It seems that mother nature has a grudge against the management of the Palm Beach International Raceway. Late in the afternoon on Thursday, Jan. 16, raceway officials in concert with the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO) were forced to move up the racing schedule for the 4th annual PRO Winter Warm-Up. Originally scheduled to run from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., the two Nitro Funny Car and Top Fuel sessions will now be contested at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with gates opening at 1:00 p.m. both days to give fans a chance to meet the drivers and teams before the show gets started.
While teams have been testing at the track since Tuesday, continued cold temperatures have impacted performance and safety as temperatures drop later in the day.
"This was a tough decision but it was one we felt we needed to make to insure we have the safest possible conditions for our drivers, crews and fans. As the sun goes down the temperatures drop rapidly and it makes it extremely hard for these 10,000 horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars when it comes to traction and acceleration," said Bob Tasca III, PRO Board Member.
This isn't the first time that the PRO Winter Warm-Up has been adversely affected by the unpredictable South Florida weather. The track will be honoring unused tickets from last year's event which lost a day of racing action due to rain. In order to take advantage of the raincheck, fans can simply bring their ticket to the box office on Friday or Saturday and receive a ticket for the 2014 race.
This event brings together all the top names in professional drag racing as race teams test and tune their Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars in anticipation of the 2014 race season. The PRO Winter Warm-up, presented by Bennett Auto Supply, will feature an impressive group of drag racing's elite including: Newly crowned NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, 2009 Funny Car champion Robert Hight, 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year Courtney Force and 2013 Rookie of the Year and Top Fuel driver Brittany as well as Al-Anabi Racing drivers, 2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon and Khalid alBalooshi.
Additionally, in his return to Don Schumacher Racing, Tommy Johnson Jr. will join teammates seven-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, 2012 Top Fuel champion Antron Brown, 2012 Funny Car champion Jack Beckman, 2011 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan, Ron Capps and Spencer Massey. Kalitta Motorsports drivers Del Worsham and Alexis DeJoria will also be in attendance. Other drivers racing at PBIR include Chad Head, Bob Tasca III, Cruz Pedregon, Terry McMillen, Richie Crampton and Bob Vandergriff Jr.
"What I like most about is that we all invest a ton of time and energy to go there and test, and we know we aren’t wasting out time or energy," stated 'Fast' Jack Beckman, 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion. "What I think all of us really like about PBIR is the fact that it’s a good investment for us to go test there. We learn things that are real world enough so that we can use them right away.”
Among the fastest-accelerating machines in the world, 10,000-horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars accelerate from 0-to-100 mph in less than a second and reach top speeds in excess of 300 mph. Fans will not only have the opportunity to watch the action on the track; they can also experience the thrill of being up close and personal in the pits, as teams rebuild their engines after each pass.
"We get to go there, we can run hard, the track’s always prepared really well, and our fans come out even though we don’t have a race – definitely makes the experience there very cool and lets us touch an area we don’t usually get to go to," added Antron Brown, 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champion.
Two-day spectator tickets for the PRO Winter Warm-up are $50 for adults, $25 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. Parking is free at PBIR for all guests. For more information, call 561.622.1400 or visit the track website.
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