Recently flexing his competitive muscles behind the wheel of a Funny Car racing simulator at the 25th annual Lucas Oil Nationals, Minot’s Jim Tarasenko, 53, beat out hundreds of participants to become the local POWERade Fan Nationals Event Champion. Now, Tarasenko will travel to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona at the end of the season to compete for the national championship.

Tarasenko, a technician for the North Central Research Center, will ultimately be one of 23 Event Champions from drag strips across the country to compete to become the Series Champion. He and one guest will travel to the 42nd Annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. the weekend of Nov. 9-12, 2006. There, Tarasenko will compete in a series of qualifying rounds for the chance to claim the title of POWERade Fan Nationals Series Champion.

“This is one of the best experiences of my life,” Tarasenko said. “I never thought I’d win the Fan Nationals. I can’t believe it. This is the fourth time I’ve competed in the Fan Nationals; I’m thrilled to win.”

The second season for the POWERade Fan Nationals Series, the competition is a dream come true for NHRA fans like Tarasenko who have longed to race behind the wheel of an NHRA Funny Car. The competition lets fans power a simulated Funny Car to feel what it’s like to roar down the track. Each simulator is equipped with a high-performance, hydraulic racing simulator system that creates a realistic experience for fans.

Similar to NHRA drag racing rules, contestants tear down a virtual quarter mile boulevard to compete for the best time. Drivers are eliminated in a series of qualifying rounds throughout the race weekend until one ultimate POWERade Fan Nationals Event Champion is crowned. At the end of the NHRA season, each of the Event Champions, along with two “Wildcard Winners,” will meet up in Pomona to face off in a series of side-by-side races until one driver emerges victorious and becomes the POWERade Fan Nationals Series Champion.

“The Fan Nationals event lets NHRA fans like Jim take the wheel in our specially-designed POWERade Funny Cars and feel what it’s like to roar down the track at 300 mph,” said Ben Reiling, Senior Manager, Sports Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “Jim raced hard and we’re excited to crown him as our Brainerd champ. He is in for an incredible experience at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and we wish him the best of luck competing for the overall POWERade Fan Nationals Championship title.”