When Winston sponsored the NHRA professional series, it sponsored the No-Bull Showdown between Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars at Bristol, Tenn. But Lex Dudas' Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., can top that.
The dragstrip that last October produced national records in all pro classes . . .  the dragstrip on which the sport's best set performance milestones . . . will see more than horsepower. It will be the site next June 7 of the Northeast Great Bull Run.




When Winston sponsored the NHRA professional series, it sponsored the No-Bull Showdown between Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars at Bristol, Tenn. But Lex Dudas' Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., can top that.

The dragstrip that last October produced national records in all pro classes . . .  the dragstrip on which the sport's best set performance milestones . . . will see more than horsepower. It will be the site next June 7 of the Northeast Great Bull Run.
It's a new craze in the world of adventure sports -- no bull. Patterned after the running of the bulls festival at Pamplona, Spain, this crazier-than-8,000-horsepower nitromethane-fueled has its own U.S.-based series. This spectacle will showcase several runnings with the bulls throughout the day, capped by Tomato Royale, a large tomato food fight open to the public.
The late Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck ("as in wreck"), who orchestrated Disco Demolition Night mayhem at Chicago, would have loved this. Mickey Thompson would have loved this -- his advice was "If somebody tells you your idea is crazy, start selling tickets."
Rob Dickens, co-founder of The Great Bull Run, said, "There are a lot of options for people to get off their couches and get active these days, but nothing can match the thrill and excitement of sprinting alongside 1,000-pound bulls."
Until NHRA President Tom Compton and his associates at Glendora, Calif., can come up with something that tops that -- or at least something that excites more people than National Hot Rod Association action -- drag-racing fans will have to settle for some of the more mundane news and tidbits floating around after the O'Reilly Northwest Nationals at Seattle and before the Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd, Minn.
All this might pale in comparison, but Competition Plus will try to steer your attention to some cool items:
NINTH TIME'S THE CHARM - A cat, the saying goes, has nine lives. So did Dan Fletcher's quest to win two trophies at the same race this season.  The Churchville, N.Y., racer won last Sunday at Seattle in both Super Stock and Stock Eliminator in his '69 Camaro to achieve a second sweep of the Western Swing. With that, he recorded his 84th and 85th career victories and tied Bob Glidden on the all-time victories list. He's the only sportsman-level racer to Sweep the Western Swing, and he's the only driver in NHRA history to do it twice.  Fletcher's double-up marked the third consecutive time someone doubled up at Seattle -- Western Washington natives Joey Lang (2011) and Brad Plourd (2012) started the streak. Fletcher is the 17th different driver to double-up, and Sunday's feat was the 28th time it has happened.
ANGEL IN THE COCKPIT - Saying he has a guardian angel looking out for him, Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shawn Cowie has won twice in 18 days -- after a devastating motorcycle accident that left him with multiple injuries and facing the possibility of a leg amputation. Cowie had won the Division 6 race July 14 at Woodburn, Ore., in his return to action since his April 9, 2011, life-threatening encounter with a drunk driver at Nashville, Tenn.
Sunday's victory was less a triumph over final-round opponent Garrett Bateman than it was a triumph over injury and odds. Cowie suffered a broken neck, back, and pelvis, a crushed ankle, and legs mangled so severely doctors thought they would have to amputate one. Medical experts told the Delta, British Columbia, native he might never walk again and definitely wouldn't race again.
So after his emotional victory at Pacific Raceways, Cowie told Ben Kuzma of The Province newspaper of Vancouver, B.C., "There are people up there watching out for me right from the accident scene to now. There's a guardian angel cheering me on."
Cowie said he "started tearing up again" after that final round. "It's a dream. I couldn't have expected it," he said to Kuzma.
The Province article quoted Cowie's wife, Taylor, saying, "I'm just so happy for him. This is totally surreal. We were in the hospital together 24/7 after the accident and there were just bad days — was this ever going to happen again? Let’s be realistic. That last couple of races have been crazy and we’re trying to wrap our minds around it." Her reaction, she said, was "euphoric,  jumping, crying, the whole nine yards. You can't explain this. The only thing going through your mind is this is way too good to be true. He definitely has some angels up there. I know you can throw anything at that guy. If he says he's going to do it. He sets his mind to it and he will do it."
The well-written and well-deserved article is worth a read online HERE
NIGHT UNDER FIRE - NHRA Funny Car drivers John Force, Robert Hight, Blake Alexander, and native Ohioan Chad Head will help Summit Motorsports Park celebrate the 50th Night Under Fire spectacular. The Auto Plus-sponsored classic will mark four decades of Funny Cars being added to the program and will present the winner the Norwalk 40th Anniversary trophy. Before Funny Cars dominated the specialty race, gassers ruled. Eight period-correct AA/Gassers will race, as will Jim Head, driving a period-correct '77 Fuel Funny Car Firebird in a nostalgia match race against Ron Hope in the '69 AA/Fuel Altered "Rat Trap". The ladies will take on the men in jet dragster competition. Jill "Queen of Diamonds" Canuso and Elaine "Embry-Riddle" Larsen will go against Ernie "Beast From the East" Bogue and Lou ”Terminator" Pereira. "We will be doing some testing and getting ready for Brainerd," Hight said.
HERE'S THE DEAL . . . - Overheard in Tim Wilkerson's pit this past weekend at Seattle. The Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang Funny Car owner-driver said here's how he approached the season with his crew: "I try to make sure they all feel important -- and to me they are. I couldn't do this without 'em. The guy dumping oil in the car is just as important as the guy putting air in the tires and the guy building the cylinder heads and the guy building motors. We try to make sure they all understand how important everybody's job is, because it is.
We have that talk the first day: The No. 1 priority is to keep the driver and the crew alive. If everybody does his job correctly, when we turn that key on that thing, it won't blow up in our faces. That's our No. 1 priority, because this thing is one dangerous piece of junk. It really is. It's a rolling bomb.
You're going to do the job keeping me alive. And I'm going to make sure that you learn your job properly to keep you alive.
With a crew that's a bit green with four members boasting under two years' experience, Wilkerson said, "Would I like to have six or eight of the lifers who are out here to run my car? Maybe some days. But maybe some days not. We do all right with it. My stuff ain't up there, leaking all over the ground, and the blower ain't falling off, and we run OK."
GRAY MATTER - Reigning Funny Car champion Jack Beckman will have a new MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline MaxLife Dodge when he unloads his trailer at Brainerd two weekends from now. He's seventh in the standings. Beckman qualified No. 1 at Seattle but lost in the first round Sunday to No. 16 qualifier and four-time winner Johnny Gray. That marked the fourth time this year Gray has defeated Beckman, the lone Don Schumacher racing driver without an event victory this year. "I hope somebody got the license number from that Pitch Energy Dodge, because that car has just been running us over lately," Beckman said.
ON A MISSION - Look out for Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry driver Alexis DeJoria. Her despair has given way to determination -- and that could mean trouble for the Funny Car class at Brainerd.  After Courtney Force eliminated her at Seattle, DeJoria said, "I'm definitely heartbroken over our first round loss today. We had some good mojo coming into this weekend after making it to the semis in Sonoma. We only had two chances to qualify here in Seattle and we did pretty well. Courtney's car has been running pretty well, but I was confident going into the first round. Unfortunately we didn’t get it done today. We gave them a hell of a show though. I'm ready to put this Patrón hot rod in the winners circle."

EYES OF RAY UPON TEXAS - The Pro Stock Motorcycle class is skipping Brainerd this year but will be back at Indianapolis. But No. 3-ranked Michael Ray, who lives and works at New Braunfels, Texas, is eyeing the AAA Texas Nationals at Ennis, the second of six venues in the Countdown. He won there at the Texas Motorplex last September, interrupting the Harley-Davidson lovefest. "Last year I went from ninth in the points to fourth after that race," Ray said. "When you leave that track you've got four races left, and obviously I feel like I can make up a lot of points there because it's one of those hot, greasy tracks where championship teams really seem to do well. I definitely wouldn't mind going there, getting another win and setting myself up for a title. I honestly feel this year is my best shot for winning a championship. Last year I had no idea what to expect and didn't really know what it would take to make a championship run. I've been like a sponge, though, and I've applied everything I learned last year to this year and I feel very confident that I can do it this year," the Sovereign-Star Racing rider told Benjamin Tuttle of the Motorplex. "Hey, I've won national titles before, so I know what the pressure is like. And I feel like I've got just as good a shot as anybody else to win it."

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