MARTIN, Mich. – When a headliner withdraws from an event at the eleventh hour, whether it’s a rock concert, a tennis tournament or a major drag race, the replacement invariably lacks the street cred of the original performer.
Nevertheless, when Canadian Top Fuel driver Todd Paton was forced to pull out of the Aug. 11-12 Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park, General Manager Jason Peterson was not content to fill the empty slot with whomever was available.
Instead, he turned to drag racing royalty, enticing three-time NHRA World Champion Larry Dixon of Avon, Ind. back onto the quarter mile to join an already stellar Top Fuel lineup anchored by track record-holder Dom Lagana of Scarsdale, N.Y., veterans Pat Dakin of Dayton, Ohio, and Bruce Litton of Indianapolis, newcomer Kyle Wurtzel of Warsaw, Ind., and NHRA touring pro Terry Haddock of Temple, Texas.
Dixon, 51, won NHRA championships driving for Don Prudhomme Racing in 2002 and 2003 and al-Anabi Racing in 2010. He has 61 NHRA tour victories and has covered the quarter mile in as few as 4.481 seconds at more than 330 miles per hour, which places him in some very select company.
Advance tickets for the race, which also features nostalgia fuel Funny Cars, BB/Funny Cars, five jet-powered vehicles and a Guinness record-holding wheelstander, currently are available on-line at www.us131msp.com. Tickets in advance are $15 Friday and $30 Saturday. Day of the event tickets are $20 and $35. Children 6-12 are $10 daily while children five and under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
Gates will open at 4 p.m. Friday with a round of Funny Car qualifying at 8 p.m. and unlimited test-and-tune runs until 11 p.m. Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday with time trials for the Lane Automotive Bracket Series crowning champions in Modified, Top ET, Street, MOJO Quick 16 and three Jr. Dragster classes at 9 a.m. The pro cars and jets will run at 6 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.