The 50th Anniversary edition for one of drag racing’s most famous  events was certainly a speedy affair….

Australian native Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton secured an impressive title defence when he scored a back-to-back event victory for the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the third of 24 events on the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Crampton locked in his first victory since this event last year — on a holeshot  against Clay Millican with his pass of 3.769-seconds at 329.89 mph in his DHL / Kalitta Air dragster. He had not won a round this season, prior to securing his ninth career win.

“This is just a big race no matter what year you win it,” Crampton stated. “There were not too many easy rounds this year. That goes to tell you how difficult this Top Fuel category is. I think this win is going to take a while to sink in. I’m so lucky to have a team that puts me in a position to win like this. I’m just focusing to be a dependable driver.”

Australia’s Richie Crampton won at NHRA’s Gatornationals for the 2nd year in a row.

Millican, who raced to his second career final round at the facility, started from the No. 7 position and defeated Austin Prock, Jordan Vandergriff and veteran Doug Kalitta before the final.

Fan favourite racer – Clay Millican – was TF runner-up

Hight claimed the Funny Car title with his run of 3.867 at 331.61 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to defeat Tim Wilkerson in the finals. After earning his third No. 1 qualifier of the season on Saturday, Hight secured his second Wally of the season and 47th of his career.

“Qualifying No. 1 at the first three races is really impressive,” Hight said. “It shows that we have a really good handle on this car. We didn’t get the job done on the last day of the season last year and my team worked really hard because they don’t want to be in that spot again.”

Robert Hight’s potent fuel FC team choreographed the 47th win of his racing career.

Hight raced against Terry Haddock, Ron Capps and John Force before entering his second final round of the season. Wilkerson took down Dave Richards, Cruz Pedregon and defending event winner Jack Beckman.

In Pro Stock, 2017 world champion Butner powered his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro to victory with a run of 6.505 at 212.29 over Alex Laughlin. Butner was the runner-up at this facility last year and clinched his second win of the season. His fiance, Randi Lyn Shipp, won in the Stock Eliminator category at this event.

“I had no shot of winning rounds today,” Butner stated. “Second and third round we didn’t get down the track. The KB guys never gave up and I made the best run of the weekend in the finals. We were real ready for the final.”

2017 world champion Bo Butner powered past the Pro Stock program in his Camaro.

Butner qualified in the No. 5 position and defeated Fernando Cuadro, Deric Kramer and No. 1 qualifier Rodger Brogdon who red-lit in the semi-finals. Laughlin bested veterans Jason Line, Greg Anderson and Kenny Delco before facing Butner.

Hines raced to his first win in the category since Pomona 2 2017 with a run of 6.752 at 199.17 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod. He defeated his teammate and defending event winner Eddie Krawiec for a rematch of the finals from 2018. Krawiec was the No. 1 qualifier for the event and secured his 49th career victory.

Andrew Hines (far lane) defeated his teammate Eddie Krawiec in the PSB championship round.

“The motorcycle I had this weekend was phenomenal,” Hines said. “It was tracking straight down the track and it responded to all of the changes. That made it so much easier to focus on going out there and racing, cutting good lights and not really worrying about what could happen the very next run.”

Krawiec was the No. 2 qualifier for the event and defeated Scott Pollacheck, Jim Underdahl and Joey Gladstone en route to his fourth consecutive final round at this facility.

The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 5-7 in Las Vegas.

Once again — it was DSR’s Tommy Johnson Jr that provided the event’s most spectacular antic….

Warren Johnson won the event’s “Unfinished Business” feature – prevailing over 7 other drag racing living legends.

Drag racing within the myriad of the event’s supporting class categories were simply spectacular affairs with a bucket full of previous national record standards falling to the way side.

In particular — action within the event’s Sam-Tech Factory Stock Showdown race feature was amazing as that category improved by a huge margin in performance.

Going into the 2019 season the official NHRA national record for a FS/XX car was held by Mark Pawuk set at 7.929 secs late last season — but that bench mark quickly became mincemeat during qualifying action.

With no less then 31 cars making qualifying attempts at Gainesville and benefiting from some super quick atmospheric and track conditions, the entire qualified field fact exceeded the previous national record — with the bump being 7.920 secs.

Indiana’s Drew Skillman (a former Pro Stock driver) emerged victorious in the ferocious affair driving his ’18 model Ford Mustang. Drew roared past the COPO Camaro driven by Louisiana’s Stephen Bell in the final round — 7.736 secs at 176.70 mph to 7.887 secs 176.33 mph.

Drew Skillman scored in his Ford Mustang over a fantastic FS/XX Factory Stock Showdown eliminator.

Skillman also left the event holding the record — at a stunning 7.718 secs. Paul Roderick, also in a Cobra Jet Mustang was credited with the fastest run ever at 179.33 mph.

Racing within the M/T Tires and Wheels presented Top Fuel Harley division was also record smashing.

Beau Layne (from Redding CA), who also won at NHRA Phoenix a couple weeks ago, prevailed for his 2nd career NHRA victory.

Layne upset Bob Malloy in the championship round with a winning 6.473 secs at 217.42 mph. The racer had beaten Canada’s Mike Scott in round one and took a single in the semis when Japan’s Takeshi Shigematsu could not make the call.

Beau Layne (from Redding CA) won for the 2nd time this season in TF Harley

Shigematsu (from Iyo Ehime JP) was credited with the quickest run by a Top Fuel Harley yet in NHRA racing — hitting a phenomenal 6.101 secs for that record.

Japan’s Takeshi Shigematsu ran the quickest time ever in NHRA TFH class racing!

Pro Mod Season Kicker

It was season round one for the NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Drag Racing series — which at Gainesville was presented by Hoosier Tire and Jerry Bickel Race Cars racers Todd Tutterow and Steve Jackson.

Todd Tutterow won the Wally trophy when he got the holeshot win with his 5.662-second lap at 251.86 mph over Steve “Fast” Jackson’s quicker 5.643 pass at 253.95.  Jackson in fact set the Pro Mod national speed record but came up short for the win.

Todd Tutterow broke through to score his first NHRA Pro Mod class title.

His Gatornationals win is his career first win in Pro Mod. En route to his win, Tutterow defeated Mike Janis, Chad Green and Marc Caruso while Jackson took out Eric Latino, Steven Whiteley and Jeremy Ray.

For more detailed information on the Pro Mod class from Gainesville visit our VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal report : HERE

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

When NHRA officials determined that Sunday’s weather forecast was threatened by rain — they made a wise decision to compete a lot of the racing schedule for the Lucas Oil drag racing series late Saturday night.

That ferocious evening saw wins go to Craig Bourgeois (Comp Eliminator), Kevin Riner (Super Stock), Randi Lyn Shipp (Stock), Holden Laris (Super Comp), Ed Richardson (Super Gas), Doug Ramsey (Super Street), Anthony Bertozzi (Top Dragster) and Sandy Wilkins (Top Sportsman).

Top Sportsman winner – Sandy Wilkins

Randy Lyn Shipp won in Stock with her amazing ’67 Firebird

For the second year in a row — Kevin Riner won in Super Stock with his Camaro

Then on Sunday it was Megan Meyer (Top Alcohol Dragster), Sean Bellemeur (Top Alcohol Funny Car) taking home the major title wins.

Meyer won her 6th career NHRA national event title when she defeated Mike Bucher in an all injected nitro car conclusion. She carded a winning 5.201 secs at 285.35 mph.

Dynamic young lady racer Megan Meyer – dominated while winning in TAD

Megan was also credited with low ET of the event at 5.177 secs and she raced past Ken Perry, Julie Nataas and Jeff Veale during earlier competition.

Sean Bellemeur, driver for the Bartone Brothers race team, ran the quickest pass in the history of Top Alcohol Funny Car in the final to defeat Doug Gordon. He sealed the deal with an amazing 5.352 secs at 273.27 mph which dwarfed Gordon’s otherwise very fast 5.469 secs at 266.221 mph.

Sean Bellemeur roared to the quickest time TAFC history while winning.

Bellemeur qualified in the number three position and beat Canadian rookie driver Ryan Stack in round one, before then taking out Nick Janiuk and Brian Hough to advance to the final round. This win was Bellemeur’s 12th in NHRA national event completion.

Super Street (10.90) winner – Doug Ramsey

Prolific dragster driver Anthony Bertozzi won in TD.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler

Photos by Bruce Biegler – Dave DeAngelis – Randy Anderson

To link to the extensive event photo gallery from the 50th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Nationals click: HERE