Pomona: Dixon tours US Navy carrier

DIXON VISTS WITH U.S. NAVY MEMBERS, TOURS USS NIMITZ VISTA, Calif. (Feb. 16, 2005) -- One day after completing the 2005 NHRA POWERade Series season-opener at Pomona Raceway -- where Larry Dixon raced to the quickest pass of his career ...

DIXON VISTS WITH U.S. NAVY MEMBERS, TOURS USS NIMITZ

VISTA, Calif. (Feb. 16, 2005) -- One day after completing the 2005 NHRA POWERade Series season-opener at Pomona Raceway -- where Larry Dixon raced to the quickest pass of his career (4.481-seconds) in qualifying -- the two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion toured the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz at its homeport of Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif.

Dixon and his family were led on a tour of the gigantic ship by long time NHRA drag racing fan Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Sam Johnson. The tour began on the quarterdeck of the Nimitz before the Dixon's got to see many different levels of the 18-story-tall ship from the artillery stocked on board to the flight deck and the bridge high above San Diego bay. After the tour, the 35-time NHRA winner signed autographs and handed out hats and t-shirts to many of the 3,200 sailors on board.

"I sleep better at night knowing how strong our country is protected, that's for sure," Dixon said. "We met a lot of drag racing fans on board Nimitz. It was neat to meet and thank those aboard the ship that stopped by. I want to think Miller, Mac Tools and Lucas Oil for giving us shirts and hats to pass out. That was a nice way for me to say thanks for the tour and for doing what they do, protecting us and allowing us to race."

One of the most important activities aboard the ship is the assembly of bombs. The process is very similar to that of what the mechanics on a race crew endure following a 330-mph pass. For battle, the Nimitz is equipped with short-range missiles and 50-caliber machine guns, but the majority of the bombs are for the air wing. A crew of 8-10 sailors can assemble an average of 12-15 laser target bombs or 30-35 dumb bombs each hour. Dixon's talented pit crew consists of seven team member that can tear apart and rebuild his 8,000 horsepower engine in around 45 minutes.

"The process with building bombs on the ship is very similar to that of a race crew," Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Chris Egan said. "We train the team for efficiency. It's important to get things done in a timely manner. It's just like the pit crew where each person knows what they have to do and things go smoothly."

The flight deck of the Nimitz is nearly 1,100-feet in length, compare that to a drag strip, which is 1,320-feet long and one can visualize how large the ship is. At sea, between 60-70 jets are kept on board. A catapult is used to launch to jets from the flight deck. The catapult has enough force to launch a car 400-feet off the flight deck. When released from the catapult, a jet accelerates from zero to 140 knots (about 168 mph) in three seconds at between 3 to 4 G-forces. Dixon's Miller Lite dragster blasts from zero to 100 mph in less than one second exerting 5 to 6 G's on his body before covering the quarter-mile drag strip in 4.5 seconds at 330 mph.

"I've been a drag racing fan for years," Petty Officer Johnson said. "I'm from Ohio, so I used to go to National Trail Raceway, now I go to Pomona. I love the sport. I'm big fans of both Larry (Dixon) and Tony Pedregon."

Don Prudhomme Racing is headquartered in Vista, Calif., with a second shop -- Don Prudhomme Racing, Brownsburg, Ind. -- serving as thebase for racing operations. Drivers Larry Dixon and Tommy Johnson Jr. complete the roster of Don Prudhomme Racing drivers and proudly represent such racing partners as Miller Brewing Co., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., Ameriquest Mortgage Co., Lucas Oil Products and Raybestos.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Pedregon , Don Prudhomme , Tommy Johnson Jr.