The prestigious Mac Tools Indy Nationals is the “Grand Daddy” of all the events on the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) tour and now represents the opening race in the countdown to one in the final chase to the championships in each professional category. The final chase to the championship covers the last six races of the season, starting with Indy and ending in Pomona, California in November. The best drag racers from across the country come to Clermont, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis, to flex their muscles on the race track. There are 13 categories or classes contested at the event, including a special Super Stock category for hemi engine cars. These are cars manufactured by the Chrysler Corporations that utilize hemi engines. All in all, there were over 695 racers entered for the prestigious 56th Annual NHRA MAC Tool Nationals.
In the Funny Car category, the northern California and Oakdale areas were represented by three teams. John Medlen, from Oakdale, is the crew chief of the Ron Capp’s driven NAPA Dodge Charger fuel funny car. They won the funny car title at the recent Fram/Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma in July, and made a strong qualifying showing at Indy. The John Medlen-tuned race car qualified second with a 4.04 second elapse time. Unfortunately, their race day efforts came up short as they were taken out in the first round of eliminations by the 15th qualifier, Melanie Troxell 4.13. to 4.16 seconds.
The event featured some spectacular on track racing in funny car, but at the end of the day, it was Team Force that held all the cards. Ashley Force-Hood (daughter of 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force) defeated “fast” Jack Beckman in the semi-final round to advance to the final round for the second consecutive year. She won the Indy Nationals Funny Car title in 2009. John Force then faced off against the number 1 qualifier (and category national record holder), Matt Hagan in the other semi-final round match up. Force defeated Hagan in an exciting “pedal fest” as both race cars overpowered the track, finessing his 8000-plus horsepower race car to the finish line first, advancing him to a huge father vs. daughter final round match up with Ashley. The anticipation was high as the two staged their respective Castrol-sponsored race cars for the biggest family match up at the biggest race of the season. At the flash of the green light, Ashley was off with a 0.061 to 0.095 second reaction time advantage and rapidly left her famous dad in the dust, capturing her second consecutive Mac Tools US Nationals Funny Car title 4.141 seconds later.
Several local racers from the northern California area made the 2200-plus mile drive and competed in the various categories at the prestigious event.