EPPING, N.H. – Legendary Northeastern Funny Car driver Al Segrini will be honored as the grand marshal for the NHRA Motorsports Museum New England Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance at New England Dragway, Aug. 28-30.
For the third consecutive year, three days of classic cars, quarter-mile drag racing and honoring the legends of drag racing will take place at the scenic facility located just north of metro Boston.
Segrini was a top contender in NHRA Drag Racing during the 1970s and 1980s. Having driven some of the most classic Funny Cars in existence including Black Magic and Faberge Brut, Segrini got his start at New England Dragway racing the family’s 427-cid-powered B/Gas 55 Chevy entry with his brother Lou. The brothers then built an American Express injected A/Fuel Camaro Funny Car that ran on the Smoker Smith Circuit. In 1971, Lou decided to retire and spend time with his family, leading Segrini towards the nitro brigade.
Segrini entered the nitro Funny Car ranks when he was tapped to drive Kosty Ivanoff’s blown Boston Shaker after Ivanoff suffered an injury. Segrini remained with Ivanoff until 1973 when he joined forces with Jim Beattie for the now famous Black Magic Vega. The Vega was a success at the get-go, earning both the Best Appearing Car and Best Appearing Crew awards at the NHRA Gatornationals.
Segrini’s greatest success came in the mid-1980s when he drove the Faberge Brut Funny Car, claiming three of his five national event wins. He is best remembered for his back-to-back victories at the NHRA Winternationals in 1984 and 1985.
Also honored during the event will be Walt Markert, Nick Marshall, Dave Vermilya, Jack Merkel, Charlie Seabrook and Walt Weney.
Merkert was the owner of three Berkshire Beetles that were some of the most famous and successful race cars from New England. In addition to this, Merkert was also a successful circle-track engine builder. He gained initial fame with the Berkshire Beetle C/Dragsters, driving the three to class victories at the U.S. Nationals in 1959 and 1960. Costs eventually drove Merkert to the circle-track engine side with his powerplants becoming the standard across the Northeast. He was inducted into the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame in 2013.
Marshall and Vermilya were raised together in Cape Cod, Mass. Both eventually relocated to Southern California upon hearing about the region’s legendary hot rodding reputation. The pair were reunited when Marshall drove Vermilya’s Olds-powered ’48 Fiat altered. The duo then moved on to the nitro ranks, driving the Chrysler-powered dragster. They won more than 75 percent of their races and were consistent record breakers. Marshall and Vermilya split in 1966 and continued on their own paths. Marshall drove for “Hippo” Brammer while Vermilya returned to New England, running a machine shop.
Merkel was New York’s answer to the West Coast’s biggest names in the world of supercharged gassers. His ’39 Willys was a powerhouse, losing only once in class competition at a national event during the final round of the 1962 U.S. Nationals. He had his best success with the car during the 1963 U.S. Nationals, defeating Jerry Mallicoat in the final and setting the class speed record at 131.77 mph. Merkel would go on to race a ’33 Willys in the A/GS category. Merkel was also a successful engine builder, building both drag racing engines and NASCAR engines. His sons Scott and Todd won events in the National Muscle Car Association, carrying on the family legacy.
Seabrook, a native of New Jersey, was an unorthodox drag racer, not running with V-8 power and not racing an altered that was of the blown fuel variety. He didn’t let these supposed disadvantages stop him, winning the U.S. Nationals in 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1969. Seabrook ran many unconventional cars throughout his career including his first car, a Studebaker coupe powered by a blown Packard. His most famous car was a fiberglass Bantam roadster body named Jersey Jimmy. The D/Altered Bantam was a star at Atco Dragway, winning 165 wins compared to only five losses. The Bantam raced for 27 years with a variety of powerplants, one of Seabrook’s specialties.
Weney was a huge success in hot rodding, leading to numerous competitors fighting to have him build their racecars. Weney began his race career driving a ’32 Ford C/Gas car in the 1950s. He then built his own A/Dragster and A/Fuel Dragster. That lead to the creation of S&W Race Cars, recognized at the time as one of the best chassis-building companies in the East. Some of his chassis work includes the first Top Alcohol Funny Car of Joe Amato and Bill Jenkins’ Vega Pro Stock car, which won six national event races in 1972. In 1977, Weney retired from racing to focus solely on his chassis building success which became the primary location for the selection of Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car frames for the East Coast. Weney retired in 2005, but remains involved in an advisory capacity.
The NHRA Motorsports Museum New England Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance begins Aug. 28 for three days of classic cars, quarter-mile drag racing and honoring the legends of the sports. Gates open at 8 a.m. each day with activities taking place during the weekend.
The NHRA Motorsports Museum New England Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance, is produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and benefits the facility located in Pomona, Calif. The Museum’s mission is to celebrate the impact of motorsports on American culture. The Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets the vehicles, stories and artifacts that represent America’s affection for, and the influence of, automotive speed and style in all its forms.
- SCHEDULE: The event begins at 8 a.m. each day with racing beginning at noon on Friday, Aug. 28; Racing starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29; And 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30.
- TICKETS: Single day tickets are only $25 while a three-day ticket is $65 if purchased by Aug. 26 and $75 at the gate. Children 15 and under are free accompanied by a paid adult. AAA and Auto Club Members can save by showing their card at the gate or by entering the first three digits of their membership card in the promotion box on the online ticketing website.
- ON THE WEB: For more information visit NHRA Motorsports Museum New England Hot Rod Reunion presented by AAA Insurance, please visit www.nhramuseum.org.
Rotary Engine Rule Updates
Important Update for racers using Rotary Engines.
As outlined in the 2015 NHRA Rule Book 13.49 or quicker you must have an SFI 1.1 1.2 Flywheel and Clutch. Additionally 11.49 or quicker rotary engine cars must have a flywheel shield. For futher details and info refer the 2015 NHRA Rule Book.
He is what many call a racing machine, A&B Tire Pro Eliminator Champion Mark Winterbottom.
Putting together a championship drive is tough. Ask anyone who was lucky enough to come out on top and they likely will tell you it’s a daunting task. That isn’t lost on Mark Winterbottom. But, to see him week in and week out you wonder if ever fazes. He is what many call a racing machine. Mark captured his 9th A&B Tire Pro Eliminator championship this year in dramatic fashion. Yet, even when he was locked into a tight, four-way battle with brothers Jared Kinson and Jason Mazzotta, and long time friend Joe Silva, Mark kept his cool.
A Tale of Two Knights
It doesn’t come as a startling revelation that capturing a championship in any category at New England Dragway is the result of determination, skill and hard work. This year’s Indy Auto Parts Super Pro Champion Ray Knight is the epitome of those attributes. Ray has been part of the New England Dragway racing community for decades, recognized by his peers as one of the toughest drivers on the track. But, if you ask him about the most thrilling aspect of this year’s hard fought battle you will not hear stories about margins of victories measuring in the ten-thousandths or near perfect reaction times. Instead he will tell you it’s the opportunity to share the podium with his son Steven who captured the E.C.O.P.E. Junior Dragster crown.
Lucas Oil continues its commitment to NHRA Sportsman racing.
Lucas Oil continues its commitment to NHRA Sportsman racing as the sponsor of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. “Having come through the Sportsman ranks myself, I know how important it is to have the support you need to compete,” said Morgan Lucas of Lucas Oil Products. “These are our people, these are our customers.
2015 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Schedule Released
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series returns for a 14th season with premier events taking place across the country in all seven NHRA divisions it was announced today by NHRA officials. The 2015 schedule will feature 45 divisional events with a minimum of six in each of the seven divisions. There will also be 25 regional events featuring the 260-mph Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car classes.
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