‘Eastern Raider’ Dragster, ‘First Strike’ Funny Car Among Headliners~

The sun may shine brightly, we all need it, but Saturday’s (June 22) forecast for US 131 Motorsports Park calls for thunder and lightning from nitro and jets!

The track’s annual Night of Thunder features nostalgic nitro-burning Funny Cars, nostalgic Alcohol Funny Cars, the Chicagoland Super Stock series and, of course, lots and lots of jets

Veteran Al Hanna, one of the nation’s foremost experts on non-aerial applications for jet aircraft engines, will send all three of his top-of-the-line jet-powered race cars to the event including the only jet-powered Funny Car to have achieved 290 miles per hour in a quarter mile.

The “Top Secret Eastern Raider,” driven the last 14 years by veteran Ken Hall, is considered the most high-tech jet Funny Car ever built. Using a sleek 2002 Pontiac Firebird body, “Top Secret” boasts an unconventional driver’s position for jets in the center of the chassis.

Hall will be joined at US 131 by former NHRA divisional Jr. Dragster champion Josh Graham, driver of the “Eastern Raider” jet dragster, and by Rich Hanna, son of the team owner and driver of the “First Strike” Firebird, the fastest jet Funny Car on the planet. The younger Hanna is the jet Funny Car record holder for finish line speed at 295.08 mph.

The “Eastern Raider” name dates to the 1960s when Al Hanna raced conventional Funny Cars with his wife Ellen. The name derives from the Hannas love of the Oakland Raiders football team.

In addition to the “thunder” show, the Saturday program also will include the Lane Automotive Bracket Series paying $2,000 to win in Top ET and Modified. A special MOJO Quick 16 race will also take place for the 16 quickest bracket cars on the property. Time trials for racers in Top ET, Modified, Street and Jr. Dragster are set for 9 a.m. with eliminations beginning at approximately 1:30 p.m. The Funny Cars, Super Stocks and jets will run at 7 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.

Saturday adult tickets purchased in advance are only $15 and children 6-12 only $5. Children under six are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. At the gate, tickets are $20 for adults and $7 for kids, 6-12. Reserved motorhome parking also is available for from $50-to-$75 per spot, depending on location.

The weekend will begin with a Friday open test and tune session from 6-11 p.m. Jr. Dragsters will also have a special Quick 16 race with the first qualifying round at 5 p.m. Only $10 more for racers to enter this race.