John Force to Serve as Guest Speaker for Mel Larson Night Of Champions Dinner Apr. 1

Fourteen-time NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion John Force will be the guest speaker at the fourth annual Speedway Children’s Charities Mel Larson Night of Champions Dinner. This year’s event will honor American automotive and motorsports legend Carroll Shelby and will be held in the Bellagio Hotel & Casino’s Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas on Wednesday, April 1.

“Carroll sets the bar very high for everyone else in motorsports,” said Force, who has 126 NHRA Funny Car final-round wins to his credit. “He is truly a legend and I feel honored to be a part of any function that honors him and his accomplishments. We have a lot in common. We’re both racers; we’re both Ford guys and we’re both big storytellers. It’ll be great to get together with him again in Las Vegas.”

Shelby, born in 1923 in Leesburg, Texas, is known world-wide for his automotive designs and constructions. He is most recognized for his design of the Ford Shelby Cobra, but he also was involved in the development of specialty autos for Oldsmobile and Dodge, including the Dodge Viper.

Carroll participated in his first auto race – a quarter-mile drag meet – in January of 1952. In May of that same year, he tried his hand at sports car racing in an MG-TC in Norman, Okla., and won his first two races. Over the course of his colorful career, Carroll set speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats, raced Ferraris in the 1950s and competed on the Formula 1 circuit in 1960. He was named Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated Magazine in 1957.

All proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Las Vegas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. This is the fourth year for the event in which a community member is recognized for his contributions to motorsports.

Shelby will participate in a private meet-and-greet reception prior to dinner. The speedway also will recognize the 2008 season champions at its drag-racing facility, The Strip, and its 3/8-mile oval, the Bullring.

Past honorees include Larson, NHRA team owner and Las Vegas businessman Ken Black and LVMS medical director and University Medical Center’s chairman of emergency medicine, Dr. Dale Carrison.

To purchase a table or tickets for this event, please contact Janae Melvin at (702) 632-8242. For more information, please call LVMS at (702) 644-444 or visit