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Drag racing fans revved up for national event in Epping

Union Leader Correspondent

July 06. 2018 9:43PM
Members of the crew from Scrappers Racing team unload their vehicle as the New England Nationals began Friday at New England Dragway in Epping. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING — New England Dragway was buzzing Friday as drivers and drag racing enthusiasts arrived for a weekend of high-powered competition at the sixth annual National Hot Rod Association’s New England Nationals.

The three-day race is part of the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and draws thrill-seeking fans from around New England and other parts of the country.

For many spectators, the national competition with big name drivers has become an annual event since the Epping venue began hosting the nationally televised race six years ago as part of a 10-year deal with the NHRA.

Spencer Jasmin, 11, of Connecticut, is a junior drag racer who competes in New York, but this was his first time attending the New England Nationals. He was excited to catch some of the action and meet the pros who will compete in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories to earn points leading up to the series’ world championships.

Spencer started racing four years ago after he was encouraged by his brother.

“It’s fun. All the people are really nice at the track,” he said.

When asked if Spencer would like to become a professional driver when he gets older, his dad, Matt, joked, “He better get a bigger sponsor.”

Friday’s visit to the dragway was also a first for Kevin Foran, 60, of East Hartford, Conn.

“I used to do this when I was younger, but not these, just regular street cars and stuff like that,” he said.

Foran said he wanted to see how the pros race compared to the racing he did about 40 years ago.

“When somebody told me that these things are like 10,000 horsepower I almost fell over. Back then they were like 1,500. It’s just ridiculous now,” he said.

Some fans said they like being able to mingle with the drivers before and after the races.

“It’s a friendly atmosphere, it really is,” said Wayne Labbe of Topsham, Maine, who attended Friday for the fourth time.

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