For the uninitiated, this is a Top Fuel Dragster. See it in person Oct. 11-12 at Memphis International Raceway in Millington.
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IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series rocks Memphis International Raceway Oct. 11-12

Normally when I suggest you visit Millington, Tennessee (the wall of green that hits you about 30 minutes north of Memphis), I suggest you slow down – to hike the hills of Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park; to savor live music and a bottle of Delta Blush at Old Millington Winery; to mosey down rows of peach trees or strawberry bushes at Jones Orchard and pick your own.

But today, I suggest you rev things up – to keep pace with Memphis International Raceway.

The Millington raceway, which debuted in 1987 as Memphis Motorsports Park, re-opened in August 2011 under new ownership by IHRA Entertainment, LLC. The company also owns Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway, and, as of January 2013, the 43-year-old institution formerly known as the International Hot Rod Association, now called IHRA Motorsports.

This shift in management signals serious thrills ahead: The IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series makes its debut at Memphis International Raceway Oct. 11 and 12, with sportsman racing by day and Nitro action by night. The daytime races will determine IHRA world champions in 10 classes from Top Sportsman to Super Stock to Junior Dragster. At 7 p.m. each evening, the races yield to two rounds of Nitro Jam: Anticipate the Memphis debut of monster truck Grave Digger on the drag strip; the jet-powered ’57 Chevy known as Super Shockwave; Top Fuel Dragsters; Nitro Funny Cars, Altereds and Harleys; and a fireworks finale.

Better yet: IHRA legend (and Tennessee native) Clay Millican will make this IHRA competition his first Top Fuel start in more than five years, and he’ll do it against the sport’s second most-decorated driver, Bruce Litton. (Millican holds six IHRA Top Fuel world championships, 52 national event wins and two world records.) To witness Millican vs. Litton is to witness one of the greatest rivalries in drag racing history – at speeds around 320 mph. Tickets are available online or by calling 901-969-7223. Bonus: Oct. 10, attend a fan celebration at Hard Rock Café on Beale Street. All of the drivers will speak, and you can see displays from some of the weekend’s top talent, including Millican, Litton and the Nitro crews.

More raceway events

Can’t make it to the IHRA World Finals? Memphis International Raceway runs a packed schedule – keep an eye on the facility’s calendar for weekly events like Test & Tune (yep – that’s your invitation to run your own car or bike on the 1/4-mile drag strip); Midnight Madness (check it out Oct. 25 for Test & Tune racing plus a pit party with live music and a car show); and Put Up or Shut Up Bike Night (next up is Oct. 26). Select dates in November, you can also register for the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience on the raceway’s ¾-mile paved oval. Experiences range from ride-alongs to the “Checkered Flag,” putting you (bolstered by individualized coaching) behind the wheel of a real NASCAR Sprint Cup car.

More to do in Millington

Laps completed, shift back down: Enjoy a cheeseburger on the front porch of Shelby Forest General Store, and if it’s Sunday, add a pit stop at Old Millington Winery, the farm-tastic spot to hear live music and pick up a bottle of locally-produced wine to accompany a picnic. Currently, bands are scheduled to play every Sunday in October (3-6 p.m.), but check Old Millington Winery’s Facebook page for confirmation before you go.

Do you like to take things fast or slow in Millington? Tell us your favorite thing to do in the town in the comments section below.

Hi! I’m Samantha Crespo, and I am Floridian by birth, Tennessean by heart. Growing up, I vacationed in East Tennessee, so I...Read on

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