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Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals to Celebrate 55th Anniversary with ‘Golden Gator’ Award, Additional Events

The countdown to the start of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season is on, with the NHRA announcing a number of exciting additions leading up to and during the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on March 7-10 at legendary Gainesville Raceway.

The historic race will celebrate its 55th anniversary to open a highly-anticipated 2024 campaign and a special “Golden Gator” will be awarded to the winners, along with the coveted Wally trophy. The “Golden Gator” highlights the magnitude of the kickoff event, as the Gatornationals represent one of the major events on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series and has been hallowed grounds for NHRA drag racing for more than five decades.

“We can’t wait to start the first race of the Mission Foods era in the NHRA with a historic Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals and we’re thrilled to add a number of special attractions,” said Evan Jonat, NHRA Vice President of Live Events. “Winning the Gatornationals represents a major moment in any driver’s career, and we wanted to make sure that is celebrated, especially during the 55th anniversary of the race, with the ‘Golden Gator’ trophy. It will be an incredible atmosphere all weekend and we’re excited to announce even more special events leading into this first race of 2024.”

Leading into the race, the stars in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series will also test at the famed facility, with the NHRA offering teams three opportunities leading into the kickoff weekend:

·     Session 1: Feb. 8-11 (TF, FC, PS, PSM, PM, FSS, FX, TAD & TAFC)

·     Session 2: Feb. 15-17 (TF and FC) and Feb. 18-19 (PS, PSM, PM, FSS and FX)

·     Session 3: March 5-6 (TF, FC, PS, PSM, PM, FSS and FX)

With teams then primed for a big start at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, fans will get an unbelievable weekend on and off the track. Fans will be treated to incredible action in all four professional classes, along with the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout specialty race, as well as action in NHRA Pro Mod, Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown and the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

To add to the spectacular action on the track, fans can also look forward to an expanded array of offerings in the pits, including:

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  • Don Garlits Swamp Rat Alley: This debuted in 2023, as five cars from legendary driver “Big Daddy” Don Garlits were showcased in a special “Swamp Rat Alley” section. This will be expanded in 2024 and will include a number of must-see attractions, including autograph sessions, meet and greets and more.
  • Gatornationals Beer Garden: New to the 2024 event, the extensive beer garden and massive footprint will be located in the midway and be available for fans as an added attraction throughout the weekend.
  • Upgraded Top Eliminator Club: From special appearances, exclusive swag, premium parking, food and drinks all weekend, the Top Eliminator Club is a premier way to see all the action, with added features to 2024. Get your tickets now because these will sell out.
  • Military Appreciation: An appreciation for all veteran and active duty military members will take place, honoring them and their families. A special challenge coin will also be given to military members during the race.
  • Expanded Coverage: For those not in attendance, they can catch all the action on, including extensive FREE coverage of the NHRA test sessions in Gainesville, coverage of the “Baby Gators” Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event the weekend before and the Gatornationals.
  • Expanded Coverage on FS1: The Gatornationals will receive comprehensive coverage on FS1, including qualifying action, the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, live coverage on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and continuing finals coverage at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.
  • Jungle Pam and Jungle Jim Car Appearance: The weekend will also include an appearance from “Jungle Pam” Hardy, as well an original car driven by legendary racer “Jungle Jim” Liberman.

Other special activities include marching bands playing throughout the weekend, a weekend flyover from the Air Force, appearances from legendary names from the sport and much more, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Before the race, fans will be invited to a special “Gatornationals Kickoff Party and Fanfest” at Burnyzz Speedshop in Ocala from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6. The event will include driver appearances and much more at the state-of-the-art facility, with more details – and a full driver appearance list – to be released in the coming weeks.

With a huge crowd expected all weekend in Gainesville, fans can also see the debuts and returns of several exciting names in the sport, including legendary racer Tony Stewart, who will make his Top Fuel debut at the Gatornationals.

In 2023, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all picked up victories to open the season. It marked the second straight Gainesville win for Hagan and Tony Stewart Racing, while Salinas, Coughlin and Herrera, all won the historic race for the first time. Both Hagan and Herrera ended the season as world champions, while Josh Hart won the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout at his home track.

Action will start with qualifying on Friday and Saturday, along with the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, leading into eliminations on Sunday as all the NHRA stars will look to open their 2024 season in standout fashion.

To purchase tickets to the 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, fans can visit Children 12 and under are free in general admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. For more information about the NHRA, visit

This story was originally published on January 12, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.