EPPING - Fireworks won’t be the only big noise makers this week.
Drag racers from around the country will converge on New England Dragway this weekend for the 6th annual National Hot Rod Association’s New England Nationals.
Some 20,000 spectators are expected to spend part of their holiday week at the national event, which is part of the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Races begin Friday and wrap up Sunday.
The race is the dragway’s biggest annual event and is usually held in early June, but this year the NHRA decided to move it to July.
Joe Lombardo, the dragway’s general manager, said he welcomed the change because it came at a time when many people are vacationing and have included the race in their plans.
“We can tell by the way ticket sales are going that that’s exactly what’s happening. It’s turned out to be a benefit for us,” he said.
While the event has been a success, Lombardo said holding it in early June was always tough because the weather is more unpredictable and it often competed with graduations and other school-related activities.
“The thing I look forward to most is the intensity level. New people really don’t know what to expect,” Lombardo said. “You can see it, you can smell it, you can feel it, you can sense it.”
The event will feature racers on the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories who will earn points leading up to the series’ world championships. Fans will also have a chance to interact with drivers.
Lombardo said he was looking forward to seeing some drivers coming back full-time this year, including Rhode Island’s Bob Tasca III, who broke a world record in 2007 for the quickest pass in Alcohol Funny Car history at 5.451 seconds and 263 mph.
Lombardo said Tasca’s family has been involved with the track since it opened in 1966.
“We’re looking forward to him coming,” Lombardo said.
The track signed a 10-year deal to host the NHRA event. Once it expires, Lombardo said it can be renewed as two five-year events.
“From all indications, they’re very happy with the event,” he said.
For more information visit www.nedragway.com