BRADENTON, Fla. – If there is one thing to be said for the upcoming IHRA Southern Nationals at Bradenton Motorsports Park it is this – fans can bet on history being made.
Coming off of two record-breaking weekends to start the 2014 racing season, the International Hot Rod Association returns to Florida for race three of the 2014 Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series season at the IHRA Nitro Jam Southern Nationals April 11-12 at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
Records have fallen left in right in IHRA’s return to traditional drag racing competition during the 2014 season, with records broken or nearly broken in each of IHRA’s five professional classes. And the reason for this sudden outburst of historical passes?
For the first time since 2009, the IHRA has returned to traditional competition with professional qualifying taking place on Friday, April 11 and eliminations set for Saturday, April 12. A huge championship purse and championship points are on the line in all classes when the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series returns to Bradenton this weekend. The return to Bradenton comes on the heels of a breakout event in 2013 that saw large crowds and great racing at one of the fastest tracks in the south.
“The event at Bradenton Motorsports Park was such a hit last year, we couldn’t wait to return. The fans were absolutely spectacular and the racing was even better which is why we are so excited to be back the weekend of April 11-12 with our new-look series,” said Scott Gardner, President of IHRA Motorsports. “We have already seen records fall at every event this season and there is no reason to think that some of these great competitors won’t lower those numbers even more during our stop here in Bradenton. It should be a great weekend with lots of great competition.”
This year, every lap matters as the stars of Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Harley, Nitro Altered, Mountain Motor Pro Stock and Jet Dragster push their machines to the limit in their chase for the 2014 IHRA World Championships. Qualifying will take place Friday, April 11 followed by eliminations on Saturday, April 12, both under the lights and both with high stakes on the line.
Among the record-setting performances in 2014 have been great showings from IHRA’s Nitro Funny Car and Pro Stock classes.
One of IHRA’s original classes when it was founded in the early 70s, Pro Stock returned to IHRA competition after a brief hiatus this season and has been met with overwhelming support, not to mention topping the list of record-breaking performances.
Last week, Missouri native John DeFlorian shattered the IHRA records in speed and elapsed time with a blistering 6.224-second pass at 226.70 miles per hour in San Antonio. Currently, DeFlorian sits second in the Pro Stock standings behind Oklahoma native Cary Goforth. They will be joined in Bradenton by Goforth’s teammate Todd Hoerner, along with two-time IHRA Pro Stock world champion Pete Berner, Scott Hintz, Kevin Bealko and more.
In Nitro Funny Car, Californian Jason Rupert leads the way in the “Black Plague” Camaro coming off of two consecutive Nitro Jam victories to open the season and a near-record pass in San Antonio. He is joined by “Mr. Explosive” Mark Sanders, Tim Boychuk in “Forever Forward,” John Hale in the “Mike Burkhart” tribute Camaro, Mike McIntire Jr. in “McAttack,” Bruce Litton in the “US Male” Vega, Ronnie Young in the world famous “Blue Max,” Mike Halstead in “Candies & Hughes” and more.
Also making history in Bradenton will be the debut of the world’s only Jet Dragster championship program being contested by the four fastest women in drag racing – the Larsen Motorsports jet team. This four-car team is made up of four very talented female competitors with vastly different backgrounds. From a 19-year-old college student, to a female test pilot, a nurse and an entrepreneur who holds the operation together, the team of Elaine Larsen, Marisha Falk, Dawn Perdue and Kat Moller will compete in 300 mph, side-by-side jet-powered drag racing action.
IHRA’s other nitro divisions will include Nitro Harley and Nitro Altered, two radical and extreme classes that are among the most popular in the world for their death-defying competition.
Iconic racer Jay Turner leads the 220 mph nitro-powered motorcycle class, joining Randal Andras who blazed down the quarter-mile on a motorcycle at over 231 miles per hour, Mike Scott, Steve Down, Ron Gledhill and more.
Nitro Altered, another extreme class once banned from organized competition due to the extreme danger behind the wheel, will include Arizona native Ron Maroney in “Blind Faith,” Las Vegas native and third generation racer Kyle Hough in “Nanook, the popular “Arizona Thunder” driven by Mike Hilsabeck, “Bullet Bob” driven by Don Blackshear and more.
In addition to all of the on-track action, the 2014 Southern Nationals will feature an all-new and fully interactive Fan Fest pit experience. Fans can tour the pits, meet the drivers and take part in a number of fun family activities including the Larsen Motorsports Jet Technology Center, a hands-on look at the design and technology behind a jet-powered racing team, and the Hollywood Cars of the Stars featuring real cars from famous movies and television shows such as the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the Batmobile from the 1960s Batman television series and more.
In addition to the professional action, the Southern Nationals will also two full days of sportsman racing competing on the IHRA’s Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL. Racing for that series will take place Saturday and Sunday.