Mar 15, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Funny car winner Ron Capps (left) and NHRA top fuel driver Spencer Massey celebrate together after winning the Gatornationals at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

50 Years of Gatornationals

One of Gainesville’s biggest events celebrates its golden anniversary this weekend. Gatornationals is set to kick off its 50th year of existence down at the Gainesville Raceway this Thursday through Sunday.

Meet the Top Fuel Field

Five-time champion Tony Schumacher will not be in attendance for the 2019 rendition of this event. 2018 champ Richie Crampton will not make an appearance either.

But there are still plenty of familiar names. For instance, the field is led by reigning world champion Steve Torrence along with three-time champion Doug Kalitta. Kalitta already claimed the winner’s circle at February’s Winternationals in California.

Others drivers in Antron Brown, Brittany Force and Scott Palmer will be participating as well.

Funny Cars

Jack Beckman is back to defend his crown at Gainesville Raceway. The current third place holder in the Funny Car standings returns with a mission on his mind to finish as the back-to-back champ.

“I’d rather be the guy who also won back-to-back Gators and the 50th than the guy who won the 49th,” Beckman said.

Additionally, the top two drivers in funny car will be there too. First place Robert Hight grabbed the season’s first event at Winternationals and second place Matt Hagan came out victorious at Arizona Nationals.

Hight actually beat out Beckman for the win out at Pomona in early February.

Pro Stock

There will be a new champion in this division due to the absence of 2018 winner Tanner Gray. The youngest driver to win an NHRA event decided to try his hand at oval racing and can be found in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Although, points leader and Winternationals winner Bo Butner will be there. He finished second to Gray in the finals of the 2018 event.

In addition, 2017 runner-up Greg Anderson is lighting up the track this weekend. He trails Butner by 114 in the points standings. Erica Enders sits third in the standings. She’ll try to make it out of the semifinal round after her eliminations there in the season’s first two events.

Returning Legends

This year’s Gatornationals will even feature legends of drag racing’s past battling against each other on the track in the “Unfinished Business” event. A field of eight drivers including the likes of Don Garlits, Joe Amato and Terry Vance will duke it out.

Each driver is in a Toyota Camry wrapped to emulate their favorite car from their respective racing days.


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