20000 Maricopa Road
NHRA Arizona Nationals
Tickets: www.firebirdraceway.com; 602-268-0200
Radio Frequency: 92.9 FM
After being a part of the six-race Countdown playoffs last year, NHRA’s annual duel in the desert returns to its traditional spot as the year’s second event. A Southwest fixture since 1985, the event offers teams a chance to redeem mistakes made at the opener. Charlie Allen, a former Funny Car racer, constructed a track that makes people forget that it sits at 1,100 feet above sea level. The facility is also known for its annual preseason tests and Tony Schumacher’s historic 330-mph quarter-mile blast in 1999.
2011 recap: Jack Beckman raced to his third Firebird Int’l Raceway win and took over the Funny Car points lead. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and rookie sensations Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at this event, which last year was the fourth of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Surprises abounded when Top Fuel points leader Spencer Massey and Funny Car contender Ron Capps both failed to qualify.
How to Get There: The track is 10 miles south of Phoenix and minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport. From Phoenix, take Interstate 10 east to the Wild Horse Pass exit (162). From Tucson, take I-10 west to the Wild Horse Pass exit (162).
Visitor Information: Chandler Chamber of Commerce, 800-963-4571