When Tony Schumacher, John Force and Mike Edwards rolled in to the Winner’s Circle after the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, each driver proudly hoisted up NHRA’s prized trophy, the “Wally,” as part of their victory celebrations.  

During this week’s NHRA Junior Drag Racing League Eastern Conference Finals presented by Viperizer Racing, many young drivers from across the eastern half of the United States will come to Bristol for their opportunity to do the same.

More than 600 racers from NHRA Divisions 1, 2 and 3, and select tracks in Division 4, will compete in the event, each hoping to use the Jr. Dragsters as a springboard to  a professional career.  

“We are thrilled to once again host the NHRA Eastern Conference Finals and the racers who one day will be the stars of the sport,” said Julie Bennett, Vice-President of Bristol Dragway. “This is one of the biggest youth sporting events in the Tri-Cities and we know fans who visit Thunder Valley this week will see some of these names again in the future.”

Competitors drive half-scale dragsters powered by five-horsepower engines capable of reaching speeds up to 85 mph. Drivers will be racing for team and individual honors, as well as a share of U.S. Savings Bonds valued at nearly $100,000.

Professional competitors Shawn Langdon, Rickie Jones, Erica Enders and Katie Sullivan are among the league’s graduates currently competing in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Several fun races sponsored by Safety Solutions Racing will take place during the week.

Bristol Dragway officials have planned several events throughout the week for the racers including a cookout sponsored by Safety Solutions Racing, free tours of Bristol Motor Speedway and various games and activities designed to help competitors have fun when not racing. Also, Tuesday and Wednesday night concerts will be sponsored by goINOXgreen.

In addition, the Thompson Metal Monster Truck Madness is scheduled to take place inside BMS on Thursday night, July 29.

The event is expected to attract racers from across the East Coast and abroad. Race champions in 2009 represented Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio and Louisiana.

Each NHRA member track may send up to three teams of 10 racers to participate in the race. Team members earn points for their home track, with the top scoring team winning the conference final.

Individual winners in each of the eight age categories receive a $5,000 savings bond and the “Wally” trophy. Each member of the top scoring team will receive a $300 savings bond and a Wally.

The age categories are as follows: Motivational Tubing 8-9 year old; Half-Scale Dragsters 10 year old; Pro Tire Center, Inc. 11-12 year old; Craw’s Racing 13-14 year old; Bos Racing 15 year old; JR Race Cars 16-17 year old. Gaged Engineering also will present the Gaged Clutches Thunder Valley Challenge for 13-17 year olds on Wednesday.

For more information about event sponsor Viperizer Racing, please visit www.viperizerracing.com.

Single day spectator passes are available for only $20. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

For more information and a detailed schedule of events for the week, please call (423) 764-DRAG or visit www.bristoldragway.com.