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Action-packed Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals to kick off 2024 season

Celebrating the start of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season in grand fashion, the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals promises to be one of the biggest races in the event’s long and heralded history.
06 Feb 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals

Celebrating the start of the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season in grand fashion, the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals promises to be one of the biggest races in the event’s long and heralded history.

Taking place March 7-10 at legendary Gainesville Raceway, the kickoff to the first event in the Mission Foods era promises to add even more history at a track and for a race that has featured so many incredible moments. This year’s version promises the unforgettable sights and sounds of 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph racing action, new faces in the professional ranks – like legendary racer and now Top Fuel rookie Tony Stewart – the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, pre-race festivities, and a host of events and action off the track to ensure fans will have a weekend to remember. 

Along with the stars in all four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), the additional entertainment on tap helps make it one of the most massive Gatornationals in NHRA history, and includes the following:

  • Don Garlits Swamp Rat Alley: This special “Swamp Rat Alley” section will include several cars from legendary driver “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, autograph sessions, meet and greets and more. 
  • “Jungle Jim” Car Appearance: This can’t-miss opportunity takes place at the Don Garlits Swamp Rat Alley.
  • Golden Gator Trophy: The special trophy to honor the 55th anniversary will be given to winners of the marquee race, along with the coveted Wally trophy.
  • Gatornationals Beer Garden: New to the 2024 event, the extensive beer garden and massive footprint will be located in the midway.
  • Upgraded Top Eliminator Club: Special appearances, exclusive swag, premium parking, food and drinks all weekend, and much more. 
  • NHRA Salutes: An appreciation for all veteran, active-duty military members and first responders will take place, along with a weekend flyover from the Air Force. A challenge coin collectable will also be given to all military and first responders in attendance.
  • Expanded Coverage on FS1 and NHRA.tv Coverage: The Gatornationals will receive comprehensive coverage on FS1, including the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, live coverage on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and continuing finals coverage at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday. NHRA.tv will include coverage of the of the “Baby Gators” Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event the weekend before, testing on March 5-6 and the Gatornationals.
  • Gatornationals Kickoff Party and Fan fest: Takes place Wednesday, March 6 from 6-9 p.m. at Burnyzz Speedshop in nearby Ocala and will include driver appearances, autographs, live music, and a car show at their top-notch facility.

Last year, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won in Gainesville, adding the legendary win to their resumés, with both Hagan and Herrera also winning world titles.

Reigning Top Fuel world champ Doug Kalitta looks to keep rolling after winning his first world title to close out 2023, taking on Brittany Force, Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, Justin Ashley, Tony Schumacher, and class newcomer Stewart. In Funny Car, Hagan is after his third straight Gators win against a star-studded field of Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III, J.R. Todd, John Force, Daniel Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon, and Austin Prock.
Six-time Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders will try to win in Gainesville for the first time, facing off against Greg Anderson, Aaron Stanfield, Matt Hartford, and Dallas Glenn. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Herrera is after a repeat win by knocking off the likes of Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, Hector Arana Jr., and Angie Smith.

The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout is back to open 2024 as well, pitting eight standouts against each other in a unique, big-money specialty race that takes place on Saturday, March 9. The marquee shootout has become a huge attraction and highlight in Gainesville, with local standout Josh Hart taking home the win last year. First-round selections will be made on Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the Top Eliminator Club and an autograph session with participants takes place Saturday at 10 a.m. for all fans.

In addition, the Gatornationals will set the field for the #2Fast2Tasty Mission NHRA Challenge, which debuted in 2023. The Gainesville semifinalists will rematch during qualifying on Saturday at the next event in Pomona, with bonus money and bonus championship points on the line.

Along with racing in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, fans will also be able to see action in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+ and Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown. Fans can also look forward to the exciting cacklefests taking place at the Hot Rod Junction on both Friday and Saturday.

Race fans at Gainesville Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners of the season-opener.
The Nitro Alley Stage is a huge attraction all weekend and is the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Mission Foods Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, and much more. Marching bands will also entertain the crowd each day, including the University of Florida on Sunday.

As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, merchandise, food, and fun. 

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying features two rounds at 2 and 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 8, and the final two qualifying rounds on Saturday, March 9 at 12 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 10.

The first round of the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and the semifinals at 2:45 p.m. The finals are slated for 4:25 p.m.

To purchase tickets to the 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Children 12 and under are free in general-admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. Get your tickets now for the Top Eliminator Club because these will sell out.