COMMERCE, Ga. - In April, the state of Georgia is engulfed with the pageantry and tradition of golf's most prestigious tournament, The Masters. In May, the Peach State gears up for a different kind of power driving with masters of the most...
COMMERCE, Ga. - In April, the state of Georgia is engulfed with the pageantry and tradition of golf's most prestigious tournament, The Masters. In May, the Peach State gears up for a different kind of power driving with masters of the most extreme sport: NHRA Winston Drag Racing.
And you can forget all that hush-hush stuff. This one's loud.
There will be no need for marshals to display the familiar 'Quiet' signs on the quarter-mile strip located approximately 75 miles north of metropolitan Atlanta. In fact, earplugs are the accessory of choice as the echo of nitro thunder reverberates throughout the tall Georgia pines, temporarily overpowering even the tremendous roars produced by thousands of frenzied drag racing fans.
A crushing 320 yard drive by golf phenom Tiger Woods is one of the most awesome spectacles in sport, but barely compares to the brilliant flash and overall sensory experience created by two Top Fuel dragsters blasting side-by-side down the dragstrip at speeds exceeding 320 mph in less than five seconds.
There will be plenty of 320 mph action as NHRA teams battle for NHRA Winston championship glory at the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, May 4-7, at Atlanta Dragway.
Gary Scelzi, John Force, Warren Johnson, Angelle Seeling and Randy Daniels are the defending winners in their respective pro categories for the $1.7 million race, the seventh of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series for 2000.
Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., used a holeshot start in his Team Winston dragster to defeat Doug Kalitta in the Top Fuel final last year. Scelzi and Kalitta have already posted victories this season, at Pomona, Calif. and Gainesville, Fla. respectively. Other top contenders in the 6,000 horsepower category include defending Winston champion Tony Schumacher, Cory McClenathan, Kenny Bernstein, Joe Amato and the season's only two-time winner Larry Dixon.
Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., earned a narrow victory over Whit Bazemore in a classic Ford vs. Chevrolet battle here in '99. Bazemore hopes for a rematch with his archrival, while other top challengers, like points leader Jerry Toliver, Ron Capps, Jim Epler and Tony Pedregon, also look to make a victory charge.
Buford, Ga. resident Johnson scored a convincing victory here last year, topping young Richie Stevens in the final round. This season both Johnson and Stevens are among a group of talented drivers chasing early points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr., driver of the Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile Cutlass. Seeling, from New Orleans, earned an emotional victory for Georgia-based team owner George Bryce when she outran Matt Hines in a battle of Suzukis here last season. While defending series champion Hines and Team Winston's Seeling are both heavy favorites, Antron Brown, Tony Mullen and current points leader Dave Schultz, who rode his Suzuki to a victory at Gainesville, Fla., are also among the biggest threats in the two-wheel category.
Daniels, from Grantsboro, N.C., scored the easy victory here last year when Mark Osborne's Chevy S-10 had mechanical problems in the Pro Stock Truck final. Daniels, who has emerged as a top contender for the Winston championship this season, is among pre-race favorites, along with defending series champion Bob Panella and Castrol Chevy S-10 teammates Rob Slavinski and Steve Johns.