Race Weekend Central

Nitro Shots: NHRA Silly Season Heats Up

Normally, I think of Silly Season as a NASCAR thing, that time of year when drivers, sponsors and teams start making moves and announcements for the coming season. In some cases, the moves will take place at the end of the year. Other times, it might be right away or with at least a few races left in the year to get a jump on next season.

Given the moves surrounding the temporary (at least for now) shuttering of Alan Johnson Racing, detailed here last week, and now all the moves that have happened in the Elite Motorsports camp over the last week, it looks more like Silly Season is upon the NHRA this time.

To catch you up in case you missed it, Vincent Nobile showed up in St. Louis in the seat of an Elite car, a switch from his alliance with KB Racing. Nobile was in the red Elite car that Jeg Coughlin Jr. raced recently at three events. Now this week, Elite has announced the addition of Brian “Lump” Self, formerly the crew chief for Chris McGaha, as a crew chief for Elite, joining current head wrenches Rick and Rickie Jones as well as Mark Ingersoll.

Clearly, Richard Freeman is a team owner who is already working on getting a good jump on next season. “We have some big plans for 2016 and beyond,” Freeman said. “This will allow him (Self) a little time to get up to speed on how we do things on a daily basis.”

Between Elite and AJR, there are already some things to keep an eye on over this offseason. Looks like Silly Season is getting into full swing a little early and with Pro Stock set for changes in 2016, there’s a lot of adjustments to evaluate in the weeks ahead.

What’s News?

  • Alexis DeJoria Racing and Kalitta Motorsports are not only offering the popular “Free Mammograms for the Fans” program again this year but expanding it. DeJoria will partner with Nevada Health Centers to bring the mammovan to the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas for the third year and will partner with Baylor Health Care Systems in Texas to offer a similar program at the AAA NHRA FallNationals at Dallas. Any female ticketholder over age 40 can get a free mammogram right in the Nitro pits during the race weekend regardless of health insurance status. “With the success of ‘Free Mammograms for the Fans’ the last two years,” said DeJoria. “We decided to expand the program to include the Dallas race, which now falls during National Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.” The Patron XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry will also sport a hot pink paint job throughout the month.
  • The impending weather for Reading, Pa., site of Maple Grove Raceway, might become news. Hurricane Joaquin is heading for the East Coast and while the exact path of the storm is not a certainty, it’s pretty likely to have some influence on this weekend’s schedule. Although much further inland than Dover, Del., site of this weekend’s NASCAR festivities, the forecast for Reading still shows high percentages for rainy/windy weather, particularly on Friday and Saturday. NHRA might once again equal Next Heavy Rain Area.

Driver Profile: Drew Skillman

Category: Pro Stock
Hometown: Greenwood, Ind.
Date of birth: January 14, 1988
2015 car: Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro
Crew chief: Mark Ingersoll
Team Owner: Ray Skillman Racing

Career Highlights:
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 1/3
Best points finish: N/A – first year in Pro Stock
Career best ET: 6.486, Englishtown 2015
Career best speed: 214.38, Englishtown 2015

2015 – Four final round appearances; scored first Pro Stock win against teammate Erica Enders at St. Louis. Qualified for Countdown in first season.

Some things most people don’t know about Drew: Odds are people don’t know much of anything about Skillman, seeing as this year is his first running the pro classes. It’s not his first year in drag racing, however. Drew comes from a racing family, as his grandfather Ray Skillman and father Bill were racers as well. Skillman has also made some noise in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in Stock and Super Stock competition, winning five times in Stock and once in Super Stock. Two of those Wally trophies came on the same day as he swept the two classes at Atlanta in 2012.

That’s Just Crazy!

Hector Arana Jr. had a great week last week. He proposed to his girlfriend, Nicole Nobile (she said yes), was reunited with his brother Adam, who joined the U.S. Coast Guard after last season but was able to get a weekend pass to join his family at the track in St. Louis, and capped it off by winning in the finals over his father at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals last weekend. It seems like a good week to feature Hector Jr. telling us about something crazy (and fittingly in this case, it’s crazy-good) that’s happened to him at the racetrack.


We’re always talking about the Nitro cars but to back up a step, just what does this mean and why are they called that? It is because they burn nitromethane for fuel. Nitromethane is the result of a chemical reaction between nitric acid and propane, a fuel used pretty much exclusively in specialized drag racing classes like Top Fuel and Nitro Funny Car. The chemical formula for it is CH3NO2. Gasoline is C8H18, so nitromethane is a little like gasoline that has been mixed with nitrous oxide. The oxygen atoms help it burn and provide more power when combusted inside the engine.

Number of the Week: 3.899

The new elapsed time national record for Funny Car set by Del Worsham last weekend in St. Louis.

Where to Watch

The Countdown marches on, this weekend stopping off in Reading, Pa. at Maple Grove Raceway for the NHRA Keystone Nationals. This event marks the third of the six Countdown races. Tune in on Sunday night!

QualifyingFriday, November 10, 6:30 PM ETFS1 (Live)
QualifyingSaturday, November 11, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)
EliminationsSunday, November 12, 4:00 PM ETFS1 (Live)

About the author

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com