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44th annual Gatornationals scheduled for Thursday through Saturday


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Hundreds of drag racers and thousands of fans will gather in Gainesville this week for the 44th annual Gatornationals.

The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Gatornationals are March 14 to 17 at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville.

The competition is the traditional east coast opener for the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the first event for Pro Stock motorcycle riders.

Between 500 and 600 professional top-fuel and sportsman racers from around the nation are expected to compete in front of a crowd of about 30,000, Gainesville Raceway track manager Mike Yurick said.

The four-day schedule includes races for top-fuel dragsters and funny cars, drag racing cars that look like commercial showroom models, Yurick said. Motorcycles will also race.

“Thursday we start running the sportsmen, and Friday there are two pro-sessions of qualifying,” he said. “Saturday there are two more, and Sunday we go into final eliminations.”

Yurick said Saturday is the “big day” for the 2013 event, which is sponsored by Amalie Motor Oil, because of its two rounds of qualifying.

The event provides more than entertainment for Gainesville. Local hotels, restaurants and stores benefit from the influx of visitors.

“You’re looking at about a $60 million impact to the economy locally,” Yurick said.

Seats are still available, Yurick said, but he hopes the event will be sold out. Ticket prices vary depending on the day.

To purchase tickets for Gatornationals, call 1-800-884-6472.

Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville is located at 11211 North County Road 225.

Leila Milgrim wrote this story online.

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(Ethan Magoc/WUFT News)

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