Last season, Steve Torrence looked like he was in a different league than everyone else. After finishing the regular season at the top of the standings, Torrence dominated the championship series.
So, when the winner was announced as a Torrence on Sunday at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals, one might reasonably assume it was Steve out in front again.
However, it wasn’t Steve. It was Billy. Billy Torrence, for the unacquainted, is Steve’s father and a formidable racer in his own right.
While Steve dominated the headlines last season, Billy won his first event last year in August at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Families like Torrence are part of the NHRA’s DNA
The Torrences are not the only family with multiple drivers in the NHRA. They’re not even the most well-decorated.
That honor belongs to the Forces.
Father of the family John Force is an NHRA living legend. With 149 career victories, his is one of the most successful drag racers in history.
However, the most recent championship in the Force family belongs to Brittany, who won the Top Fuel championship in 2017.
Before retiring earlier this year, Brittany’s sister Courtney was also a very successful driver in the Funny Car category. Their other sister, Ashley Force Hood, also maintains an active racing license as well as takes part in managing the family company.
Not just marketing
As the NHRA continues to grow, it has leaned into its identity as much more family-friendly than some of its other racing counterparts. And it’s not just marketing.
Pay close enough to the crowd shots and you’ll see that NHRA crowds are diverse and multi-generational. This is by design.
NHRA events are multi-day affairs filled with events and activities for all age ranges. Tickets are still affordable enough to bring the entire family along.
A huge part of the NHRA's success
The family-oriented nature of the NHRA has helped it grow organically recently. Over the last several years, the league has gained viewers, moved to a more prominent place in the broadcast, and even started to be broadcast in Spanish.
All of this goes to show the tremendous growth and potential for the NHRA.
Chip Lofton, owner of Strutmasters.com, one of the primary sponsors of Clay Millican’s Parts Plus/Strutmasters.com Top Fuel dragster, cited the family focus as one of the reasons for the sport’s popularity.
“When you agree to sponsor something, you are lining up your company’s image and values with whoever you are sponsoring,” said Lofton. “That there are so many multi-generational racing families--drivers and fans alike--speaks volumes to how much people really love this sport and this league.”
“We’re a family business ourselves,” Lofton explained. “So I love the way the NHRA has made it such a joy to bring the whole family to events. It helped convince me that sponsoring a driver in the NHRA was the right thing to do.”
The next NHRA event is the 50th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. It takes place from March 14-17. There are still tickets available here.
Just make sure to bring the family.