NORWALK, Ohio – Following a landmark announcement made last month by the International Hot Rod Ass’n (IHRA) announcing the return to traditional drag racing competition and a record championship points fund for Funny Car, the IHRA revealed the preliminary roster of championship drivers slated to compete in 2014 in its Nitro Funny Car class and announced that it has opened the class up to a limited field of competitors.
The field of competitors competing on the 2014 Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series in Nitro Funny Car will include some of the most decorated and successful nostalgia pilots in the sport, accumulating countless championships and major event wins over the past few years. The IHRA also announced that it will open the field up to a limited number of regional racers next season and will feature one fully open field race in July.
In order to maximize the participation in IHRA’s newly expanded Nitro Funny Car program, each Nitro Jam event will have quota system in place to not only insure that the teams that are committed to the entire tour will be racing for a world championship, but that local and regional competitors will have a chance to compete with the best cars in the country when Nitro Jam comes to their area.
The field will not be a traditional open field in most instances, but will instead follow this new program in order to maintain the quality, integrity and timeliness of the show that Nitro Jam fans have come to expect over the past several years. The quota will be determined on a market by market basis and be factored to suit the needs and demands of each event.
While the vast majority of races on the schedule will feature this new format, the Summer Nationals at Cordova Dragway Park, slated for the weekend of July 18-19, will feature the season’s only unlimited Funny Car field as the Nitro Jam Series partners with the DRO series for this unique and historic race.
In addition to the race at Cordova, the events counting toward the 2014 Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship will be contested at the Southwestern Nationals, San Antonio Nationals, Southern Nationals, Palm Beach Nationals, Spring Nationals, President’s Cup Nationals, Mopar Nationals, Pittsburgh Nationals and Summit World Finals
“We would love to be able to accommodate everyone that has reached out to us and has interest in this program, but we want to present the best show we can in the timeframe that we have been working in,” said Skooter Peaco, IHRA Motorsports Vice President. “Using a quota system will allow us to continue to work with the teams that have been supporting IHRA since the program started as well as those who make the commitment to run the entire tour. We also felt that it was very important for our program to have room to showcase teams that can only make a few events a year. The next group of touring teams will be made up of teams that are limited right now to racing within their region. So getting exposure for those teams now is critical.”
The points earning Nitro Jam events will feature a category-leading $50,000 per event purse with the winner taking home $10,000. The Nitro Jam Tour will be backed by an incredible $100,000 points fund for the top five season-ending Nitro Jam points earners, with the World Champion receiving $50,000.
The field of teams currently committed to the entire Nitro Jam Tour includes a who’s who list of the top Funny Car pilots from across North America. Drivers include major race winners, multi-time champions and heavy hitters from such major series as the Heritage Series, DRO Series and Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series. Those drivers include three-time and defending Heritage Series champion Jason Rupert’s “Black Plague,” two-time DRO series champion John Hale’s “Nitro Boss,” the always exciting Mark Sanders’ “Mr. Explosive,” record-setter Tim Boychuk’s “Troy Lee Designs,” Jim Broom’s “Candies & Hughes” driven by Mike Halstead and, returning for a fourth year with the Nitro Jam Series, Mike McIntire’s “McAttack.”
“We want to make sure we have a system in place to work with all teams and build for the future,” Peaco said. “It all comes down to presenting quality in any field of cars we showcase during the Nitro Jam portion of the event.”