2022 Stampede of Speed Produces 10 Days of Unparalleled Excitement!
The 2nd annual Stampede of Speed concluded last Sunday with a thrilling 37th edition of the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex. The 10-day event began in downtown Waxahachie with a cattle drive around the historic Waxahachie courthouse and concluded with Top Fuel and Funny Car racers Justin Ashley and Ron Capps winning for the second year in a row while Texan Erica Enders all but secured her fifth Pro Stock world championship. Hector Arana, Jr., won Pro Stock Motorcycle for the first time following in the tire marks of his father, the 2009 winner.
Leading up to the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals the Stampede of Speed revved up Friday and Saturday October 7-8 with two days of Funny Car Chaos! and Sunday’s the Stars Over Texas music festival with Brett Young and Wade Bowen packing the pits. Monday featured Scott Palmer’s Nitro Side Show and a big money Pro Mod Shootout kept the high horsepower action going on Tuesday night.
The 2022 Funny Car Chaos! series season wrapped up Saturday and newly crowned 2022 Funny Car Chaos! champion Kirk Williams led the A Field of 32 cars into eliminations on Saturday with a monster 3.65 second pass at 211 mph. Smiley Cordero with a 3.93 second run was top of the B Field, Terry Haddock led the C Field with a 4.26 second pass and finally the D Field was capped by Mitch King’s 4.43 second pass. Two days of qualifying led up to Saturday’s four field elimination rounds which were won by Williams, Shayne Lawson, Alex Barker and King.
No. 1 qualifier Williams capping his world championship season with his sixth win of the year defeating Mike Newkirk for Funny Car Chaos! trophy and commemorative Stampede of Speed belt buckle. In the final Williams was second off the line but made up the difference almost immediately getting the win with a 3.679 second pass to Newkirk’s 3.749 second run.
Monday’s Nitro Side Show had everything high horsepower enthusiasts could imagine as Top Fuel dragster, Top Fuel Harleys and Fuel Altereds made passes and threw headed flames into the Texas sky. Palmer also opened up his pits to fans to get up close to his wide variety of race cars and hot rods. For fans of exhibition style racing it was the must-see event of the Stampede of Speed.
The Texas NHRA Fall Nationals began with the Champions Dinner which was presented by NAPA, American Lube Supply, and Royal Purple on Wednesday night celebrating the 2021 winners Ashley, Capps, Greg Anderson and Matt Smith as well as previous winners Tony Schumacher, Matt Hagan, Enders, Matt Hartford, Jim Yates, Larry Morgan who were in attendance. The evening was a celebration of their Texas Fall Nationals victories capped off with a private concert on the lawn by King George, a popular George Strait tribute band.
On Thursday over 50 drivers and riders participated in the Pre-Stage FanFest in downtown Waxahachie that included free autographs, photos and the chance for fans to get up close and personal with all the top competitors in the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals. There were food trucks, bounce houses and the sounds of Dunn and Brooks, a Brooks and Dunn tribute band, filled the cool night skies with great country western tunes.
All the attention turned to the racetrack Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the fourth NHRA Countdown race got underway with championship aspirations hanging in the balance. Fans were able to keep up with the racing action from their seats or in the pits thanks to the My Race Pass app which was on the scene for the first time testing out the app. On Friday night Austin Prock and Hagan took home the $15,000 low ET bonuses for Top Fuel and Funny Car while Enders grabbed the $7,500 for Pro Stock and Matt Smith collected $5,000 going low ET for the second year in a row in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Saturday night’s racing day was capped by the annual DRAW auction which raised over $100,000 in charitable donations to benefit injured racers this year.
Race day on Sunday was delayed due to weather but Mother Nature quickly turned a favorable eye on race fans as the skies dried up and all four rounds of competition were able to be completed using the Portatree timing system for the first time at an NHRA national event and the excellent NHRA Safety Safari kept the racing surface in tip top shape. Ashley raced through a tough Top Fuel field to win his second consecutive Top Fuel title at Texas Motorplex right after his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Capps had secured his second consecutive Funny Car victory at the Stampede of Speed. Enders completed a perfect weekend winning Pro Stock for the second time at Texas Motorplex all but locking up her fifth Pro Stock world championship. The Pro Stock Motorcycle title went to part-time rider Hector Arana Jr., who is hoping to eventually return to full-time racing.
The Stampede of Speed’s 10-days of concerts and racing action as well as community initiative like the Race to Feed the Finish Line food drive on Monday night during the Scott Palmer Nitro Side Show continues to develop into one of the largest motorsports events in the country. Waxahachie edged out Ennis as hundreds of pounds of food were donated to Waxahachie Care and Helping Hands of Ennis by fans who made donations as they came through the gates. On Saturday the track treated 100 kids and parents from the A Kid Again organization to a full day of racing, food and pit access including one on one time with all three Kalitta Motorsports drivers Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd. A Kid Again provides “adventures” for families caring for a child with a life-threatening condition by helping them gain back moments of positive, family-shared experiences and memories.
Next year’s Stampede of Speed will be contested from October 6-15, 2023.
2022 Stampede of Speed Photo Extra!
Photos by Randy Anderson