NHRA going to AbuDhabi

The foundation has been laid for a premier NHRA-sanctioned drag strip within the confines of Yas Marina Circuit, a diverse Motorsports venue located on Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

George Case, General Manager of Drag Racing for the luxe Yas Marina Circuit, expects the contract with NHRA to be officially finalized prior to the PRI show in Orlando the second week of December, where they plan to formally announce the partnership.

"This is going to happen," Case said. "We have verbally finalized it, but just like an NHRA member track, there is a fee, and they are working to determine that. It is in process."

Case confirmed his group's purchase of two Top Fuel dragsters from Don Schumacher by Yas Marina Circuit, and stated that the plan is to put together parts and pieces for two complete teams. Don Schumacher Racing Team Manager Lee Beard will oversee the production of the two cars in Brownsburg, Ind., but upon completion the cars and all of the necessary accoutrements will be housed in the UAE and run in exhibitions several times a year.

Drivers and crews have yet to be determined but will likely be current or recent NHRA competitors, and Case believes that NHRA Northeast Division Director Bob Lang will act as the go-between for the sanctioning body and the facility.

The goal of the operation is two-fold: to provide entertainment for the residents of the country and to assist in further establishing Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a destination hotspot.

"This isn't like Al-Anabi," Case said. "Yas Marina Circuit isn't looking to sponsor racers or run every race. Depending on how everything works out, we would like to run at [the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in] Indy in 2010, or maybe even in England at Santa Pod Raceway, but national events will not typically be part of the program. It will be just like a member track, with all the NHRA rules, safety, and inspections."

The world-class facility also includes a Formula 1 track and recently hosted the first Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Also on site is a go-kart track, and a drag racing school is in the works.

"The opulence of the facility is amazing," Case said. "It's even better than zMax Dragway in Concord. Everything is magnificent."

The first drag racing event at Yas Marina Circuit is scheduled for March 5-6, 2010. For more information on the lavish facility, visit www.yasmarinacircuit.com.

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