Sonoma: Pre race notes, quotes

· FUNNY CAR LEGEND JOHN FORCE ON RJ REYNOLDS ENDING TITLE RIGHT SPONSORSHIP: The legendary John Force has earned his legacy with his animated personality and success in the Funny Car category. His 10 NHRA Winston championships tie a record set by...

· FUNNY CAR LEGEND JOHN FORCE ON RJ REYNOLDS ENDING TITLE RIGHT SPONSORSHIP: The legendary John Force has earned his legacy with his animated personality and success in the Funny Car category. His 10 NHRA Winston championships tie a record set by Bob Glidden. Force is currently leading in the Winston standings and is on the verge of his 11th Winston crown.

"Winston has been in drag racing as long as I've been driving," said the 52-year-old Force. "They did so much for the sport over the years - introducing us to Corporate America, working with the media. They opened a lot of doors - which was just as important as the bonus money they paid out. But I think I'll miss the people and the friendships most of all. I just want to wish Winston continued success with their NASCAR program. In drag racing, they gave us a foundation we can build on. Because of the situation with the tobacco industry, we all knew there was a good chance that this would happen. But (NHRA President) Tom Compton has assured me that the NHRA has been in contact with a number of companies who can help take us to the next level and I'm looking forward to working with them, whoever they are. Bottom line, though, I'll always be the 10-time Winston champion, the only one, and that's something I'm really proud of."

· ALDERMAN AND OSBORNE MAKE STRONG PRO STOCK DEBUTS IN DODGE NEON THEN BACK IT UP: Darrell Alderman feels like a kid again. And for good reason, as his new Mopar Parts Pro Stock Dodge Neon R/T debuted in the fourth qualifying slot a couple weeks ago at Bandimere Speedway.

To add to the intrigue, Alderman's first qualifying pass was also the first time the three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion had driven the car. With only four testing runs on the new Pro Stock Dodge Neon R/T overall, Alderman overcame the thin air of the Rocky Mountains to run a 7.285-second elapsed time at 189.28 mph.

"It's fun to be this competitive this early," said the 51-year-old Alderman. "This car really feels good, especially at half track. The car is very stable and it is quite fun to drive. It reminds me of the Dodge Daytona that I drove when I won all those championships. That excites me."

Teammate Mark Osborne earned the 10th qualifying position with a 7.317 at 188.44 in his debut.

In their second event in the Neon in Seattle, Osborne and Alderman met in the final round. It was the first all-Dodge final since the 1995 Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., with Osborne prevailing.

The Dodge's looked impressive in Seattle with Osborne establishing a track record for elapsed time with his 6.811 second pass and Alderman setting a national record for speed when his vehicle reached 202.64 mph.

· LIFESTYLE VILLAGE TO DEBUT IN 2002 IN SONOMA: Sears Point Raceway has unveiled a new themed display concept that will offer lifestyle-oriented attractions for race-day spectators and provide a direct link between the raceway's sponsors and the fans who enjoy their products and services.

Beginning in 2002, major Sears Point race events will feature a variety of "Lifestyle Villages," with activities and diversions tailored to individual fan interests. Each of these areas will include appropriate amenities and sponsored display "paddocks" tied to the overall theme.

Among the villages planned for development is a family seating area with picnic and playground equipment and a "Kidz Zone" display. The Coleman Company will be the lead sponsor of an "Outdoors Pavilion" featuring camping and fishing gear and other outdoor equipment.

Other villages will include a young adult zone with beach volleyball courts and the latest in music technology and a business-oriented entertainment and display area.

All of the villages will be fully wired for Internet access and offer a showcase for the latest in communications and information technology.

· RACERS TO PARTICIPATE IN GOLF TOURNAMNET TO AID IN CANCER RESEARCH: The Seventh Annual Gary Ormsby Memorial Golf Classic will be held August 1st at Silverado Country Club located in Napa Valley. The tournament benefits the Mathews Foundation for prostate cancer research and is an event that many in the drag racing community look forward to each year. The tournament was conceived to honor the memory of Gary Ormsby, a businessman and professional NHRA Top Fuel drag racer from Sacramento. Popular with the loyal fans and respected by his peers, Ormsby raced Top Fuel dragsters for 27 years and won the 1989 NHRA Winston Top Fuel Championship.

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Mathews Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research. Incorporated in 1988 as a publicly supported charity, the foundation provides information and counseling on the cause, prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.

· SKUZA AND SPIDERMAN TEAM UP: Mopar-sponsored Funny Car racer Dean Skuza will take part in a special Spider-Man promotion later this season, adorning his Team Mopar Dodge with images of the wall-crawling crime-fighter from the pages of Marvel's Spider-Man comic books.

Skuza's machine will fly the special paint scheme at the inaugural Las Vegas NHRA Nationals to be contested Oct. 25-28 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The promotion is part of a recently announced joint venture by Action Performance Companies, Inc., Evernham Motorsports, Dodge Motorsports, and Marvel Enterprises that will put the comic-book hero on four race cars this year.

The others cars involved -- No. 9 and No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T stock cars of Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood and the Team Mopar World of Outlaws machine of Mark Kinser.

Elliott and Atwood will debut their Dodge Dealers/Spider-Man Dodge R/Ts at the NASCAR Winston Cup event at Lowe's Motor Speedway later this year. Kinser will carry the web-slinger to the World of Outlaws Season Finale at The Dirt Track in Las Vegas.

This special Spider-Man themed promotion comes at a time when Spidey-mania is at an all-time high. Leading the way is the huge anticipation surrounding the theatrical release of Columbia Pictures' and Marvel Entertainment's star-studded live-action adventure Spider-Man on May 3, 2002, as well as the success of Ultimate Spider-Man, one of the hottest comic book series in recent years and the source of the images on each of the program's race cars.

"One thing most people have in common is a love of comic book heroes," said Fred Wagenhals, the president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of Action Performance Companies, Inc. "Marvel's Spider-Man character has always been popular with adults and kids alike, and we are glad to have the opportunity to do something special with Dodge and Evernham Motorsports and these great drivers in connection with that license."

-NHRA

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bill Elliott , Darrell Alderman , Dean Skuza , John Force , Casey Atwood , Mark Kinser , Bob Glidden
Teams CIP