The thrilling speed and intense ground-pounding action of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Royal Purple Raceway for the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, April 27-29.
NHRA’s sixth event of the 2012 season will allow NHRA’s huge Texas fan base an opportunity to see the powerful cars and meet all of the drivers who will be racing at speeds of more than 320 mph in hopes of qualifying for the Countdown to the Championship, the NHRA’s six-race playoff. A win at this important regular season event can mean great momentum as drivers pursue NHRA Full Throttle world championship glory during the 23-event season that crisscrosses the United States.
All of the biggest stars in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will be on hand to blast their way toward the finish line and keep the fans on the edge of their seats. The 2011 winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event were Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Jeff Arend (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). The race will be televised on ESPN2HD.
During the 25th anniversary of one of the major motorsports attractions held annually in the Lone Star State, a large contingent of female drivers will take center stage. An event that has been historically dominated by male drivers, only three women have won races at Royal Purple Raceway during the event’s first 25 years, including Ashley Force Hood in Funny Car and Angelle Sampey and Karen Stoffer in Pro Stock Motorcycle. That trend could change dramatically when NHRA teams hit the ultra-quick dragstrip this season as a host of talented female drivers are entered.
Leading the charge is second-generation Funny Car driver Courtney Force. With several solid performances in the early part of the season the driver of the Traxxas Ford Mustang is sixth in the points standings and has already defeated her 15-time world champion winning father John in head-to-head competition. Courtney, 23, will try to match her sister Ashley’s victory here in 2009 as she has her sights set on claiming the coveted Auto Club Road to the Future Award which recognizes NHRA’s top performing rookie driver of the season.
Standing in the way of Courtney’s run to the rookie crown is Alexis DeJoria, who is driving the Del Worsham-tuned Tequila Patron Toyota Camry. Daughter of famed entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, founder of Paul Mitchell Hair Care Products and Patron Tequila, Alexis has begun her quest to win races in the Full Throttle Series after spending many seasons perfecting her craft in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series behind the wheel of a Top Alcohol Funny Car.
In Pro Stock, Houston native Erica Enders is in hot pursuit of her quest to become the first female winner in the highly-competitive factory hot rod class. In 2011 Enders had one of her best seasons behind the wheel and became the first woman to post a top 10 points finish in Pro Stock. She drove to three runner-up finishes and claimed two No. 1 qualifying positions to finish sixth overall in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. This season she is once again driving the Chevy Cobalt for Victor Cagnazzi Racing and will continue to work with crew chief Dave Connolly. Another Pro Stock female – one of only six who have competed in the 200 mph category in NHRA history -- Grace Howell, will be working to gain more experience behind the wheel of her Cunningham Motorsports Ford Mustang.
One of the 11 women who have won an NHRA Full Throttle Series event, Hillary Will, also will be in competition in Houston behind the controls of the Dote Family Racing Top Fuel dragster. Will, who won her lone Wally trophy at Topeka in 2008, has been without a ride the past few seasons, but is eager to return to the sport that she loves so much and make up for lost time.
Several women will be racing for the victory in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category including two-time Royal Purple Raceway winner Stoffer, who rides the familiar GEICO Suzuki. Rookie rider Anne Hansen and California native Katie Sullivan will also be fan-favorites in the two-wheel category.
In the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, Leah Pruett is among the pre-race favorites behind the wheel of her R2B2 Racing Ford Mustang. Last season Pruett got a late start in Pro Mod competition, but gained experience rather quickly and raced victory at the final two races of the season.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Full Throttle Series qualifying begins on Friday, April 27 with sessions at 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, April 28 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 29.