(Photo courtesy NHRA)

NHRA: Australian Richie Crampton feels right at home racing in Texas

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Richie Crampton may have to check himself this weekend. Instead of saying “G’day, Mate,” he’ll have to fall back upon his second language and say, “Howdy, pardner!”

The Adelaide, South Australia native will be deep in the heart of Texas for the 29th NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in the Houston suburb of Baytown, Texas.

Ranked ninth in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings, Crampton enters this weekend’s racing action looking to capitalize on past success both he and teammate Morgan Lucas have both had in the Lone Star State.

“I won in Texas last year (at the Fall Nationals in Dallas) and Morgan won in Houston in 2012, so we have good data in the books to work from,” Crampton said in a media release. “Usually, the Houston race swings very heavily on the weather.

“The track is just a few feet above sea level, so it has the potential to be very fast with all that oxygen available. At the same time, it can be humid and wet, which presents other issues. We have to be ready for whatever we get.”

2016_Richie_Crampton
Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton.

In many ways, racing in Texas reminds Crampton of his homeland. The Australian Outback looks very similar to the wide open spaces in Texas, the people in both places are friendly and they both love racing.

“It definitely feels a lot like home whenever we go to Texas,” Crampton said. “The weather, the terrain, the people, the food … just the entire attitude is so much like Australia. The first time I ever went there it was one of the first things that struck me.

“When George W. Bush was president, he came to Australia for a visit with Prime Minister John Howard and he said over and over on TV how much Texas and Australia were the same. I know exactly what he meant.

“The fans at this race have always been very kind and welcoming to us, and that’s the Texas friendliness we’ve come to expect. I can’t wait for this year’s race to start.”

Admittedly, it’s been a bit rough this season on Crampton, a seven-time national event winner, and especially his teammate and team owner, Lucas. While Crampton is in the top-10, he’s nearly 200 points behind series leader Brittany Force.

And Lucas, who won last year at the prestigious U.S. Nationals, sits 15th in the rankings, 344 points behind Force.

Still, Crampton is optimistic about this weekend, especially after last weekend’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.

“We really got onto something promising this past weekend in Charlotte, and the car responded well to everything Aaron (Brooks, crew chief) was trying to do,” Crampton said. “You don’t make big changes with nitro cars.

“You have to massage what you have, be patient, and take the incremental gains you make. We feel like we’ve taken a bunch of steps forward in the last few races.”

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Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”