The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals is already regarded as one of the biggest events on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit, but the 2022 version of the legendary race, which takes place March 10-13 at historic Gainesville Raceway, promises to be one of the greatest in the event’s storied history.
Chocked full of action, including a highly-anticipated specialty race, the season debut of several classes, a pair of concerts during the event, and, of course, 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph nitro racing, this year’s Gatornationals promises to be one of the most memorable in the 50-plus year history of the celebrated race.
The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, a thrilling specialty race where drivers will get the chance to call out their first-round opponent, is a major highlight of the weekend, along with the season-opening race in Pro Stock Motorcycle, the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown, and concerts from country superstar Eddie Montgomery and BoomTown Saints.
All the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will also look to pick up a key early-season victory at a race that will be shown on the FOX broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1). The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place live at 2 p.m. ET on FOX on Saturday, March 12 and eliminations will be shown at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 13 on FS1. Josh Hart (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won the 2021 race.
The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout features a star-studded lineup, including four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence, former world champ Brittany Force, Phoenix winner Mike Salinas, Pomona winner and 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley, three-time champ Antron Brown, nine-time race winner Leah Pruett, 49-time event winner Doug Kalitta and former world champ Shawn Langdon. Drivers will call out their first-round opponent at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 11, setting the stage for a memorable duel between eight star drivers on Saturday.
Other Top Fuel standouts to watch throughout the weekend includes Hart, who made an incredible debut in the class a year ago by winning the Gatornationals in his first Top Fuel start. He’ll look for another win against other standouts like Austin Prock, the 2019 NHRA Rookie of the Year, Phoenix runner-up Clay Millican and Tony Schumacher, who has a class-best five Gainesville wins and has returned to full-time racing in 2022.
Todd outraced Robert Hight in the Funny Car final at Gainesville a year ago, but it’s been Hight who has dominated 2021 thus far. He’s been perfect through two events, winning both races and opening up a commanding points lead. He’s after his fifth Gatornationals victory but will be challenged by the likes of reigning world champ Ron Capps, who is also after a fifth win at the race, Matt Hagan, who is part of the new Tony Stewart Racing team, eight-time race winner John Force, Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson and Jim Campbell.
Anderson won the opener in Gainesville to begin 2021 and never let up, leading the points the entire year en route to his fifth world title. But it’s been a different story to open 2022, as Elite Motorsports has controlled the first two races. Erica Enders won in Pomona and Aaron Stanfield took over the points lead after winning Phoenix. He’s after his first Gainesville win, but it won’t be easy in a deep and talented class that features top drivers like Troy Coughlin Jr., a finalist in Phoenix, 2021 NHRA Rookie of the Year Dallas Glenn, Kyle Koretsky, Mason McGaha, rookie Camrie Caruso and Bo Butner.
Pro Stock Motorcycle will open the 2022 campaign with plenty of excitement, too, as reigning world champ and event winner Smith will look to get a jump on trying to win his sixth world championship. He’s also after his third straight win at the Gatornationals, but the two-wheeled category is filled with talented riders. That includes six-time race winner Eddie Krawiec, Angelle Sampey, who has three Gainesville wins, Steve Johnson, Angie Smith, two-time event winner Karen Stoffer, Chris Bostick, Jerry Savoie, Ryan Oehler and Joey Gladstone.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, as well as the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Stanfield is the defending world champ in Factory Stock Showdown, while Jose Gonzalez won the world title in NHRA Pro Mod and race in Gainesville in 2021. The Hot Rod Junction will be bringing more than 50 historical cars to the race, including show cars and cackle cars. The Electric Exhibition presented by Pep Boys Electric Vehicle Service will take place and will feature Steve Huff, who became the first person to make a 200-mph run in an electric dragster.
To get ready for the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, a special photo of all eight participants will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 11, with a special autograph session featuring the eight star drivers taking place at the Pep Boys Midway Display the next day at 10 a.m. Earlier on Saturday, Toyota-sponsored drivers will be signing autographs at 9 a.m. at the Toyota Midway Display.
Race fans will also get to enjoy a pair of concerts during the weekend as part of the NHRA Concert Series presented by 8-Track Entertainment. Country music star Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry will take the stage at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11. BoomTown Saints will also take to the stage at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for the concert are included with the price of admission to the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.
NHRA fans can attend Total Seal Tech Talk with Pro Stock’s Matt Hartford at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 11 to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Gainesville Raceway will also host the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the SealMaster Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville. As part of the pre-race ceremonies on Sunday, reigning world champs Torrence, Capps, Anderson and M. Smith will be receiving their championship rings as well. 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 celebrating their Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals victories.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet at Gainesville Raceway. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display will include tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 11 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 12 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 13. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, and then eliminations action at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The first round of the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout will take place at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 12 with the semifinals set to follow at 1:30 p.m. The final round is slated for 3:15 p.m. and will be shown live on the FOX broadcast network. FOX will have coverage of the entire Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout starting at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday.
To purchase tickets to the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.nhra.com. Children 12 and under are admitted free in general admissions areas with a paid adult. For more information about NHRA, visit www.nhra.com
(Courtesy of NHRA communications)