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Mar 31, 2013 - 05:51 PM
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2013 NHRA: NHRA Events In Las Vegas True Family Affair For Defrank And Sons
Posted by: newsla on Mar 31, 2013 - 05:47 PM
NHRA
2013 NHRA: NHRA Events In Las Vegas True Family Affair For Defrank And Sons


Reigning Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Stock national champion Jimmy DeFrank always looks forward to racing in Las Vegas. The twice-annual trips to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for NHRA national and divisional events have often proven to be enjoyable journeys for the Southern California-based DeFrank family, and the current rendition of the divisional event is slated to be even more gratifying as Jimmy and his brother Tony race at the favored Las Vegas facility together for the first time since 2009.

 

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The family's achievements at the pristine facility are as recent as last fall, when Jimmy hit the jackpot as he won the Pacific Division closer and sealed the deal on the national and divisional championship titles in the process, and the year before he won the division title at the event. This time around, a return to The Strip signifies the opportunity to defend the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals victory Jimmy earned there last season, his first NHRA national victory at the facility where he had been runner-up on three separate occasions.

"You always have such a great feeling as soon as you pull in the gates of the racetrack in Vegas," said Jimmy. "It's one of the nicest facilities in the country, from the pit area to the racetrack itself, plus all of the amenities. It's also very special for us because we have made so many family and racing memories there.

"My brother, Tony, won Super Stock at the very first national event held at the track in Las Vegas (in 2000), and I was fortunate to win there last year. Anytime you can reach your goals and dreams at a particular racetrack, it just makes it a very special place."

This Easter weekend, the DeFrank tribe – led by proud papa Jim Sr. and always-supportive mom Loraine – returns with enthusiasm as Tony rejoins the team to compete at the Pacific Division event just ahead of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at the pristine facility.

Tony, who also competed at the division race in Phoenix, is driving the family's B/SA '69 Camaro at the third Division 7 race of the 2013 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season. Jimmy will take over the controls of the Stock Eliminator Camaro at the national event April 5-7 and is also campaigning the Super Stock Cobalt he drove to the national and divisional championships in 2012 at both events.

"I do miss racing on Sunday, and of course I miss the people," said Tony, who plays a very active role as Executive Director of the family business, California Car Cover, and frequently travels the country attending car shows from coast to coast. This weekend he is also attending the Viva Las Vegas Car Show at The Orleans in Las Vegas for California Car Cover. (Follow Tony's adventures on the official blog of California Car Cover at calcarcover.blogspot.com.)

"I called it quits a few years ago, but this season there were a few weekends were it worked out that I could make it to the track," continued the driver who has earned six national event wins in the Super Stock category and has twice been victorious in the spring in Las Vegas. "I figured I'd come back out and give it a shot, and it's been a lot of fun. Since I'm not chasing points, this is just about having a good time, hanging out with my brother and my dad, and seeing some old friends."

This season marks the first time in four years that Tony has hit the drag strip – he last piloted the DeFrank & Sons Chevy Camaro in Stock Eliminator in 2009 at the fall Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in Las Vegas – but the second-generation racer didn't seem to have much trouble sliding back into the driver's seat. Tony returned to the series in Phoenix earlier this year for the first of two Division 7 events he plans to attend, and he finished in the third round.

"Jimmy walked me through everything [beforehand] so I felt pretty good about it, but I really just didn't want to break anything," joked Tony. "Seriously though, it was like riding a bike. You just have to remember all of the things that you already know, hit all the right buttons, and do all the right things.

"To be honest, I got lucky in Phoenix – I didn't drive very well, but fortunately, my competitors did a little worse than I did. [In Las Vegas], I'm going to try to do better and work on having more consistent reaction times. Our friend Bo Butner is racing there, too, so we'll all be hanging out.

"It'll be the DeFrank family and friends spending Easter weekend in Las Vegas – which, of course, is what my mom Loraine has always wanted," he said with a hint of good-natured sarcasm. "Really, it should be a great time, and I'm looking forward to it."

Butner's presence in the pit area is always welcomed, along with family friend Randi Lyn Shipp and many others who bring a true "family" feel to each weekend for the racing DeFranks. The current renditions of the events held against the desert backdrop will surely conjure many pleasing memories for Butner, as well, as he returns to the scene of a career accomplishment – Butner doubled up at the fall national event in Las Vegas in 2012 with wins in both Comp and Stock Eliminator.

Jimmy joined the prestigious double-up club with Super Stock and Stock wins at this year's season-opening NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

"It was wonderful to be there to watch and support Bo, and we were grateful and proud to share in that," said Jimmy. "Then to be able to accomplish that ourselves in Pomona, wow, I still can't believe it. It was a dream come true, and something my dad and I definitely had on our bucket list.

"It's been a great year so far, and first and foremost I'm just so thankful to even be able to race. I'm excited to be back in Vegas, and we have the cars set up exactly how they were last year so hopefully that will help us do well again. No matter what, it's going to be such a blast to have my brother Tony there, as well as so much family and so many of our friends. That's the best part of racing, the memories that we make together with family and friends."


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