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Release #1

IHRA racers honored in SEMA Salute to Women in Motorsports

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- IHRA Snap-on Tools Drag Racing Series competitors Shirley Muldowney, Cleo Chandler and Amy Faulk were among a group of honorees in a special Salute to Women in Motorsports ceremony held on Capitol Hill during the Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) second annual Salute to American Automotive Performance and Motorsports Industry. Other honorees included Janet Guthrie, Kay Bignotti, Mari Hulman-George, Betty Rutherford, Angelle Seeling, and Linda Vaughn.

The racers were honored with a reception on Tuesday, May 6, and presented awards the following day in the Gold Room of the Rayburn Congressional Office Building. Ironically, the tribute took place on the 20th anniversary of the day when Guthrie became the first woman to drive onto the racetrack at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

These pioneering women helped to open the doors of professional motorsports to all women, and we felt a special salute to them during our conference would help spread the word about their extraordinary contributions, said Charles Blum, president of SEMA. Janet and all of the other women being honored are true heroes.

Muldowney, runnerup in IHRA's Top Fuel division in 1996, is widely regarded as one of the greatest drag racers of all time. The Armada, Mich. racer, whose career has spanned three decades, owns four Top Fuel world championships in two different drag racing sanctioning bodies (3 NHRA, 1 AHRA). In a return to IHRA Snap-on Tools championship drag racing last season, Muldowney won three events and was runnerup in two others. Chandler, an 82-year-old IHRA Stock Eliminator great-grandmother, has been a regular in IHRA competition for the last 15 years in her Mom's Toy" '65 Chevelle. She has earned one career national event victory (1992 Winter Nationals, Darlington, S.C.), and four runnerup finishes.

Faulk, a 25-year veteran and race winner in a variety of different sportsman categories, is vice president of marketing at TCI Automotive. SEMA is the trade association dedicated to serving the needs of the $15-billion motor vehicle, performance and accessory aftermarket since 1963. (-end-)

Release #2 Bingham, Bertozzi among Greer IHRA winners

GREER, S.C. -- Three-time Top Sportsman world champion Gary Bingham was among winners at the IHRA Snap-on Tools World Championship Series race held May 10 at Greer Dragway. Bingham, of Kings Mountain, N.C., drove his '97 Trans Am to the final round victory over Bentonville, Va.'s Kendall Thomas. Bingham ran 5.172 seconds (5.14 dial) at 125.69 miles per hour, while Thomas covered the 1/8-mile in 5.187 (5.11 dial)/132.66 in his 92 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Shallotte, N.C.s Mendal Watts claimed the Top Dragster victory over Jacksonville, N.C's Jamie Silance. Watts ran 4.843 (4.84 dial) at 141.20 to take the win light over Silance, who went 5.217 (5.20 dial) at 131.50 mph. Broadway, N.C.'s Tim Sloan earned the Modified title over Richmond, Va.'s Anthony Bertozzi. Sloan drove his '92 Cutlass to victory circle with a pass of 5.345 seconds (5.32 dial), while defending IHRA modified champ Bertozzi went 5.306 (5.26 dial)/129.05 in his '97 dragster. Bertozzi rebounded from his Modified loss, and claimed the win in the Super Stock category, driving a '67 Camaro. In the rod categories, Pat Malloy of Southhold, N.Y. took the 5.70-index Quick Rod win; Jon Homier of Woodstock, Ga. was the 6.40-index Super Rod champ; and Landrum's Lane Walker earned the 7.00-index Hot Rod title. The Stock winner was Winchester, Ky.'s Paul Crowe, who drove an '81 Chevy Malibu to the win in a close race with Taylors' Tim Henson, who piloted a '90 Dodge Dakota pickup. The next IHRA Snap-on Tools World Championship Series race is May 17-18 at the Tri-State Dragway in Hamilton, Ohio. (-end-)

Race Statistics: Top Dragster Win: Mendal Watts, Shallotte, N.C., 4.843 (4.84 dial)/141.20 mph ('96 dragster) R/U: Jamie Silance, Jacksonville, N.C., 5.217 (5.20 dial)/131.50 mph ('95 dragster) Top Sportsman Win: Gary Bingham, Kings Mountain, N.C., 5.172 (5.14 dial)/125.69 mph ('97 Trans Am) R/U: Kendall Thomas, Bentonville, Va., 5.187 (5.11 dial)/132.66 mph ('92 Cutlass) Modified Win: Tim Sloan, Broadway, N.C., 5.345 (5.32 dial)/128.49 mph ('92 Cutlass) R/U: Anthony Bertozzi, Richmond, Va., 5.306 (5.26 dial)/129.05 ('97 dragster) Quick Rod Win: Pat Malloy, Southhold, N.Y., 5.756 (5.70 dial)/120.90 mph ('96 dragster) R/U: Bennie Ulmer, Orangeburg, S.C., 5.745 (5.70 dial)/126.79 mph ('96 dragster) Super Rod Win: Jon Homier, Woodstock, Ga., 6.389 (6.40 dial)/115.84 mph ('29 Roadster) R/U: Darryl Hollin, Pelzer, S.C., foul ('71 Camaro) Hot Rod Win: Lane Walker, Landrum, S.C., 7.011 (7.00 dial)/109.18 mph ('77 Chevy Vega) R/U: Bill Cummings, Spartanburg, S.C., 6.982 (7.00 dial)/101.43 mph ('67 Chevelle) Super Stock Win: Anthony Bertozzi, Richmond, Va., 6.333 (6.30 dial)/ 102.76 mph ('67 Camaro) R/U: Darrell Lial, Maryville, Tenn., 6.227 (6.23 dial)/ 109.10 mph ('69 Camaro) Stock Win: Paul Crowe, Winchester, Ky., 7.656 (7.62 dial)/84.50 mph ('81 Malibu) R/U: Tim Henson, Taylors, S.C., 9.355 (9.38)/71.60 mph ('90 Dodge Dakota)

Release #3 Cannon, Stevens look to repeat at Spring Nationals

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Five-time IHRA Pro Modified world champion Scotty Cannon and current Pro Stock points leader Richie Stevens will be in the hunt for repeat performances at the 33rd annual Prolong Super Lubricants Spring Nationals presented by Parts Pro, June 6-8 at the newly renovated Bristol Dragway. The race is the second of eight national events for the $400,000 IHRA Snap-on Tools Drag Racing Series. A raceday purse totaling over $100,000 has been posted for competitors in the four professional categories. Many more awards are up for grabs in special bonuses and contingency programs. Cannon's win last June was one of three victories during the season that allowed him to win an unprecedented fifth Snap-on world championship in the outrageous Pro Modified category. Stevens, 17 and fresh out of junior dragster competition at the time, earned his first-ever professional drag racing victory at the event. Other defending winners include Wayne Bailey in Top Fuel and Jim Lape in Alcohol Funny Car. For Cannon, who plans to debut a brand-new Rick Jones-built supercharged 1941 Willys at the Spring Nationals, a victory will be necessary to pull even with arch-rival and current points leader Shannon Jenkins, who beat Cannon in the season-opening Winter Nationals at Darlington, S.C. March 2. Jenkins is the '96 championship runnerup and also drives a '41 Willys. Other Pro Modified contenders include Brad Jeter, Pat Moore, 1995 IHRA Pro Modified world champion Tommy Mauney and Todd Tutterow, driver of the quickest nitrous-injected (6.44 seconds/214.59 miles per hour) machine in the series. Stevens, also a winner of the season-opening Winter Nationals, hopes to keep his momentum going behind the wheel of the Roy Hill's Drag Racing School Ford Thunderbird.

A likely candidate to stop Steven's progress is Billy Huff, who plans to make a return to IHRA Pro Stock competition for the first time after a year-and-a-half absence. Huff, a two-time IHRA Pro Stock champion, plans to drive a Pontiac Firebird equipped with Sonny Leonard power. Other top Pro Stock contenders include defending IHRA champion Jon Yoak, John Nobile, Floyd Cheek and IHRA Dodge Boy Doug Kirk. Bristol track records for speed and elapsed time may be in jeopardy when Winter Nationals Top Fuel winner Paul Romine, who became the first IHRA Top Fuel driver to record three consecutive 4-second passes in final eliminations at Darlington, comes to the Tri-Cities with his Aerolite Racing rail. The Indianapolis driver utilized the tuning wizardry of legendary Clayton Harris to set a new IHRA elapsed time world record of 4.911 seconds, and become the first IHRA Top Fuel driver to ever record a pass in the 4.8-second range (4.855) at the Winter Nationals. Standing in the way of the ultra-quick duo will be defending IHRA world champion Doug Herbert, Shirley Muldowney, Jim Bailey and Rhonda Hartman, among others. Four-time IHRA Alcohol Funny Car champion Mark Thomas is hoping to extend his division points lead with a Bristol victory. Thomas hired tuning expert Rick Hickman during the off-season and the move paid dividends as the Ethanol Performs Dodge team earned a season-opening victory at Darlington International Dragway. Defending AFC world champion Von Smith of Oak Ridge, Tenn. will be working to make up ground in the points standings with a strong showing at Thunder Valley, while title chasers Jim Lape, Jimmy Rector, Al Billes and Scott Weis will be racing for their first victory of the season as well. Eight classes of sportsman competition will complete the event. Bristol Dragway is located just off U.S. 11 E between Bristol and Johnson City. (-end-) SPRING NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION * Schedule: Professional qualifying for the Prolong Super Lubricants Spring Nationals by Parts Pro will start at 12:30 p.m. Friday, June 6. Top Fuel dragsters will make their only appearance of the day to start the second round of professional qualifying at 3:30 p.m. Saturday's qualifying program will feature the final two sessions for all four professional divisions, at 1 p.m., and the traditional "Night of Fire" program at 8 p.m. Final eliminations begin Sunday at 12 p.m. (noon). * Tickets: Tickets are available for the Prolong Super Lubricants Spring Nationals by Parts Pro. Regular admission prices include Friday $12; Saturday $30; and Sunday $30. All tickets include pit pass. A special two-day ticket is also available $50 (Saturday & Sunday). Children 12 and under free with a paying adult. For additional ticket information call (423) 764-1164. *On TV: The Prolong Super Lubricants Spring Nationals by Parts Pro will be televised tape-delay by ESPN2 on June 28 at 3:30 p.m., and July 1 at 8:30 p.m. Sportsman coverage of the event will precede both telecasts (June 28 at 3 p.m., and July 1 at 8 p.m.).

Release #4 Vestal named IHRA Director of Communications

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Award-winning motorsports writer Anthony Vestal has been named IHRA Director of Communications, officials of that drag racing sanctioning body announced recently. Vestal, 27, started his new position May 14. His duties will include handling all aspects of media relations. During the last four years Vestal served as editor for Inside MotorSports, a monthly racing tabloid based in Wytheville, Va. Prior to his employment with IMS, the Vansant, Va. native worked as a sports reporter for two Southwest Virginia community newspapers. He received a B.S. in Government and Communication from Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia in 1992. Having been exposed to all forms of motorsports in my former position, I've found that the speeds and raw power associated with drag racing is very intriguing," said Vestal. "Also, the diverse selection of colorful and candid competitors -- from a 17-year-old high school student, to an 82-year-old grandmother -- makes working in this sport a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the opportunity. Vestal is the latest addition to the IHRA staff during this period of growth and reorganization. Since Prolong Acquisition Corp. purchased IHRA in late February, George Elliott has been named president of the sanctioning body, while Leonard Emanuelson was hired as publisher of Drag Review, the organization's house publication. In addition, Nick Dunn was named the bi-weekly magazine's advertising director. The IHRA Snap-on-Tools Drag Racing Series will resume June 6-8 when the 33rd annual Prolong Super Lubricants Spring Nationals presented by Parts Pro will be held at Bristol Dragway. For ticket information call (423) 764-1164. (-end-)

For more information contact Anthony Vestal (423) 764-1164

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Series Drag
Drivers Paul Romine , Mark Thomas , Doug Herbert , Shirley Muldowney , John Nobile , Brad Jeter , Scott Weis , Scotty Cannon , Shannon Jenkins , Janet Guthrie , Amy Faulk , Al Billes , Von Smith