The NHRA Division 7 Drag Races presented by Korbel speed into Sonoma Raceway on July 20-22, and local driver Melissa Westerman is ready.
The 29-year-old Sonoma Valley High School and Sonoma State University graduate drives in the GirlPowerRacing.com NHRA Top Dragster, and after recent success this season, she comes to her home event with optimism.
“I expect to win,” comments Westerman with the stamp of authority. “We’ve been working the bugs out, and the car is just dynamite. At our last race, the car was fantastic, and it ran as consistently as ever, with passes of 6.699 and 6.696!”
at age 16, when she began racing a 1966 Ford Mustang in the High School class at (then-)Infineon Raceway’s Wednesday Night Drags. Though she still races the Mustang, her focus right now is the dragster.
“I honestly love racing at Sonoma Raceway,” she continues. “It’s my home track, it’s where I started racing and it’s right in my own back yard. It’s pretty special to race here.”
Westerman’s dragster generates around 1,500 horsepower and attains speeds in excess of 200 mph.
The drag strip received an overhaul in 2002, complete with a 660-foot concrete launch pad. Since the raceway is only 15 feet above sea level, the air is thicker, allowing engines to produce more horsepower. The rich air makes Sonoma Raceway one of the fastest in the country.
Eleven classes of cars will be racing at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. Classes include the return of Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Sportsman Motorcycle, Top Sportsman and Top Dragster.
The weekend will also feature the six-second door slammers of the West Coast Outlaw Pro Modified Series.
Division 7 is comprised of the western United States (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah), but drag racers from all over the country are heading to Sonoma for a chance to compete on the world-class drag strip.
SCHEDULE (All times Pacific):
Friday, July 20: Qualifying and time trials begin, 8:15 a.m.; Top Dragster, Comp and Top Sportsman qualifying, noon and 4 p.m.
Saturday, July 21: Time trials and qualifying begin, 8 a.m.; Top Dragster, Comp and Top Sportsman qualifying, 11 a.m.; Eliminations, 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 22: Eliminations continue, 9 a.m.
TICKET PRICES (Includes pit pass):
General Admission: Friday: $5; Saturday and Sunday: $20 per day; Weekend: $45. Children 12 and under are admitted FREE and parking is FREE.
Call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit racesonoma.com.