On April 16 1997, the music video for bonafide country music star Travis Tritt’s then-new single “She’s Going Home With Me” off his 1996 album “The Restless Kind” debuted on Country Music Television (CMT), a subsidiary of The Nashville Network (TNN), and it put drag racing front and center.
The video, filmed at Gainesville Raceway during the annual running of the Gatornationals, prominently featured then six-time Funny Car champion John Force and his Castrol GTX car, along with the Budweiser King Dragster of then-defending Winston Top Fuel champion Kenny Bernstein and the Pennzoil Dragster of 1993 Winston Top Fuel champion Eddie Hill.
Tritt, by that time, had sold more than 14 million albums and launched 14 No. 1 hits, and given the astronomical success of his music, paired with numerous roles in mainstream film and television during the mid-1990’s, was arguably at the zenith of his career. So it was no small deal with drag racing got the limelight in his video.
That period also represented an intrinsic link between music and drag racing: TNN was, at the time, the television home to both country music and motorsports…and in particular, NHRA drag racing. But it wasn’t just that business connection that led to Force’s and the NHRA’s inclusion in Tritt’s music video — Tritt was, in fact, a longtime drag racing fan.
In addition to the music video, Tritt was the grand marshal of the season-ending Winston Finals at Pomona Raceway in 1996, and also served as the co-host of the 1996 NHRA Winston Championship Awards Ceremony. That same month, he attended Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School at Pomona, and returned again in January 1997 to earn his NHRA Super Comp license. Force and Tritt also teamed up on a one-hour TNN television special, “Burning Thunder,” in May of 1997, as a lead-in to live coverage of the Mopar Parts Nationals. That show featured NHRA stars such as Bernstein, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Warren and Kurt Johnson, Hill and his wife, Ercie, and Angelle Sampey.