Story By: JAY DUGAN / SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Patrons of the NAPA KNOW HOW Atlantic City Indoor Race Weekend are in for an all-American treat as Mara Justine – a Jersey girl and Top 14 finalist on “American Idol” season 16 – will sing the National Anthem prior to the racing events at Boardwalk Hall on January 25 and January 26.
Mara Justine’s road to ABC’s hit television show started in October 2017 in New York City, where the 16-year-old Galloway, NJ-native wowed judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie with an impressive version of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain.” Her rendition was met with a standing ovation and a ticket to the next round.
In the following weeks, Mara Justine would belt out songs from Etta James, Whitney Houston, and the motion picture “The Greatest Showman” before being eliminated inside the Top-14 competitors.
Mara Justine was an infant when Len Sammons brought the Three Quarter (TQ) Midgets back to Boardwalk Hall in 2003 and 2019 marks the 17th running of the event.
Ron Capps, who just recently extended his sponsorship contract with NAPA, will be on hand Saturday taking part in Fan Zone activities including signing autographs for fans. Capps has carried sponsorship from NAPA Auto Parts on his Funny Car since 2008. He won the FC title in 2016 and has won 36 races plus 19 poles. He is one of the most popular drivers on the National Hot Rod Association circuit. He finished fourth in the final standings this past season.
The lightning-fast TQ Midgets will headline the program which is highlighted by Saturday night’s traditional 40-lap Gambler’s Classic feature event. The quick and agile Champ Karts and the unpredictable and rugged Slingshots will once again be part of the triple header.
Friday Night action will include 4 A-Main Qualifiers for the TQ Midgets, locking competitors into the Gambler’s Classic. Champ Karts and Slingshots will also compete in qualifying events.
The Gambler’s Classic event will make up Round 3 of a 5-race series for the Indoor Auto Racing Championship Fueled by VP Racing Fuels. Nazareth, PA’s Matt Janisch was the winner of Round 1 at Allentown, PA’s PPL Center and Cornelius, NC’s Ryan Flores – the 2018 Gambler’s Classic race winner – was the victor in Round 2, also at the PPL Center.
Past Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget feature race winners in addition to 2018 race victor Flores include three-time winners Erick Rudolph (2012, 2015, 2017) and Anthony Sesely (2013, 2014, 2016), the late Ted Christopher (2009, 2011), Lou Cicconi, Jr. (2006, 2010), Joe Payne, Sr. (2004, 2007), Andy Mackereth (2003), Jeff Heotzler (2005) and Mike Tidaback (2008).
Indoor auto racing inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall dates back to the late 1930s. Indoor racing was revived for the first time in 1965 and continued through 1981 when, with the advent of casino gambling, racing ceased. Len Sammons brought the event back to life in 2003.