We didn’t get to see the Top Alcohol Dragster or Top Alcohol Funny Car contingents run at the most recent national event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule, the New England Nationals in Epping, so if you’re a fan of alky diggers and floppers, GET YOUR HEARTS READY. They’re scheduled to take to the track on Friday at Summit Motorsports Park in their first round of qualifying for the 14th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
There are 20 Top Alcohol Dragster on the entry list, and the first name that jumps out – well, plus, it’s at the top of the list because he was No. 2 in the world last year – is Shawn Cowie. The 21-time national event winner was runner-up in Houston this year and won the Four-Wide race at Las Vegas. Off the national NHRA trail, the Langley, British Columbia, racer kept momentum going with a victory at the Division 5 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event last weekend at Bandimere Speedway. Two words for ya: Uh. Oh.
The most recent Norwalk TAD winner is Troy Coughlin Jr., but with his transition to a Pro Stock doorslammer this year, he’ll surely be gunning for a trophy – just not in this class.
The guy with the most Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Top Alcohol Dragster trophies is a kindly gentleman who goes by the name of Bill Reichert. He retired at the end of 2014, but Reichert’s place in history is secure with five consecutive world championships and as the driver who held the record for elapsed time at 5.103 from 2007 until 2020.
Randy Meyer Racing reset the record at the U.S. Nationals last year to 5.090 with Megan Meyer behind the wheel. So far this year, driver Rachel Meyer has been steadily adding to the team’s trophy case. She’s claimed three national event trophies.
This is a home race for Columbus, Ohio-based Michalek Brothers Racing, and Corey Michalek will be back behind the wheel of their Fund That Flip rail. The team made their season-debut in Charlotte last month with pleasing results in qualifying, so this should be a fun one. The highlight of a series of solid laps in Charlotte was a 5.317 in the second session that reset their car’s previous best numbers – and yes, they had some carnage in the first round there that included expensive broken parts and way more fire than you ever want to see, but they worked hard and are ready to return to Norwalk for the first time since 2018.
Two Top Alcohol Funny Car drivers have repeated in 2021 national event competition: two-time TAFC champion Sean Bellemeur and reigning world champ Doug Gordon – but Matt Gill got his first win in Atlanta to break things up a bit. It should for sure be noted that Gordon won the regional race at Bandimere last weekend, too, so it is possible that we’re witnessing a rolling snowball gathering speed.
Four of the 15 cars on the TAFC entry list have won this race before: Bellemeur is here defending his 2019 win, Ray Drew won in 2018, Andy Bohl in 2017, and Kris Hool in 2013.
The incomparable Frank Manzo is the only driver to have multiple wins in the class at Norwalk since it began holding the NHRA national event in 2007. He squashed Chris Foster in 2009 and Mickey Ferro in 2010.
An interesting little behind-the-scenes note: second-generation alcohol Funny Car driver Todd Veney earned his first trophy at this event in 2015 in the sixth final round of his career. He was also runner-up to Fred Hagen Jr. in Norwalk 2011. Veney’s dad is Ken Veney, and there are no brief words that could summarize his career, so you must immediately click here to learn more (and see the photos, good gracious, THE PHOTOS). These days, Todd Veney is part of the NHRA on FOX team. He’s still out there at the racetrack, he’s just not sitting quite where you would expect.
One final thought! Subscribe to NHRA.tv to watch this entire event, start to finish, for under 20 bucks.