That’s it folks. It’s all over. All the big trophies have been handed out, including to Drew Skillman, who captured the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award as NHRA’s top rookie for 2015. It’s time to eat some turkey, do some shopping, put up some decorations, maybe go on vacation to somewhere warm and recharge our mental batteries. Prep for 2016 will start before we all know it.
With all the changes coming up in 2016 with a new television partner and a pretty much complete overhaul of the Pro Stock category, and along with both those and other to-be-continued storylines (i.e. sponsor announcements), it might not be as much of an offseason as you might think. Although this is the last planned Nitro Shots column of the season, Frontstretch will still keep you posted on news and developments until 2016 kicks off.
In the meantime, read a good book. If you just can’t get enough of drag racing, make it Jim Oberhofer’s Top Fuel for Life. Or if you really want to watch some drag racing, I understand it’s summer in the southern hemisphere right now. Whatever the case, if the last one of you out would please turn off the lights, that would be great! We’ll see you back here in February.
- The NHRA and FOX Sports unveiled the 2016 Mello Yello Series broadcast schedule this week. It features 17 live finals broadcasts, including four on the flagship FOX network. All three Western Swing events plus the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will be broadcast on the FOX network. The remaining live finals, including all six Countdown races, will be shown on FS1. There will also be eight primetime Friday night qualifying shows. All together, more than 450 hours of programming will appear throughout the year on FOX, FS1 and FS2, including not only the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but also the Lucas Oil Series, J&A Service Pro Mod Series, and rebroadcasts of Mello Yello Series coverage.
- Summit Racing Equipment has renewed its title sponsorship of the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League effective immediately in a multi-year agreement. “The NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League provides the ultimate opportunity for young racing enthusiasts to participate in NHRA drag racing,” said Gary Darcy, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the NHRA. “By extending its title sponsorship of the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League, a unique program that is unparalleled in the world of motorsports, Summit Racing is solidifying its role in developing the next generation of NHRA stars.”
- Skillman took home the top rookie honors, the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, and the $20,000 prize that goes with it. “There are so few peope that get the opportunity to win it, especially in Pro Stock to receive that award,” said Skillman. “We had a heck of a year and that was due to the people that we surrounded ourself with. It means a lot to all of us. Not just me. My goal for the year was to try to win a race and get to the Countdown, we ended up doing everything our goals were and kept pushing hard and it surpassed everything we thought we could do.”
Driver Profile: Tim Wilkerson
Category: Funny Car
Hometown: Springfield, Illinois
Date of birth: Dec. 29, 1960
2015 car: Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang
Crew chief: Tim Wilkerson, Richard Hartman
Team Owner: Tim Wilkerson
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 18/16
Best points finish: 2nd in 2008
Career best ET: 3.92, Brainerd, 2015
Career best speed: 328.70, Brainerd, 2015
2015 – Won at Atlanta.
2014 – Traxxas Nitro Shootout fan vote winner.
2011 – Seattle race winner.
2010 – Won three races in four final round appearances.
2008 – Six wins in seven final round appearances, one more win than he’d earned in 11 previous years combined; led the points through part of the Countdown before dropping to second after a first-round loss in Las Vegas.
2004 – Two wins in three final round appearances.
2003 – Won the U.S. Nationals from the 15th qualifying spot.
1999 – First event win.
That’s Just Crazy!
In our final Crazy Things video of the season, Pro Stock veteran Larry Morgan talks about one of the craziest cars he ever agreed to race.
Number of the Week: 11
Number of combined Mello Yello Series world championships won by the four current champions. Antron Brown has two in Top Fuel, Del Worsham has one in Top Fuel and one in Funny Car, one of only three drivers to accomplish that double (Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi are the others), Erica Enders has two in Pro Stock, and Andrew Hines has five in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Where to Watch
Nowhere right now, but tune in for prime time Friday night qualifying (more details to come later on that from NHRA and FOX) from Pomona in February and live eliminations on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m. ET.