As the motorsports off season comes to an end, many changes have come about in all three major American motorsports (NHRA, NASCAR, and Indy Car).
The NHRA Mello Yello series will be the first to kick off the 2015 New Year in Pomona the weekend of Feb. 6 through 8 for the 55th annual Circle K Winternationals. One of the most talked about changes in the NHRA was John Force Racing making the move from Ford to Chevrolet. Team Force will be debuting their new 2015 Camaro Funny Cars in Pomona. Among the top noted stories in the NHRA was Alan Johnson Racing’s sudden loss of the partnership with the Sheik of Qatar. The Sheik and Alan Johnson had been partners for the last six seasons and won several Top Fuel Season Championships. Another move was Pro Stock top contender Dave Connelly’s move to Top Fuel taking over the controls for Bob Vandergriff who retired to being a team owner at the close of the 2014 season. Jim Dunn Racing made the announcement that nostalgia funny car racer John Hale will be taking over the controls of his funny car from Jeff Arend.
Many teams did testing during the off season. Don Schumacher Racing Team completed testing in Palm Beach, Florida. 2014 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan ran a 3.95 elapse time to lead his DSR team followed by Jack Beckman with a 4.00 et. John Force Racing tested in Phoenix, Arizona and let everyone know they are ready for the New Year. Brittany Force ran the quickest unofficial Top Fuel pass in history with a 3.69 elapse time. John Force, Courtney Force, and Robert Hight ran several 3-second runs with a best of 3.97 seconds by John Force.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be the second to kick off the 2015 season in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Great American Race (aka Daytona 500) will take place Feb. 22. NASCAR made the announcement that at the conclusion of the 2015 season Sprint would be leaving as the series sponsor. Hendrick Motorsports also had a huge announcement that four-time champion Jeff Gordon would be retiring from full time racing at the end of the year and Chase Elliot, son of the famed Bill Elliot, will take over the driving duties of the famed #24 Chevy Camaro next season. Carl Edwards made the move from the #99 Ford at Roush-Fenway racing to the #19 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing, reuniting him with former teammate Matt Kenseth. Trever Bayne will be taking over at Roush-Fenway Racing for Carl Edwards at the beginning of the 2015 season with the #6 car.
Indy Car will be the last of the three major American motorsports to kick off the 2015 season. They will open up the season March 29 with Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The Verizon Indy Car series announced that double points will be awarded for the Indianapolis 500 and for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The Grand Prix in Sonoma was also made the season finale.
Local Funny Car Racer Richard Townsend has all the parts and pieces his NitroHolic team should need to compete for the NHRA Heritage series championship this season. Townsend will begin his season at the prestige’s Good Vibrations March Meet at California’s Famoso Raceway. Townsend, based on performances, is one of the top five Nostalgia Funny Car racers on the circuit.