The track where Garlits, Bernstein, Muldowney and others legends raced could create new heroes
The rich history and tradition of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will once again be on display as the event celebrates its 60th anniversary during the traditional Labor Day weekend showcase of speed and high performance. For six decades, the event has been a proving ground for the best NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams and a victory at this event can elevate a driver to legendary status.
Tickets for the world’s most prestigious drag race go on sale today and can be purchased by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRATIX.com.
The 60th installment will take place Aug. 27-Sept. 1 and will feature more than 1,000 competitors in 12 categories during the event. The 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for 2014 is also the final event in the regular season.
Throughout the years fans at Lucas Oil Raceway have cheered on drag racing immortals like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits (in photo), Kenny Bernstein, Shirley Muldowney, Bob Glidden, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, as they raced to the winner’s circle and etched their names into the NHRA record book. Today’s stars – such as nine-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Top Fuel winner Tony Schumacher, four-time Funny Car winner John Force and six-time Pro Stock winner Greg Anderson – are all racing with plenty of determination to continue to build upon their legacies. 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 vital component of a great driver’s resume.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners.
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 compete for their share of the $2 million purse and battle for important world championship points as the event is the final regular season race and will establish the top 10 fields for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Perhaps more importantly, drivers will compete to earn a permanent spot in NHRA history, as a Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner.
Once again, ESPN2 will provide national television coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals during more than 11 hours of coverage. Dave Rieff leads the coverage with Mike Dunn offering insight as an analyst and they along with the rest of the broadcast team gives the viewers a behind the scenes look at the sport.
Each year during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, fans are offered a glimpse into the past with several exciting attractions and numerous appearances by many of the sport’s legendary drivers, and the 2014 edition of this tradition-rich event is no exception.
Celebrating the historic moments of the 60th anniversary of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will be a major component of the weekend. During the course of the event, several of the sport’s greatest legends will be celebrated during six special tributes to the most memorable moments of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The first moment will be revealed on Wednesday, June 11. The remaining five moments will be announced during the weeks leading up to the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
A special Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk also will take place prior to final eliminations, where many of the sport’s most celebrated drivers will walk alongside fans down the historic dragstrip. Fan-favorite Cacklefests and vintage racecars on display in the Hot Rod Junction, along with several autograph sessions featuring the legends of the sport as well as today’s biggest stars will be featured throughout each day of the event. On Friday, a special fireworks show will close out the day’s racing.
Thundering Jet Cars will take to the track to make exhibition passes as part of Friday and Saturday’s racing activities. As usual, one of the highlights of the spectacular pre-race show on Monday will feature highly-skilled skydiver Jason Peters soaring into Lucas Oil Raceway with an American Flag in tow during the traditional performance of the National Anthem.
Bonus bucks and bragging rights will be on the line for qualified drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car as they battle in the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held on Saturday evening, while the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car is contested Sunday afternoon. The winners in each Traxxas Nitro Shootout will earn $100,000.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Series also will look to become winners of the prestigious event during the weekend. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for the ultimate bragging rights and a bonus purse during the popular Mopar HEMI Challenge.
Downtown Indianapolis will come alive with NHRA excitement on Wednesday Aug. 27 when the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fan Fest comes to Monument Circle in the heart of the city. NHRA race team showcars, classic cars, live music, video displays and giveaways are just a few of the activities schedule for the event. Fans will also be able to get autographs from their favorite drivers in one of the largest autograph sessions of the season. In addition, the official event press conference will take place during the Fan Fest, where several news announcements will be made and the random lottery drawings for the No. 8 spots in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be conducted. The Fan Fest begins at 11 a.m.
The biggest, most historic and prestigious event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals 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 Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in 1961.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 1. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Aug. 30 with rounds at 4 p.m., 5:25 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Aug. 31 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:30 p.m., 1:55 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
ESPN2 will televise more than 11 hours of coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Five hours of qualifying coverage and coverage of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will air on ESPN2 at 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (ET) and 5-7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31. Monday’s (Sept. 1) eliminations for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will be featured in six hours of coverage starting at noon (ET).