54th annual Gatornationals wraps up at Gainesville Raceway

The winner of the fastest category traveled over 330 mph on his way to victory
Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 8:48 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Sold-out crowds packed into Gainesville Raceway for another spectacle of speed, power and noise at this year’s Gatornationals.

The 54th annual event marked the beginning of the 2023 NHRA Drag Racing season.

Racers competed in 15 different categories across four days of competition.

The main event is the Top Fuel Finals, where top speeds reach over 335 miles per hour.

“You can feel the pure power come out of your chest when these guys go by,” said Steve Raulerson, “they set the alarms off in the parking lot. I love power and these guys are sitting on a bomb.”

Raulerson and his family have been coming to the event for 45 years

For him it’s all about family, friends and Funny Cars.

“We just love it,” said Raulerson. “I mean, we love it. 45 years in a row me and my wife and kids. We’ve got like 25 people with us, my grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s just a big family thing.”

One fan came all the way from upstate New York to attend Gatornationals.

He says he never gets tired of drag racing events even after 40 years.

“The raw power,” said Dick Roberts, “the thrill. Sometimes the fast guy wins, sometimes he don’t. You just never know what to expect.”

Matt Hagan won the Funny Car discipline at 329.34 mph and Mike Salinas took home the top prize in Top Fuel at 330.31 mph.

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