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The latest update as of March 19, 2018

Exclusive coverage from the first NITRO OUTLAW DRAG RACING ASSOCIATION event


This exclusive report and photos are provided courtesy of Bob Snyder, our correspondent and ace photographer in the Southwestern U.S.A. Check out more of his work on his Bob Snyder Drag Photos website.

This past weekend saw Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park hold the opening round of the NDHRA (National Diesel Hot Rod Association) series along with the first race of the Nitro Outlaw Drag Racing Association. The new Nitro series was formed to help with the problem of so much breakage using a "big-show" tuneup, with the main difference in specs being a cut to only 80% Nitro in the tank. Six cars were to be at the opener but one Top Fuel racer (Lex "The Flying Dutchman" Joon) had a problem with getting a rig to make the trip to Phoenix.

Chris Bennett --- Todd Simpson FC

Cory Mac(lenathan) and Bill Litton in Top Fuelers, and Chris Bennett, Todd Simpson and Jack Wyatt in their Funny Cars made up the all-run field. They started out with all competitors making single runs to get a "no pressure" feel of the new combo and track, with Bill Litton running quickest at 4.08 and an early shutoff 247 mph.

Cory Mac TF --- Jack Wyatt vs Todd Simpson

Round one of competition featured one single pass, followed by two pairings, with the quickest Funny Car to face the quickest Top Fueler in the final round. Chris Bennett had some serious shake on his single which broke a chassis piece that took out his left rear slick, but was able to bring the damaged race car to a safe stop. Jack Wyatt and Cory Mac (with a 4.10 at 303 mph became the finalists as Todd Simpson and Bill Litton both had issues.

Jack Wyatt FC vs Cory Mac TF - Final --- Jack Wyatt FC vs Cory Mac TF - Final

In the final, Cory Mac ran a 4.08 at 301 mph to win over a troubled Jack Wyatt and take the inaugural event win for the fledging association. The next stop for this group will be at the Texas Motorplex (Ennis, TX) on April 28th, again as part of an NDHRA race.


The latest update as of March 18, 2018

49th annual NHRA (Amalie Oils) Gatornationals

Barely two days before qualifying started at the Gatornationals, the 3rd of 24 races on the 2018 NHRA schedule, a rather sudden - but not really surprising - announcement came down about a new penalty for centerline and/or timing block infractions. There's been a continuing increase in such incidents over the past few years and the latest crash resulting from crossing the centerline (the John Force - Jonnie Lindberg crash at Phoenix last month) is presumed to have caused the NHRA to enact the rule change.

It applies to racers in all categories at national events and will result in increasing penalties - from 5 to 10 to 15 points - for subsequent infractions. No monetary penalties will be added. There was no mention whether it will be extended to regional or divisional events, but that can be expected if the number of centerline violations continue unabated.

In our opinion, this move is overdue as speeds continue to increase, racers push ever harder attempting to win, and if their competitive instincts aren't tempered somewhat, it will only be a matter of time until a racer is seriously injured or killed. Thankfully, a centerline crossing hasn't resulted in a fatality for a very long time, but that's down to luck as much as good engineering, and constantly improved safety regulations.

It only took until the first round of eliminations for the rule to kick in, as Steve Torrence had the dubious honour of being the first recipient of a five-point penalty. Sadly, the next infraction in the second round of Top Fuel involved Mike Salinas, and he not only received the points deduction, but ended up with a crashed race car as he not only crossed the centerline, but hit the wall. He did the right thing by getting off the throttle when he smoked the tires right off the line, but got too excited when he saw opponent Richie Crampton going up in smoke also, and got back on the throttle too hard and too soon, putting the car sideways, up on two wheels, across the line and into the opposite wall. No word yet on how badly damaged the car (and more importantly, the driver) fared.

The latest update as of March 12, 2018

Better late than never: the 60th annual March Meet

We've got almost all the photos from the March Meet and now it's time to arrange them from latest to earliest, starting with Sunday's eliminations. With Saturday being almost a total washout, the Nostalgia Funny Cars had their work cut out for them, with four rounds on tap, instead of the usual three. We'll kick off our coverage with the first round of the plastic fantastics.

Nostalgia Funny Car - Round One eliminations

Dan Horan AA/FC --- Jason Rupert AA/FC - 'Rolling Thunder'

The first pair out of the lanes saw Dan Horan (left) break before staging, leaving Jason Rupert to single for the automatic win. Jason didn't spare the horses, but overpowered the track right off the starting line and coasted to an 18-second time

Steven Densham AA/FC - 'Teachers Pet' --- Geoff Monise AA/FC - 'Quarter Pounder'

In the next pairing, Steven Densham in the "Teachers Pet" (left) laid down a big number with a 5.69 - 252.24 to easily erase Geoff Monise (right - pictured Thursday) and his late-leaving early shut-off 7.10 - 113.74 losing effort

Brad Thompson AA/FC - 'Jailbreak'

With a decided disadvantage against Bobby Cottrell based on qualifying positions (#16 vs #1) Brad Thompson tried his best with the "Jailbreak" Camaro, but was more than half a tenth late at the tree, and gave up before the 1000 ft mark, with a 6.04 - 181.32 clocking

Bobby Cottrell AA/FC - 'Bardahl Special' --- 5.62 - 254.47

Low qualifier Bobby Cottrell cruised into the quarter-finals in his Bucky Austin-tuned car with a 5.62 - 254.47 time on the boards. Unfortunately for the crew, that time was barely visible through the cloud of piston smoke as they knew they were going to have to thrash to make the next round

Rian Konno AA/FC - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno' --- Jeff Arend AA/FC - 'California Hustler'

In a big upset, the heavily favoured #2 qualified "California Hustler" owned by Don Nelson and driven by NHRA big show veteran Jeff Arend (left - pictured Friday) was dispatched in a close race by the Roland Leong-tuned Mustang of Rian Konno. The scoreboards favoured Arend by a margin of 5.75 - 256.89 versus Konno's 5.84 - 241.89 but the devil was truly in the details, as Konno's .016 light put a big holeshot on Arend's rather tardy .141 launch

Paul Romine AA/FC - 'Man O' War' --- Mark Sanders AA/FC - 'Mr. Explosive'

After nearly identical leaves, Indiana's Paul Romine in his "Man O' War"steadily opened a lead over the "Mr. Explosive" Mustang of Washington State's Mark Sanders until Sanders threw in the towel and slowed to a 6.53 - 156.92 time, as Romine powered on to a 5.81 - 232.63 win

Tim Boychuk AA/FC - 'Happy Hour' --- Ryan Hodgson AA/FC - 'Pacemaker'

Despite the hometowns on the entry list, this was truly an all-Edmonton battle, with defending NHRA Heritage Series champion, Ryan Hodgson (right) taking out the "Happy Hour" entry of Tim Boychuk (left) by a decisive 5.70 -257.33 to a 6.00 - 216.34 margin

Shawn Bowen AA/FC - 'Bartone & Lebor' --- Matt Bynum AA/FC - 'Nitro Nick'

The closest race of the round featured Shawn Bowen (left - pictured Friday) in the Bartone & Lebor (yes, that Bartone) taking on Matt Bynum in the "Nitro Nick" car (right - pictured Thursday). Bowen left first by just .037, and turned on the win light with a great 5.68 - 251.06 over Bynum's hard-charging 5.71 pass coupled with a (slightly suspect IMHO) Top Speed of the Meet 259.61 mph

Cory Lee AA/FC - 'Pedaler'

Unfortunately we don't (yet) have a picture of the winner of the final pair in the first round as Mike Halstead in Lee Jennings' "Code Red" didn't show up in our inbox. Halstead took the win easily over Cory Lee (pictured Thursday) in Gary Turner's "Pedaler" entry, carding a solid 5.89 - 253.28 over Lee's slowing and losing 7.88 - 118.06 pass

Nostalgia Top Fuel - Round One eliminations

Pete Wittenberg AA/FD - 'Circuit Breaker'

Eventual winner Pete Wittenberg in his sophomore season behind the wheel of the "Circuit Breaker" easily dispatched first round opponent Brendan Murry (not shown) with a solid 5.84 e.t. at a slowing 221.92 mph, as Murray had nothing for him at 9.27 and 94.48

Bret Williamson AA/FD --- Dan Horan AA/FD

Moving past his first round opponent with ease was Bret Williamson who laid down a 5.79 at only 212.19 mph. Unable to muster much of a fight was Dan Horan (picture from Thursday) who trailed badly at 6.44 - 215.13

Mendy Fry AA/FD - 'High Speed Motorsports' --- Adam Sorokin AA/FD - 'Champion Speed Shop'

After taking the top qualifying spot with a 5.73 e.t. coupled with only a 219.51 trap speed, Mendy Fry (left - pictured Friday) in the "High Speed Motorsports" entry, laid down a bomb in the first round, obliterating Adam Sorokin (right) in the "Champion Speed Shop" entry. The verdict: 5.69 - 261.42 (good for Top Speed of the Meet) for Fry, against Sorokin's well-back 6.11 - 219.04 effort

Jim Murphy AA/FD - 'WWII' --- Rick White AA/FD

The final pairing of the opening stanza (I've been waiting for months to use that very well-worn drag racing cliche) saw the 2017 NHRA Heritage Series champion (and 2017 March Meet runner-up) Jim Murphy (left) in his ultra-tough "WW II" take out Rick White (right - pictured Friday) in the Forever Young" entry by a wide margin at 5.84 - 321.08 over White's 6.22 - 242.71 futile effort

Kin Bates A/FD

We only got two pictures of A/FD's this weekend (Kin Bates and Shawn Corbari), but this one of Kin Bates shows him enroute to the win in the very tough 16-car field. Bates qualified second behind Drew Austin's (yes, that Austin family) incredible 5.81 e.t., with his own very strong 5.89 coupled with a huge speed of 235.10 mph. From there, he marched through the field, cranking out two straight 235-mph speeds, and crossed the finish line in the final with a 5.84 - 233.88 effort

Here's a selection of Sportsman shots and at the very bottom of the report, the AA/Fuel Altered (the Awful-Awfuls) final

Tire Shake! --- Blake Reynolds 7.0 PRO

If you think only the big boys can shake the tires HARD, guess again as the photo on the left was taken during 7.0 PRO eliminations. On the right is Blake Reynolds in his very cool '48 Fiat

Gasser Wheelie --- Wheelie Truck

On the left is an unidentified Gasser reaching for the sky, while a FlatDeck Wheelie Truck does it on the right

Bill Becker C/G - '33 Willys --- Jeep

We've got Bill Becker in his C/Gas '33 Willys panel on the left, and on the right, an unidentified stock-appearing Jeep

Tod Barker B/G - '48 Anglia --- David Wilson B/G

On the left, it's Tod Barker in his cool B/Gas '48 Anglia, who suffered an unfortunate deep stage disqualification in the first round, while to the right, it's David Wilson in his '40 Ford pickup. Wilson broke and didn't advance either

Ed 'The Outlaw' Jones --- Terminal Velocity JET Car

The exhibition cars fill the gaps near the end of the show, and Bakersfield pays homage to two of the showier of them. Ed "The Outlaw" Jones keeps the wheels up on his venerable "Jelly Belly" firetruck, while the "Terminal Velocity" Jet Dragster lights up the late afternoon

Eric Gates vs Dan Hix AA/FA Final

Here's the final round of AA/Fuel Altered. In the near lane we've got the winner, Dan Hix shown pulling out to a big early lead over runner-up Eric Gates. It was pretty much a done deal at the green, with Gates really late with a .204 light against Hix's so-so .153 leave. From there on, Hix train-lengthed Gates, with a 6.30 at only 168.10 mph over Gates' shutting off 8.91 - 93.32 effort

The latest update as of March 10, 2018

Better late than never: the 60th annual March Meet

Let's get started with a few pics from Wednesday's test session which mostly consisted of AA/FCs, 5.90 FCs, and an AA/FA or two.

Steve Easton AA/FC - 'Burnin' Money' --- Brad Thompson AA/FC - 'Jailbreak'

Aussie Steve Easton made it out on Wednesday to ignite (a whole bunch) more cash in Bob Godfrey's "Burnin' Money" 'Cuda (left). During the second qualifying session on Friday, the engine went BANG, the body flew away, and their weekend was over. Here's the link to the in-car Facebook video of the carnage. On the right side Brad Thompson shows off the System 1 colours on his "Jailbreak" Camaro

Shawn van Horn AA/FC - 'Choo Choo Mama' --- Mark Sanders AA/FC - 'Mr Explosive'

A new car/driver is Shawn van Horn's "Choo Choo Mama" Trans-Am (left), while perennial hard charger Mark Sanders blasts off in his veteran "Mr. Explosive" Mustang (right)

Billy Morris AA/FC - 'Problem Child' --- Don Hudson AA/FC - 'The Beachcomber'

On the left is a new addition to the nostalgia flopper ranks with Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" while on the right, Don Hudson has the "Beachcomber" looking as sharp as ever

Shane Harter in Dave --- Richard Wilson A/G 'Voodoo Hemi'

This year it's Shawn Harter behind the wheel of Dave "Nasty" Benjamin's always tough AA/Fuel Altered (on the left) and Richard Wilson's awesome "Voodoo Hemi" launching with a shower of sparks (on the right)

Jeff Paulin H/R --- Dennis Jauregui H/R

Now it's Bob Snyder's wife Ginger, providing us with some great sportsman shots

Bruce Boardman D/G --- 777E Slingshot --- 7678
Smoke Screen

Proceedings came to a rather untidy end as an errant - and as yet unnamed - A/Fuel Dragster left a very large trail of oil from half track to well past the finish line. With the temperatures dropping and the dew point rapidly approaching, it was decided to not throw good money after bad and the hard-working Famoso crew called it a wrap for the day

Day two of the March Meet saw all the categories, save the blown fuel cars, participating in their first qualifying sessions. The fuel cars did get out on the Famoso Raceway surface for a "bonus" test session, and most of the racers took advantage of the extra practice available.

Shawn Van Horn 590 FC --- Claude Lavoie 590 FC

It's Shawn van Horn on the left and Edmonton's Claude Lavoie on the right with their 5.90 indexed Funny Cars

Geoff Monise AA/FC - 'Quarter Pounder' --- Don Hudson AA/FC - 'Beachcomber'

Newcomer Geoff Monise in the QuarterPounder Monza is on the left, while Don Hudson's 'Beachcomber' resides on the right side of this pair

Jim Murphy AA/FD - 'WWII' --- Chris Bennett AA/FA - 'High Heaven'

Dean Oberg 'Holy Toledo' 590 FC vs John Evans TF --- Todd Miller AA/FA

Dan Horan AA/FC --- Rian Konno AA/FC - 'Kazanjian & Lemon'

Vince Gerealao AA/FA --- Kris Krabill AA/FC - 'Smokey's Darkside'

Tim Boychuk AA/FC - 'Happy Hour' --- Jason Rupert AA/FC - 'Littlefield & Rupert'

Mark Sanders AA/FC - 'Mr. Explosive' --- Dan Horan AA/FD

Mark Whynaught AA/FA --- Eric Gates AA/FA

Brad Thompson TF - 'Rain for Rent' --- Cory Lee AA/FC - 'Pedaler'

Claude Lavoie AA/FC --- Pete Wittenberg AA/FD - 'Circuit Breaker'

Steve Easton AA/FC - 'Burnin' Money' --- Dean Oberg 590 FC - 'Holy Toledo'

Matt Bynum AA/FC - 'Nitro Nick' --- Ryan Hodgson AA/FC - 'Pacemaker'

Chris Davis AA/FC --- Jason Rupert AA/FC - 'Rolling Thunder'

Eric Gates AA/FA --- Todd Miller AA/FA

Phil Ruskowski AA/FD --- Brad Thompson T/F - 'Warren, Coburn & Miller'

Dyan Lover & Ginger Snyder

Here's two of the women behind the lenses, with Port Alberni's Dyan Lover on the left and Phoenix's Ginger Snyder on the right

Friday was the first day of qualifying for Top Fuel, Fuel Altered and Funny Car at the March Meet and the weather threatened to break throughout the day. With an even worse forecast for Saturday's final qualifying sessions, the smart money was on making their first shot(s) count on Friday, instead of gambling on the final day of time trials. Unfortunately, a few racers got caught out as the track got colder and slipperier when the sun went down.

Bobby Cottrell AA/FC - 'Bardahl' --- Pete Wittenberg AA/FD

We may as well cut to the chase and spoil the surprise: here's the winners: Bobby Cottrell in Bucky Austin's "Bardahl Special" on the left, while upset-underdog-darkhorse (pick an appropriate adjective) Pete Wittenberg in the "Circuit Breaker" AA/Fuel Dragster is on the right

Dean Oberg 590 FC - 'Holy Toledo'

Here's Dean Oberg charging out in his 5.90 indexed Funny Car. Yes, it is a replica of a 1967 Jeep, but it's definitely a period-correct flopper. The next batch of photos were provided by Bob's wfie Ginger Snyder who certainly knows her way around a camera. Great work Ginger!

Shawn Bowen AA/FC - 'Bartone & Lebor' --- Kris Krabill AA/FC - 'Smokey's Darkside'

The nostalgia funny cars had the luxury of two qualifying sessions on Friday (other nitro categories got just one), and Shawn Bowen (left) made the most of his chances, ending up in the lucky #7 spot with a 5.788 at 246.88 clocking, while Kris Krabill (right) just missed making the cut, at #17 with a 6.154 - 225.79 in the "Smokey's Darkside" Challenger

Billy Morris AA/FC - 'Problem Child' --- Paul Romine AA/FC - 'Man O' War'

Newcomer Billy Morris in the "Problem Child" Camaro was well down the list at #20, missing the show with a best of 6.518 - 210.21 (left), while veteran fuel racer Paul Romine in his "Man O' War" Mustang qualified solidly at #12 with a 5.890 at 234.00 pass

Bill Windham AA/FC - 'Shakedown' --- Steve Densham AA/FC - 'Teachers Pet'

Jeff Arend AA/FC - 'California Hustler --- Mark Sanders AA/FC - 'Mr. Explosive'

Jason Rupert AA/FC - 'Rolling Thunder' --- Don Knoblauch

Bobby Cottrell AA/FC - 'Bardahl Special' --- John Weaver AA/FC

Don Hudson AA/FC - 'Beachcomber' --- Rian Konno AA/FC - 'Kazanjian, Lemon & Konno'

Jeff Utterback 590 FC - 'Pisano & Matsubara' --- Claude Lavoie 590 FC

Shawn Corbari A/FD --- Mendy Fry AA/FD - 'High Speed Motorsports'

Phil Ruskowski AA/FD --- Dusty Green AA/FD - 'Nitro-Hemi'

Rick White AA/FD

Shawn Bowen AA/FC - 'Bartone & Lebor' --- Steven Densham AA/FC - 'Teachers Pet'

Rick Rogers AA/FC - 'Fighting Irish' --- Cory Lee AA/FC - 'Pedaler'

Scott Cousimano AA/FC - Nitro Mafia --- Don Knoblauch AA/FC

We've got two of the ten (or so) non-qualifiers in this next pairing. On the left, it's Scott Cousimano in the "Nitro Mafia" '78 Arrow, while on the right, it's Don Knoblauch in his flat-black version. Cousimano got on the list with a 9-second time, while Knoblauch couldn't back up after the burnout on his first attempt, then left before the tree came down on his last shot and didn't get a timeslip

Shawn van Horn 590 FC - 'Choo Choo Mama' --- Claude Lavoie 590 FC

There was a second nitro funny car field at this event, with four cars running in the 5.90 index class. Here's the quickest qualifiers, with Shawn van Horn in his "Choo Choo Mama" on the left, and Edmonton's Claude Lavoie in his very cool '72 Satellite on the right. Despite qualifying at the top of the field, both cars were gone after the first round of eliminations

Dean Oberg 590 FC - 'Holy Toledo' --- Brad Thompson TF - 'Rain for Rent'

This is definitely an odd couple: Dean Oberg (again) in his recreation of Ed Lenarth's "Secret Weapon", now running with the moniker "Holy Toledo" on the left, while Brad Thompson wheeled the "Rain for Rent" of Warren, Coburn & Miller

Shane Harter AA/FA - 'Nasty Benjamin' --- Jim Holtz AA/FA - 'Trouble Maker'

Now it's all Fuel Altereds, all the time (at least until the end of this report

Todd Miller AA/FA --- Rodney Flournoy AA/FA - Godzilla'

Tom Padilla AA/FA - 'Red DRagon' --- Eric Gates AA/FA

Jeremy Sullivan AA/FA --- Keith Wilson AA/FA - 'Witch Doctor'

James Day AA/FA - 'Black Sunshine' --- Dan Hix  AA/FA

Robert Winefsky AA/FA - 'Coyote Express' --- Backup Girl

The last car for this part of the report is another newcomer from Arizona, Robert Winefsky who went all the way to the semi-final in his big event debut in the beautiful Coyote Express. And yes, we know it's 2018 but we can still show a backup girl photo... or two, if we can find some more...

Tim Marshall RIP

Saturday was mostly a washout as only a dozen funny cars made it down the track between the persistent rain showers throughout the day. At the end of a very long, cold, and wet day, a small group gathered near the starting line to honour the recent passing of one of the great photographers in the sport of drag racing, Tim Marshall. RIP, my friend.

The latest update as of February 25, 2018

NHRA Arizona Nationals underway at Phoenix

While there were a series of great performances during qualifying, including many career bests, and several resets of the Top Fuel national speed record, the first round of eliminations provided more than its fair share of upsets. Greg Carrillo over Tony Schumacher. Richard "Nitroholic" Townsend over Jack "(not so) Fast" Beckman, and everybody's favourite underdog, Scott Palmer, over Richie Crampton. Also advancing to the quarter final round were Billy Torrence, in his first appearance in nearly two years, and Blake Alexander, in his first race behind the wheel of Bob Vandergriff's car. It's beginning to look like this season might not be as predictable as some people had expected.

The trend continued in the second round, with Greg Carrillo knocking off another of the DSR heavy hitters, Antron Brown, and Soctt Palmer followed with an easy victory over Leah Pritchett (in yet another DSR car). The semifinals will feature an all-Torrence match between father and son, and a guaranteed first-time finalist: either local racer Greg Carrillo or the (relatively) low-budget entry of Missouri's Soctt Palmer. This is definitely getting interesting.

The latest update as of February 9, 2018

NHRA Winternationals underway at Pomona

The action at the traditional season opener in Pomona, the 58th annual Winternationals, has begun in earnest with the first rounds of Pro qualifying completed. Yesterday's opening day saw the Top Alcohol cars make their first attempts, at the end of a long day of Sportsman qualifying. The action continues later this afternoon with the second qualifiers for the Pro cars, Top Fuel Harleys, and the Top Alky gang(s).

There's not enough time to write anything about Pomona until tomorrow, and we've just received the Friday photos from last week's "Spring Training" test session at Phoenix, so it's going to be a busy weekend here, and much busier of course in Pomona. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the weekend.

The latest update as of February 6, 2018

NHRA Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - SUNDAY

Our good friend Bob Snyder ran into a series of misadventures over the weekend, culminated by locking his keys inside his van in the parking lot at the track.... 45 miles from home. It was a long night and that was one contributing factor in our delayed coverage of the Nitro Spring Training at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. That said, here's the best shots from Sunday, when the Top Alochol and Top Fuel Harleys took to the track, and some of the lesser known racers brought out their cars.

Julie Nataas AFD --- Jordan Vandergriff AFD

Julie Nataas (left) and Jordan Vandergriff (right)

Greg Anderson PS --- Jason Line PS

Greg Anderson (left) and Jason Line (right)

Shawn Cowie TAD --- Scott Palmer TF

Shawn Cowie (left) and Scott Palmer (right)

Jack Beckman FC --- John Force FC

Jack Beckman (left) and John Force right

Sean Bellemeur TAFC --- Tiffany Januik TAD

Sean Bellemeur (left) and Tiffany Januik (right)

Nick Januik TAFC --- Matt Bynum NFC

Nick Januik in his Top Alcohol Funny Car (left) and Matt Bynum driving the "Nitro Nick" nostalgia flopper(right)

Bo Butner in Harry Hruska's PM --- Ray Martin

Bo Butner driving Harry Hruska's Pro Mod (left) and Ray Martin's "Intentional Incident" (right)

Ray Martin TAFC launch --- Ray Martin TAFC burnout

Two more shots from earlier in the day of Ray Martin's Top Alcohol Funny Car

The latest update as of February 4, 2018

NHRA Spring Training continues at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - SATURDAY

Jonnie Lindberg FC --- Terry McMillen TF

Jonnie Lindberg (left), Terry McMillen (right)

Bill Litton TF --- Cruz Pedregon FC

Bill Litton (left), Cruz Pedregon (right)

Shawn Langdon FC --- Courtney Force FC

Shawn Langdon (left), Courtney Force (right)

--- Bob Tasca FC --- Robert Hight FC

Bob Tasca III (left), Robert Hight (right)

--- Jack Beckman (left) Tommy Johnson (right) FC ---

Jack Beckman left lane Tommy Johnson right lane

Tommy Johnson FC --- Terry Brian TF

Tommy Johnson (left), Terry Brian (right)

Scott Palmer TF --- Jack Beckman FC

Scott Palmer (left), Jack Beckman (right)

Ron Capps FC --- John Force FC

Ron Capps (left), John Force (right)

Tommy Johnson FC --- Mike Salinas TF

Tommy Johnson (left), Mike Salinas (right)

Bo Butner PM --- Jeg Coughlin PS

Bo Butner (left, driving Harry Hruska's Pro Mod car), Jeg Coughlin (right)

--- Greg Carrillo TF ---

Greg Carrillo

The latest update as of February 3, 2018

NHRA Spring Training continues at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - FRIDAY

We're working on going through all the great Firday Fotos that Bob Snyder sent us from "Spring Training". It might be tomorrow before they're all posted, but stay tuned.

Cruz Pedregon FC --- Ron Capps FC

Cruz Pedregon left, and Ron Capps (right)

Courtney Force FC --- JR Todd FC

Courtney Force (left), and JR Todd (right)

Steve Torrence TF --- Mike Salinas TF

Steve Torrence (left), and Mike Salinas (right)

Clay Millican TF - Matt Hagan FC --- Tommy Johnson FC

Clay Millican vs Matt Hagan (left), and Tommy Johnson (right)

Robert Hight FC --- Erica Enders PS

Robert HIght (left), Erica Enders (right)

Courtney Force FC --- Cruz Pedregon FC

Courtney Force (left), Cruz Pedregon (right)

Jack Beckman FC --- Shawn Langdon FC

Jack Beckman (left), Shawn Langdon (right)

Tony Schumacher TF --- Terry McMillen TF

Tony Schumacher (left), Terry McMillen (right)

John Force FC --- Matt Hagan FC

John Force (left), Matt Hagan (right)

Greg Carrillo TF --- Bo Butner PM

Greg Carrillo (left), Bo Butner in Harry Hruska's car (right)

Ron Capps FC --- Jeg Coughlin PS

Ron Capps (left), Jeg Coughlin (right)

Deric Kramer PS --- Doug Kalitta TF

Deric Kramer (left), Doug Kalitta (right)

Richard Townsend FC --- Brittany Force TF

Richard Townsend (left), Brittany Force (right)

Tim Wilkerson FC --- Matt Hagan - JR Todd FC

Tim Wilkerson (left), Matt Hagan and JR Todd (right)

Bob Tasca FC --- Blake Alexander TF

Bob Tasca (left), Blake Alexander (right)

Courtney Force - Cruz Pedregon FC --- Terry McMillen TF

Courtney Force and Cruz Pedregon (left), Terry McMillen (right)

Richie Crampton TF --- Jack Beckman FC

Richie Crampton (left), Jack Beckman (right)

The latest update as of February 2, 2018

NHRA Spring Training starts at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park - THURSDAY

Judging by the pictures we've received from ace photog and good friend, Bob Snyder, it looks like a nice time to be in Phoenix for the unofficial/official kickoff of the 2018 NHRA drag racing season. Lots of race cars, new faces, new paint schemes - actually wraps nowadays - and some rather stout numbers coming out of the Arizona desert facility. We'll be working as time permits this weekend to bring photos and reports from the "Spring Training" event.

Remember to refresh this page each time you visit - and you really should come back to see the latest news and photos from Phoenix - throughout the weekend. To see full-size images, click on the smaller images on the page.

Erica Enders PS - 6.559 - 210.57 --- Alex Laughlin PS - 6.590 - 209.04

As you can see from the scoreboard insets, two-time World Champion Erica Enders led the gas-burning brigade with a very nice 6.55 - 210 mph pass, while Alex Laughlin slotted in behind her with a solid 6.59 at 209 mph. Sporting the "Speed Society" colours that he first ran at last year's World Finals, Laughlin presents a much-needed new look in the Pro Stock class.

Robert Hight FC - 3.880 - 324.05 --- Shawn Langdon FC

Moving on up to the nitro floppers, 2017 World Champion Robert Hight picked up almost where he left off last season with a very quick out-of-the-box 3.88 at 324 mph, while Funny Car rookie Shawn Langdon didn't fare so well on his first pass, with hard tire shake, clocking in at 8-seconds.

Robert Hight FC - 3.880 - 324.05 --- Leah Pritchett TF - 3.740 - 308.28

Here's a couple of the fast - actually not always as fast as the floppers - cars, with Steve Torrence opening the season with a 3.77 at only 268 mph. Shortly after that blast, Leah Pritchett came out in her new Pennzoil-Army colours (bye bye Papa John's) and put down a very respectable 3.74 at 308 mph to start her test week.

Courtney Force FC --- Cruz Pedregon FC

Courtney Force (left) began the season with a jarring wakeup call, with hard tire shake and a timeslip that read 7.49, as new tuner Brian Corradi began to acclimatize himself to the JFR (John Force Racing) camp. With Snap-On Tools extending their long running sponsorship for another three years, Cruz Pedregon (right) rolled into Phoenix ready to rock and prepare for much improved results in 2018. His first lap didn't quite match up to his expectations, with a 5-second time showing up on the scoreboards.

JR Todd FC --- Ron Capps FC

Not much to report on this pair either, as they didn't factor on the top run charts on their first attempts. JR Todd left, and "RunnerUp" Ron Capps on the right, both shut off early, but Todd did manage to break into the 3's later in the day with a 3.995 pass.

Antron Brown TF --- Tony Schumacher TF - 3.717 - 330.15

Don Schumacher Racing teammates, Antron Brown left, and Tony Schumacher, right, both carded some strong numbers on their first runs of the new season. Brown posted an early shutoff 3.816, while Schumacher called that and raised him a full tenth at 3.717, coupled with the first 330 mph pass of the day, to show he was serious about contending for his first championship since 2014. Lagter in the day, Brown leapfrogged over "The Sarge" with a best of the day 3.714 at 328.46 mph.

Vincent Nobile PS --- Deric Kramer PS

Two Pro Stock regulars who didn't have much impact on the scoreboards on Thursday were Vincent Nobile (shaking off the rust after sitting out the Countdown portion of the 2017 NHRA schedule) and Deric Kramer on the right. Nobile was "credited" with a 6.271 on one pass, but the unanimous consensus of the timeslip was "bogus". Kramer did put down a solid 6.64 later in the day.

Jonnie Lindberg FC - 3.960 - 298.04 --- Bob Tasca FC

Two fresh new looks from the nitro flopper contingent saw Jonnie Lindberg, left, put down a 3.96 at 298 in his first pass of testing in Jim "The Mad Scientist" Head's always experimental car. On the right, returning to full-time competition with a new sponsorship from Ford, Bob Tasca III was shut off with a fuel leak in his first go-round.

Tommy Johnson FC - 3.938 - 298.67 --- Matt Hagan FC - 3.940 - 281.19

A pair of DSR stablemates, Tommy Johnson on the left, and Matt Hagan (right), showed they were ready to rumble with two early shutoff runs in the 3's. Johnson's solid 3.93 at 298 mph was nearly eclipsed by Hagan's almost-as-quick 3.94 at just 281 mph. Two very good starts to the season for the veteran racers.

Bo Butner PS - 6.602 - 209.46 --- Alex Laughlin PS - 6.580 - 209.10

Defending World Champion Bo Butner opened his 2018 account with a solid, but unspectacular 6.602 pass, but was overshadowed by an ever-improving Alex Laughlin, who moved into second spot on the test "ladder" with a strong 6.580 clocking.

Mike Salinas TF --- Richard Townsend FC

A rather odd pairing here, with Mike Salinas on the left, preparing for his first season of full-time NHRA competition. Mike earned his Top Fuel license nearly ten years ago, and made his NHRA debut in 2011, and finally decided to join the tour full time after qualifying at all seven events he attended in 2017. On the right side is the still unwrapped "Nitroholic" of veteran nostalgia flopper racer Richard Townsend who made two runs (a 4.63 and a 5.88) towards upgrading his license to "big show" status.

Jeg Coughlin PS - 6.619 - 208.52 --- Bo Butner PS

After a tire shake afflicted first pass, Jeg Coughlin rolled to a decent 6.61 at just 208 mph on his second attempt, while Bo Butner went in the wrong direction, slowing from his earlier 6.60 to a 6.62 on his second lap.

Doug Kalitta TF - 3.729 - 315.34 --- Richie Crampton TF

After an early shutoff in his first attempt, Doug Kalitta stayed on the pedal to nearly the finish line, clicking it just a tad soon with a very good 3.729 at only 315 mph. On the right side, in the new look "Kalitta Air" Top Fuel car, Richie Crampton improved from a 5-second first pass to a 4.27 - still well off the pace - as he and tuner Connie Kalitta sort out a new combination.

Tommy Johnson FC - 3.913 - 312.78 --- Matt Hagan FC - 3.879 - 330.72

On the left side, Tommy Johnson improved slightly over his earlier 3.93 pass with a 3.913 at 312 mph, while Matt Hagan jumped up BIG time with a quick 3.879 e.t., coupled with the top speed of the day at 330.72 mph.

That's all from Thursday's first open test day at Phoenix's Wild Horse Pass Motorports Park. We're hoping to see Friday's photos before the end of the day, and after that, there's still two more days of action before the alky cars hit the strip.

John Force FC

Hold on a minute. Where's all the JFR (John Force Racing) cars? Yes, there was one shot of Robert Hight near the top of the page, but where are Courtney, Brittany, or John. OKay, here's one shot of the "Old Truck Driver" hisself, John Force, launching into his 45th (or thereabouts) season of nitro drag racing. He ended the day with best numbers of 3.963 at 305.22 mph.

The latest update as of January 21, 2018

Happy New Year! - 20th Anniversary Edition

As the year goes on we'll dig through the Northern Thunder archives and post a few tidbits of "What's New" rants and other bits from the early days of this website. It's been a long ride and I've mellowed quite a bit over the years, but it will be interesting, and at times embarassing, to look back at the beginning of the website. Stay tuned!

For now, you can just click on the January 27th 1998 edition of "What's New" to see what we were reporting about at that time. Please note that none of the links on that page are currently working and you'll have to hit the back button to return to this page.

NHRA season kicks off in less than two weeks

Yes, it's almost that time again, and we'll be watching with interest to see who shows up at Phoenix in preparation for the season-opening Winternationals. A quick check of the NHRA website this morning revealed that there are still ZERO official entries in Top Fuel and just FOUR in Funny Car. The best entry numbers in the blown/injected classes were Top Alcohol Funny with 11 cars, and Pro Stock with 10 contestants.

Obviously these numbers will swell considerably before the gates open at Pomona on February 6th, but it is more than a little odd that there are so few cars/drivers entered this close to the event date. A quick look at the two following events shows a similar entry shortage in the pro and semi-pro classes. The only exception is the first Pro Mod race of the season at Gainesville, which is fully subscribed with the maximum 28 entries.

An even stranger development is the very sudden announcement that the Old Bridge Township dragstrip at Englishtown is shutting down it's drag racing programs after more than 50 years in the straight-line business. There has to be more, a lot more, to this story than the media releases by the track owners, and the response from NHRA. Let's wait and see how it all turns out. At this point it appears to be a done deal, but we've seen so many times over the years how things have turned around very quickly in the fastest moving sport on earth. As always, stay tuned for new developments over the coming weeks. The epitaphs for Raceway Park may be just a tad premature.

LATE Update

Entries for the NHRA Winternationals are literally "flooding" in with Top Fuel "leading" the way with TWO cars entered. That's a bazillion percent more than the ZERO entries that have been showing on NHRA.com for the past two weeks. If this is the sign of a developing trend, we might even see a full 16-car field by the time eliminations start on February 11th.

To see previous updates, go to the What's Old page

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