During a busy offseason that saw the sanctioning body announce its return to traditional drag racing competition and a massively increased purse for its pro categories, the IHRA also revamped its fan offerings with a brand new interactive pit area. The new Fan Fest pit area features driver autographs, hands-on displays and the brand new Jet Technology Center presented by Larsen Motorsports.
"The IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series is all about providing exciting, adrenaline-pumping racing and a great family-driven show for race fans of all ages. Part of that is providing fans with a great mix of things to see and do throughout the day at all IHRA events," said Jason Rittenberry, CFE, President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG Sports + Entertainment™, the parent company of IHRA Motorsports.
Perhaps the star attraction in the paddock is the incredibly popular "Hollywood Cars of the Stars" collection from the Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection. Featuring some of the most iconic cars ever created for film and television, the "Hollywood Cars of the Stars" from the Dezer Collection made its debut at the IHRA Southwestern Nationals at Southwestern International Raceway to the fanfare of the thousands in attendance at the IHRA season opener and will continue to make its way across North America - from south Florida to western Canada - during its 2014 tour.
"This collection of iconic cars from film and television goes hand-in-hand with our exciting new fan pit area," Rittenberry added. "Thanks for Michael Dezer for allowing us to bring these amazing cars on the road and showcasing them across North America with the IHRA."
Fans can view such iconic cars as the General Lee 1969 Charger from the hit television series Dukes of Hazzard, the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future movie franchise, the Batmobile from the 1960s Batman television series and cars from other hit movies such James Bond and Rock of Ages. All of the cars seen on the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series North American Tour originate from Michael Dezer's personal collection of more than 2,000 rare and exotic vehicles found at the Miami Auto Museum in North Miami.
Of course, the main attraction for the series is still drag racing, and the team that is currently sitting first and third in the IHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock standings, the Goforth Racing Team announced this week that it will be expanding to a three-car operation beginning with next weekend's IHRA Nitro Jam President's Cup Nationals at Maryland International Raceway. With the announcement, the IHRA Nitro Jam President's Cup Nationals will field the largest contingent of Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars so far this season as the class continues to grow in its return to quarter-mile competition with the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series.
Current IHRA points leader Cary Goforth and teammate Todd Hoerner will continue to field their current entries with the IHRA, while team patriarch Dean Goforth returns to the seat for the first time since undergoing surgery on his ankle in November. Dean and Cary Goforth will field a pair of brand new Jerry Haas-built Chevrolet Camaros, while Hoerner will continue in the Dean's Casing Service 2011 Pontiac GXP. All three cars will feature EFI-equipped engines powered by Sonny's Racing Engines.
"We are looking forward to having dad back in the seat. He took on the role of team owner pretty well, but it has been hard keeping him away from racing," Goforth said. "The biggest part of this will be getting dad comfortable with being in the car again. We have been looking for an opportunity to make this happen over the past month or so, we had his gas pedal fit for his foot and switched the car to EFI which should be more forgiving. In the end, Maryland was the perfect place to make this happen and we are very much looking forward to that event and getting dad some seat time."
So far this season, the Goforth Racing Team has already proven a powerful force in the world of Mountain Motor Pro Stock. The team has four wins already in 2014, two with the IHRA and two more with the eighth-mile PDRA series. Now the team will try to continue that level of success with the addition of a third team car and another proven winner behind the wheel.
"The season has gone great for us. We have had success with both of our cars and now with dad back behind the wheel, we can focus solely on racing again," Goforth said. "As far as the team itself, we shouldn't see too many changes. Everyone will take on the same roles as before and we will be adding a floater to go back and forth and make sure all of the teams are taken care of and that they have what they need."
In addition to getting behind the wheel for the first time in more than eight months, the race at Maryland International Raceway will mark Dean's return to IHRA competition. Dean last ran with the IHRA in 2009, the last year the class ran fulltime with the series. He has one career win and looks forward to an opportunity to once again compete with the IHRA on the quarter-mile.
"I am really looking forward to Maryland and seeing some great, tough competition. Everything is starting to turn around in this class, which is pretty exciting," Goforth said. "If this had been anywhere else except the IHRA, we probably would have parked all of the cars except one, but the support we have received has been exceptional.
After a dominating start to the season by the Black Diamond Motorsports team, made up of Kevin Bealko and John DeFlorian, and the Goforth Racing Team, a new face reached the finals at the IHRA Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway as Brad Waddle claimed the first win of his racing career in a major upset.
"It was great to see some new faces in the finals in Rockingham. To see those guys in the final was very gratifying for me, not as a racer, but as a fan of this class and the sport," Goforth said. "It is not secret that I am out here to win everything I can, but at the same time it is nice to see fresh faces in the finals. Afterwards, though, I definitely told them not to get used to it because we were coming after them. I consider all of these guys my friends, but as they say, that means nothing on the racetrack."
Don't miss the return of the International Hot Rod Association and the President's Cup Nationals to Maryland International Raceway the weekend of June 13-14. In addition to the return of quarter-mile Mountain Motor Pro Stock racing, the President's Cup Nationals will also feature professional competition in Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Harley, Nitro Altered and Jet Dragster.
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