Photos courtesy NHRA

See ‘ya later, alligator: Tonglet ready to chomp down on 2nd NHRA championship

Leave a comment

When your boss is a former world champion – and also owner of one of the largest alligator “farms” in the world – it gives you a lot of motivation to do well.

Such is the case with NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider LE Tonglet. A former NHRA PSM champ himself (2010) when he was only 20 years old, the now 28-year-old Metairie, Louisiana native is looking for his second championship this season.

Tonglet jumped to the top of the PSM point standings after winning this past Sunday’s AAA FallNationals in Ennis, Texas. It was Tonglet’s fourth win of the season on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki, his 10th triumph in the last two seasons and 20th win of his two-wheeled career.

LE Tonglet

Three races remain in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, beginning with this weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina (a suburb of Charlotte).

Tonglet races for 2016 PSM champ Jerry Savoie, who rides herd over nearly 60,000 ‘gators in the Louisiana bayou. It’s not surprising, given Savoie’s day job, that his own team is known as White Alligator Racing.

It’s lucky Savoie is a good sport. He didn’t feed Tonglet to the ‘gators after he lost to Tonglet in the final round at Texas.

“It was a lot of fun in the pits (as he and Savoie prepared for their final round matchup), but once we came up (to the starting line), I didn’t look at him and he didn’t look at me,” Tonglet said. “It was all business.

“We’re leading the points and we’re not looking back now. Jerry made a big move (upward in the standings; he’s currently fifth, 109 points behind Tonglet) and we’re going to have two bikes competing for this championship down to the wire.”

Together, Tonglet and Savoie appear to be peaking at the right time and are proving to be as formidable a 1-2 punch in the PSM ranks as multi-champions and teammates Andrew Hines and 2017 champ Eddie Krawiec.

And once the 2018 PSM championship is said and done, the winner will likely come from those four names or series veteran Matt Smith.

With his Texas win, Tonglet comes into Charlotte this weekend with a 47-point lead in the standings over Krawiec and holds a 48-point edge over Smith.

“We just have to stay calm and take it one round at a time,” Tonglet said in an NHRA media release. “The key is to go rounds and when we show up to a race, I just want to get the semifinals.

“Whatever happens after that is just a bonus, kind of. If you keep going to the semis, you’re going to have a good shot come (the season finale, Nov. 8-11, at Pomona, California). We just have to stay calm and focused, and not make any mistakes.”

NOTES: Qualifying begins Friday with rounds at 2:45 pm ET and 5:15 pm ET, with two additional rounds of qualifying on Saturday at 12:45 pm ET and 3:15 pm ET. Final eliminations are Sunday, starting at 12 Noon ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

F1 races in Austin, Mexico City hitting financial rough patches

Getty Images
Leave a comment

AUSTIN, Texas — Two of Formula One’s three races in North America are facing financial issues that are raising concern about their future.

Organizers of the U.S. Grand Prix won’t get at least $20 million from the state of Texas for the 2018 race after missing a paperwork deadline set by state law. And new questions lurk about the future of the Mexican Grand Prix after the country’s new president suggested the government may not spend on the race like it has the last four years.

Both races have been popular with drivers and fans, and have enjoyed key dates on the F1 calendar. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched season championships in Texas in 2015 and in Mexico City in 2017 and 2018.

Officials in Formula One and at the Circuit of the Americas, host of the U.S. Grand Prix, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.