Route 66 Raceway presents this insider's account of the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing from Randy Simpson, an NHRA Stock Eliminator driver and student at Illinois State University who is interning with Route 66 Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway this summer. For real-time timing and scoring of this event, please visit , or see or

Serving as a marketing and public relations intern with Route 66 Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway has given me a good look at the behind-the-scenes workings of race track operations. Coming into this position as a driver has given me a unique perspective as I approach my intern duties. My personal drag race experience has taught me that the people involved are who make this sport so special. The fact that racers choose to spend their time and money to build race cars and compete at our race track is humbling.

This weekend is my first encounter with the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing. I like to approach new races with an open mind and see how others choose to race. While I was wondering through a sea of street-legal door cars I spotted a large group of Ford Lightning pick-up trucks. Trucks at the drag strip are nothing new but the quantity and quality of these trucks was truly astonishing. I wanted to approach a driver but didn't know anybody, so I played it safe and approached a Lightning painted an almost identical yellow to my Camaro.

Steve Martin, driver of the immaculate, bright yellow, no. 6 Ford Lightning made the long haul to Route 66 Raceway from Ontario, Canada. Martin builds and maintains the entire drive train in the high 10-second Ford truck. As expected, the highly mechanical Martin is…an insurance agent. While most would have guessed a mechanic or engineer, Martin's occupation makes good sense, as the NMRA/NMCA is designed to give street-legal hot rods and their drivers a safe place to race their cars. Any insurance agent, including Martin, would be happy to know their clients are taking their cars to a safe environment to satisfy their craving for speed and competition. Martin will follow the rest of the NMRA circuit through the duration of 2009, in hopes of improving from his impressive 6th-place finish in 2008.

While I am new to the NMRA/NMCA I did happen to spot a familiar name on the window of an eye-catching, nostalgic 1964 Plymouth Fury. Doug Duell, driver of the 9-second wagon is a fellow competitor of mine in the NHRA Stock Eliminator ranks, where he competes in his new self-built Drag Pack Challenger. While Duell has already had great success with the Challenger, the Fury has a lot of sentimental value. Duell's father, Dave, raced an identical wagon to become the NHRA record-holder over three consecutive years, from 1968-1970. After a hiatus, Dave decided to build a replica of the Plymouth wagon. Duell later assumed the driving duties of his father's car after his passing in 2005. Duell currently sits third in NMCA standings with an event win at Maple Grove Raceway earlier in the year. Not focusing on the points battle, Duell sits a mere two rounds behind the leader but plans to just race his best and let the points stack up as they will. Duell says the competition is tough in the NMCA, but he looks too continue his success this year and please is sponsors Indy Cylinder Head and TTI Exhaust.

Duell's story resonates well with me, as he and his father shared drag racing together just as I do with my dad, Terry. The time spent in the garage and at the track is priceless and makes for incredible memories. Another reason why at the root of drag racing, people are who make this sport so special.

Doug Duell
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