Story By: NHRA – NORWALK, OH – John Force Racing doesn’t look as though as it missed most of the 2020 season and the organization, led by iconic Funny Car driver John Force, will now look to put on a show at a track starved for NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series action, Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
The facility didn’t hold a race a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Force and his team sat out most of the year as well. But Force is back in style, winning two of the past three Funny Car races in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK BlueDEF Chevrolet Camaro SS and he’s ready to put on a show at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. It’s always an event big on pomp and circumstance, and an annual fan favorite, and Force is thrilled to once again race in front of the huge area fanbase.
“I always love coming to Norwalk,” Force said. “The Bader family, they always put on a great show. We’re going there with a full crowd, with everything having been shut down, the fans need the excitement, they need the entertainment. That’s what we’re going to give them. Header flames, 330 mph, 11,000 horsepower, how much better can it get?”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of the 2019 event. This year’s race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 and FOX, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on FOX on Sunday, June 27. It is the seventh race of the 2021 season and JFR will look to keep rolling in a loaded Funny Car class.
Sandwiched between Force’s victories in Charlotte and Epping is Robert Hight’s Houston victory, putting the team on a good path heading into summer. Keeping it up won’t be easy, but Force, who has one previous Norwalk win, is eager for the challenge that includes racing against the likes of points leader Tasca, defending world champ Matt Hagan, Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, Ron Capps, Gainesville winner J.R. Todd, Alexis DeJoria and Terry Haddock.
“John Force Racing, we’re running good,” Force said. “The whole team, myself with PEAK BlueDEF, Robert over there with AAA Ohio, and Brittany with Flav-R-Pac and Monster Energy. It sure doesn’t look like we took a year off. Our crew chiefs are dialed in, our teams are working well together. It’s all working for us. Now we have to stay consistent, we want to stay up there in the points, be in the fight, but we have to keep it going to fight for the championship and that happens in the Countdown (to the Championship, playoffs). We’ll be ready, we’ll be good.”
In Top Fuel, the stop at Norwalk represents a home track race for the Kalitta Motorsports team. That’s big for Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon, who each will have special schemes for the weekend. But it’s also a huge opportunity for Kalitta to pick up a milestone victory in his 11,000-horsepower Applied Imaging dragster. He’s a victory away from his 50th career win and Norwalk would be an ideal location to earn it.
To do so, Kalitta will need to be in top form. He’s advanced to two final rounds in 2021, but fell both times to Torrence, the points leader and defending three-time world champion. It’s not the only marquee challenge for Kalitta, who will also face off with standouts drivers like Epping winner Billy Torrence, Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Gainesville winner Josh Hart, Leah Pruett, Justin Ashley, and Clay Millican.
“We have had some good luck at Norwalk over the years,” Kalitta said. “The one thing that stands out is how great the fans are in Norwalk. The Baders do an amazing job of promotion and you can just tell this is a big event. We have been No. 1 qualifier quite a few times and we have been to the finals three times. I’ll be running the Applied Imaging Top Fuel dragster this weekend and we are still looking for that 50th win so maybe we can get that win this weekend. I am glad we are back racing in Ohio since it is so close to our shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan. We have a lot of employees from the shop and Kalitta Air that come to the race. It will be a busy weekend but also a lot of fun.”
Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park has been a great place for Pro Stock veteran and points leader Greg Anderson, but Chris McGaha is the most recent winner, and he’ll look to pick up his first victory of the year. Others to watch include defending world champ Erica Enders, Aaron Stanfield, and Dallas Glenn.
It will be the first Pro Stock Motorcycle race in more than a month when the star riders in the two-wheeled category visit Norwalk. Andrew Hines has five wins at the track and will compete against the likes of Charlotte winner Steve Johnson, defending world champ Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, and Scotty Pollacheck.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes its fourth appearance of the 2021 season in Norwalk. Khalid alBalooshi is the defending event winner. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown class. After a must-see nitro qualifying session under the lights on Friday, fans can enjoy the amazing jet-powered Kenworth truck driven by Bob Motz and a spectacular firework show to end the night.
The event also includes a special display and exhibition passes from the popular ScottRods AA/Gassers and Nostalgia Pro Stock Association as well. The cars will make a number of runs during the weekend and will also be displayed on the midway.
As always, fans are granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 25, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 26, at 12:15 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 27. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, and then live eliminations action on FOX at 2 p.m. on Sunday.