NHRA: New Hampshire winners take walk down memory lane


Victory lane at Sunday’s NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H., was a reunion of sorts for some of drag racing’s best oldies but goodies.

— In Funny Car, record 16-time champion John Force, who turned 65 last month, rallied from deep in the pack to power his way to his second win of the season and 143rd of his career.

Force (4.160 seconds at 309.49 mph) defeated No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round.

The win was also yet another milestone in Force’s legendary career: he now has at least one win at every track that has appeared on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.

“I had a great day,” said Force, who climbed into third position in the Funny Car points standings. “I’m not going out of racing any time soon, but I was going to win at New England. I almost did the first year and this year I finally did.”

— In Pro Stock, 54-year-old Greg Anderson won his second race in a row (won last week at Englishtown, N.J.), his third race of the season and 77th of his career.

The four-time world champ had a winning run of 6.512 seconds at 214.72 mph in the Pro Stock final, defeating 2012 world champ Allen Johnson (6.530 seconds at 213.50 mph).

“My car has been fantastic,” Anderson said. “I’m absolutely having a ball. I’ve got a great race team behind me and they are doing a great job. I can’t wait to go to the next race.”

— And in Top Fuel, defending champion and 8-time world champ Tony Schumacher, at 45 the kid of the trio, roared to his second win of the season and 79th of his career.

Schumacher’s 3.809-second run at 321.35 mph run edged runner-up Larry Dixon (3.881 seconds, 319.60 mph) and pushed Schumacher to second in the Top Fuel standings.

“[Crew chiefs] Mike [Green] and Neal [Strausbaugh] did an outstanding job today,” said Schumacher. “I felt like I drove well today. Together as a team we went out and won. We did a great job, what a battle.”

Sunday’s race was the 10th event on the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The next race is this coming weekend’s (June 19-21) Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.


TOP FUEL: 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Larry Dixon; 3.  Brittany Force; 4.  Spencer Massey; 5.  Dave Connolly; 6.  Richie Crampton; 7.  Terry McMillen; 8.  Clay Millican; 9.  J.R. Todd; 10.  Dan Mercier; 11.  Morgan Lucas; 12.  Antron Brown; 13.  Leah Pritchett; 14.  Steve Torrence; 15.  Doug Kalitta; 16.  Shawn Langdon.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  John Force; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3.  Cruz Pedregon; 4.  Courtney Force; 5.  Del Worsham; 6.  Matt Hagan; 7.  Alexis DeJoria; 8.  Robert Hight; 9.  Ron Capps; 10.  Tony Pedregon; 11.  Tim Wilkerson; 12.  Dom Lagana; 13.  Bob Tasca III; 14.  Jack Beckman; 15.  Dave Richards; 16.  Jeff Diehl.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Greg Anderson; 2.  Allen Johnson; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Erica Enders; 5.  Drew Skillman; 6.  Vincent Nobile; 7.  Chris McGaha; 8.  Jonathan Gray; 9.  Shane Gray; 10.  Larry Morgan; 11.  John Gaydosh Jr; 12.  Alan Prusiensky; 13.  Val Smeland; 14.  Kenny Delco; 15.  V. Gaines.


Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher, 3.809 seconds, 321.35 mph  def. Larry Dixon, 3.881 seconds, 319.60 mph.

Funny Car: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.160, 309.49  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.195, 304.25.

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.512, 214.72  def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.530, 213.50.


TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.779, 321.88 def. Dan Mercier, 3.956, 297.81; Brittany Force, 4.287, 211.03 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.039, 117.17; Larry Dixon, 3.785, 320.58 def. Antron Brown, 4.149, 236.38; Terry McMillen, 4.268, 259.56 def. Shawn Langdon, 7.004, 100.77; Tony Schumacher, 4.027, 250.69 def. Morgan Lucas, 4.070, 238.81; Dave Connolly, 4.172, 242.23 def. Steve Torrence, 4.257, 246.12; Spencer Massey, 4.090, 261.22 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.216, 219.08; Clay Millican, 3.822, 322.42 def. J.R. Todd, 3.911, 288.64; QUARTERFINALS — Massey, 3.875, 313.51 def. Connolly, 3.936, 298.93; Schumacher, 3.909, 320.13 def. Millican, 4.410, 197.10; Dixon, 3.905, 312.78 def. McMillen, 4.331, 212.59; Force, 3.885, 316.08 def. Crampton, 4.121, 265.06; SEMIFINALS — Dixon, 3.855, 322.73 def. Force, 3.894, 317.57; Schumacher, 3.865, 320.74 def. Massey, 3.908, 311.92; FINAL — Schumacher, 3.809, 321.35 def. Dixon, 3.881, 319.60.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.115, 315.19 def. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.320, 228.23; Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.109, 307.93 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.691, 211.30; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.147, 314.39 def. Dave Richards, Toyota Solara, 6.420, 103.02; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.202, 287.66 def. Jeff Diehl, Solara, 11.011, 81.12; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.130, 312.28 def. Dom Lagana, Solara, 4.653, 186.98; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.101, 314.46 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.822, 177.70; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.366, 231.04 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.450, 208.59; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.172, 292.90 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.212, 272.78; QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.186, 309.84 def. Hagan, 4.182, 303.71; Johnson Jr., 4.157, 306.60 def. DeJoria, 4.439, 201.61; C. Force, 4.198, 307.72 def. Hight, 4.628, 192.06; C. Pedregon, 4.119, 284.51 def. Worsham, 4.152, 308.14; SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.139, 309.77 def. C. Force, 10.651, 80.01; J. Force, 4.183, 298.14 def. C. Pedregon, 4.193, 265.59; FINAL — J. Force, 4.160, 309.49 def. Johnson Jr., 4.195, 304.25.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.567, 213.30 def. Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 6.595, 213.00; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.559, 212.53 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.565, 213.64; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.538, 212.73 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 7.848, 128.16; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.549, 213.37 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.597, 211.10; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.513, 214.69 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 17.766, 39.39; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.515, 214.38 def. Val Smeland, Chevy Cobalt, 6.982, 158.84; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 9.389, 98.67 was unopposed; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.531, 213.50 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.664, 210.31; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.554, 213.06 def. McGaha, 13.226, 65.40; Line, 6.615, 210.44 def. J. Gray, 13.876, 61.15; Anderson, 6.519, 214.11 def. Skillman, 6.533, 213.84; Enders, 6.506, 214.66 def. Nobile, 6.546, 213.47; SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.516, 214.42 def. Line, 6.533, 212.39; Johnson, 6.537, 213.33 def. Enders, 6.540, 214.21; FINAL — Anderson, 6.512, 214.72 def. Johnson, 6.530, 213.50.


Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 790; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 757; 3.  Spencer Massey, 657; 4.  Richie Crampton, 640; 5.  Larry Dixon, 600; 6.  Doug Kalitta, 587; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 568; 8.  Brittany Force, 551; 9.  J.R. Todd, 491; 10.  Clay Millican, 479.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 746; 2.  Ron Capps, 685; 3.  John Force, 652; 4.  Del Worsham, 643; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 611; 6.  Jack Beckman, 601; 7.  Robert Hight, 546; 8.  (tie) Alexis DeJoria, 540; Cruz Pedregon, 540; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 513.

Pro Stock: 1.  Greg Anderson, 907; 2.  Erica Enders, 837; 3.  Jason Line, 776; 4.  Chris McGaha, 646; 5.  Allen Johnson, 554; 6.  Drew Skillman, 540; 7.  Larry Morgan, 518; 8.  (tie) Shane Gray, 507; Vincent Nobile, 507; 10.  Rodger Brogdon, 493.

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NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing

As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”


James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”