Vincent Nobile - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
The Norwalk, Ohio, round of NHRA's Full Throttle Drag Racing Series was a grand one for 21-year-old Pro Stock racer Vincent Nobile, now in his second full year of competition in what is arguably drag racing's most competitive class.
Nobile, who was a contender for the series' Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future (Rookie) Award, won three races in his rookie 2011 season.
The young man from Melville, New York, drives a Dodge Avenger; he currently has five wins in 38 starts as a professional.
Not only did he win the Norwalk round of competition, but Nobile won a race within that race, the K&N Horsepower Challenge that pays $50,000 to the victor. He's only the second Pro Stock driver to win in his first K&N Horsepower Challenge start and then double up by winning four rounds of Full Throttle elimination; the first was Larry Morgan, who did the deed in 1989.
To get both titles, Nobile beat reigning champion Jason Line, one of the hottest drivers in the NHRA Pro Stock paddock. He beat him in final eliminations of the 28th annual K&N race Saturday afternoon and did it again on Sunday in Full Throttle Drag Racing Series eliminations. To earn the vaunted K&N trophy, Nobile knocked out Allen Jonson and Mike Edwards in order to meet Line. To gain Sunday's Wally trophy--and the extra $25,000--the youngster beat The Professor, Warren Johnson, V Gaines, Allen Johnson (again) before another straight-up battle with Line.
These achievements leave Nobile fifth in the point standings, going into the difficult and grueling Western Swing that has the NHRA going from Denver to Sonoma to Seattle in subsequent weeks, beginning at Bandimere Speedway July 20-22.
After his incredible accomplishments at Norwalk, Vincent Nobile felt like he was dreaming--and wasn't looking forward to waking up and finding it was a dream that he earned a total of $100,000 for the weekend.
"This is incredible. Never in a million years did I think we could come in here, win both races and get that double-up bonus," Nobile crowed. "We have a great team and when everything is clicking, we're tough to beat. But at the same time, winning seven straight rounds against the best racers in Pro Stock is almost impossible to do. I'm just in shock!"
Nobile's victory was beneficial for a fan, as well. As part of the K&N Horsepower Challenge, Peggy Coleman of Joplin, Mo., won a brand-new Toyota Tundra pickup when her driver captured the race. It was an especially welcome gift for Coleman, who lost her home to tornadoes that hit Joplin last year.
“This is not about the money,” Nobile said after his $50,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge victory. “It’s not even about the trophy. It’s about the story. Winning the race meant winning a Toyota Tundra for Peggy Coleman. She was in a terrible situation where she lost her house and it’s great to be able to give her something back to her.”
Vincent Nobile is one of a good number of new, young drivers competing in NHRA's top professional categories and certainly one to watch. Not just for his skills behind the wheel but for his poise both inside and out of his Mountain View Racing Dodge Avenger race car.