Larry Dixon - Houston Raceway Park spotlight
World champion drag racer Dixon tabs Houston Raceway Park as one of his favs HOUSTON (March 30) -- In 22 years of drag racing competition, Houston Raceway Park has become a special place for many drivers. Two-time world champion Larry Dixon, ...
World champion drag racer Dixon tabs Houston Raceway Park as one of his favs
HOUSTON (March 30) -- In 22 years of drag racing competition, Houston Raceway Park has become a special place for many drivers.
Two-time world champion Larry Dixon, driver of the Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster has made more than his fair share of memories at HRP.
"It's a great event, a great racetrack, a great state," Dixon said. "One of the things I think about in regards to Houston is being the first guy to run in the 4.40s. That happened right there at HRP.
"What's cool now is it doesn't look like anybody will get the opportunity to be the first to run in the 4.30s in the quarter mile now that we're racing to 1,000 foot instead so that may be the last big barrier broken for that era."
Dixon's fond memories of that stunning 4.486-second pass in April of 1999 are tempered a bit by the fact he didn't go on to win the race itself. But there was a unique silver lining to the story.
"At the spring race that year, we were the first car to run in the 4.40s, but didn't go home with the win," Dixon said. "Actually (crew chief) Dick LaHaie did. He was working with Doug Herbert at the time and they were running in the 4.60s at that race, but they got the win."
By the time the NHRA schedule worked its way back to Houston for the fall event, Dixon and LaHaie had teamed up.
"We turn around at the fall race, Dick LaHaie was tuning my car then," Dixon said. "Alan Johnson and Gary Scezli were running 4.40s, and we were running in the 4.60s, and this time we go home with the win. That always stuck in my mind.
"It's a good reminder of how it is out here. You don't have to be the quickest car on the track, but you've got to get it down the track every run and keep people honest. I learned a lot with Dick in the years I got to spend with him and getting down the track every time is the one thing that has always stuck with me."
Nowadays, the second most prolific Top Fuel racer on tour is driving for Alan Johnson with Jason McCulloch turning the wrenches on his 8,000 horsepower rail. The team is at or near the top at every event and arrives at the 23rd annual Oâ^a^ÙReilly NHRA Spring Nationals, April 9-11 at Houston Raceway Park, fourth in the points.
"Houston has one of the quickest and fastest tracks on tour," said Dixon, who will be looking for his landmark 50th career victory at HRP. "It's so close to sea level that we can make a ton of horsepower and the Angel family, well they're racers, so they know how to keep the track in top shape. I expect we can challenge for the win and maybe run some big-time numbers for sure.
"I love that place. I've won there two times and I can tell you another win would be fine with me."
Dixon added that he always takes the opportunity to meet up with many of his Houston-based friends when he's in the Lone Star State.
"When we head to Texas, I also think about Darrell Russell," Dixon said of the late Top Fuel driver, who hailed from nearby Hockley, Texas. "I love to see his bride Julie and Darrell's parents at the races. They're awesome people."
In the past 36 months, Houston Raceway Park has aggressively sought to improve its facility. In working with the Texas Department of Transportation, the track was able to secure direct access to Interstate 10 via the new Grand Parkway, drastically reducing fans ingress and egress to the parking lots. The pits were also resurfaced and extended, Musco lighting for the track was installed behind the grandstands to give fans an unobstructed view of the action, and the racing surface itself was ground and smoothed for optimum performance. There also is a brand new indoor/outdoor Top Eliminator Club that brings guests closer to the action than ever before.
Houston Raceway Park is located 25 miles east of downtown Houston off Interstate-10 in Baytown. Take Exit 799 (SH 99 Grand Parkway) and go South to FM 565 (first exit). Take a right at FM 565 and Houston Raceway Park is located on the right side.
Peggy Llewellyn news 2010-04-05
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