An incredible season opener to the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season deserves an equally memorable kickoff party and fanfest, and that’s precisely what will take place leading into the famed 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at legendary Gainesville Raceway.
For the second straight year, the Gatornationals Kickoff Party and Fanfest will take place at Top Fuel driver Josh Hart’s Burnyzz Speed Shop in Ocala, Fla., from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6. That leads right into the Gatornationals on March 7-10, and the free event promises to leave fans excited for the weekend after an epic fanfest.
The incredible facility will play host to an event that features a massive car show, live music, food trucks, giveaways appearances from NHRA stars, and an autograph session. Fans will also get a chance to see the special “Golden Gators” trophy that will be given to winners on Sunday and celebrates the Gatornationals 55th anniversary. Last year’s inaugural kickoff party and fanfest was a massive success at Burnyzz Speed Shop, featuring more than 500 cars in addition to Hart’s extensive collection, and this year promises to be even bigger.
The event will include a host of NHRA drivers, and the autograph session takes place from 7-8:30 p.m. It features NHRA legends Don “Big Daddy” Garlits and John Force, former world champions Brittany Force, Antron Brown, and Cruz Pedregon, as well as Top Fuel standouts Hart, Justin Ashley, Jacob McNeal, and rookie Ida Zetterstrom, Funny Car drivers Bob Tasca III, Austin Prock, Chad Green and Buddy Hull, Pro Stock’s Camrie Caruso, three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ and current Top Alcohol Dragster driver Angelle Sampey, and more to be announced. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Racers For Christ.
“Last year’s event exceeded our expectations from fans who showed up and the number of cars for the car show,” said Burnyzz Speed Shop’s Brittanie Hart, wife of Top Fuel’s Josh Hart. “This year, we want to make it even bigger and better. This is one of the most historic motorsports events in the country, and we are excited to have it in our backyard and celebrate with everyone from Ocala and around central Florida. I want to thank everyone at Burnyzz Speed Shop for supporting this great event.”
In 2023, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won in Gainesville. The Gatornationals will be broadcast on FS1 in 2024, including qualifying action, 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.
Reigning Top Fuel world champ Doug Kalitta looks to keep rolling after winning his first world title to close out 2023, taking on Force, Steve Torrence, Brown, Ashley, Tony Schumacher, and class newcomer Tony Stewart. In Funny Car, Hagan is after his third straight Gators win against a star-studded field of Ron Capps, Tasca, J.R. Todd, Force, Daniel Wilkerson, Pedregon, and 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. Action will also take place in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, and Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown to open 2024.
Race fans at Gainesville Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremony that introduces and celebrates each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and include the fan favorite SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville, as well as a ring ceremony for the 2023 world champs (Kalitta, Hagan, Enders, and Herrera) and a flyover from the United States Air Force. 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, NHRA Insider Podcast, Shirley Muldowney Q&A, 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 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 noon 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.