Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, 20th Annual Celebration Display, A Tribute to the Legendary Pat Minick and more


Joliet, Ill.  (June 30, 2017) – NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing returns to Route 66 Raceway July 6-9 for the 20th Annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, where the stars of today and yesterday will gather for four days of racing as the world’s top drag racers rocket to speeds exceeding 330 miles per hour in under four seconds. Some of the weekend highlights include:


Return of Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen


Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen will return to the NHRA Route 66 Nationals on July 6-9 to help celebrate the 20th Annual event weekend. McEwen, the opposition in the storied rivalry with fellow competitor Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, will be on hand all weekend engaging with fans. The contentious “Snake and Mongoose” rivalry evolved into a global spectacle that helped bring drag racing to the mainstream.


“I look forward to returning to Route 66 Raceway for the NHRA weekend,” said McEwen. “The facility is hands down the nicest drag racing venue out there; the people are great, and I have a lot of family in the area. In fact, when I first started racing, I would stay with the Greek (Chris Karamesines) and would work on my car in his garage.”


The Mongoose graced the world of drag racing for 45 years in everything from the stock-car ranks, to gas coupes, altereds and eventually dragsters and funny cars. During his near half-century of competing, McEwen won five NHRA National events and was ranked 16 out of the 50 most significant drivers of NHRA’s first 50 years. His gift for gab and promotional savvy elevated his brand, making the Mongoose one of the most influential and controversial figures the sport has ever known.


20th Annual Display & Celebration


Fans can peruse the 20th Annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals display located directly across from Nitro Mall. The exhibit will commemorate each of the previous 19 Route 66 Nationals events, complete with photos, a historical recap and ladders of each of the four pro classes. Iconic cars from the storied past of NHRA will also be on display, including Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick’s 1966 Pontiac GTO, the winner of the 1970 Winternationals, “The Hawaiian” and the industry-altering “Sox & Martin” duster. Legends like Beswick, Gary Dyer and Ron Colson will make appearances throughout the weekend as well.


Fans have multiple opportunities to interact the sport’s legends of yesterday and today: First, Friday will feature the opening of the 20th Annual Display at 4 p.m. across from Nitro Mall, Then, the 20th Annual celebration will continue with a Q&A and autograph session at the Mello Yello display at 1:45 p.m. Finally, Sunday will play host to a Chicago tribute at 9:30 a.m. in Nitro Alley.


Furthermore, legendary motorsport artist Kenny Youngblood will be on hand to meet and interact with event guests. Fans will be able to pick their favorite design from a selection of his artistic renderings centered on the 20th Annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals celebration which is then personalized by Youngblood and given away as one-of-a-kind souvenirs. Some of Youngblood’s esteemed clients include: Carroll Shelby Automobiles, John Force Racing, PEAK Performance Products, Zizzo Racing, Snap-On Tools and Toyota Racing (NHRA and NASCAR).


In celebration of the 20th Annual event, fans will have a chance to win $20,000 on Saturday, July 8, by downloading the Route 66 Raceway mobile app prior to the race weekend. The Mobile App keeps fans up to speed on the weekend’s event with the extra incentive to download this year. Before the racing heats up on Saturday, July 8, the mobile app will feature an enter-to-win form. The winner will be drawn at approximately 5:00 p.m. CT and brought trackside to join the Mello Yello team’s emcee. The winner will select from one of 20 envelopes, one of which contains $20,000. Participants are subject to promotion rules.


To kick off Championship Sunday, Route 66 Raceway will distribute commemorative flags to the first 2,000 fans that enter from the north side of the facility


Pat Minick Tribute


Early this year, drag racing lost one of the pioneers of the sport, Pat Minick. Minick, driver of the famed Chi-Town Hustler Funny Car, captured the hearts of fans during the early days of drag racing with his iconic tire-smoking burnout. By cleaning the tires, an eventual pre-tune ritual, he created an essential part of the act now cemented in the grandiose show put on by Mello Yello Drag Racing.


In Minick’s honor, Route 66 Raceway will welcome a replica Chi-Town Hustler, which will be piloted by his grandson Mike Minick. The replica will take a pass on Sunday, July 9 and be on display as part of the 20th Annual celebration exhibit throughout the weekend.


Pat Minick is introduced during pre-race festivities at last year’s NHRA Route 66 Nationals.





This replica Chi-Town Hustler piloted by Troy Martin will take passes and be on display throughout the weekend of the NHRA Route 66 National.


Track Walk & On-Track Winners Circle


Before the event, fans can participate in the Track Walk. Not only with guests be provided with access to the racing surface, but the walk itself will be led and narrated by the host of legends celebrating the 20th running of the Route 66 Nationals.


Championship Sunday is also the day that determines who will take the coveted top place in the Winner’s Circle for the top four Pro Classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle). Fans can now partake in the celebration as the staging lanes will open immediately following the on-track action for those in the grandstands to get up-close as the winners receive their Wallys.


To purchase tickets to the NHRA Route 66 Nationals, or any of the other 2017 Route 66 Raceway events, visit us online at, call 888-629-RACE, download the Route 66  Raceway mobile app,  visit the Route 66 Raceway Administrative office or stop by the box office on the day of the event.


For email reminders regarding the 2017 Route 66 Raceway schedule, click here.


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