Aaron Stapleton drove the Sutton Performance modular-powered '05 Mustang to the number-one
The Super Bowl of street-legal drag racing saw the staging lanes swell with over 400
Jack Roush performed as the Grand Marshall of the event and sat down with the journalists
When ProMedia, the folks behind the NMRA and NMCA sanctioning bodies, told us they were putting together a combined race for the '06 season, most everyone agreed it had the potential to be one of the biggest street-legal shootout drag race events ever. No one knew just how big, though, and what we found at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, the weekend of July 27-30 was absolute insanity.
Hundreds of heads-up and bracket cars swelled the pits and provided relentless, back-to-back-to-back racing all weekend at the event sponsored by Motive Gear and Nitto Tire.
Racing began on Thursday with the first of three qualifying rounds. NMRA and NMCA classes were run staggered throughout the event, and while the latter half of Thursday was engulfed by a monsoon, racers fortunately avoided a subsequent tornado that touched down in the area during the evening hours. The rain cleared by Friday morning, but the temperature and humidity had risen to sweltering levels.
Despite the conditions, racers tore up the track and a couple of X Games-bound freestyle motocross riders entertained the crowd with wild, two-wheel antics. Round 1 of eliminations was held under the lights Saturday night, with the quarter-finals, semifinals, and finals coming on Sunday.
Sunday also brought the Super Bowl's Grand Marshall, Jack Roush, into town, and we got to sit and talk with him during a media-only discussion. Despite running five NASCAR Nextel Cup teams and flourishing businesses, he says that since his friend and former racing buddy Don Bowles got back into drag racing, he has decided to tag along. Roush says he goes to the quarter-mile (usually Milan Dragway in Michigan) every Wednesday night when he's home.
"What I learned from drag racing formed the foundation of my judgement and business case in every form of racing since," Roush says. "Right now, I'm having fun teaching the Roush engineers and my family what I know about drag racing." He looks at his six-car drag racing team as a way to build the Roush Performance Parts division.
Once Roush completed his ceremonial speech, he and Don Bowles got in Bowles' car and let it rip down the track to kick things off. From then on, the action was relentless as the NMRA and NMCA went class for class through their eliminations. At the end of the day, the winners from each class were paired up for an NMRA versus NMCA ultimate showdown.