Nostalgia Funny Cars, Fuel Altereds, Jet Truck, Jet Dragsters Also Share the Stage
MARTIN, Mich. — Anyone with a working knowledge of professional drag racing knows that Larry Dixon, one of the headliners in this week’s nitromethane-infused Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park, is a three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion (2002, 2003, 2010) and one of only a handful of drivers to have won as many as 600 racing rounds in the sport’s premier series.
Nevertheless, what really sets the Indianapolis resident apart from Tony Schumacher, Gary Scelzi, Antron Brown, the late Scott Kalitta, Joe Amato, Kenny Bernstein and every other Top Fuel champion over the last 20 years is that he won for two different teams (Snake Racing and al-Anabi Racing), two different car owners (Don Prudhomme and Alan Johnson) and two different crew chiefs (Dick LaHaie and Jason McCulloch) in two different decades.
Throw in the fact that he quietly endured 30 radiation treatments during the difficult time in which he was battling through Stage 3 throat cancer and that he survived a couple of 300 mile-an-hour chassis failures and it should have been apparent that a little something like lack of sponsorship wouldn’t keep the 50-year-old icon on the sidelines for long.
He rolls into US 131 for the first time as owner and driver and as the favorite to win the Top Fuel title in a field that also includes track record-holder Dom Lagana of Scarsdale, N.Y., NHRA tour veterans Pat Dakin of Dayton, Ohio, and Bruce Litton of Indianapolis, newcomer Kyle Wurtzel of Warsaw, Ind., and five-time Canadian Drag Racer of the Year Todd Paton of Paris, Ontario.
Everyone in that lineup, including Dixon, is “jazzed” to be racing at the traditional distance of one quarter mile. No one in the category has experienced that particular adrenaline rush in an NHRA-sanctioned event since 2008 when the course was shortened to 1,000 feet in deference to the few tracks that no longer could accommodate the world’s most powerful race cars at the longer distance.
In addition to Top Fuel racing on the quarter mile, the nitro portion of the event also will feature side-by-side racing between vehicles that regularly turn a straight line course into a slalom: four nostalgia Funny Cars and four of their equally erratic cousins, supercharged fuel altereds.
In stark contrast to the purpose-built dragsters, all of them capable of accelerating from zero-to- 330 miles per hour in only 1,320 feet, will be the cars and drivers who compete in the weekly Lane Automotive Bracket Series along with five jet-powered vehicles including “The Original Jet Truck,” a 230 mph jet-powered 1998 Kenworth owned and driven for more than two decades by Bob “The King of Quake” Motz.
The four Florida-based Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters, including those driven by Michigan native Elaine Larsen and 23-year-old graduate student Kat Moller, will add another dimension of surrealism to an already packed program. .
Friday’s schedule includes nostalgia Funny Car and fuel altered qualifying at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. along with the track’s test-and-tune session for participants in this weekend’s events only from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.
General admission tickets purchased in advance are $20 Friday and $30 Saturday. Day-of-the-event tickets are $25 and $35, respectively. Children 6-12 are $7 each day and children five-and-under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.