A day at the wine country NHRA races

The cool mists of the early morning fog slowly burned off to reveal a blue bird sky over the nitromethane-fueled, 7,000 plus horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars, as well as Pro Stock cars and motorcycles that roared to life at the Sonoma Nationals, the latest stop on the 25th NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series at Sonoma Raceway, after a moving rendition of the national anthem and an unfurling of a gigantic U.S. flag. Participants in the stands looked up and pointed as a stunt man drifted out of the sky under a parachute holding a smaller American flag and landed perfectly on the track.

After several rounds of racing, which racing fanatics tracked on their results ladder noting finishing times, popular racer Antron Brown (Matco Tools/Aaron’s Dragster) won in the Top Fuel Dragster category with a time of 3.814 seconds and a speed of per hour. Johnny Gray (Big O Tires/SpeeDee Oil Change/Dodge Charger) won the Funny Car division with a time of 4.142 and speed of 305.15. The Pro Stock winner was Allen Johnson (Team Mopar/JJ Racing Dodge Avenger), who won with a time of 6.542 and speed of 211.76. The Pro Stock motorcycle winner was Eddie Krawiec (Screamin’ Eagle/Vance Hines) with a time of 6.809 and speed of 197.74.

Antron Brown wins NHRA Top Fuel title at Sonoma Raceway

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The venerable First Family of racing, the Force family of drivers, didn’t fare as well, though they have been having a good year overall. John Force and his daughter Courtney Force, both Funny Car drivers, were knocked out in the first round, as was Mike Neff. Robert Height, also a Funny Car driver, was eliminated in the second round. Courtney Force, the 24 year old frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, made the most of her free time by signing endless autographs for a long line of admirers snaking around one of the most popular exhibits at the race, demonstrations of the Traxxas remote controlled cars, her major sponsor. The miniature cars, which can reach speeds of per hours in 4.92 seconds, look like speedy insects from a distance, with their lightning fast response times and impressive speed. The sturdy cars were racing up ramps and doing flips to the delight of the audience.

More women than ever are racing in the various NHRA divisions, expanding the appeal of a male-dominated sport, but today the women were just a touch too slow to make it to the podium. In addition to Courtney, with her Force DNA, Alexis DeJoria, heiress to the John Paul Mitchell hair care empire, was jettisoned from the Funny Car lineup after losing to Jack Beckman in the second round. Erika Enders, daughter of ex-Pro Stock racer Gregg Enders, became the first woman ever to win a Pro Stock event last month, but lost the second round today to Greg Anderson.

In addition to the racing the 3rd annual Nostaliga Get-Together and the 2nd annual Blast on the Grass were held near the starting end of the raceway, with vintage racing cars, hot rods, muscle cars, rat rods and other classic cars on display.

The Eric Medlen Ice Cream Social, held on the track after the racing was done, is a perennial crowd favorite, with donations accepted to benefit local San Francisco Bay Area racers.

The NHRA racing was enjoyed by fans on a beautiful day in the wine country with vineyard vistas to enhance the experience, and the Sonoma Raceway hosted a festive family event in styl


NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series: The next race will be held in Seattle, WA (8/5-7/2012).

Sonoma Raceway: The next 3 major events will be the Sonoma Drift (8/18-19/2012), Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (8/24-26), and FIA World Touring Car Championship (9/21-23).

Getting There:

The Sonoma Raceway is located at Highway 37 and 121 in Sonoma County.

From Highway 101 from San Francisco:

  • Merge onto Highway 37 east toward Vallejo
  • Travel until you reach the intersection of Highways 37 and 121
  • Make a left onto Highway 121 toward Sonoma
  • The main entrance will be on your left

From Interstate 80

  • Exit onto Highway 37 west toward San Rafael
  • Travel until you reach the intersection of Highways 37 and 121
  • Merge onto Highway 121 toward Sonoma
  • The main entrance will be on your left

Article source: http://www.examiner.com/article/a-day-at-the-wine-country-nhra-races