GAINESVILLE, FL – February 19, 2019 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – One of the most legendary races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit will get even bigger in 2019 as the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals celebrates its 50th anniversary on March 14-17 at Gainesville Raceway.
It is the third of 24 races in 2019 and promises to be one of the biggest events of the year. The race features the pinnacle of the yearlong NHRA Legends Tour as well as the “Unfinished Business” event featuring eight legendary figures of NHRA drag racing facing off in a can’t miss head-to-head competition.
An incredible lineup of more than 20 NHRA Legends will also gather together for special meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, while “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Shirley Muldowney, Ed “The Ace” McCulloch, Warren Johnson, Joe Amato, Kenny Bernstein and Terry Vance will take part in the “Unfinished Business” race to truly make the 50th anniversary race a colossal event.
The iconic race promises to be once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as the world’s best racers power down a new racing surface in their 10,000-horsepower, nitro-burning machines. With the stage even bigger for the 50th anniversary event, fans in attendance for the magical weekend will undoubtedly be treated to one amazing moment after another.
All the top stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will look to get off to a hot start this at the fan-favorite event. Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners. The event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage on Sunday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Richie Crampton welcomed his return to full-time racing in Top Fuel with his first Gatornationals victory in 2018. To get a second, he’ll have to get past Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta, who won the season-opening race in Pomona for the second straight year. He beat defending world champion Steve Torrence, who had built a streak of 27 straight round wins, while other championship-level contenders include Clay Millican, Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Terry McMillen and Brittany Force.
Jack Beckman earned his first career Funny Car win at the historic race a year ago, knocking off Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan in the final round. DSR will look to grab a win after John Force Racing’s Robert Hight took the season-opening victory in Pomona. Others to watch in the star-studded class includes defending world champion J.R. Todd, eight-time race winner John Force, 2016 world champ Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Shawn Langdon, Cruz Pedregon and Bob Tasca.
Bo Butner started his Pro Stock year on a strong note as the 2017 world champ won in Pomona over KB Racing teammate Jason Line. Butner will look to keep that momentum going and grab his first Gatornationals win after a runner-up a year ago. He’ll have to do it against a loaded group that includes Jeg Coughlin Jr., who was second in points in 2018, four-time event winner Greg Anderson, two-time world champ Erica Enders, Matt Hartford, Pomona No. 1 qualifier Rodger Brogdon, Alex Laughlin and Chris McGaha.
Pro Stock Motorcycle makes its annual debut at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, marking the first of 16 events in the highly-competitive two-wheeled class. Matt Smith enters the year as the defending champ as he set speed records in Pomona en route to his third title. He’ll face a huge number of talented riders, including defending event winner Eddie Krawiec, who has three straight Gators wins, five-time world champ Andrew Hines, Hector Arana Jr., who went 200 mph for the first time in class history at last year’s race, Scotty Pollacheck, Angie Smith and Steve Johnson.
The event is also the season-opening race for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service and features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers with an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:15 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 16 at 12:00 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 17.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association