike riders Andrew Hines and Thomas Miceli, have been nominated for the prestigious award, which will be presented during the NHRA's annual awards ceremony on Monday, Nov. 11 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

        The Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award recognizes the NHRA Rookie of the Year. In addition to the sleek ceremonial trophy, the award also features a check for $20,000.

        "For more than 100 years the Automobile Club of Southern California has represented integrity, commitment and professionalism to our millions of members. The Road to the Future Award has come to symbolize these same attributes in the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing," said Thomas V. McKernan, president and CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California. "To be nominated recognizes not only that a rookie driver had a noteworthy first season, but also that they demonstrated exceptional potential for the future. We congratulate all of the nominees for this year's award and look forward to enjoying their achievements both on and off the race track for many years to come."

        Carr, 36, from Pasco, Wash., is currently 18th in Pro Stock points standings in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. He has posted career-best performances for speed and elapsed time behind the wheel of his Agri-Pack Chevy Cavalier this season. His season highlights include a No. 2 qualifying effort at Heartland Park Topeka and two quarterfinal finishes.

        Hines, from Trinidad, Colo., made his debut in the Pro Stock Bike category at his home track in Denver earlier this year and has moved from 28th to 15th in the POWERade Drag Racing Series standings in the course of five races, his most recent effort being a semifinal finish at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. The younger brother of three-time PSB champ Matt Hines, the 19-year-old racer has been impressive on his Vance & Hines Suzuki, clocking career-best performance numbers of 7.160 seconds (Sonoma, Calif.), with a top speed of 190.14 mph (Brainerd, Minn.).

        Miceli, 34, from Manalapan, N.J., rode his Suzuki to a consistent season in his first full year of competition in the Pro Stock Bike ranks. Among his season highlights include scoring his first round win in eliminations against Matt Hines at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, his hometown track. It led to one of four second round appearances on the season for Miceli. Currently 11th in points, he is looking to close out his year by making a POWERade Top 10 appearance.

        Wilson, from Canton, Ga., has posted two final round appearances, at Memphis, Tenn. and Ennis, Texas, to solidify his claim as a top rookie candidate. Wilson occupies the No. 13 position in the POWERade point standings. The 24-year-old driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T also claimed his first career No. 1 qualifying effort, leading the 16-car field several weeks ago in Joliet, Ill. with a time of 6.819 seconds at 201.73 mph. At Englishtown, N.J., Wilson clocked a career-best performance of 6.776 seconds at 203.40 mph, just a tick off the NHRA national record marks in both categories.

        This season the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award and the NHRA Rookie of the Year Award were combined to create one award recognizing the future stars of the sport. Past winners of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award have developed into some of NHRA's biggest stars, including Tony Pedregon (1996, Funny Car), Ron Capps (1997, Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (1998, Top Fuel), Antron Brown (1999, Pro Stock Motorcycle), Melanie Troxel (2000, Top Fuel) and GT Tonglet (2001, Pro Stock Motorcycle).

        Recent NHRA Rookie of the Year winners have included Darrell Russell (2001, Top Fuel), Don Lampus (2000, Top Fuel), Scotty Cannon (1999, Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (1998, Pro Stock), Gary Scelzi (1997, Top Fuel) and co-winners in 1996, Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

        Rookie drivers in all four of NHRA's professional categories are eligible to win the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. A special panel consisting of representatives from the Automobile Club of Southern California and NHRA select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: number of events participated, performance on and off the race track, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors and media.

        In addition to the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, the company also is the primary sponsor for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 7-10 at Pomona Raceway, as well as a major sponsor for John Force Racing, providing primary sponsorship for the Mustang driven by Gary Densham, as well as associate sponsorship for the Ford Mustangs driven by Force and Tony Pedregon. In addition, the company also is the presenting sponsor for the California Hot Rod Reunion, contested each year in early October at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.

        The Automobile Club of Southern California is the largest affiliate of AAA. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by the organization's emergency road service, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs and automotive testing and analysis.

        Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 23 national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has more than 80,000 members nationwide and more than 130 member tracks.  The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series, NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the NHRA Castrol GTX Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Gary Densham , Scotty Cannon , Gene Wilson , Melanie Troxel , Don Lampus , Andrew Hines , GT Tonglet , Mike Edwards