Enders and Gladstone Top DENSO NHRA Nationals

Enders and Gladstone Top DENSO NHRA Nationals

Professional drag racing made its debut 50 years ago as Sears Point Raceway hosted its first drag racing event (the San Francisco Open) on a freshly-paved quarter-mile drag strip. Although drag remained a crucial piece of Sonoma’s history over the years, the initial NHRA-sanctioned drag race didn’t happen until 1988. The winners were Joe Amato (Top Fuel), Mark Oswald (Funny Car) and Harry Scribner (Pro Stock).

Since the late 1980s, facility has been transformed from a sleepy road course into one of the busiest motorsport facilities in the United States. While the cars, top speeds and driver names may change, the thrills and excitement at the quarter-mile drag strip have remained central to the wine country’s legacy of big name racing, including AMA Road Racing, NASCAR and NHRA. The 2022 racing season marked fifty-two years of racing action in the Sonoma Valley.

The legendary John Force has eight wins at Sonoma and teammate Robert Hight set the NHRA national Funny Car speed record at 339.87 mph in 2017. At the same national event, J.R. Todd secured his first career Funny Car victory making him the first African-American to win in the NHRA Funny Car category and also the second driver in NHRA history to win at Sonoma Raceway in both nitro categories; the first was Don Prudhomme.

Enders Claims Holeshot Victory Over Anderson

At the second stop of the Western Swing for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, Pro Stock legend Erica Enders was looking to capture her win at Sonoma Raceway for the Denso Sonoma NHRA Nationals. Enroute to a final round matchup with long-time rival Greg Anderson, Enders outpaced Fernando Cuadra Jr, got revenge on Mason McGaha for beating her on a holeshot at Denver, and displaced her rival teammate Aaron Stanfield.

Only one win shy of his 100th Pro Stock victory, Anderson kept his dream alive all day by defeating Steve Graham, Bo Butner, and teammate Kyle Koretsky. Enders posted a .018 RT and held off Anderson at the finish line with a 6.574 elapsed time at 196.62 mph in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro to earn her 39th career win and sixth Wally of the 2022 season. The win at Sonoma gives Enders an 80-point lead over Aaron Stanfield heading north to Pacific Raceway.

Third Time is a Charm for Joey Gladstone

In a post-race interview, Joey Gladstone said he had been waiting for this win in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycles since he was 12 years old. Nonetheless, the rider of the J&A Service Suzuki Hayabusa proved that “Third Time is the Charm” on Sunday after advancing to his third NHRA final in as many races. In the opposite lane, Eddie Krawiec eliminated his Vance & Hines teammate, Angelle Sampey, to reach the 90th final round in NHRA competition.

Gladstone reached the final round with elimination wins over Jianna Evaristo, Katie Sullivan, and Jerry Savoie. Krawiec made it to the days final race with victories against Kelly Clontz, defending NHRA pro stock motorcycle world champion Matt Smith, and Sampey. Krawiec went quicker with a 6.758 ET to Gladstone’s 6.759-second elapsed time but Gladstone nailed the tree with a .026 reaction time to claim his first career Wally. Sampey leads Gladstone by just two points.

Photo courtesy of Sonoma Raceway


Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series continues the West Coast Swing next weekend when teams return to action on July 29-31 with the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA.