By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
This weekend, the NHRA returns to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. This is the one and only time that the stars of drag racing will be competing in N.J. this year.
It is the 46th year that Raceway Park has played host to the NHRA and its drivers, and the 50th anniversary of the facility. It is the ninth race of 24 during the 2015 season.
Last year, Richie Crampton, who was than a rookie, became the 100th different Top Fuel driver to win a race when he won his first career race at the historic facility. Since then, he has gone on to win four races, including the NHRA Kansas Nationals two weeks ago.
“It was truly a dream come true winning in Englishtown at such an historic race track,” Crampton said. “After overcoming a flat front tire in the first round and going on to win the whole event, it was a very rewarding day and a rewarding win.”
Besides Crampton in Top Fuel, Cruz Pedregon also won in Funny Car. Jeg Coughlin Jr. won in Pro Stock, while Andrew Hines defeated his teammate and N.J. native Eddie Krawiec in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final round.
Coughlin Jr. is not expected to be present this weekend, as he’s taken time off from Pro Stock to help his wife with their new baby, who was born a few months ago. Coughlin’s win last year was his fourth at Raceway Park, which tied him with John Force, Bob Glidden, Professor Warren Johnson, John Myers, and Dave Schultz.
Larry Dixon, who is in his first full-season back in years, is the active driver with with the most wins at six at the NHRA SuperNationals or NHRA SummerNationals.
“I love that place,” he said. “To me, I look at the tracks that have been on tour for a long time, and this is one of our majors. Racing on the same track as Don Garlits, Gary Beck, Shirley Muldowney — it means a lot. I spent my whole life in drag racing, and reading the hot rod magazines to be able to race on the same track as some of my hero’s growing up, it couldn’t be any cooler.”
With a win on Sunday, Dixon would tie NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein, who has seven wins in Englishtown. Bernstein won four times in Funny Car, and three more times in Top Fuel.
While Dixon would like to tie Bernstein, he hasn’t won this major since 2010. That year, he was a driver for the now-defunct Al-Anabi Racing, before going on to win his third Top Fuel Championship later that year.
“Obviously, Kenny Bernstein – everything he did in a Funny Car and dragsters – he’s a Hall of Famer,” Dixon mentioned. “I spent a lot of years racing against him, so to be able to tie someone with his accomplishments, it’s a very big deal. It would be quite an honor.”
There will also be a special promotion going on this weekend, as well. Morgan Lucas Racing teamed up with Racers for Christ with an eBay auction, which garnered $560.50, for an individual to be an honorary crew member on Crampton’s Lucas Oil team.
The winner received two four-day general admission tickets to the Toyota NHRA SummerNationals. They also got to pick being an honorary crew member on either Friday or Saturday.
The winner will be allowed a guest to accompany them, and they both have VIP Hospitality privileges. The honorary crew member will receive a Morgan Lucas Team shirt, which has to be returned, and photo, along with an autograph souvenir from Morgan Lucas, who is also racing this weekend, too.
“That’s awesome,” Crampton acknowledged. “I’m a fan of this sport, and I always was, even before I was involved in it. That would’ve been the type of thing I would’ve jumped at – and still might – just to go hang out with Morgan’s team for a weekend.
“Of course, all the proceeds will go to RFC, which is a great organization. It’s a win-win situation for everybody, and I’m really excited to meet the honorary crew member.”