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UPDATED: PRO MODIFIED ICON JOHNNY ROCCA PASSES

 

Johnny Rocca, best known for his exploits in Gasser racing and later Pro Modified, died on November 19, 2019, following an extended illness.

Rocca, 77, passed away peacefully at his Winchester, Va., home, surrounded by his family.

STRUTMASTERS RENEWS AS MAJOR ASSOCIATE SPONSOR FOR JUSTIN ASHLEY

 

Strutmasters and Justin Ashley Racing have renewed their marketing partnership for the 2020 season as rookie driver Justin Ashley makes a run for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award. 

Strutmasters, the specialty company founded by Chip Lofton, signed with Ashley before the 24-year old driver had turned a tire in Top Fuel competition. Ashley's performance record in three races behind the wheel of the Dustin Davis Motorsports dragster, which included a semi-final finish and three round wins, impressed Lofton, almost as much as the team's professionalism. 

THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, OZUBKO HAS ADJUSTED TO SERVE THE INDUSTRY

 

Greg Ozubko has always had the soul of an entrepreneur.

From a simple start drawing cars as a kid of “five or six,” Ozubko turned his passion for art, business and drag racing into a career. As a teen, he sold the pieces he produced at home -- and school, as it would turn out -- to the competitors at his home track in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

That led him into the field of racecar design, then apparel, and today, in Alpharetta, Georgia, the 55-year-old Ozubko is among the leaders in his field. GOS Motorsports Graphics employs a half-dozen employees -- seven when the workload is heavy -- to keep pace with the demand.

AUSTIN PROCK NAMED 2019 AUTO CLUB ROAD TO THE FUTURE AWARD WINNER

 

Austin Prock, driver of the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist Top Fuel dragster for John Force Racing was named the Auto Club Road to the Future Award, NHRA’s Rookie of the Year Award, winner at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards banquet at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together. My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn't have done it without them,” Prock said. “I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight. They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

TONY SCHUMACHER NOT GIVING UP ON RACING AGAIN

 

Just as when the drag-racing community convened at Pomona in February, the Top Fuel class is doing so without eight-time champion Tony Schumacher, whose 19-year U.S. Army sponsorship vanished at the end of the 2018 season. He hasn’t competed since this race a year ago, when he was runner-up to Steve Torrence and finished second in the final standings.

But Schumacher insists he remains committed to driving again – and soon, he hopes. And he still said he and his Don Schumacher Racing marketing experts are more interested in finding a compatible business partner with whom the race team can work on a B2B basis.

PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF FOR ENDERS IN COLLECTING THIRD PRO STOCK TITLE

For the longest time, many wondered if Erica Enders would ever return to championship form.

Heck, even Enders herself wondered if she would ever be that same cutthroat, championship driver that took the Pro Stock world by storm with back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.

CONSISTENCY KEY AS HIGHT COLLECTS THIRD FUNNY CAR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

At the 2019 NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona back in February, Robert Hight came out swinging with the quickest pass on day one of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. On day two he collected his first pole position of the year. On day three, he hoisted in first Wally.

Fast forward nine months and 23 races later and Hight ended the 2019 season exactly the way he started it – right at the top.

HEAD, ALEXANDER MERGE TEAMS; WILL RACE WITH PRONTO/HEAD ENGINEERS BACKING

 

The Head Racing Nitro Funny Car entry will be driven by Blake Alexander in 2020. Alexan-der and car owner/crew chief Jim Head will compete in 20 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with backing from Pronto Auto Service Centers and Head Contractors and Engineers.
 
“I enjoyed working with Jim when I drove his car in Bristol and I’m happy to say that we will be merging and beginning a business partnership,” Alexander said. “I am looking forward to a successful relationship with Jim and his group for many years to come. I really appreciate the Wilkerson’s kindness and dedication in helping a young race team flourish in 2019. Tim is someone that I look up to. Krista and him together are no doubt role models and people that I greatly respect. I look forward to seeing them, Daniel Wilkerson and my crew at the race track next season.”

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE PODCAST, STAYS ON THE PODCAST

 

Oh dear . . . Maybe it’s a wise move for Top Fuel racer Cameron Ferré not to take the advice of close buddy, sportsman-racing veteran, and “Racers in Rental Cars” podcast co-host Don O’Neal.

All racers are trying to find a way to stand out among the crowd and get attention for their sponsors or attract a sponsor. But in the most recent episode of “Racers in Rental Cars,” O’Neal came up with a sure-fire way to attract attention – and spark a melee. Just before the Las Vegas race, O’Neal pondered the universal lament by racers then, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, suggested an ingenious move:

KALITTA CONCEDES CHAMPIONSHIP BUT TAKES HOME TOP FUEL TROPHY FROM POMONA

By the end of Sunday’s second round of NHRA Finals eliminations at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., Steve Torrence had all but earned his second consecutive Top Fuel championship.

He didn’t even have to win the race. All he had to do was avoid incurring a center-line or wall-grazing infraction that would have cost five points. The only question at that point was whether last-standing challenger Doug Kalitta would be saddled with his fifth series runner-up label by 33 points or three points.

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