FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals will heat-up Infineon this weekend
The FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals, Infineon Raceway’s second most-attended race-weekend, takes place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 29, 30 and 31, and will include Don “The Snake” Prudhomme’s induction into the Infineon Raceway Wall of Fame.
The National Hot Rod Association’s warmed up Infineon Raceway’s famed drag-strip with last weekend’s Division 7 drag-racing.
Now it’s time for the NHRA’s main event, the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals, which arrive at Infineon for their 24th annual visit to the Valley starting this Friday, July 29, and running through Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31.
The second most-attended race-weekend of Infineon Big O Tires major-events season, the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals will again feature the best drag racing in the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle divisions.
In 2010, Larry Dixon was both the top qualifier and winner in Top Fuel, while in Funny Car, Jack Beckman was the top qualifier and Ron Capps was the winner; in Pro Stock, Allen Johnson was the top qualifier, and Jeg Coughlin was the winner; and in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Hector Arana was the top qualifier and Michael Phillips was the winner.
This year, Mike Neff, who’s competing for John Force Racing, enters this weekend's NHRA Western Swing with a comfortable 172-point lead in the standings over Jack Beckman, including four wins in seven final-round appearances.
A two-time world championship winning crew chief, Neff will not only serve as the crew chief this weekend at Infineon, but he will also be driving his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
After 20 seasons in Funny Car, including winning the division at Infineon in 2001, Del Worsham has moved to Top Fuel and tops the standings with five wins in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster. Worsham, will try and join Don “The Snake” Prudhomme as the only drivers in NHRA history to win in both nitro categories at the FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals.
With Pro Stock being the only NHRA class which has never featured a female winner, Erica Enders is hoping to make history by winning in Sonoma. This season, she has posted runner-up finishes at Bristol (Tenn.) and Chicago and claimed the No. 1 qualifying positions at both Pomona and Norwalk (Ohio).
As a 15-time world champion in Funny Car, John Force – who holds the record for most career NHRA titles at Infineon with seven, his last coming in 2007 – could make history in Sonoma if he qualifies in the top spot. He is currently tied for the NHRA record with Pro Stock racer Warren Johnson at 138.
Last year, seven track records were broken at Infineon Raceway and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Michael Phillips set the national record for speed with a pass of 197.65 mph. With its proximity to sea level (15 feet) and concrete launch pad, Sonoma has become one of the fastest drag strips in the country.
As part of its season-long Legends in Sonoma program, Infineon Raceway will be honoring NHRA legends Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Shirley Muldowney and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits over this weekend’s FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals.
The legendary Prudhomme, who has been both a racer and team owner on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series during his 45-plus years in the sport, will also be inducted into the Infineon Raceway Wall of Fame during the pre-event ceremonies this Sunday, July 31.
Prudhomme is the only racer to win in two different professionaldivisions in Sonoma (Funny Car, 1989; Top Fuel, 1992), and he was runner-up in Funny Car during the NHRA's first visit to Sonoma in 1988. He also posted 59 wins overall as a team owner and will join
Warren Johnson (2005), John Force (2006), Gary Scelzi (2007) and Doug Kalitta (2008) as Wall of Fame NHRA inductees.
“I have always enjoyed racing at Sonoma and mostly because of the fans,” said Prudhomme. “In the early 1960s, Northern California was one of the real hotbeds for drag racing in the early days when we raced at Half Moon Bay and Fremont, and it still is. I enjoyed seeing people from those tracks when I began racing at Sonoma. And you know? The wine isn't too bad either.”
Nationally, Prudhomme's career began with his first Top Fuel win at Smokers March Meet in Bakersfield in 1962. He ended his career with 49 NHRA victories, at the time the sixth most in NHRA history. He became the first racer to win four consecutive NHRA series titles, and he won the prestigious U.S. Nationals seven times. He was also the first Funny Car driver to break the 250 mph barrier, among his many other accolades.
“The Infineon Raceway Wall of Fame is reserved for individuals whose accomplishments have helped to define the legacy of this facility,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. “Don Prudhomme’s career accomplishments are the stuff of legend, but today we are focused more specifically on his remarkable record in Sonoma as both a driver and team owner. We’re proud to welcome The Snake as the latest addition to our Wall of Fame.”
As for Muldowney, she changed the landscape of major motorsports forever when she became the first female to win an NHRA Top Fuel race and later a world championship title in the 7,000-horsepower category. She went on to win three Top Fuel world titles.
Garlits was named the No. 1 drag-racer in NHRA history in 2001 during the NHRA’s 50th anniversary celebration, and “Big Daddy” raced to three NHRA Top Fuel world championship titles and claimed 35 victories during his standout career.
Infineon NHRA ticket costs are $50 to $60 for a single day and $135 for the weekend, with free parking, and qualifications and eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with Sunday’s pre-race ceremonies starting at 10, followed by final eliminations at 11 a.m.
To purchase tickets and ticket packages for the NHRA’s FRAM Autolite Nationals weekend, including the DSR hospitality package, for details on Wednesday Night Drags, Top the Cops, Drifting, or for general information, visit www.infineonraceway.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or call 800-870-RACE (7223).