Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil
Location: The Strip At LVMS, Las Vegas, Nevada | Date: 10/29–10/31
POWER REIGNS IN THE DESERT
Written by: Rex Roy
If you follow the NHRA traveling circus, you know that the Fall stop in Vegas is like drag racing’s final race of the season… before the final race of the season. There’s not another NHRA event that has the same feeling.
If you know what to look for between runs, you can see sponsorships being evaluated, old relationships ending, and new affiliations looking ahead to 2022. The drama puts extra pressure on drivers and teams gunning for championships, or fighting to retain their rides for next season.
If you had a scorecard, you could track the corporate big shots in attendance. While most of these purse-string managers couldn’t beat a regular from the NHRA’s Junior Dragster series, the honcho sponsors wield a different kind of power. Many fly out a few days before the SEMA Show to soak up the sun and catch some great racing before they spend four straight days doing business on the Show floor. Their presence is a force keenly felt by drivers and teams.
Rising to the many challenges, the racers in Vegas did not disappoint. Multiple records and milestones were achieved over the three-day weekend, which also served as NHRA’s 1,000th event to date. First, we take a look at the electric-powered competition.
High Voltage Excitement
There are two ways to look at EVs in drag racing.
One is to think that cars powered by motors are somehow “less than” those running a spark-fired engine. Twitter and other social channels abound with proclamations predicting that EVs will ruin the sport, or that those racing EVs are somehow traitors.
The second is to look at EV motors as just another powertrain choice, like diesel. Racers who hold this view will see the NHRA’s new EV classes for 2022 as another opportunity to compete, optimize new technologies, find an edge, gain sponsorships, and win Wally trophies.
Long-time Funny Car pilot Bob Tasca III is no newcomer to the NHRA. Working with perennial sponsor Ford, Tasca runs his all-electric, 1,500-horsepower door-slammer Cobra 1440 along with his traditional Mustang Funny Car. This racer sees no conflict in having an EV alongside his Funny Car in the pits.
While Tasca was hoping to better his record-setting run of 8.12 at 172 mph that he clocked at Thunder Valley earlier this year, his runs at Vegas were all a bit slower. The team behind the electric Cobra believes there’s more speed to find in his 800-volt Mustang.
Hopes & Dreams Grasped & Dashed
Moving to the carbon-fueled competition, there’s nothing like racing to supercharge your hopes or throw a rod through your dreams. The balance of possibilities versus realities seems especially keen when racing in Vegas, the land of eternal last chances (at least until the money runs out).
The action in Top Fuel was serious, with Steve Torrence moving one step closer to his fourth consecutive Top Fuel championship. He had to beat one of the fastest women in motorsports, Brittany Force, who qualified No. 1. Torrence moved ahead of Force and also beat out Cameron Ferre and Clay Millican, who the PRI Road Tour secured an exclusive interview with as part of the accompanying video, above.
The Funny Car competition was no less dramatic with Ron Capps’ lost-then-found leader status. The racing gods were smiling on Capps as his main competitors each lost on their way through the rounds. Capps will likely race Cruz Pedregon again in Pomona (Nov. 11– 14).
Always competitive Pro Stock lived up to its normal standards with close racing throughout the rounds. Rookie Dallas Glenn earned his third Wally of the season. Glenn remains in the championship hunt with always-competitive Erica Enders and Greg Anderson. Anderson, uncharacteristically, lost in the first round, proving you can’t always count on what looks like a sure bet in Vegas.
There was plenty more action at Vegas’s second-most-famous Strip this past weekend. Check out the photos and video to see the action in a way that only the PRI Road Tour can deliver.
Check out PRI’s new membership options for individuals and businesses here. Plan to attend the 2021 PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis on December 9–11 to catch up with the latest products and services. To register as an attendee for the 2021 PRI Trade Show, visit here.