Boston fanfest set to promote NHRA drag racing’s first-ever race in New Hampshire

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When New Hampshire Dragway opened its doors in 1966, its goal was to eventually play host to a National Hot Rod Association national event.

It may have taken nearly 50 years to fulfill that goal, but drag racing fans wanting to see the sport’s biggest stars will finally get that opportunity in this weekend’s inaugural NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Auto-Plus New England Nationals at the Epping, N.H. track.

(Is that the longest sports event name you’ve ever seen, or what?)

To promote the event, some of the NHRA’s biggest stars will take part in a free fanfest scheduled for Wednesday (June 19) at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston. The event begins at Noon and will feature legendary and 15-time Funny Car World Champion John Force, daughter Brittany Force, a Top Fuel driver, along with Funny Car drivers Bob Tasca III, Robert Hight and Blake Alexander, and Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon.

As for New England Dragway, about an hour north of Boston, the four-day event (June 20-23) is the culmination of not just years but decades of lobbying NHRA officials that both the track and greater New England could support a national event.

New England has long been known as a motorsports hotbed full of diehard racing fans, but most of those have been followers of NASCAR and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, or local late-model racing at well-known short tracks such as Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway and Waterford Speed Bowl, as well as the legendary Stafford Motor Speedway, owned by equally legendary racing and sports announcer Jack Arute.

The 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars are fast (in excess of 300 mph in many instances), loud (bring earplugs) and the nitromethane fuel that pumps through the motors is so potent that it’s sure to bring tears to your eyes if you’re anywhere within a whiff of the residual fumes.

Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes will compete in the 11th race of the expanded 24-race 2013 NHRA schedule. This weekend’s race is the second of a grueling four consecutive weekend stretch that began last week in Bristol, Tenn., and then moves on to events in suburban Chicago next weekend and Norwalk, Ohio the following weekend.

Other stars competing in this weekend’s race include Courtney Force, Tony “Sarge” Schumacher, Antron Brown, Ron Capps, Morgan Lucas, Greg Anderson and dozens of other high-horsepower jockeys.

If you’re a fan of blurring speed, ear-shattering noise and ground-pounding vibrations, New England is the place to go this weekend. Those monsters are so loud and powerful, you may even hear or feel ’em all the way back in New York City.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.