NHRA Northwest Nationals features five Federal Way racers

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) has been coming to Pacific Raceways since 1987 for the Northwest Nationals.

The NHRA Northwest Nationals rolls into town this weekend, bringing the thunder of nitromethane-fueled Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters, as well as Pro Stock cars and hundreds of sportsman racers to Pacific Raceways.

The event kicked off Friday night with qualifying sessions in several drag racing categories on the 1/4-mile drag strip. Competition will kick off today (July 10) at 9:15 a.m. and extend to 8 p.m. Final eliminations will start at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 11.

The track is situated right off State Route 18 between Kent and Auburn and draws fans from not only the Puget Sound area, but from the entire Western region of the United States and Canada.

“I’m excited to get back to Seattle,” said Antron Brown, who won the Top Fuel portion of last year’s Northwest Nationals, and currently sits fourth in the 2010 points standings behind leader Larry Dixon. “It’s an awesome city, especially in July.”

The event at Pacific Raceways is the first stop of three consecutive races known as the Western Swing. They continue next week at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., then head to Bandimere Speedway in Denver.

Last year’s Funny Car winner, Gary Wilkerson, also likes racing at Pacific Raceways.

“It’s traditionally been a bit of a bumpy track, so you have to be ready for that, and for some reason, it seems like it’s been scorching hot there for about the last decade whenever we’re in town,” Wilkerson said. “You think of Seattle, and you think of rain, right? For us, it’s been like the desert there for quite a while.”

John Force leads the Funny Car points race over second-place Robert Hight

The NHRA Northwest Nationals are not only for the professional teams in the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories, but hundreds of local racers will also get an opportunity to experience the big-time event in the sportsman categories.

Currently, five different Federal Way men will compete in separate categories at the Northwest Nationals.

Troy Olsonawski will drive his Northwest Quality Detail 1966 Chevy Malibu wagon in the super stock category; Brian Thompson will drive ‘89 Ford Mustang in the stock eliminator category; and Dustin Martin will drive his ‘67 Chevelle in the super street category. Both Arlyn Staiger and Chris Martin are scheduled to race in the super gas group. Staiger drives a 2003 Mustang and Martin drives a 1934 Chevy.

Pacific Raceways, which was built in 1959, hosts about 300 events a year. Events include sportsman races, motocross and car shows, along with the track’s biggest and most profitable event of the year — the NHRA Northwest Nationals.

The three-day national event attracts an estimated 80,000 fans to the Kent race track and generates millions of dollars into the local economy.

Learn more

• SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for noon and 3 p.m. July 10. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 11.

• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the NHRA Northwest Nationals. Call Pacific Raceways, 253-639-5927, or log on to

• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 10. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, a 30-minute race preview show, at 8 a.m. Sunday, July 11. Also on Sunday, July 11, will air two hours of eliminations coverage at 4 p.m., and ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of eliminations coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m.

• LUCAS OIL SERIES: The NHRA Northwest Nationals also will feature competition in several categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, July 10, and continue Sunday, July 11.

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