March has turned out to be “The Month,” for those of us who appreciate fine cars, speed, and drivers that know only one thing—Putting the foot to the metal. The first motor sport event this month (March), was NASCAR weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), followed almost immediately by the “Great American Off-Road Race,” the Mint 400 in the desert outside Jean, Nv., and this weekend ends the month with the appearance of the 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip, at the Speedway. What more could we ask for?
One of the stars of this weekend’s meet is Brittany Force. After a successful rookie season ended with a flourish, Top Fuel driver Force appears to have taken the next step in 2014. A season after winning the 2013 Auto Club Road to the Future Award, which goes to the top performing rookie driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, Brittany continues to make strides, advancing to her first career final round early in 2014. The next step is winning her first career race, and Force will get that opportunity this weekend.
In 2013, Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) won the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2. This year Force, the daughter of legendary Funny Car driver John Force, hopes to send her 8,000-horsepower Castrol EDGE dragster to the winner’s circle for the first time in her young career, as her comfort level continues to grow in the world of 320 mph dragsters.
“I have lots of great memories in Vegas, as I remember watching my dad race here when I was younger. Between racing Sportsman cars and my Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster, I’ve been down that drag strip so many times.”
She set a career-best E.T. and speed at the season-opening Winternationals, with a performance of 3.778 seconds at 326.24 mph to qualify eighth. A race later, Force and her team demonstrated what they are capable of when things come together. She knocked out heavyweights Tony Schumacher, David Grubnic and Steve Torrence to reach the final round, where she went 3.793 in a narrow loss to 2012 world champion Antron Brown. It’s a sign that Force, whose sister Courtney won the Auto Club Road to the Future Award in 2012, is on the right path. But seeing the success of her John Force Racing teammates simply pushes her that much more.
Allen Johnson will lead the K&N Horsepower Challenge field as the No. 1 seed for the second time in his career, as the lucrative special event takes center stage March 29. A purse of $76,000, is available for the eight drivers competing in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. The winner of the 30th annual K&N Horsepower Challenge will earn $50,000. The runner-up will earn $10,000, the two semifinalists $3,000 each, and the four first-round finishers $2,500 apiece.
Johnson, from Greeneville, Tenn., is a two-time and defending winner of the event. He qualified No. 1, at three of the 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events where drivers could earn K&N Horsepower Challenge points. It will be the driver of the Team Mopar Dodge Dart’s 11th appearance in the bonus event. The $148,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge showcases eight Pro Stock teams in a race-within-a-race bonus event. Seven of the teams qualified during a 24-race span from the 2013 SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, through the 2014 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, in Florida. The eighth-place driver – David Connolly – was selected via a special fan vote on the K&N website. Connolly, driver of the Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro, has been named the K&N Horsepower Challenge Fan Vote winner, and will fill the No. 8 starting spot in the lucrative Pro Stock bonus event.
Robert Hight has enjoyed immense success at The Strip, and the odds once again seem to be favoring the Funny Car star leading into the weekend. Looking to add to an already sizeable resume at one of the world’s most state-of-the-art drag strips, Hight is poised to continue his early-season momentum. This particular event always seems to bring out the best in Hight and his 8,000-horsepower Auto Club Ford Mustang, as three of Hight’s four Las Vegas victories have come during the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, the most among any Funny Car driver. The 2009 world champ, and his four overall Vegas victories, makes him a must-see attraction at one of the crown jewel facilities of the NHRA Mello Yello Series circuit.
Some of the top professional drivers from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take part in a free autograph session, Thursday, March 27 from 5-7 p.m. at the New York New York Hotel & Casino. The event is the traditional kick-off for the annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. A driver question-and-answer period will be conducted in addition to the autograph session, which will be held on the Brooklyn Bridge in front of the casino. Fans must be in line by 5:30 p.m. in order to guarantee autographs and the first 200 fans in line will receive a free Summit Racing hat.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
Murray SawChuck may be the “King,” of being on Reality TV, but the funny magic man is also “King” of the South Las Vegas Strip, and of his home for the past two-years, the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana Hotel. SawChuck returns this coming Monday, March 31, for a very special limited engagement. Murray has been on more than a dozen reality shows, and every month it seems he’s on something new. The internationally acclaimed award winning magician, SawChuck, dazzled the judges and 22 million people as a finalist on “America’s Got Talent,” (AGT), and currently appears as a magic expert on the History Channel’s #1 rated series, “Pawn Stars.” You can see him in the near future on CW’s, “Masters of Illusion,” National Geographic’s, “Brain Games,” and ABC’s, “WipeOut.”
Murray’s star power exploded onto the entertainment scene with the charisma, personality, and talent of an entertainer born to be on stage and screen, after his successful run as a semi-finalist on NBC-TV’s “America’s Got Talent.” Murray dazzled the judges: Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel by producing a Ferrari from thin air, transforming a girl locked in a cage into a 450 pound tiger, and did the largest trick ever on “AGT,” by vanishing an entire 1918 steam train locomotive in mere seconds. All of these illusions took place before a “live” and national “TV” audience, and brought standing ovations from the judges.
Murray performs with a very character driven cast in his show on the strip with, ‘Lefty,’ his bumbling stage technician that turns into his ‘guest act,’ and ‘Chloe,’ his beautiful assistant, whom he cuts in half and makes disappear nightly! Murray co-starred on the popular VH1-TV series, “Celebracadabra” highlighting pairs of magicians and celebrities who competed for One-hundred-thousand dollars, and the title of “Best Celebrity Magician.” Murray has performed in concerts worldwide, and has headlined at the historic Magic Castle in Hollywood, and is honored to be celebrating his second anniversary at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino this year. Tickets for the 4:00 p.m. show range from $34.95 and $44.95 plus fees. For more information or reservations call 1-800-829-9034 or 702-734-2411.
Well, gang, that’s it for this week.