Torrence Car

Kilgore NHRA driver Steve Torrence (above) won't be racing this weekend in the NHRA's Gatornationals, because the circuit decided to suspend racing temporarily due to coronavirus fear concerns. The NHRA is just one of several national sports outlets to do so. (Photo by MARK REBILAS)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Kilgore’s Steve Torrence was preparing for this weekend’s NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals.

But not now, and pretty much neither is anyone else in the main portions of the circuit.

The NHRA announced Thursday that they, like the NBA, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and other sports organizations, would postpone events in an effort to avoid spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19). Even the University Interscholastic League elected to run its state basketball tournament this weekend in San Antonio in front of a limited audience.

The NHRA’s statement:

“In consideration of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with the recommendation of the Florida governor, NHRA officials are postponing a portion of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. 

The Sportsman categories of Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers, and Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers will be contested on Thursday at Gainesville and will complete competition this weekend without ticketed spectators.

Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, Pro Mod, Factory Stock Showdown, Top Alcohol Dragster, and Top Alcohol Funny Car will be postponed and completed at a later date to be determined. 

Current tickets will be honored at the rescheduled event or ticketholders may opt to use their tickets as a credit toward the 2021 Gatornationals. 

NHRA will determine next steps for moving forward as additional information becomes available. 

We appreciate the patience of our competitors and fans.”

It’s been three weeks since Torrence soared back into the drag racing spotlight by driving his Capco Contractors dragster to a convincing victory in the 36th annual Arizona Nationals at Phoenix. But Torrence and the rest of the Top Fuel division, as well as the majority of the rest of the NHRA, is on hold.

Torrence, 36 years old, has won 37 Mello Yello tour events in a relatively short pro career, 29 of them in the last 35 months. When the Gatornationals do get a green light, Torrence will attempt to advance beyond the semifinals in the Gatornationals, something he’s never done.

Dave Densmore contributed to this story.

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