Celebrity guests are a common occurrence at motorsports events around the world. From singing the national anthem and being race dignitaries to simply coming the races as invitees of their favorite team, there is always someone of note in attendance when two- or four-wheeled competition is involved.
For example, Jason Line and the Summit Racing team are looking forward to welcoming a special guest at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment Southern NHRA Nationals in Atlanta. Although he may not be a household name, his presence is extremely important to the reigning Full Throttle champion, as for the last two years Command Sergeant Major William “Buck” O’Neal has welcomed Line and the rest of the Team Summit contingent during their visits to Ramstein Air Force base in Germany. This weekend, Line looks to return the favor, as Command Sergeant Major O’Neal and his father will be at Atlanta Dragway all weekend as guests of Summit Racing Equipment.
“The last two years during our trips to Ramstein Air Force base, Command Sergeant Major O’Neal would always make a point of coming out to welcome us,” Line said. “During our conversations he would tell us what big drag racing fans both he and his father were, and how he couldn’t wait to return home and take his dad to the races. Naturally, we told him to let us know once he came back, because we would be glad to set him up with a VIP experience. After all, this is a man who has dedicated his life to the service of our country, so it’s the least we could do.
“Fortunately, he has now returned stateside, and before he heads to his next posting, both he and his father are going to be the special guests of Summit Racing this weekend in Atlanta. I’m looking forward to seeing him again as well as meeting his father and returning the hospitality he showed us in Germany, giving them an in-depth look into the world of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing. It will be good to have them at the track with us, and I hope to be able to have them join us in the winner’s circle on Sunday night.”
For Line to achieve his goal of celebrating with the O’Neals on Sunday, he will need to duplicate his Atlanta Dragway performance of a year ago, when he defeated KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson in the final round. However, standing in his way will be another tough Pro Stock field and unusually warm temperatures which will rob the naturally aspirated engines of valuable horsepower and require an entirely different set-up. Fortunately, seemingly in his corner is the Peach State speed plant, where he has one win in three final round appearances and seven starts in the top four positions in his previous eight races.
“Last year our Summit Racing team had a really good day in Atlanta, putting both cars in the final, and I was fortunate enough to come out on top,” Line said. “I think we’re ready to do something good this weekend, which means we’ll have to do a better job than we did last week in Houston. The conditions there were similar to what is forecast for this weekend, so hopefully we learned a few things about our hot weather tune-up that we’ll be able to use in Atlanta.
“Historically this has been a good track for us, which is something we’d like to continue this weekend. It’s always a confidence booster to go back to a place where you’ve had success in the past, and the fact that it is a Summit race just makes it that much better. We have plenty of reasons to do well, so motivation will not be an issue, and we have all the parts and pieces we need to get the job done. Therefore, it all comes down to execution, and I am confident we have the people in place to make the difference.”