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EMPIRE NATIONALS TOP HEAVY WEEKEND OF DRAG RACING

The biggest national championship drag racing event to visit this area in the last few years, the Tosti Asti Spumante Empire Nationals, will invade New York International Raceway Park (formerly Motor City) in Leicester this weekend.

The $400,000 race is the fourth in a nine-race circuit for the International Hot Rod Association National Event Championship Trail Racers to determine the national champions in IHRA's various Professional and Sportsman classes.

Texan Eddie Hill, the current IHRA Top Fuel speed record-holder at 288.55 mph, will compete along with drag racing legend Gene Snow. Mike Brotherton, winner of the June 17 Asti Gateway Nationals, also is expected.

Nitro Funny Cars, which reach speeds of more than 250 mph, and the Alcohol Funny Cars, with defending IHRA champion Greg Moss and points leader Bob Newberry, also will appear on the quarter-mile strip's program.

Defending champion Rickie Smith heads the Pro-Stocks. Fred Hahn of West Seneca, driving the Jim Oddy Corvette from Elma, appears in the Pro-Modifieds.

Gates open at 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday. Sportsman time trials are Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Pro class qualifying at 2 p.m. Further Sportsman qualifying is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Pro time trials at 2 and 7. The "Night of Fire" Jet cars are at 7 p.m. Eliminations begin at noon Sunday.

The strip is located off Route 36 on New Road in Leicester, 30 minutes south of Rochester.

Drag fans also can head to Dragway Park in Cayuga for the Drag 'N Rock Weekend. Street racing is at 7 p.m. Friday. Saturday is Bonus Bracket Day, with time trials at 11 a.m. and Match Race Madness at 2 p.m.

Match Race Madness continues Sunday along with the Sunoco Gold Super Series. Qualifying is at 11 a.m., with racing at 2 p.m.

Lancaster Dragway counters Friday with its annual "Night Of Fire," featuring the Jet Funny Cars of Al Hanna and Bob Baubeaulieu, plus the Wheelstander driven by Danny O'Day. The Broad Elm/General Tire Drag Racing Series will hold time trials at 6 p.m. and all racing activity begins at 8.

Geoff Brabham, Chip Robinson, John Neilson, Price Cobb and Derek Bell are among the stars who will appear this weekend at Watkins Glen International in the $90,000, 92-lap Camel Continental VII for Camel GTP Prototypes.

Actor Paul Newman will be making his first career start in the International Motor Sports Association Camel GTP class.

Practice for Camel GTP Prototypes and three other classes begins at 10 a.m. Friday. GTP Prototype pole qualifying is at 2:15 p.m. Saturday. Racing begins Sunday at 10:10 a.m. for Toyota Formula cars. The Camel Continental VII is at 1 p.m. For more information, call (607) 535-2486.

The Empire State Sweepstakes for asphalt Modifieds, a three-race point series sponsored by Universal Joint Sales, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a 40-lap feature at Shangri La (Owego) Speedway. A 75-lap race is set at 5 p.m. Sunday at Oswego Speedway.

The Modifieds move Tuesday to Lancaster National Speedway for a 40-lap finale at 7 p.m. The winged International Supermodified Association also will pay its annual visit that night.

Regular racing is scheduled Friday at Genesee Fair (7:30 p.m.), Spencer (8 p.m.) and Ransomville Speedways (8 p.m.), Saturday at Holland International (7:30), Lancaster National (7 p.m.), Merrittville (8 p.m.) and Perry Speedways (7:30 p.m.), and Sunday at Gasport Speedway (7 p.m.).

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