New England – New Era!

NHRA’s newest national event offering – the Inaugural NHRA Auto-Plus Nationals made it’s debut in front of an overflow crowd at newly refurbished New England Dragway last weekend…..

Event highlights included a first ever final round head-to-head matchup when Courtney Force claimed a memorable Funny Car victory against her legendary father John Force on Sunday at the Inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.   Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, the 11th of 24 in the 2013 season.

Courtney Force earned her second victory in 2013 and third in her career, improving her overall record against her father, a 15-time Funny Car world champion, to 4-2. It was their first meeting in the finals. Courtney Force, who lost to John in the first round at Bristol Dragway last weekend, outran Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson and defending Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman to reach the championship round.

Courtney Force won for the 3rd time in her career in Funny Car eliminator

Courtney Force won for the 3rd time in her career in Funny Car eliminator


In the final round, Courtney Force powered her Traxxas Ford Mustang to a winning performance of 4.301 seconds at 261.67 mph, edging past John Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, which trailed with a 4.367 at 262.28.

“I definitely told him I was going to get some revenge (from last week) and we were able to do it. It was a lot of fun,” Courtney Force said. “We got down there and our car got in a little bit of trouble, but I had my foot on the throttle hoping he wouldn’t catch up. After the win, he came over and hugged me and congratulated me. We were both really excited and it was great for our team.”

Courtney and John Force paired off for an historical fuel FC final round at New England Dragway.

Courtney and John Force paired off for an historical fuel FC final round at New England Dragway.

With the win, Courtney Force moved to fourth in the points standings, while John Force, racing in his second straight final, jumped to fifth with the runner-up finish. Courtney Force also enjoyed the massive reaction from fans who packed New England Dragway all weekend for the NHRA’s debut at the track.

“It’s unbelievable. The fans out here are so amazing,” said Force, who celebrated her 25th birthday during the event. “They were so excited to have us out here. Adding another track in this part of the country, it was great. It really does mean a lot for me to be the first Funny Car winner at this race.”

In Top Fuel, Massey claimed his second victory of the season and 12th of his career, knocking off points leader Shawn Langdon in the final round in his Schumacher Electric dragster. Massey, who has advanced to finals in back-to-back weeks, covered the distance in 4.105 at 271.57 to knock off Langdon’s Al-Anabi Racing dragster, which smoked the tires early and finished with a 9.694 at 81.50.

Spencer Massey - driving for DSR - won in Top Fuel

Spencer Massey – driving for DSR – won in Top Fuel

“I’ve been jacked up all weekend, but I really wanted to win this inaugural event,” Massey said. “This whole area is filled with die-hard fans and they were so ready for NHRA drag racing, so this victory really means a lot to me. We were having the time of our life this weekend.”

Langdon jumped past Tony Schumacher in the points standings with the runner-up finish, while Massey stayed in third. Racing out of the No. 5 qualifying position, Massey beat Khalid alBalooshi, teammate Schumacher and No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta to reach the finals, running as quick as 3.814 at 323.81 on Sunday.

“Starting from the first round, it was tough,” Massey said. “When you’re in Top Fuel, it’s going to be tough no matter what because you have to compete with the best of the best. Racing Tony in the second round, that felt like a final. Shawn’s been cutting great lights all weekend long, but I was just trying to get the car to the finish line as quickly as possible.”

Johnson, the defending Pro Stock world champion, claimed his third victory in 2013 and 19th for his career by outrunning Shane Gray in the final round on a holeshot. Johnson’s Team Mopar Dodge Avenger posted a 6.642 at 205.38 while Gray ran 6.633 at 210.34 in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro. The difference came down to Johnson’s stellar .025 reaction time on the starting line.

“We had a great day and we just kept adapting to the track,” Johnson said. “Our team really worked hard and that was a fantastic run we put together in the finals. We made a radical change after the semifinals to get ready for the finals, and it really worked. We found something that will help the rest of the season.”

Johnson took sole possession of second in the points standings with the victory, as Gray moved to sixth. To reach the finals, Johnson knocked off John Gaydosh, Tom Martino and points leader Mike Edwards in the semifinals. That victory also came on a holeshot, as Johnson posted a stellar .027 reaction time against Edwards.

Defending NHRA World Champion Allen Johnson won again for Mopar in Pro Stock

Defending NHRA World Champion Allen Johnson won again for Mopar in Pro Stock

“We’ve been doing a lot of testing and the testing is over,” Johnson said. “We’re in race mode from here on out. I think we showed here that we’re running well and hopefully we can keep that up going into the (Countdown To The Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs).”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hall claimed his first career win after rookie Adam Arana, who was making his first finals appearance, fouled with a red-light start on his  Buell in the final. Hall went 6.924 at 193.93 on his Viper Motorcycle Company Buell en route to the victory.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said Hall, a Hamden, Conn. resident who was also making his first final round appearance.  “It’s just a special time. We needed it and it came at the right time and close to home. We’re just happy to be here. I can’t thank everybody enough. Matt Smith Racing has opened up a door of opportunity for me, and it’s worked out great.”

Hall, who moved to second in points behind Hector Arana Jr., knocked off Smith in the second round before beating LE Tonglet in the semifinals. Hall was also able to keep calm leading into his first finals appearance.

“You just have to stay focused and not do anything you’re going to regret,” Hall said. “I made some mistakes last year and I’m just trying to not do that this year.”

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues June 27-30 with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.

All photos by:  Dave DeAngelis and Steve Embling

To view DragRaceCanada’s New England Nationals event photo gallery click :  HERE

Event Essentials:  Inaugural NHRA Auto-Plus New England Nationals (June 21-23rd, 2013) Epping NH

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Spencer Massey 4.105 271.57  12th
R/UP: Shawn Langdon 9.694  81.50  
Low ET: Doug Kalitta 3.795    
Top Speed: Shawn Langdon   324.67  
Bump Spot:   5.409    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Courtney Force 4.301 261.67  3rd
R/UP: John Force 4.367 262.28  
Low ET: John Force 4.051    
Top Speed: Matt Hagan   317.49  
Bump Spot:   4.455    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Allen Johnson 6.642 210.68  19th
R/UP: Shane Gray 6.633 210.34  
Low ET: Jeg Coughlin 6.533    
Top Speed: Mike Edwards   212.79  
Bump Spot:   N/A    15 cars
Winner: John Hall 6.624 193.93  1st
R/UP: Adam Arana 6.924 193.57  
Low ET: Michael Ray 6.832    
Top Speed: Michael Ray   197.05  
Bump Spot:   6.975    
 Sportsman Winners:        
Top Dragster Ken Leblanc 6.886 196.62  
Super Stock  Anthony Bertozzi  9.037 145.63   
Stock Anthony Bertozzi 10.68  124.18  
Super Comp Ken Hanley 8.909  161.98  
Super Gas Michael Sawyer 9.914 160.90  
Super Street  Eddie Brooks  10.93  136.11
Pro Stock Motorcycle racing at NHRA Epping produced a first time winner :  John Hall

Pro Stock Motorcycle racing at NHRA Epping produced a first time winner : John Hall

Sportsman Double for Bertozzi

Anthony Bertozzi grabbed his 12th and 13th NHRA National event wins as he doubled up this weekend at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.  Mike Sawyer also advanced to two final rounds taking the win in Super Gas.

Bertozzi, Ashland, Va., first meet up with Bob Horgan in the Stock Eliminator Final where Horgan, Tyngsboro, Mass., left early with a red-light foul start handing the first half of the double up to Bertozzi who ran it out at 10.68 seconds at 124.18 mph in his ’69 Camaro.  He would then face off with Mark Markow, East Hartford, Conn., for the Super Stock trophy.  It was close at the start with Markow taking a slight lead but Bertozzi was better at the finish running 9.037 seconds, 145.63 mph for the win in his ’98 Grand Am marking the 16th driver to score the double up in NHRA national event competition.

Stalwart sportsman racer Anthony Bertozzi won in both Stock (with this Camaro) and then in Super Stock.

Stalwart sportsman racer Anthony Bertozzi won in both Stock (with this Camaro) and then in Super Stock.

Sawyer was looking to make history of his own advancing to the finals in both Super Street and Super Gas.  The Massachusetts driver paired up with Edward Brooks in his first final with Brooks, Deer Park, N.Y., putting a .030 second hole shot on Sawyer which was enough to hold on for the win as he crossed the finish line in 10.933 seconds at 136.11 mph.

Sawyer would come back around to square off with Canada’s Charlie Kenopic in Super Gas.  Sawyer would not be denied this time taking the win in 9.914 seconds at 160.90 mph in his ’03 Cavalier to Kenopic’s 9.932, 152.73 in his ‘27 roadster.

Kent Hanley narrowly beat out Nick Willard in Super Comp in one of the closest races of the day.  Hanley turned his hole shot starting line advantage into the win running 8.909 seconds to Willard’s quicker 8.905 for the win by about 12 inches.In Top Dragster it was Ken LeBlanc picking up his first NHRA National event win out of Dracut, Mass.  LeBlanc ran 6.886 at 196.62 mph to defeat Ken Moses who had the better reaction time but broke out by .001 seconds at 6.929, 189.02.

Posted with files from NHRA Communications & Eric Lotz