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NHRA Legends To Be Honored In Texas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 23 2022

Pro Stock star Greg Anderson to be feted at the Motorplex. (Photos courtesy of Richard Shute/Auto Imagery)

FORT WORTH, Texas _ Pro Stock icon Greg Anderson and award-winning drag racing publicist Dave Densmore will be recognized as Texas Motorplex Legends next month during opening ceremonies of the 37th annual Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Scheduled for Oct. 14-16 in Ennis, the FallNats will be Round 4 of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs, and culmination of the second annual Stampede of Speed. The Anderson-Densmore honors were announced by Motorplex founder Billy Meyer and daughter Christie Meyer Johnson, the track’s co-owner.

“I have known Dave Densmore my entire drag racing career and no PR person has had a bigger impact on the coverage our sport has received,” said Billy Meyer, a former Funny Car driver and International Drag Racing Hall of Fame inductee. “Greg has won the Texas FallNationals more than any other Pro Stock driver and established himself as the best Pro Stock driver in (NHRA) history.

Long-time NHRA public relations specialist Dave Densmore.

“Honoring these two men as Texas Motorplex Legends was an easy decision because of their impact at Texas Motorplex but also across the sport of drag racing.”

Anderson, driver of the HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro SS owned by Las Vegas businessman Ken Black, will double-up on pre-race honors. As defending event champion in Pro Stock, Anderson will be among the four professional 2021 class winners recognized during the track’s inaugural Champions Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the upscale Champions Club. That event is booked on Day 6 of the Stampede of Speed, a 10-day festival of music, drag racing and fan experiences in advance of the Camping World Drag Racing Series’ only national event in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Anderson is NHRA’s winningest Pro Stock driver, having scored his landmark 100th victory on Sept. 5 during final eliminations of the 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. 

Anderson joined the ultra-exclusive Triple-Digit Club with a quarter-mile pass in 6.587-seconds at 208.07 mph to defeat Ken Black Racing teammate Dallas Glenn in the U.S. Nats final. Anderson is the second driver in NHRA history to reach 100 career victories, joining 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force. “Brute” Force scored his 155th career win on May 1 during the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Anderson also is the winningest Pro Stock driver in Motorplex history with six FallNationals titles, including his historic 98th career win on Oct. 10, 2021. Anderson passed mentor and six-time world champion Warren “The Professor” Johnson via his victory against Chris McGaha in the final of the 36th annual FallNats _ a win that propelled Greg to his fifth world title. The late Bob Glidden retired with 85 victories and 10 Pro Stock world championships, including five in a row beginning in 1985.

“I have to thank Billy Meyer and Christie Meyer Johnson for this honor,” said Anderson, a 61-year-old native of Duluth, Minn., now residing in Charlotte, N.C. “Winning at Texas Motorplex is always special. When they give you that cowboy hat it’s pretty cool and the Texas fans are some of the best in the country. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of success in Texas and last year’s win was one for the record books.”

Anderson’s Pro Stock career took root as a crew member _ and then crew chief _ for the legendary Johnson. Anderson was on-board at Warren Johnson Enterprises for 12 years and three of Johnson’s six NHRA championships (1992, 1993 and 1995). In 1998, Anderson took the wheel of father-in-law Troy Humphrey’s Pro Stock car _ failing to qualify for nine of 12 events he entered. In 2000, Greg drove part-time and consulted for Pro Stock veteran Mark Pawuk.

Black and then-partner George Marnell added Anderson to their team’s roster as crew chief and part-time driver in 2001. KB Racing was formed by Black with Anderson in 2002, a partnership that has seen Greg win 100 Pro Stock national events and world championships in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2021.

Greg claimed his first world championship in 2003, winning 12 of 23 national events. He encored with a blockbuster 2004 season in which he won 15 of 23 races en route to a second consecutive world championship. In addition, Anderson posted single-season NHRA records in ’04 for qualifying on-pole (16 events); most elimination round-wins (76) and final-round appearances (19). Anderson subsequently was voted Driver of the Year by a nationwide panel of motorsports journalists, including this writer. Anderson joined Force (1996) as only the second drag racer accorded that prestigious honor. 

Anderson’s six event titles at the NHRA Texas FallNationals (2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2019 and 2021) are most by any “Factory Hot Rod” driver.

Densmore widely is recognized as one of the most respected and influential drag racing publicists through four decades of work with the Southern California-based sanctioning body, as well as some of the biggest names in the sport.

Densmore’s career in motorsport began as a writer for the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News, where he covered the NHRA Finals during the 1970s. He moved from the newspaper side to the public relations side when he joined NHRA’s Publicity Department and then formed Denswood Sports Marketing in 1982 with good friend Steve Earwood.

“Densy’s” clients have included many of the sport’s marquee performers, including Raymond Beadle, Gary Beck, Kenny Bernstein, Candies & Hughes, John Force Racing, Billy Meyer and Reher & Morrison Racing Engines. His current client is four-time/reigning Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence of Kilgore, Texas, and father Billy.

Densmore received the prestigious Jim Chapman Award for Excellence in Motorsport Public Relations in 2007.

For over 25 years Densmore was primary spokesperson for drag racing legend John Force, working beside Force as he captured 16 Funny Car world championships _ including a remarkable 10 in a row. Densmore oversaw the publicity efforts for multiple FallNationals wins by Force and other drivers, most recently “Capco Racing Boys” Steve and Billy Torrence. Densmore also has continued as publicity and public relations consultant for The Plex and the Meyer family.

“I really don’t think I deserve to be a ‘Legend.’ I have been fortunate to work with some great teams and drivers, but I liked being in the background,” said Densmore, 77, formerly of Rhome, Texas, north of Fort Worth, and now living in Elgin, outside Austin. “I remember when Billy opened the Texas Motorplex and it changed the sport. I’ve been fortunate to see so many great races and celebrate great wins in Ennis. This is a huge honor and I have to thank Billy and Christie for thinking of me.”

Anderson and Densmore will join this list of Texas Motorplex Legends: Cory McClenathan (2019); Tony Schumacher (2020); Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Richard Shute (2021).

All four professional class winners from last year’s FallNationals are scheduled to attend the inaugural Champions Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Pro Stock ace Greg Anderson will be joined by Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) for the festivities.

The event in the Champions Club will feature a cocktail hour, plated dinner with entrees and desserts selected by the drivers, individual photo opportunities with the drivers, a Q&A hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello and post-dinner concert on the lawn behind the luxury suites.

“We are thrilled to be honoring Justin, Ron, Greg and Matt and to give fans the chance to enjoy a special night with these winners,” Motorplex co-owner Christie Meyer Johnson said. “This is a tradition we hope to build on for years to come.”

In addition to recognizing the previous year’s winners, all prior FallNationals professional champions have been invited. Fans will be welcomed by a red-carpet entrance with unique Stampede of Speed backdrop as they enter the Champions Club.

Once inside, guests will have an opportunity to have a photo taken with the winners and enjoy a cocktail before a plated meal is served. During the dinner sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts, each winner will be interviewed by NHRA’s Castello _ official voice of the Stampede of Speed _ from guest-submitted questions. The evening will conclude with a concert featuring whiskey-tasting and cigar bar. Guests also will receive an exclusive Champions Dinner gift.

Tickets for the event are available at $200 per person. Each ticket will include Wednesday night VIP parking, two drink tickets, dinner, photo with drivers, souvenir item and admission to the post-dinner concert. The event will begin at 6 p.m. (CDT) with cocktails, dinner at 7 p.m. and the private concert at 8:30 p.m.

Texas Motorplex, which opened in 1986, is a multi-use facility located 35 minutes from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and serving downtown Waxahachie. Track founder Billy Meyer introduced corporate suites and stadium-style seating to the sport at the facility as well as an all-concrete racing surface. In addition to non-racing activities and concerts, the Stampede of Speed will include educational and business events for fans from across the country.

“Last year we took a leap of faith with the Stampede of Speed and it paid off with thousands of fans coming to Texas Motorplex, Waxahachie and Ellis County for 10 days of racing and entertainment,” Meyer Johnson said. “Our goal is to welcome visitors to the great state of Texas and introduce them to our facility, the NHRA playoffs and high-quality, family-friendly events.”

The Stampede of Speed calendar includes ticketed and non-ticketed events leading into qualifying and eliminations for the FallNationals. Fans can visit www.stampedeofspeed.com for more information and to purchase tickets. Highlights of the second annual Stampede of Speed (subject to revision):

Friday, Oct. 7, High Noon Cattle Drive _ In true Texas tradition, area cowboys will drive over a dozen head of cattle (accompanied by special guests) through downtown Waxahachie and around the historic courthouse to kick off the Stampede of Speed.

Friday/Saturday, Oct. 7-8, Funny Car Chaos World Finals _ Featuring the fastest and coolest nostalgia Funny Cars from the previous four decades, the Funny Car Chaos Series will crown its national champions over two-days of speed and fury. Race day will conclude with a pit-side concert for fans and participants.

Sunday, Oct. 9, Stars Over Texas Music Festival with Bull Riding, Beer Expo and BBQ Contest _Some of the best pitmasters in North Texas will pair their delicacies with refreshing craft beer courtesy of Metroplex breweries. Before the country music performers take the stage fans will be treated to a bull riding exhibition. Multiple musical acts from Nashville to Texas will entertain from the afternoon into the evening. A special lantern release will cap off this event.

Monday, Oct. 10, The Stampede of Speed Scott Palmer Nitro Side Show _This ticketed event will feature some of drag racing’s wildest race cars attempting to set speed records and breathe fire down The Plex’s all-concrete surface. Pits will be open for up-close looks at an exotic selection of hot rods.

Tuesday, Oct. 11, Second Annual NHRA Texas Stampede of Speed Shootout _ Competitors from across the region will turn laps down The Plex in Pro Mods, Top Dragsters and a host of high-performance vehicles. Door-slammers and dragsters will battle for bragging rights and the chance to hoist the Shootout trophy. Pro Mods from every sanctioning association, including NHRA, will settle scores on-track via a no-rules/anything goes format. 

Wednesday, Oct. 12, NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Invitational and Texas Fall Nationals Champions Dinner _ Fans are invited to watch Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car competitors run test laps in advance of the NHRA Texas FallNationals. NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series regulars will be preparing for the fourth race of the Countdown. The open test is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CDT).

Later, ticketed fans will join 2021 Texas FallNationals champions Justin Ashley, Ron Capps, Greg Anderson and Matt Smith for an inaugural dinner celebration event in the Champions Club. Scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m., the event will include a cocktail happy hour, plated dinner each champion selected, photos and autographs, a Q&A session and special souvenir for all attendees.

Thursday, Oct. 13, Texas FallNationals Sportsman Qualifying and Fan Fest in Downtown Waxahachie _ Racing continues as the FallNationals begin with Sportsman qualifying from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CDT). The free Fan Fest will begin in downtown Waxahachie at 6 p.m., highlighting race cars, interactive games, live music and family-oriented activities through 9 p.m. A massive driver autograph session will cap an evening including food trucks and games for kids.

Friday, Oct. 14, Friday Night Live at Texas Motorplex _ For the third consecutive year, Friday Night Live will modify the traditional qualifying format as music, exhibition runs and a guest DJ will complement NHRA’s pro qualifiers. The night will conclude with a free after-party on the starting line.

Saturday, Oct. 15, Final Texas FallNationals Qualifying _ Last chances for Countdown drivers and their crews to fill the 16-car ladders for Sunday’s eliminations. Teams will have two runs to make the show or be relegated to spectator status.

Sunday, Oct. 16, NHRA Texas FallNationals Race Day _ Following opening ceremonies, top drag racers from around the country will move one step closer to an NHRA world championship at the only Countdown playoff race in the Lone Star State. As always, the pits will be open for fans to mix-and-mingle with racers throughout the day. At the conclusion of racing, fans will be allowed to join the Winner’s Circle celebration on the starting line.


Sept. 15-18 _ Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa: Austin Prock (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Joey Gladstone (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Sept. 23-25 _ Charlotte NHRA Nationals, zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.

Sept. 30-Oct. 2 _ NHRA Midwest Nationals, World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Ill.

Oct. 13-16 _ Texas NHRA FallNationals, Texas Motorplex, Ennis.

Oct. 27-30 _ NHRA Nevada Nationals, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Nov. 10-13 _ Auto Club NHRA Finals, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service, Ford Racing and Used Car Dealer magazine).


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 23 2022
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