IHRA Funny Car Driver, “Nitro” Bob Gilbertson Rolls His Arenacross Team Into Greenville

AURORA, Ill., (March 9, 2007) — As if launching yourself in excess of 300 mph in less than five seconds over a quarter mile isn’t exciting enough, top IHRA funny car driver “Nitro Bob Gilbertson figures he’s going to be just as pumped this weekend when a rider that he sponsors, Justin Hopson, lines up for his first pro race this weekend at Greenville’s (S.C.) BI-LO Center at the final Toyota AMA Arenacross Series race of the season (March 9-11).

Though often positioned in a nitro methane-burning funny car, Gilbertson is truly a member of the motocross family. Growing up just a few miles from Washougal MX Park in Vancouver, Wash., Gilbertson began riding during the sport’s early days when names like Malcolm Smith and the late great Jim Pomeroy were leading the American enduro and motocross revolution.

Gilbertson himself raced during they On Any Sunday era, but admitted that though he likely had one of the fastest bikes on the 40-man gate, he’d more likely than not be the guy pushing his bike back to the pits from far across the field where the race was being held.

“That was a long time ago and I was 100 pounds lighter, running on a Bultaco with all the legends, said Gilbertson. “Those where honestly the greatest times of my life. Three to four guys, riding down on the beach and on the dunes. Racing Washougal, riding TTs at Sidewinders — nothing stood out for me as far as wins or money, it was hard to make 20 buck back then racing dirt bikes. So I ended up getting into drag racing, but have had a dirt bike beside me ever since.

In IHRA competition Gilbertson piloted his Autolite XP Spark Plugs/Prestone Antifreeze Dodge Stratus to an overall podium finish (3rd) in the 2006 IHRA National points standings. With extensive travel commitments to his sponsors and race fans across the nation, when it’s time to unwind, Gilbertson grabs his motocross bike.

“Because of my commitment to racing funny cars I’m not able to ride motocross during the season, said Gilbertson. “During the off season, though, I’m able to get after it. We’ve got several tracks on the property, including a supercross track, arenacross and a motocross track. I even built a FMX jump with a massive dirt pile landing ramp. (Laughs) I’ve got at least 50 hits on it and it’s because of that I had to have some off-season shoulder surgery last year. Note: Gilbertson figured he was at least 30 feet in the air just prior to the mishap.

An admitted “sucker for pit bikes, Gilbertson enjoys rolling out his $8,000 BBR special and dices with the kids that he helps sponsor. On occasion top Amp’d Mobile Supercross riders Josh Summey and former amateur standout Broc Tickle stop over for some pit bike racing.

More recently, Gilbertson has taken the passion for the sport even a step further. Already coming full circle with both sons Robbie, 30, and more recently Jake, 13, who are both avid motocross enthusiasts, Gilbertson has parlayed his interest in motocross and success in the business world into a small but successful motocross program that helps out a number of kids from the Charlotte area.

“I still enjoy being involved with the sport, so what I’ve done is to work with some of the top kids here in the Charlotte area to provide them with the support for the opportunity to race Toyota AMA Arenacross regionally, with a chance of making it to the national finals in Vegas, said Gilbertson. “Our goal with the program every year is to qualify as many guys as we can for the Toyota Amateur Arenacross World Final in Vegas. Last October I think we hauled 20 bikes out to that race.

And haul them in style, Gilbertson does. The Gilbertson team rolls in first class, complete with full-blown motor home and decked-out custom hauler for all the bikes. A firm believer in preparation, Gilbertson is sharing his knowledge with the younger aspiring motorsports stars, which includes everything from making sure their bikes are in t running shape to how they’ll conduct themselves when the make the podium.

“Even though we show up for Sunday we’re arriving first class, said Gilbertson. “You go first class and it makes everybody want to work that much harder. I’m a firm believer in bike preparation as I know first hand what it’s like to break something. So we stress the bike prep, while I also try and see to it the kids learn how to do something positive for the person who’ll be footing their racing bill in the future, like speaking properly on the podium.

This weekend will be the pro debut for the first of what should be many Gilbertson-sponsored racers to turn pro. Hopson, who started out with Gilbertson by winning the Sunday amateur Novice classes, then B class, is finally moving up to contest the pro class. A testament to the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series feeder system for the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, Gilbertson says he couldn’t be happier for Hopson and the opportunity he has this weekend to further his motocross career.

“Justin was 12 years old when I met him. He’s a hard worker, great racer, but didn’t catch a break where somebody would help him out, explained Gilbertson. “So I provided him with a place to practice, got him some bikes and helped him get to the races. Now he’s turning pro and I’m glad I was there to help him do so.

Gilbertson’s foundation with drag racing is dirt bikes. He reiterates that the absolute best times of his life were those On Any Sunday afternoons spent with buddies riding on the beaches and dunes in Northern Oregon. “The funnest times of my life, and trust me – I’ve had a lot of fun – has been riding dirt bikes, he said.

Making a name for himself in drag racing, Gilbertson admits that much of his engine knowledge can be traced back to when he was 15 years old and wrenching on his old Bultaco. And now at 51 years old and still not afraid to huck a freestyle ramp, the sport he’s known and loved over the past five decades is living on in a competition sense through his son, Jake.

“I put up a pretty good fight against him for a long time, but now it’s got to the point where he can grab my pit bike and give me any bike in the garage and still take me, said Gilbertson. “But I knew it was coming. A couple years back we were in Greensboro (N.C.) and Jake’s talking on the podium in front of 16,000 people after his 65cc class race. I knew right then he could hang.

What: Toyota AMA Arenacross Series

Where: BI-LO Center

When: March 9-11

Times: 7:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday (pro racing), 12 p.m. Sunday (amateur racing)

Tickets: Available at the BI-LO Center box office, all Ticketmaster locations or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Charge by phone at (864) 233-2525.

This weekend the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series wraps up with its Eastern Lites championship round in Greenville, S.C. For more information catch the action in this down-to-the-wire title chase, the current series’ point standings and results, or the latest news on the series are all available at www.arenacross.com.

IHRA Nitro Jam„¢ Info:
Fans can see Gilbertson’s 330 mph Trick Tank Nitro Funny Car team this season competing for the IHRA Nitro Jam world championship. The twelve-event series kicks off March 23 — 25 in San Antonio, Texas, and concludes October 19 — 21 in Rockingham, N.C. More information can be found at www.ihra.com, tickets at www.ticketmaster.com.

The entire IHRA Nitro Jam schedule:

  • March 23 — 25, San Antonio, Texas
  • April 20 — 22, Rockingham, N.C.
  • May 25 — 27, Tulsa, Okla.
  • July 6 — 8, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • July 20 — 22, Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada
  • August 3 — 5, Martin, Mich.
  • August 10 — 12, Epping, N.H.
  • August 24 — 26, Milan, Mich.
  • September 7 — 9, Cayuga, Ontario, Canada
  • September 21 — 23, Mansfield, Ohio
  • September 28 — 30, Budds Creek, Md.
  • October 19 — 21, Rockingham, N.C.

About Toyota AMA Arenacross Series
In its 23rd year, the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series, owned by Live Nation, is the premier indoor motocross series in the U.S. playing to sold-out arenas nationwide. Information on the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series events may be found at www.arenacrossonline.com. Live Nation is the world’s largest live music company. Our mission is to inspire passion for live music around the world. We are the largest promoter of live concerts in the world, the second-largest entertainment venue management company and have a rapidly growing online presence. We create superior experiences for artists and fans, regularly producing tours for the biggest superstars in the business, including The Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, U2 and Coldplay. Globally, we own, operate, have booking rights for and/or have an equity interest in more than 160 venues, including House of Blues® music venues and prestigious locations such as The Fillmore in San Francisco, Nikon at Jones Beach in New York and London’s Wembley Arena. Our websites collectively are the second most popular entertainment/event websites in the United States, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. In addition, we also produce, promote or host theatrical, specialized motor sports and other live entertainment events. In 2006, we connected nearly 60 million fans with their favorite performers at approximately 26,000 events in 18 countries around the world. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Live Nation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, trading under the symbol “LYV.

About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship presented by Parts Unlimited. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com. Accredited media outlets can also access AMA Pro Racing’s online Press Room at www.amaproracing.com/pressroom.

About HPPR
High Profile Public Relations, LLC is a multi-faceted communications agency specializing in strategic media relations — both industry and mainstream — for the powersports and action sports communities. Dialed in with all forms of power and action sports, its participants, manufacturers and live event promoters, HPPR’s Pat Schutte can be reached at (734) 369-2170 and pat@highprofilepr.com. For more information, please visit www.highprofilepr.com.

a

  • August 3 — 5, Martin, Mich.
  • August 10 — 12, Epping, N.H.
  • August 24 — 26, Milan, Mich.
  • September 7 — 9, Cayuga, Ontario, Canada
  • September 21 — 23, Mansfield, Ohio
  • September 28 — 30, Budds Creek, Md.
  • October 19 — 21, Rockingham, N.C.
  • About Toyota AMA Arenacross Series
    In its 23rd year, the Toyota AMA National Arenacross Series, owned by Live Nation, is the premier indoor motocross series in the U.S. playing to sold-out arenas nationwide. Information on the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series events may be found at www.arenacrossonline.com. Live Nation is the world’s largest live music company. Our mission is to inspire passion for live music around the world. We are the largest promoter of live concerts in the world, the second-largest entertainment venue management company and have a rapidly growing online presence. We create superior experiences for artists and fans, regularly producing tours for the biggest superstars in the business, including The Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, U2 and Coldplay. Globally, we own, operate, have booking rights for and/or have an equity interest in more than 160 venues, including House of Blues® music venues and prestigious locations such as The Fillmore in San Francisco, Nikon at Jones Beach in New York and London’s Wembley Arena. Our websites collectively are the second most popular entertainment/event websites in the United States, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. In addition, we also produce, promote or host theatrical, specialized motor sports and other live entertainment events. In 2006, we connected nearly 60 million fans with their favorite performers at approximately 26,000 events in 18 countries around the world. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Live Nation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, trading under the symbol “LYV.

    About AMA Pro Racing
    AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship presented by Parts Unlimited. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com. Accredited media outlets can also access AMA Pro Racing’s online Press Room at www.amaproracing.com/pressroom.

    About HPPR
    High Profile Public Relations, LLC is a multi-faceted communications agency specializing in strategic media relations — both industry and mainstream — for the powersports and action sports communities. Dialed in with all forms of power and action sports, its participants, manufacturers and live event promoters, HPPR’s Pat Schutte can be reached at (734) 369-2170 and pat@highprofilepr.com. For more information, please visit www.highprofilepr.com.