A tropical storm dubbed ‘Hurricane Isaac’ reached its fingers up the gulf and delivered a downpour, but through much perseverance and utilization of all the modern technology and informational resources, the National Hot Rod Association was able to get nearly all of the scheduled activities for Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 completed.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature won the battle on Sunday, as continuous heavy rain washed out all racing activities. These race cars are very powerful and very fast, but not so much so on race tracks covered in several inches of water.
One of those activities scheduled for Saturday was the first Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel. In addition to this “race within a race” there was also one scheduled for the Funny Cars on Sunday. This title refers to a battle between eight of the best cars in each of the two categories (Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car). The top seven spots are filled by a combination of points earned and events won since the start of the season by drivers in each of the two nitro categories. The remaining (eighth) spot is filled through a combination of a fan vote and a lottery. The more fan votes, the greater the chance of being selected in the lottery. In Top Fuel, Brandon Bernstein (son of Kenny “the King of Speed” Bernstein; now retired) was awarded the eighth spot, while in Funny Car, the ever popular (and leading candidate for the 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year/Road to the Future award) Courtney Force (also one of four daughters of 15-time Funny Car series season champion, John Force) won the eighth spot. The shootouts are run in conjunction with qualifying (Top Fuel on Saturday; Funny Car on Sunday). Cars are paired off based on shootout qualifying positions (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5). Each run is very important to each racer, as it not only counts as a qualifying run to get into the field for the US Mac Tools Nationals, but also to continue on in the shootout and the $100,000 payday for the winner in each category. Spencer Massey in his Prestone/Don Schumacher Racing Dragster slugged his way from his No. 2 position through a tough field, consisting of the “best of the best” in the Top Fuel category, to collect the first ever Traxxas Nitro Shootout win. Massey was very excited and enthusiastic with his remarkable win.
“I’m so happy for all of our guys because this couldn’t have happened without any of them, including the guys who show up at our shop every day to make our parts and build our chassis. Just making it into the Traxxas Shootout is huge,” Massey said. “To win a race out here is amazing because every car in the class is bad to the bone. Leading up to this event has been pretty nail-biting. We came out and tested last week for seven passes and made pretty good runs, so we had some data and knew we had what it took to win so long as we could put it all together on Saturday.”
The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Cars will be run at a later event, yet to be determined, this season. Matt Hagan, the defending (2011) NHRA season series Funny Car champion, needs to win the event to have a chance to make the chase for the championship and a chance to defend his championship title.
Oakdale Leader correspondents Mike and Jeff Burghardt contributed this report.