Torrence, Wilkerson and Herrera Win at the Oxygen Factory

Racing teams headed to the far corners of the country over the weekend for the 34th annual Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals hosted by Pacific Raceways. The historic track located just outside Seattle in Kent, Washington, is also known as the “Oxygen Factory” for the 350-plus acres of massive evergreen trees that feed air to the 3,000-horsepower nitro burning engines.

The facility has been owned by the last three generations of the Fiorito family and has been home to the Northwest Nationals (originally called the Seafair Nationals) for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series since 1988. At 308-feet above sea level and plenty of homegrown oxygen, the tacky surface at Pacific Raceways provide a stark contrast to the last race at mile-high Bandimere Speedway.

Legendary Funny Car driver John Force has the most victories at Washington state track with eight and posted a 3.915 ET at 327.35 mph to close out qualifying as the Number One qualifier. Last year’s winner at the NW Nats in Top Fuel, Tony “the Sarge” Schumacher entered the race looking to break his record-tying fifth win from one year ago. So, with plenty of oxygen for engines to breath, the 34th event saw sell-out crowds for Saturday and Sunday at Pacific Raceways.

Steve Torrence Gets First Win of Season

With no skyboxes and tower at Pacific Raceways, nitro racing at the Oxygen Factory has a 60s feel that takes drag racing fans back the track’s roots. Teams know the air and elevation are near prime, so they just need to get their driver hooked up the historic strip of pavement. Steve Torrence impressively reached the final by beating Josh Hart, Brittany Force and Shawn Langdon while Kalitta had a quarterfinal bye before an overanxious Clay Millican went red in the semi.

With the Kalitta Air sponsor’s logo on his side at Seattle, it was three years ago in St. Louis for the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals where Doug Kalitta earned his 49th career Wally. But, Steve Torrence got a boost of confidence that he and the CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel team needed to get their 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Series season turned around. Both drivers had average starts before Kalitta spun the tires handing Torrence his first Wally of the season as well as the Top Fuel points lead.

Tim Wilkerson Claimed Second Win of Season

Tim Wilkerson first won at Pacific Raceways in 2011 and entered the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals looking for the second win of 2023 Funny Car season. Wilkerson earned his way to the Final round with an event-quick 3.928 ET in round one against Matt Hagan before eliminating Ron Capps and Blake Alexander. J.R. Todd defeated Alex Laughlin, Cruz Pedregon and Chad Green enroute to a Final Round matchup with Wilkerson.

Like his boss, J.R. Todd, the driver of the DHL Toyota GR Supra for Kalitta Motorsports, came to Pacific Raceways trying to break a two-year losing streak. But, Wilkerson was hungry for a fourth win at the Northwest Nationals and made three consecutive passes in the low four second range in his SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang. It was Wilkerson’s second win this year and came a month to the day after the passing of his team co-owner Cathi Maynard.

Gaige Herrera Still Alive for Triple Crown Bid

Gage Herrera was looking to confirm that he was legitimately back from his two-race slump. After all, the Vance & Hines Suzuki rider felt ready to continue his break-out rookie season in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle. Since the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis two years ago, teammate Eddie Krawiec has been trying to reach the milestone 50th career win in Pro Stock Motorcycles. Krawiec kept his hopes alive by eliminating Ryan Ohler, Chase Van Sant, and Matt Smith enroute to the Top Fuel Final at Pacific Raceways.

But.. Herrera posted a time of time of 6.764 seconds at 198.99 mph and won for the fifth time in seven NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle races with a time of 6.764 seconds at 198.99 mph. This was the Suzuki rider’s second Perfect weekend of 2023 (PSM winner Mission Challenge, Number One Qualifier and Northwest Nationals Winner) and his second victory of the Western Swing. The Vance & Hines star heads to Sonoma with a shot at the Triple Crown.

Artwork courtesy of NHRA


DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals

Sonoma Raceway is the host for the July 28-30 DENSO SONOMA Nationals as NHRA nitro classes and Pro Stock Motorcycle light up the tree in California’s wine country for the third and final round of the famed Western Swing. New for 2023, the historic track will host the Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star Callout on Saturday as well as the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge where nitro semifinalist from the Seattle race will duel it out for Countdown bonus points and prizes during the final round of qualifying.


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