When the 33rd annual National Hot Rod Association Arizona Nationals come to Chandler February 24 to February 26, fans will bear witness to a mutual lovefest.
“This is a very special event for NHRA,” says Glen Cromwell, NHRA vice president of national event marketing. “Phoenix is a really strong market and has a very passionate racing community.”
Set for Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the NHRA Arizona Nationals is the second leg of the annual 24-event circuit NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Professional drivers will put their skills on display for patrons who enjoy speed, speed and more speed.
“We reach up to 330 miles per hour,” says driver Tommy Johnson Jr. “I drive the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. I look forward to coming to Phoenix, I have raced year every year since the late 1980s, and it is great to see how the event and area have grown.”
The Funny Car drag is one of a slew of events that includes the Top Fuel race and Pro Stock competition.
“This is not your stick and ball sports experience,” Cromwell says. “Every ticket is an all-access pit pass. We are eight hours of interaction where fans can get close to the action and talk to the racers, see what they are doing and get their autographs.”
Last year was strong for the NHRA, which boasted five sell-out events.
“This year, we expect 100,000 attendees over three days,” he says. “Fox and Fox Sports One will be our new television partners as well.”
Patrons can see Johnson in the Funny Car race, won last year by Tim Wilkerson on his way toward two Mello Yello victories. In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force will attempt to have a rematch of their epic 2016 race, which was the first all-female showdown in Top Fuel since 1982 and only the fourth in Mello Yello Pro-Class Series history.
“It is the happiest day of my life, besides getting married, of course,” Pritchett says about last year’s win in a press release. “I feel like I just won the Super Bowl, even though it’s only the second race and it’s not the U.S. Nationals. For me, it an incredible personal and professional victory.”
In Pro Stock, last year’s winner Jason Line streaked out of the gates fast, eventually capturing eight Mellow Yello titles.
“It will be great to come back to Phoenix and try to defend my win from last year,” Line says. “Phoenix is a very good place to come and participate and I have been doing it as long as I have been a racing professional.”
In addition to the racing, guests can tour the NHRA Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway. Sponsors and race vendors will create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the family.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, 20000 S. Maricopa Road, Chandler, 877.840.0457, racewildhorse.ticketforce.com, 9:30 a.m. Friday, February 24, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, February 25, and 9 a.m. Sunday, February 26, $34-$61.