NHRA releases 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule

NHRA
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NHRA Media Release

GLENDORA, Calif. – NHRA officials announced the 24-race 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, which will again feature intense racing action at tracks across the country. Millions of fans will experience sensory overload at its best with side-by-side racing action where victories may be determined by mere thousandths of a second. Competition schedules for individual categories will be released this summer.

Throughout the season, NHRA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pro Stock Car. Fans will experience special treats and features along the tour to commemorate this important category and honor its history.

A special highlight on the 2020 tour will be the 60th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, which will kick off the 2020 season at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. February 6-9. One of the most iconic events in the series, the Winternationals draws fans from all around the world to experience the power of NHRA Championship Drag Racing at its best during the season opener.

The 40th annual NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta will take place May 15-17. Fans won’t want to miss joining the stars of NHRA as we celebrate 40 years of heart-pounding racing action. Other milestone events include the 20th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals June 19-21 in Bristol, Tenn., the 35th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at fan-favorite Texas Motorplex October 15-18 and the 20th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals October 29-November 1 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

All locations on the series schedule are confirmed for the 2020 season and several stops are changing dates. The Virginia NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Va. move to the end of the month, taking place May 29-31. The Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago will commence July 9-12 to lead in to the iconic Western Swing. Fans of the NHRA New England Nationals will get a chance to see the series as competition heats up at the end of summer, August 21-23. Two events in the Mello Yello Countdown To The Championship are changing places with the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. September 25-27, followed by the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals October 2-4.

As always, the 2020 season will conclude with the Auto Club NHRA Finals, November 12-15 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

All 24 events in this exciting series will be aired exclusively on FOX Sports with select events on FOX broadcast network. With over 575 hours of programming, fans can tune into action from Friday and Saturday qualifying rounds as well as Sunday finals.

2020 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE

NHRA Mello Yello Series Regular Season

Feb. 6-9 – Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 21-23 – Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix

March 12-15 – AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 3-5 – DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas

April 17-19 – Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals, Houston

April 24-26 – NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, N.C.

May 15-17 – NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta

May 29-31 – Virginia NHRA Nationals, Richmond, Va.

June 12-14 – Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan.

June 19-21 – NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

June 25-28 – Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio

July 9-12 – Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chicago

July 17-19 – Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Denver

July 24-26 – NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma, Calif.

July 31-Aug.2 – Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals, Seattle

Aug. 13-16 – Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.

Aug. 21-23 – NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

Sept. 2-7 – NHRA U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown To The Championship playoffs

Sept. 17-20 – Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa.

Sept. 25-27 – NHRA Carolina Nationals, Charlotte

Oct. 2-4 – AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis

Oct. 15-18 – AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Dallas

Oct. 29-Nov. 1 – Dodge NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas

Nov. 12-15 – Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

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

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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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 Racing 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 Formula E 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 team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

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. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

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.”