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Thu, 12 Oct 2006, 10:19 AM

Bradshaw, Naylor, Todd and Will Nominees for 2006 Auto Club Road to the Future Award
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

GLENDORA, Calif. -- Four National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rookie drivers, representative of two pro categories, have been selected as nominees for the 2006 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, it was announced today by officials from the NHRA and Automobile Club of Southern California.

Alan Bradshaw
Alan Bradshaw (Top Fuel), Max Naylor (Pro Stock), J.R. Todd (Top Fuel) and Hillary Will (Top Fuel) are nominated for the prestigious award, which annually recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and offers a $20,000 prize and traditional trophy to the winner.

The Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award will be presented during the NHRA's annual championship awards ceremony on Monday, Nov. 13 at the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"For more than 100 years, the Automobile Club of Southern California has represented integrity, commitment and professionalism to our millions of members. The Road to the Future Award has come to symbolize those same attributes in the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing," said Thomas V. McKernan, president and CEO of the Auto Club. "To be nominated recognizes not only that a rookie driver had a noteworthy first season, but also that they demonstrated exceptional potential for the future. We congratulate each of the nominees for this year's award and look forward to enjoying their achievements both on and off the race track for many years to come."

Max Naylor
Bradshaw, 38, from Odessa, Texas, drove his BME/Okuma Top Fuel dragster to a semifinal finish at Chicago and quarterfinal finishes at Las Vegas 1 and Seattle while competing on a limited schedule. He posted a qualifying best of 11th at two races, including his home event at the Texas Motorplex and recorded career-best performances of 4.545 seconds, 326.32 mph.

Naylor, 53, from New Buffalo, Pa., a late-bloomer in the competitive world of NHRA Pro Stock racing, raced to quarterfinal finishes at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals and the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle. He clocked performance bests of 6.662 seconds and 206.89 mph in his Jagermeister Dodge Stratus.

J.R. Todd
Todd, 24, from Lawrenceburg, Ind., raced to victories at Denver, Sonoma and Reading and in the process became the first African American to win in Top Fuel. In two of those victories, Todd defeated three-time world champ Tony Schumacher in the final round and in the other he outran Schumacher in an early round. Todd posted a qualifying best of second and clocked career-best performances of 4.494 seconds, 328.06 mph. The former NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League competitor also posted semifinal finishes at St. Louis and Seattle. Todd is currently 10th in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel standings.

Hillary Will
Will, 26, from Fortuna, Calif., powered her KB Racing Top Fuel dragster to a runner-up finish at Memphis in her only final round of the season. She posted semifinal finishes at Englishtown and Sonoma and is currently ninth in the NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel standings. Will's KB Racing dragster has been one of the most consistently quick of the season as she is ranked third in the NHRA Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge standings. She qualified a season-high second at Denver and clocked career-best performances of 4.507 seconds, 328.78 mph.

In 2002, the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award and the NHRA Rookie of the Year Award were combined to create one award recognizing the future stars of the sport. Past winners of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award have developed into some of NHRA's biggest stars, including Tony Pedregon (1996, Funny Car), Ron Capps (1997, Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (1998, Top Fuel), Antron Brown (1999, Pro Stock Motorcycle), Melanie Troxel (2000, Top Fuel), GT Tonglet (2001, Pro Stock Motorcycle), Gene Wilson (2002, Pro Stock); Brandon Bernstein (2003, Top Fuel); Jason Line (2004, Pro Stock); and Robert Hight (2005, Funny Car).

Recent NHRA Rookie of the Year winners have included the late Darrell Russell (2001, Top Fuel), Don Lampus (2000, Top Fuel), Scotty Cannon (1999, Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (1998, Pro Stock), Gary Scelzi (1997, Top Fuel) and co-winners in 1996, Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Rookie drivers in all four of NHRA's professional categories are eligible to win the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. More than 100 of the nation's most distinguished auto racing journalists will select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: number of events participated, performance on and off the race track, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors and media.

In addition to the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, the company is the title sponsor for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 9-12 at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The company also is a major sponsor for John Force Racing, providing primary sponsorship for the Mustang driven by Hight, as well as associate sponsorship for the Ford Mustangs driven by John Force and Eric Medlen. In addition, the company is the presenting sponsor for the California Hot Rod Reunion, contested each year in early October at Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.

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