Winning the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is on the bucket list of every NHRA competitor. Besides winning a Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship, a victory in the most prestigious drag race on Earth can separate the all-time legends from the rest of the pack. For Top Fuel drivers Tony Schumacher and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden, their domination of the event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis is what makes them “Indy’s Winningest Drivers”.
Seven Top Fuel world championships and a record 74 career victories are enough to cement Tony Schumacher as the greatest dragster driver ever but it’s his nine Indianapolis wins that really separate the U.S. Army dragster pilot from the rest of the field. His inaugural win at the hallowed dragstrip that sits in the heart of Indiana came a year after his first world championship and he has gone on to win eight more times including four in a row from 2006-2009.
“Every driver has certain tracks that they’re good at,” Schumacher said. “I am extremely fortunate that mine is Indy.”
Schumacher’s record of nine Indianapolis victories is tied by only one man, Bob Glidden in Pro Stock. Glidden, a native of nearby Whiteland, Ind., won the event nine times in 15 final-round appearances. His name became legend at the dragstrip following a run of 13 consecutive final-round appearances at the event, a feat that is unlikely to ever be matched.
“Indy was a very special place for us over the years,” Glidden said. “It was our home, we tested there and we had a lot of success there. It just seemed like when we raced there special things would happen.”
No name in drag racing is bigger than “Big Daddy” Garlits and he cemented his Indy legacy with his performances in Top Fuel dragster from 1964-1986. Garlits drove his Swamp Rat dragster to three consecutive victories during his comeback in the mid-1980’s, securing his spot in the NHRA history books.
"It means everything," Garlits said of the national event in Indianapolis where he claimed eight career victories. "It defines a driver's career."
During the weeks leading up to the running of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, NHRA is unveiling six of the most iconic moments in the history of the event that will remember the very heroes who made them. NHRA will conduct official presentations to honor each of the moments – including a ceremony honoring Schumacher, Glidden and Garlits, Indy’s Winningest Drivers, – in the Hot Rod Junction on Friday-Sunday of the Indy race weekend.
This is the sixth iconic moment that NHRA has announced it will celebrate during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Earlier NHRA announced that on Sunday of race weekend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits will reenact his famous beard shaving scene that followed his triumphant 1967 victory; on Saturday Kenny Bernstein will be honored for becoming the first double-up winner at Indy; on Friday the harrowing 1970 Top Fuel final between Jim Nicoll and Don Prudhomme will be remembered; and on Saturday the 1978 Funny Car final where Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen defeated Don “The Snake” Prudhomme will be remembered.
The “Indy’s Winningest Drivers” presentation will also take place on Sunday of race weekend.
The most historic and tradition-rich event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals has been contested annually since 1955.
The milestone 60th installment of the Labor Day weekend drag racing spectacular will feature more than 1,000 competitors in 12 categories during the event. The 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is also the final event in the regular season. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the race that will once again be televised by ESPN2 in more than 10 hours of coverage.
On the racetrack, the 60th anniversary Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will feature intense side-by-side racing at more than 320 mph, as drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle compete for their share of the $2 million purse and battle for important world championship points. The race is the final regular season stop for the circuit and will establish the top 10 fields for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Perhaps more importantly, drivers will compete to earn a permanent spot in NHRA history, as a Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner.
The race will also showcase the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, where the top drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car will race for $100,000 bonuses, as well as the annual Mopar HEMI Challenge for Super Stock cars and thrilling competition in both the Lucas Oil Series and Pro Mod Series.
In addition, the event will feature fan-favorite Cacklefests, vintage racecars on display in the Hot Rod Junction, autograph sessions with many of the legends of the sport, a Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, fireworks displays, and much more.
To purchase tickets for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, fans can contact NHRA’s Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472), or get their tickets online at www.NHRATIX.com.