MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS: NHRA'S PRESTIGIOUS CELEBRATION OF SPEED AND HIGH PERFORMANCE RACES INTO 55th YEAR IN INDY INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 12, 2009) -- As NHRA celebrates the 55th anniversary of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil,...
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS: NHRA'S PRESTIGIOUS CELEBRATION OF SPEED AND HIGH PERFORMANCE RACES INTO 55th YEAR IN INDY
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 12, 2009) -- As NHRA celebrates the 55th anniversary of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, 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 O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Sept. 2-7. It is the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series for 2009 and will be showcased nationwide on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD, which will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of drag racing's marquee spectacle.
Each year at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil fans are offered a glimpse into the past with several exciting attractions and the 2009 edition of this legendary event is no exception. Two historic Fuel Altereds -- Rat Trap and Nanook -- and two nostalgia Funny Cars -- The Wonder Wagon and The Super Nova -- will compete head-to-head in a series of match races during Friday and Saturday night racing, a great warm-up for the present day 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars which will hit the track immediately afterwards.
Throughout the weekend many of the 60 Show N Shine winners from the National Hot Rod Reunion will be on display in the Mac Tools Concourse. One of the beautiful vintage hot rods will be selected as the winner of the Bob Daniels Award of Excellence and will have its name permanently engraved on the prestigious perpetual trophy. All of the cars will participate in a special pre-finals parade during Monday's final eliminations.
While many of the legends of the sport will be roaming the grounds of O'Reilly Raceway Park throughout the weekend, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, the winningest Top Fuel driver in Mac Tools U.S. Nationals history and the drag racer voted No. 1 by a panel of historians and journalists during NHRA's 50th anniversary celebration in 2001, will be a featured guest in the Mac Tools Concourse during the weekend and will be signing autographs at designated times on Saturday and Sunday.
As always the event will feature spectacular pre-race and post-race shows. Krista Marie, who sings the popular song "Drive It Like You Stole It" to intro ESPN2's coverage of NHRA, will perform the National Anthem on Monday prior to the start of final eliminations. As she sings, highly-skilled skydiver Jason Peters will soar into O'Reilly Raceway Park with an American Flag in tow. On Saturday prior to the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle, noted blues singer Sammy Eubanks will perform the Star Spangled Banner to open that competition. The Goodyear Blimp will be roaming the skies over the track on Sunday and Monday and spectacular fireworks shows will illuminate the night sky following Friday and Saturday's night qualifying sessions.
Throughout the years fans at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis have cheered on drag racing immortals like Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, Bob Glidden, and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme as they raced to the winner's circle at more than 250 mph to etch their names into the NHRA record book. Today's stars -- such as seven-time Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Tony Schumacher and four-time winner John Force -- will be racing with great passion and determination at more than 300 mph 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.
Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners in their respective pro categories.
This year's edition of the famed event will feature intense side-by-side racing as drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle chase their share of the $2 million purse, a position in the Full Throttle Countdown to 1, and more importantly, a spot in history. Teams in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where NHRA's future stars earn valuable experience, also will compete during the weekend.
Once again, the event will feature added drama as it is the last race in the Countdown to 10, the final event in the regular season before the playoffs -- the Countdown to 1 -- begins in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Championship-contending teams in each of the four pro categories will be reduced to 10 following this event, and their point totals will be adjusted by increments of 10 from first to 10th. The first place driver in each class also will receive a 20-point bonus.
Two lucrative bonus events are guaranteed to increase the level of excitement for fans during the weekend. The world's eight best Pro Stock Motorcycle riders will race for their share of the top prize in the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle on Sept. 5. On Sept. 4, the world's fastest Super Stock cars will compete for bonus bucks and bragging rights in the wildly popular Mopar HEMI Challenge.
Prior to the start of official racing at O'Reilly Raceway Park, fans can get a taste of the excitement on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil Kick-Off Party, which will feature a driver autograph session, display of race cars, live music and an appearance by the popular trackside big screen, ACDelco Vision. The Kick-Off Party starts at 7 p.m. (ET), at Champps Americana on Indy's Northside at 8711 N. River Crossing. Drivers scheduled to appear include Larry Dixon, Brandon Bernstein, Ron Capps, Jack Beckman and Morgan Lucas, among others.
The most historic and prestigious event in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil has been contested annually since 1955. Originally known as "The Nationals" and first held at an abandoned airstrip in Great Bend, Kan., the event made stops at Kansas City, Mo., Oklahoma City and Detroit before eventually moving to O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis in 1961.
SCHEDULE: The first of five pro qualifying sessions is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4. Qualifying continues at noon and 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 and concludes at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 6. Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle eliminations are at 1:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 7.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil by calling (800) 884-NHRA, or via the Web at www.ticketmaster.com.
ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil beginning with a two hour and 30 minute qualifying show on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 11:30 a.m. (ET). A two-hour qualifying show will air later that day on ESPN2 HD at 5 p.m. (ET). On Monday, Sept. 7, ESPN2 HD will televise a one-hour NHRA Race Day from the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals preview show at noon (ET), followed by a five-hour eliminations show starting at 1 p.m. (ET).
ABOUT O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS: One of five motorsports facilities owned and operated by NHRA, O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis sits on 267 acres of land just west of Indianapolis in the town of Claremont, and features three race courses: a quarter-mile dragstrip, a .686-mile paved oval and a 2.5 mile, 15-turn road course. In addition to the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the multipurpose motorsports facility also hosts the Kroger SpeedFest, which features the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the USAC Midget and Silver Crown Series.
ABOUT NHRA: Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 24 national events through its NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. NHRA has 80,000 members and 140 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 and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers the Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 8 to 17.