Veteran radio broadcaster Nelson wins Thunder Valley Celebrity Drag Challenge
Veteran radio broadcaster Duane Nelson was the big winner Tuesday during the Thunder Valley Celebrity Drag Challenge at Bristol Motor Speedway. While Mother Nature cancelled racing on the track with persistent rain showers, the celebs took their talents indoors to conduct the Drag Challenge on an official Pro Drag Racing Practice Tree.
More than 25 Tri-Cities celebrities competed in the event, where they went head-to-head against their peers trying to produce the quickest reaction time on the Practice Tree. Drivers in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, who will be at legendary Bristol Dragway next weekend for the 21st annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, utilize Practice Trees regularly in their preparation for competition.
Defending NHRA Funny Car world champion Ron Capps was on hand to coach the celebrities and talk with many of the media members assembled about next weekend’s racing in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series on Father’s Day weekend, June 17-19.
“It’s so cool to race here at Bristol on Father’s Day weekend,” said Capps, a five-time winner of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. “I have given two of my Wally trophies from Bristol to my dad back in California after winning here. He is the reason that I do what I do, he got me into the sport of drag racing. It’s so cool to fly home with the trophies and then present them to my dad, it’s always very special.”
Nelson, a longtime DJ and news reporter for Holston Broadcasting’s radio stations, used some impressive reaction times to work his way through the 32-player bracket and defeated ETSU announcer Jay Sandos, WCYB TV’s Jarvis Haren, BMS Sales Intern Tipton Hembree and then knocked off news reporter Andrew McClung of WCYB TV in the final round.
Runner-up McClung defeated Motorhead Garage Producer Dave Dobson, WJHL evening news anchor Sara Diamond and Bristol Police Chief Matt Austin to advance to the final round meeting with Nelson.
The other big award for the day was earned by Visit Kingsport’s Jud Teague, who posted the quickest reaction time during the competition at .011. Teague edged WJHL’s Diamond for the spot who posted a .012 reaction time early in the competition.
For the first time in NHRA history all four of the Camping World Drag Racing Series pro categories will compete at Bristol Dragway on the same weekend. Fans also will want to be able to celebrate with drag racing legend Don “The Snake Prudhomme” as he is inducted into the prestigious Legends of Thunder Valley, Bristol Dragway’s hall of fame.
Qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begins Friday, June 17 with the pro session beginning at 7 p.m., which will include the nitro qualifying at night, which starts at 8 p.m. The final two rounds of qualifying are set for Saturday, June 18, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 19.
Friday’s 90-minute live qualifying show will air on FS1 at 8 p.m. (ET), and be followed by a one-hour Saturday qualifying highlights show at 11 p.m. (ET), also on FS1. Sunday’s three-hour final eliminations show will air at 3 p.m. (ET) on FOX.
Enough with the multi-colored neck ties and fancy pocket protectors, there's still time to purchase tickets and give your Dad an unforgettable Father's Day weekend experience. Weekend packages begin at just $94 while single-day Friday tickets start as low as $30 for adults. Saturday adult tickets start at $47 and Sunday’s tickets start at $37. Kids 12 and under tickets are free each day in grandstand sections A-U with a paid adult.
NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals tickets are available by visiting the Bristol Motor Speedway website or by calling the Bristol Motor Speedway ticket office at 866-415-4158.
Round by Round Results for the Thunder Valley Celebrity Drag Challenge
Krisit Haulsee, Tri-Cities Airport def. Bye
Camiel Oliver, BMS Intern def. Jason Gillespie, head coach King University Basketball
Leah Ross, Birthplace of Country Music def. Bye
Matt Austin, Bristol Police Chief def. Bye
Andrew McClung, WCYB TV def. Bye
David Dobson, Motorhead Garage def. Sabrina Morton, NETTA
Sara Diamond, WJHL TV def. Bye
Alicia Phelps, NETTA def. Christopher Perrin, Bristol Chamber of Commerce
Jarvis Haren, WCYB TV def. Bye
Travis Chell, King University Sports Information def. Andy Marquart, Hands on Discovery Museum
Duane Nelson, Holston Broadcasting def. Bye
Jay Santos, ETSU announcer def. Nick Dugan, WJHL TV
Jud Teague, Visit Kingsport def. Bye
Kenny Hawkins, WJHL TV def. Amy Lynn, WJHL TV
Heather Williams, WCYB TV def. Bye
Tipton Hembree, BMS Intern def. Allen Gregory, Bristol Herald-Courier
Oliver def. Haulsee
Austin def. Ross
McClung def. Dobson
Diamond def. Phelps
Haren def. Travis
Nelson def. Sandos
Teague def. Hawkins
Hembree def. Williams
Austin def. (sub) Sydney Kessler, WJHL morning show anchor
McClung def. Diamond
Nelson def. Haren
Hembree def. Teague
McClung def. Austin
Nelson def. Hembree
Nelson def. McClung