Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: Plenty of Visual Aids

When this column was devised, video was definitely something that was tagged to play a role. The argument has been made many times that drag racing is such a visual sport and to that end, we would try to include video in some form every week. That could be clips from events or interviews, sometimes driver features that are exclusive to Frontstretch.

Many of the videos last year were of the Frontstretch exclusive variety. There were some good clips available from events and interviews, but many were much longer than the two to five minutes we were looking to feature. Honestly, when you work in Internet journalism, you know your audience is likely reading from the office or a waiting room or on their lunch hour. No one is looking to spend 45 minutes, or even likely 15, watching a video. This year, however, there seems to be a proliferation of short footage from all over, including a new batch of Frontstretch exclusives on tap.

In truth, I’m amassing a bit of a waiting list. I have plenty of exclusives to roll out. There are also some great NHRA 101 and historical videos on NHRA’s YouTube channel. Then there’s event footage. Over the last several events, there seems to be many moments worthy of revisiting, all captured in short videos perfect for the reader perusing Nitro Shots on their lunch hour. We could probably put out “Nitro Shots: The Video Edition” just to get caught up on some of the things already on the list of “We’d like to use this sometime.”

It brings it all back to the original point, however. Drag racing is such a visual sport, and when the average race takes only a few seconds, it just lends itself perfectly to taking advantage of the way most people consume media these days—online, frequently on their phone, and in short bits. That makes drag racing perhaps the motorsport in the best position to make itself at home in modern media.

What’s News?

Chevrolet and 16-time NHRA champion John Force unveil the all-new 2016 Camaro SS Funny Car Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in Brownsburg, Indiana. The new Funny Car body is the first based on the sixth-generation Camaro SS. Force will race the new Funny Car this weekend at the NHRA Kansas Nationals in Topeka, Kansas. Force’s teammates Courtney Force and Robert Hight will introduce new Camaro SS Funny Cars later this season. (Photo by Eric Meyer for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet and 16-time NHRA champion John Force unveil the all-new 2016 Camaro SS Funny Car. (Photo by Eric Meyer for Chevy Racing)

* John Force unveiled the new 2016 Camaro SS Funny Car that he will be racing beginning this weekend at the NHRA Kansas Nationals in Topeka. The new body is based on the all new sixth-generation Camaro SS and features distinctive styling signatures of its street counterpart.

The new car also features better aerodynamics, including a new integrated front splitter that directs more air over the body, that should make for more downforce and added stability. It is also lighter than the old body. An added safety feature is dual blow-out panels that relieve underbody pressure to keep the body on the chassis when an engine fails.

“I started my career in a Chevrolet and I couldn’t be more excited to put this new Camaro SS Funny Car on the track,” Force said. “With all the assistance from Chevrolet, it not only looks great, it’s designed to perform better than anything we’ve had before, with a shape that should help us get down the track quicker and with greater stability.”

Teammates Courtney Force and Robert Hight will begin racing the new car later this season.

* Matt Hagan has added his name to the list of those qualified for the Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Funny Car with his win last weekend in Atlanta, making it a field of six so far. One more driver has the opportunity to qualify for the event via an event win. The eighth and final spot is filled by a fan vote winner.

Driver Profile: Angelle Sampey

NHRA 2015 Angelle Sampey head shot courtesy NHRA

Category: Pro Stock Motorcycle
Hometown: Luling, LA
Date of birth: August 7, 1970
2016 car: Precision Service Equipment Buell
Crew chief: Ken Johnson
Team Owner: George Bryce

Career Highlights:
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 41/28
Best points finish: 1st in 2000, 2001, 2002
Career best ET: 6.799, Atlanta, 2016
Career best speed: 197.19, Gainesville, 2016

2015 – Competed in a limited schedule; scored one runner-up finish.

2014 – Returned to riding at Dallas in the fall and rode in four events. She retired after the 2008 season and did not compete in 2009-2013.

2002 – Won third championship and became only the second rider ever to win three consecutive titles (Matt Hines was the other); tied Shirley Muldowney for most championships earned by a female competitor at three.

2001 – Surpassed Shirely Muldowney’s 18 wins to become the winningest female in NHRA history; won second straight NHRA championship; scored seven total victories, the most ever by a female competitor in one season.

2000 – Earned first NHRA championship, only the second female to to win a title along with Shirley Muldowney; five wins in eight final round appearances.

1996 – Made her NHRA debut and advanced to semifinals in Denver. Claimed her first win in her first final round appearance at Reading, only the fourth race of her career. Finished seventh in points despite missing the first six events of the season.

Follow Angelle: @AngelleSampey on Twitter, Angelle Sampey on Facebook, @angellesampey on Instagram

Some Things Most People Don’t Know About Angelle: Her hobby is mixed martial arts. Sampey’s 41 wins are the most for a female driver in NHRA history. Being so close to the overall win record of 45 for Pro Stock Motorcycle was a large part of the reason Sampey came out of retirement. Her goal is to hold that record.

“My ultimate goal is to get some more wins under my belt,” said Sampey. “When I left 7 years ago, the only thing I hadn’t accomplished was to be the winningest racer. I was the winnningest female, I won championships, I set world records, I did everything I wanted to do, but that title of the winningest female, I didn’t want that. I wanted the winningest racer and the only way to get that was to get back out here. Whether or not that’s going to happen I don’t know because the level of competition these days is unbelievable. I may never win another race but I’m going to try to.”

Hey Y’all, Watch This!

Last Sunday’s Top Fuel between teammates Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd was decided by a margin of victory of .00001 in favor of Doug Kalitta. It marked the closest Top Fuel race in NHRA history. It was also the first time since 2006 that two Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel cars contested the final. This one was way too close to call with the naked eye.

Word of the Week: Burn Down

If you watched the Fox Sports 1 race broadcast on Sunday, you likely saw the feature explaining that teams have a routine timed out that dictates how long their cars run on a pass, from the time they start it, do the burnout, stage, and race. Drivers maintain a consistent routine, doing the burnout the same way and for the same length of time, and try to consistently stage the same way. This allows teams to have some knowledge of the temperature of the car and that is then figured into the tuning of the car. Having a routine is also helpful to most drivers.

Enter the burn down. This happens when drivers move into the pre-staged position but then do not complete staging. When one driver completes staging, the other is on the clock to also stage or he will be “timed-out” and disqualified. That clock does not start however until one driver stages, so if neither one completes staging, the race does not start. Drivers can use this as a technique, particularly if they know the other driver prefers to stage second, to mess up that routine for the other driver.


QualifyingFriday, November 10, 6:30 PM ETFS1 (Live)
QualifyingSaturday, November 11, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)
EliminationsSunday, November 12, 4:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)

About the author

A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning former writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni works in web design and freelances with writing in North Carolina.

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