Indianpolis: US Nationals preview

MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS: NHRA'S PRESTIGIOUS CELEBRATION OF SPEED AND HIGH PERFORMANCE RACES INTO 51ST YEAR AT IRP INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 22, 2005) -- As NHRA celebrates the 51st anniversary of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's ...


INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 22, 2005) -- As NHRA celebrates the 51st anniversary of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race is set to provide its traditional offering of the very best in speed and high performance for countless thousands of hot rodding enthusiasts. More than 1,000 competitors in 12 different racing categories will perform in front of the standing-room only crowd during the much-anticipated Labor Day classic.

The Super Bowl of drag racing takes place at revered Indianapolis Raceway Park, Aug. 31-Sept. 5. It is the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series for 2005 and will be showcased nationwide on ESPN2, which will air more than 10 hours of coverage of drag racing's marquee spectacle.

Throughout the years fans at IRP have cheered on drag racing immortals like "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, Bob Glidden, Kenny Bernstein and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme as they raced to the winner's circle at more than 300 mph to etch their names into the NHRA record book. Today's stars -- such as four-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winners John Force and Tony Schumacher -- will be racing hard to solidify their status as modern-day legends. For many of the competitors, the race has evolved into much more than an annual contest of speed. For those who seek to become a part of its mystique, winning the event has become a must-do to complete any great driver's resume.

This year's follow-up to the historic and memorable 50th anniversary showcase last year will feature the same intense side-by-side racing as drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle chase their share of the $2.6 million purse, and more importantly, a spot in history. Teams will be working hard to earn coveted points in their quest to win NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series world championship titles. Teams in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series also will compete during the weekend.

In addition to the thrilling racing on the track, many activities are planned around the event that will make the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals one to remember.

With the support of Hod Rod Magazine, NHRA will present an exceptional display of impressive hot rods titled "NHRA Salutes the Finest 51." The exclusive hot rod exhibit, which represents 13 states and involves eight different body styles and customs, will commemorate the 51st running of the world's most prestigious drag race.

"The cars in this exhibit are must-see, the genuine article for any hot rodding enthusiast," said Finest 51 coordinator Bob Daniels. "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see all of these cars together in one place. Hot Rod Magazine is taking advantage of the opportunity to join NHRA to pay tribute to hot rodding and those who built and own these spectacular machines. As such, the vehicles reflect the highest quality in fit and finish, and are classic examples of the best the sport of hot rodding and customizing has to offer."

A sample of the Finest 51 includes Garlits' 1936 Ford Coupe, which the eight-time U. S. Nationals Top Fuel winner says he rebuilt during his spare time in 1953. Dennis Eppers' 1932 Ford Roadster features a paint design identical to the famed Blue Angels air squadron. One of the most historic hot rods from the East Coast, Frank Spittle's 1933 Hudson Essex Terraplane, and noted NHRA multi-time Division champion Al Bergler's 1932 Ford Roadster, also will be included in the Finest 51 collection.

A parade of these vintage hot rods will take place during pre-final ceremonies on Monday, Sept. 5. Otherwise, the cars will be available all weekend for race attendees to view in the Mac Tools Concourse.

The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is annually a hot spot for celebrities who are into watching cars go fast, and this year is no exception. Among those attending this year's event include two stars from George Lucas' popular cult-classic American Graffiti -- Paul Le Mat, who played John Milner, and Cindy Williams, who played Laurie Henderson. Both will be available in the Mac Tools Concourse around the Finest 51 collection to meet with fans, talk about hot rods and sign autographs.

Autograph sessions also will be available to fans at designated times during the event featuring NHRA heroes of the past and present. Two spectacular nights of fireworks (Sept. 2 and 3) will add to the drama as well as several gravity-defying skydiving performances throughout the weekend.

There will be two lucrative bonus events guaranteed to increase the level of excitement for fans during the weekend. The world's eight best Funny Car drivers will compete for the $100,000 winner's share in the Skoal Showdown on Sept. 4, and the eight-best Pro Stock Motorcycle riders will race for their share of the top prize in the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle on Sept. 3.

Prior to the start of official racing at IRP, fans can get a taste of the excitement on Wednesday, Aug. 31st at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Fan Fest, which will feature a display of race cars, interactive displays and team transporters at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. The Fan Fest, which starts at noon (CT), also will feature a premier autograph session with many of the top professional drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

SCHEDULE: The first of five pro qualifying sessions is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. Qualifying continues at 1:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 and concludes at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4. Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle eliminations are at 1 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:25 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3. Skoal Showdown eliminations are at 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) for ticket information, or check online at, and

ON TV: ESPN2 will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals beginning with a one-hour qualifying show on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 1:30 a.m. (ET). A two-hour qualifying show will be telecast by ESPN2 at noon (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 4, along with a three hour qualifying show at 10:30 p.m. (ET). On Monday, Sept. 5, ESPN2 will telecast two shows, with one hour of early eliminations coverage at noon (ET) and a three-hour final eliminations show at 8 p.m. (ET). NHRA 2Day, ESPN2's popular magazine show that covers the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, will feature two shows live from IRP during the event. The regularly scheduled NHRA 2Day show will air at 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 4; a special presentation of NHRA 2Day will air on Monday, Sept. 5 at 11:30 a.m. (ET).


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Bob Glidden , Don Garlits
Teams Williams