High-Altitude Stingers

The sport of drag racing is defined by micro-moments of time.  That very thin line is often the difference between celebration and disappointment.  There may not be a clearer example of all that then for event sponsor Mopar during last weekend’s 32nd running of the NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals……

Throughout most of the event, which was held at fan fabulous Bandimere Speedway (on Denver’s west side), the Mopar brand flagship cars driven by Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) truly appeared destined.  Both drivers and teams had terrific streaks going during both qualifying and eliminations while muscling their way into their respective class final rounds.

Matt Hagan

But call it fate, bad luck, or karma — the anticipated ultimate “double-double” celebration for Mopar brand on-hand executives and dedicated fan base was dashed in very short order following very unanticipated red-light foul starts in consecutive final rounds.  AJ, the defending event champion, who was appearing in a remarkable  5th straight Pro Stock final at Denver had a minus .009 RT versus Mike Edwards, which was immediately followed by Hagan’s minus .012 RT which dealt the event FC crown back to legendary John Force.

While I’m sure the Mopar brand faithful on hand did feel stunned and both Mopar drivers did hang their heads post race somewhat – all really should not.  The final rounds at Denver are just an example of the unpredictability of the sport of drag racing.  That ongoing melding of men and machine combined with mechanics and mindsets which then all venture into the unknown together is why the sport of drag racing remains so exciting and popular. 

And it is very true that the final round results took absolutely nothing away from the truly spectacular effort by Mopar on the event sponsorship front.  From their extremely popular pre-race street party downtown Golden to their fabulous event displays, exhibitions and unveilings – no one can argue that Mopar continues to lead the way and chart the course as to how to successfully sponsor a NHRA national event.    

Posted by:  Bruce Biegler – Editor

Event Essentials:     32nd Mopar Mile-High Nationals – July 22-24th, 2011 – Morrison Colorado  

Allen Johnson

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Spencer Massey 4.150 269.67 5th
R/UP: Tony Schumacher 4.255 266.95  
Low ET: Del Worsham 3.933    
Top Speed: Del Worsham   307.51  
Bump Spot:   4.288    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: John Force 4.361 285.23 133
R/UP: Matt Hagan 4.328 274.83  
Low ET: Cruz Pedregon 4.095    
Top Speed: Cruz Pedregon   307.51  
Bump Spot:   5.676    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Mike Edwards 6.970 197.65 31st
R/UP: Allen Johnson 7.015 197.62  
Low ET: Allen Johnson 6.955    
Top Speed: Allen Johnson   198.15  
Bump Spot:   7.250    
Winner: Karen Stoffer 7.283 182.58 6th
R/UP: Michael Phillips 7.394 182.01  
Low ET: Hector Arana 7.240    
Top Speed: Eddie Krawiec   185.84  
Bump Spot:   7.350    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners: Name ET MPH  
Competition Clint Neff 8.320 157.21  
Super Stock Jackie Alley 10.21 129.40  
Stock Scott Burton 11.06 119.17  
Super Comp Dave Crawford 9.527 159.91  
Super Gas Mike Wiblishouser 10.50 145.28  



Spencer Massey raced to his third Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals and in the process qualified for the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.

John Force (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.

Spencer Massey won for the 5th time in his fast-rising career


Massey powered his Prestone/FRAM dragster to a performance of 4.150 seconds at 269.67 mph to hold off seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher, who trailed with a 4.255 at 266.95 in his U.S. Army dragster. Massey became the second Top Fuel driver to earn a post season playoff berth, joining current series leader Del Worsham.

Massey outran Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon and Antron Brown in earlier rounds to advance to his fifth final of the season and move to second in the point standings, 68 behind leader Worsham, who lost in the second round to Brown.

“I’m just ecstatic,” said Massey of his fifth career victory. “I wanted to do well at this race, especially with our sponsor’s race at Sonoma being next week. Now we get to go there with a full head of steam. The final round was kind of crazy, because it started hazing the tires at the eighth-mile. I just kept my foot in it and hoped that our Gates belt held on. I never saw Tony. When I saw the win light, I started going crazy.”

 In Funny Car, Force won his first race of the season and the 133rd of his career, as he took an automatic win light when final round opponent Matt Hagan fouled at the start in his Mopar/DieHard Dodge Charger. Force finished in 4.361 at 285.23 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to claim his sixth win in nine career finals at the scenic mile-high dragstrip.

John Force shed a body during qualifying but roared back to win on Sunday


In the first three rounds Force raced past Tony Pedregon, series leader and teammate Mike Neff and Jeff Arend to advance to a record 214th career final round.

 “Like the military, it’s all about teamwork, and we have great guys,” Force said. “(Crew chiefs) Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas have been struggling, and Mike Neff and Jimmy Prock stepped in to help them. Robert Hight, the president of the company, even spoke up and told me, ‘It’s you. You have to get back in the game. Your head is hop scotching to the air show and the Indy 500 and every place you’re going. You taught me that you need to live it.’ He was right. I’m back in the game today.”

Neff, who became the first Funny Car driver to secure a Countdown playoff berth during the weekend, maintained his series lead, 192 points ahead of teammate Robert Hight. Force climbed from eighth to seventh in the standings with his victory.

Edwards scored his third win of the season and 31st of his career by holding off Bandimere Pro Stock dominator Allen Johnson in the final round. Edwards ran 6.970 at 197.56 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP in the final but ultimately wouldn’t need the strong performance as Johnson turned on a rare red-light at the start in his Team Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Avenger.

Mike Edwards is regaining his swagger in NHRA Pro Stock

 “We got the Wally, but I believe that Allen Johnson is still ‘King of the Mountain’,” said Edwards, who beat Warren Johnson, Jason Line and Larry Morgan to advance to the final round. 

“It’s so sweet to come up here because the Bandimere family does such an awesome job, and the fans are great,” Edwards continued. “It’s such a privilege to come up here and race because it is such a unique place. We have to change everything from one end of the car to the other [to adjust for the increased] altitude and it’s a game to see which team can make the best guesses and best choices, and who can be ‘King of the Mountain’ for one year. ”

With the win, Edwards trimmed Jason Line’s series lead to six points.

Stoffer ended a four-year winless drought in Pro Stock Motorcycle as she sped to her sixth career victory with a 7.283 at 182.58 on her GEICO/Powersports Suzuki and held off fellow Suzuki rider Michael Phillips, who trailed with a 7.394 at 182.01 on his Racers Edge sponsored bike.

Karen Stoffer ended a long winless drought in PSM

“Our main goal this season was consistency and to go as many rounds as available at each racing event,” said Stoffer, who beat Shawn Gann, Jerry Savoie and Eddie Krawiec in the first three rounds. “If you do that and do it right, you’re going to get the win lights and you’re going to get the Wallys. We had to wait and be patient. We went to three final rounds this year and had to wait until about mid-season before we could bring it home, but we finally made it happen.”

With the victory, Stoffer regained the series lead and moves 33 points ahead of Krawiec with three bike races remaining until the playoffs.

“We got the double whammy here by taking home the Wally and also getting in front of the points,” Stoffer said. “We’re now in control of our own destiny.”

Bandimere Speedway offers arguably the best fan viewing/experience anywhere in drag racing

The NHRA Full Throttle Series continues July 29-31 with the FRAM / Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. The race is the second stop in the three-race NHRA Western Swing.

Posted by:  Zak Elcock

To View DragRaceCanada’s extensive event photo gallery click:  HERE