DI Warm-Up: NHRA Teams Prep for 2015 Season at Phoenix Test
Last Wednesday through Saturday, a handful of NHRA nitro and sportsman teams took part in a private test session at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona. Stout weather conditions helped to produce some impressive numbers as the teams prepared for the Circle K NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 5-8, in Pomona, California.
The test session was comprised of mostly Funny Cars on the Pro side, but it was the Top Fuel dragster of Brittany Force that garnered the big headline of the week when the middle Force daughter ran a 3.698 at a negligible 321.88 MPH.
“Testing was definitely a challenge. Not just for the driver but for the whole team. I’ve been out of the seat and out of my routine for a few months so it takes some time. We have a new team and some new guys but I am excited. We jumped back into it and got off to a tough start but we got it turned around. Once we got it running it seemed to fly,” said Brittany Force. “We ran 3.80 with an early shut off and then we ran 3.69 in great conditions. Running in the 60s was awesome and I am excited and proud of that. That is something I have always wanted to do. We closed out testing with a 3.76 in the afternoon so I know we have a good set up to go to Pomona.”
All three JFR Funny Cars were in the threes at various points during the four-day test. John Force was the quickest Funny Car driver of the weekend with his 3.971, followed by team president Robert Hight’s 3.976 and Courtney Force’s 3.980. John and Robert each made an additional three-second run of 3.985.
“This is the most successful test session we have ever had especially to start a season. I think a lot of it has to do with coming to Phoenix. The folks at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park have done a great job getting it ready for us. We had great conditions. I went six out of eight runs with very respectable runs. I am pleased with the overall effort,” said Robert Hight. “We had a chance on the last run to step up and maybe run quicker but Mike Neff made the decision to make a nice safe run and it still ran 3.98 seconds. It was the fastest speed I have ever run almost 324 mph. We wanted to end on a good note. I am proud of all the teams. We have four great teams.”
Independent Funny Car drivers Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson also attended the test. Pedregon was breaking in a new car for 2015, making a best run of 4.01 at 313. Wilkerson made a pair of 4.04/313 MPH runs before deciding his LRS team is ready for Pomona. The husband and wife team of Terry and Jenna Haddock was on-site to make a few runs with Terry’s Funny Car and Jenna’s Top Fuel dragster.
In addition to a few local Sportsman cars, the valuable test opportunity was utilized by Top Alcohol Dragster drivers Mark Taliaferro, tuned by multi-time national champion Norm Grimes, and Ray Martin, who was driving the new second car of 2014 national championship team Maddern Racing. Top Alcohol veteran Jay Payne attempted the Phoenix quarter-mile with his Peak Camaro alcohol Funny Car, as did NAPA sponsored John Lombardo, Jr. Lombardo ended his weekend with a tight 5.473 at 266 MPH.
Nostalgia Nitro Funny Car driver Tim Boychuk debuted his new “Hawaiian” look, a nod to his legendary crew chief, Roland Leong. 2010 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel champion Adam Sorokin also debuted the beginning of a new red look for his Champion Speed Shop entry.
For more coverage from the Phoenix preseason test session, check out Arizona Auto Scene, one of the only media outlets allowed at the private event.
- The new Camaro-branded bodies belonging to John Force Racing were almost talked about more than the runs made with them. Dubbed “Mustaros” by critics, the bodies are former Mustang bodies that were altered to represent new sponsor Chevrolet and their Camaro until dedicated Camaro bodies are developed. Force addressed the controversial move in this Competition Plus article by Michael Knight.
- One of the most successful in NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster history is for sale and it could be yours for $125,000. 5-time national champion Bill Reichert retired at the end of last season and is therefore selling his A/Fuel dragster, which still holds the national record in both ET (5.103) and MPH (284.75).
- It was announced Friday that Pro Stock great Warren Johnson will add to his list of accolades this June when he’s inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Johnson is in good company; the other 2015 inductees include motocross rider Ricky Carmichael and stock car ace Mark Martin.
- What do you do when you have a supercharger, a small-block Chevy and a drag bike roller? You put them all together and take your creation to the infamous Byron Dragway to do high-speed burnouts down the entire quarter-mile.
- When “Stevie Fast” Jackson and DeWayne “Big Daddy” Mills pull up to the starting line at one of Donald “Duck” Long’s races at South Georgia Motorsports Park, you better believe the drag radial stars are going to put on a show.
- Arizona Auto Scene’s Jim Hahn was at Phoenix testing this weekend and caught Brittany Force’s 3.69 run on video.