MARTIN, Mich. --
Here is what's making headlines entering this weekend's race:
EVENT: CarSafe Northern Nitro Jam presented by Perry Harley-Davidson
WHERE: U.S. 131 Motorsports Park | 1249 12th Street, Martin, MI 49070
WHEN: August 9-10
CONTACT: (269) 672-7800 | www.us131msp.com
DOUBLE THE JETS, DOUBLE THE EXCITEMENT
Jet-powered drag racing veteran Neal Darnell will pack a punch with his 30,000 horsepower "Shockwave" jet-powered semi-truck as he takes on Les Shockley in the "Super Shockwave" '57 Chevy in a battle that will feature over 60,000 combined horsepower and a grand total of five jet engines making for one of the loudest, fastest and most exciting drag races in motorsports history.
The rare side-by-side jet truck race will take place both Friday and Saturday night at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park as the two machines will fill every inch of the racetrack and will reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour all while producing side-by-side 30-foot flames and launch so powerful it will actually register as an earthquake.
Side-by-side jet truck racing is so rare, it has happened less than dozen times in the history of the sport. And race fans will see it twice this weekend at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
And if that isn't enough, the jet truck showdown will be joined by the Battle of the Jet Trains as the awesome show of K.C. Jones in the "Cannonball Express" taking on the "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" will create more jet power than has ever been seen at the IHRA's Northern Nitro Jam.
Some of the biggest names in drag racing history have competed at this event over the years
IHRA'S MOST PRESTIGOUS EVENT
The Northern Nitro Jam is the International Hot Rod Association's longest running event with the first event taking place in 1973 and eventually finding a permanent home on the schedule every year since 1997.
Some of the greatest names in drag racing history have competed at the Northern Nationals with some of the past winners being Don Garlits, Warren Johnson, Connie Kalitta, Kenny Bernstein, Ronnie Sox, Bob Glidden, Mark Thomas and Clay Millican.
The event has been held every year at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park since 2002.
While the lineups have changed from year-to-year, this will be IHRA's most diverse lineup with competition in Top Fuel Dragster, AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Harley and Fuel Altered plus the return of Mountain Motor Pro Stock in a special exhibition race, four jet-powered racecars, the "Chevy Rebellion" wheelstander, pyrotechnics, two full days of IHRA sportsman racing and more.
MIGHTY MINICK AND THE 'CHI-TOWN HUSTLER' GANG
Driven by Pat Minick and joined by Chicago buddies Austin Coil and John Farkonas, the "Chi-Town Hustler" was a fierce competitor on the match racing scene, sometimes traveling to nearly 100 races in a single season. With Minick behind the wheel, the Chicago-based team kept a grueling schedule throughout the 60s and 70s before the match racing scene began to dry up and teams resonated toward competition on a national tour.
Today, the legend of the "Chi-Town Hustler" lives on in the form of Pat Minick's son, Mike, who drives the "Chi-Town Hustler" alongside crew chief Troy Martin. Mike's dad Wayne also drove the car leaving three generations of drivers in one of the most famous cars in all of drag racing.
"I was born and raised around the sport and around this car. I think there are pictures of me cleaning rubber out from underneath the body when I was five," Minick said. "About 15 years ago I really started getting into it, getting hands on alongside my dad and servicing the car between rounds. This car and this sport has been a part of my life for so long and it is awesome to be able to continue that tradition today."
Mike Minick took over driving duties in the car in 2011 when he got his license and he has been driving the car ever since.
This season the team gave the car an overhaul and put a brand new Dodge Omni body on the car in hopes of getting more performance out of the machine and so far the results have spoken for themselves.
At the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex just two weeks ago Minick and the "Chi-Town Hustler" gang ran their best elapsed time and speed ever behind the wheel of the legendary car. The pass was a 5.789 second lap at 246.75 miles per hour in the finals against Pete Gallen, a race that was actually won by Gallen on a holeshot by .005 seconds at the line.
"We were really happy with our numbers in Grand Bend. It was the quickest and fastest laps we have ever made which made it kind of bittersweet that we lost in the final, and on a holeshot nonetheless," Minick said. "We tried some new combinations over the winter and the car seems to be responding well to the changes. This has been our best year ever as far as performance so we are happy about that, no all we need to do is add a win."
Minick will be looking for his first Nitro Jam Ironman this weekend against the likes of Mike McIntire in the "McAttack" Camaro, Rick Krafft in the "Bullet Bob" Pontiac and Greg Jacobsmeyer in the "All-Star Dodge" Challenger.
Several records will be challenged this weekend at Michigan's fastest track
FASTEST OF THE FAST
>From Pete Gallen's earth-shattering 5.55-second nostalgia Funny Car run in 2011 to the single fastest Top Fuel pass in IHRA history by Bruce Litton in 2007 at over 328 miles per hour, U.S. 131 Motorsports Park is known as the place where the fastest of the fast come to play.
And this weekend records will once be challenged in several of IHRA's premier classes including Nitro Harley, Fuel Altered and Top Fuel.
Top Fuel veteran Bobby Lagana Jr. has already said that he and the "Nitro Ninja" team will be looking for their fastest run in more than a decade of nitro racing and, in the process, hope to challenge Clay Millican's elapsed time mark of 4.484 seconds set in 2005.
Jay Turner and Ron Maroney will also be looking to set new marks in their respective classes at the Martin, Michigan track, the only difference with them is that they have already surpassed their numbers once.
Just two weeks ago Ron Maroney made one of the fastest Fuel Altered passes in IHRA history at Grand Bend at 5.935 seconds at 236.13 mph, but he couldn't back it up. The same goes for Jay Turner who earlier this year knocked on the door of the Nitro Harley record at over 228 miles per hour on the back of a motorcycle, but he too couldn't reproduce the numbers.
Throw in Mike Minick's incredible passes at Grand Bend and all four nitro classes could be pushing on the door of new records in IHRA's Nitro Jam series this weekend.
Mountain Motor Pro Stock racing returns to the IHRA in the U.S. for the first time since 2009
The IHRA's famous Mountain Motor Pro Stock class will return with a two-car exhibition race this weekend between two-time IHRA World Champion Pete Berner and Canadian Tony Pontieri.
The two cars will do battle at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park just like old times, joining IHRA's regular lineup of nitro classes and jet finale.
It will be an exciting return and the first time Mountain Motor Pro Stock has competed at an American IHRA event since 2009.
Jeremy Mason swept the Quick Rod category at U.S. 131 last year
ELROD, MASON LOOK TO DEFEND SPORTSMAN TITLES
Coupled with U.S. 131 Motorsports Park's usual bracket series, a huge turnout of cars is expected this weekend at one of the most popular tracks among racers.
Last year Jeremy Mason doubled up in Quick Rod, while Jacob Elrod won twice in two different classes on his way to claiming the Top Dragster and Super Rod championships in Division 3. Also 2012 Martin Stock winner Brent Darroch went on to claim the world championship in the same category, using this race as a major stepping stone to his win in Memphis.
Last year's winners were Mike Sowards and Gary Wojnowski Sr. (Top Sportsman), Scott Doyen and Jacob Elrod (Top Dragster), Mark Nowicki and Joe McDougall (Super Stock), Brent Darroch and Brad Zaskowski (Stock), Jeremy Mason (Quick Rod), Jacob Elrod and Brad Lefever (Super Rod) and Rick Baehr and Mark McKay (Hot Rod).