NHRA announced its 2012 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule today, highlighted by a return to Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, which expands the schedule to 23 races.
“We are excited to return to the St. Louis area, as we have a very strong fan base in the region, and they have always supported NHRA Drag Racing,” said NHRA president Tom Compton.
A new operator at Gateway International Raceway has made the addition to the 2012 schedule possible. The multipurpose motorsports facility, located in Madison, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis, played host to an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event for 14 years, from 1997 through 2010. The NHRA Midwest Nationals, Oct. 5-7, will become part of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship and will feature all four professional categories: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Another significant change to the 2012 schedule is the return of the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals to a winter date, Feb. 17-19, making it the second event on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule and the week following the season opener, the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Feb. 9-12.
The 43rd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway, March 8-11, will include a special 20th anniversary celebration of Kenny Bernstein becoming the first driver to break the 300-mph barrier in NHRA history. The accomplishment, still considered one of the greatest performance feats in NHRA history, will be celebrated throughout the weekend.
After the East Coast opener in Gainesville, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will head back west for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 30-April 1, and then crisscross the nation again for the third annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, a spectacle unlike any other in motorsports, at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., April 13-15.
The 25th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals will take place April 27-29 at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston, followed by the 32nd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 4-6 at Atlanta Dragway. After a week off, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to action with the NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan., May 18-20.
The month of June begins with the 43rd annual NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., May 31-June 3. Following a weekend off, the teams will prepare for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers, June 15-17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, followed by the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago, June 28-July 1.
The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, has been moved to July 5-8. As a result, and going forward, the event will be billed as a Fourth of July extravaganza, as it will be held on or around the Independence Day holiday.
As in 2011, the NHRA's Western Swing will begin with the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, July 20-22, followed by the 25th annual FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals, July 27-29 in Sonoma, Calif., and conclude with the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Aug. 3-5. The 31st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., will be held Aug. 16-19.
The final race of the regular season and the event where the fields will be set for the six-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship is the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29-Sept. 3. The nearly weeklong event, the longest-running and most prestigious NHRA event on the circuit, will take place at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and celebrate its 58th anniversary.
The six races that make up the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship are the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 14-16 at zMAX Dragway; the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex, Sept. 20-23; and the 28th annual Uni-Select Auto Plus NHRA Nationals, Sept. 27-30 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
The teams will gradually head to the west for the final three races of the season, the first stop at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, Oct. 5-7. The circuit heads to Las Vegas for the 12th annual NHRA Nevada Nationals, Oct. 25-28, and will be followed by the season finale, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 8-11.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class will compete in a 16-race schedule, with six of those races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
ESPN2 will again provide exclusive television coverage, on a same-day basis, of all NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events featuring action from qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday's race.