Mile High Nationals Marks Ends of an Era for Nitro Teams

E3 SPARK PLUGS FAN ALERT: Sunday was Bandimere Speedway’s final Mile-High National as the track has been sold. In addition to the traditional Wally trophy, both Clay Millican in Top Fuel and Matt Hagan in Funny Car received a specialty trophy (named the Johnny) that was commissioned by John Bandimere Jr.

Over the weekend, NHRA nitro race teams, tuners and drivers faced the challenge of the 6,000-feet of altitude at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Unfortunately, it was the swan song for racing at Morrison, CO, as the famous track has been sold.

Also known as Thunder Mountain, the track has hosted drag racing for 65-years, but like many of the nation’s racing facilities, residential growth clearly threatened the track’s survival. In the late 50s, John Bandimere Sr. received approval to open the track to become the “Safety Proving Grounds of America.”

The Bandimere family has long supported his vision that included an oval track and drag strip with garages to teach area youth about automotive repair and performance. In addition, Thunder Mountain served Detroit auto manufacturers’ need for high-altitude testing of everyday vehicles.

After John Bandimere Jr. took a more active role in track management, he, Bob Brockmeyer (local driver), and Larry Crispe (facility manager) developed The Compulink timing system, which became the Gold Standard for drag racing and was first used in action at Bandimere Speedway. E3 Spark Plugs congratulates the Bandimere family on their 65 years of service.

Millican Tops the Nitro Top Fuel at Bandimere Speedway

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series closed the doors over the weekend on years of memories on Sunday as Bandimere Speedway closed its doors to this chapter of mile-high racing. On Saturday, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force thrilled the fans breaking the previous track record held by Steve Torrence by over seven miles per hour with a 333.73 mph run. Sidelined in round one, Force could only watch as Clay Millican and Doug Kalitta advanced to Final.

Behind the wheel of the Part Plus top fuel dragster, Millican gave Rick Ware Racing its second NHRA victory of the 2023 season. Millican eliminated Tony Schumacher, Mike Salinas and Shawn Langdon while Doug Kalitta took down Terry Totten, Josh Hart and Steve Torrence. Millican gained a slight advantage off the tree and never trailed for the win. Kalitta lost traction, clicked off early, and watched Millican power to the latest Top Fuel at the historic dragstrip.

Hagan Dominate in Nitro Funny Car at Denver

Driving the Direct Connection Dodge Charger Hellcat for Tony Stewart Racing, Matt Hagan had a banner weekend to close the doors on Funny Car competitors at the last ever Bandimere NHRA National. The current points leader and three-time Funny Car champion posted spectacular results entering the elimination rounds at the Mile-High event where Dodge was the title-sponsor for a record 35 years.

During the final round of Saturday qualifying for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series national event outside Denver, Hagan raced to victory in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge bonus race that added three more points to the leader’s total before the Countdown to the Championship. Alexis Dejoria was looking for revenge in the Final after having lost to Hagan at the Mile-High National in 2021. But Hagan left her at the tree and never looked back.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA


Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals

NHRA race teams head to the northwest to continue the Western Swing at the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA on July 21-23. As part of Saturday qualifying, race fans can enjoy the #2Fast2Tasty Mission NHRA Challenge, where nitro semifinalists from the previous race in the pro classes will duel during qualifying for bonus money and points.


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