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Championship drag racing returns to the desert during 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals in Tucson

Tuesday, 04 March 2014

In 2011 the International Hot Rod Association made its much-anticipated debut at Tucson’s historical Southwestern International Raceway with an exciting entertainment-based show highlighting IHRA’s unique nitro-powered lineup.

Now, after three extremely successful seasons under the lights in southern Arizona, the IHRA returns to Tucson with its biggest event yet. The 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports at Southwestern International Raceway will mark the debut of the all-new Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series as Tucson hosts race one of 12 on the 2014 North American Tour the weekend of March 21-22 culminating with the world championships in Tennessee later this fall.

This season Arizona race fans will experience Nitro Jam like they have never seen it before, with the world’s best drivers competing in traditional racing with qualifying on Friday, March 21 and eliminations on Saturday, March 22 featuring five of the most exciting classes in racing.

This year, every lap matters as the stars of Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Harley, Nitro Altered, Mountain Motor Pro Stock and Jet Dragster push their machines to the limit in their chase for the 2014 IHRA World Championships.

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   Ron Maroney in the "Blind Faith" Nitro Altered

“Southwestern International Raceway has become a popular stop on the Nitro Jam tour over the past few years. We look forward to returning to Tucson this season with a new look and our biggest lineup yet with over 20 nitro-burning machines to go along with a new and exciting prerace fan experience,” said Scott Gardner, President of IHRA Motorsports. “After three years of experimenting in Tucson, it is time to put this track back on the map with a race that will be among the biggest of the year.”

Highlighting the 2014 IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series is the Nitro Funny Car class, combining modern-world technology with classic body styles and old school, nostalgia drag racing. These machines regularly push 260 mph on the quarter-mile with fire bursting from the headers.

This season, the Nitro Funny Car class will revolve around a quartet of talented drivers that have dominated the class over the past few years. Multi-time class champions from the NHRA Heritage Series and DRO series Jason Rupert in the “Black Plague” Camaro and John Hale in the “Mike Burkhart” tribute Camaro will lead the class into the 2014 season, joining IHRA regular Tim Boychuk and the crowd-favorite “Mr. Explosive” Mark Sanders.

The legendary “Candies & Hughes” Barracuda will join the mix with veteran Mike Halstead behind the wheel, alongside IHRA veterans Mike McIntire in the bright orange “McAttack” Camaro, Steven Densham in “Teachers Pet” and Bruce Litton, stepping over from more than a decade of Top Fuel racing to pilot the “U.S. Male” Vega Funny Car.

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   The Larsen Motorsports Jet Dragster team

In addition to Nitro Funny Car, perhaps the most anticipated competition this season is the return of IHRA’s original class, Mountain Motor Pro Stock. Featuring 800 cubic inch power plants powering these factory hot rods more than 220 mph down the track, this season will mark the return of these powerful beasts to the traditional drag racing distance of a quarter-mile.

Two-time IHRA champion Pete Berner will join the father and son duo of Dean and Cary Goforth, both regular winners on the eighth-mile circuit, along with John Deflorian, Kevin Bealko, John Konigshofer, Scott Hintz and more.

Also making history at Tucson will be the debut of the world’s only Jet Dragster championship program being contested by the four fastest women in drag racing – the Larsen Motorsports jet team. This four-car team is made up of four very talented female competitors with vastly different backgrounds.

From a young college student, to a female test pilot and an entrepreneur who holds the operation together, the team of Elaine Larsen, Marisha Falk, Dawn Perdue and Kat Moller will compete in 300 mph, side-by-side jet-powered drag racing action.

IHRA’s other nitro divisions will include Nitro Harley and Nitro Altered, two radical and extreme classes that are among the most popular in the world for their death-defying competition.

Iconic racer Jay Turner leads the 220 mph nitro-powered motorcycle class, joining Nitro Jam regulars Mike Scott, Randal Andras, Steve Dorn, Mike Pelrine, Jake Stordeur and more.

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   Nitro Harley returns to the Tucson quarter-mile

Nitro Altered, another extreme class once banned from organized competition due to the extreme nature of the cars, will include Arizona native Ron Maroney in “Blind Faith,” Las Vegas native and third generation racer Kyle Hough in “Nanook," the popular “Arizona Thunder” driven by Mike Hilsabeck, Randy Bradford’s “Bradford’s Fiat” and more.

In addition to all of the on-track action, the 2014 Southwestern Nationals will feature an all-new and fully interactive Fan Fest pit experience. Fans can tour the pits, meet the drivers and take part in a number of fun family activities including the Larsen Motorsports Jet Technology Center, a hands-on look at the design and technology behind a jet-powered racing team, and the Hollywood Cars of the Stars featuring real cars from famous movies and television shows.

Tickets to the fourth-annual Southwestern Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports are $25 on Friday and $30 on Saturday for adults and $10 for children. Adults can save $5 if they purchase their tickets in advance at

Showtime is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday for qualifying and 6 p.m. on Saturday for eliminations.

For more information on the 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports, visit

CLICK HERE to buy tickets to the 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals

Tucson Preview 1

Last modified on Friday, 14 March 2014
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