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  • WITH LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE, BECKMAN ACCEPTS DRAG RACING'S QUIRKS AND PERKS
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    Surely breaking a 54-race winless streak this spring at Charlotte will be one of NHRA Funny Car driver Jack Beckman's favorite 2015 memories. 

    Even more remarkable is that it followed a dumbfounding DNQ at the season opener. Given crew chief Jimmy Prock's triumphant entry at Don Schumacher Racing and the addition of respected and beloved tuner John Medlen as his complement, no one expected Beckman to swing and miss at both of the first two races and lose in Round 2 at the third. 

    That Charlotte achievement was giving Beckman traction in the Terry Chandler-funded Infinite Hero Dodge Charger. It laid the groundwork for his No. 2 qualifying position at Las Vegas and his 3.988-second blast at Houston that entitled him to lead the field. It all assured he was on the right track as he took a runner-up finish. 

    He said that Friday night qualifying run of 3.988 was "spectacular" and "a big highlight for me." 

    However, the U.S. Air Force veteran, said, "The bigger highlights for me have come with the helmet off. It is through the Infinite Hero Foundation." Beckman took a minute to remind himself and NHRA drag-racing fans what the words "Infinite Hero" represent. 

    "Just to put into perspective . . . The things we are doing, trying to change some lives . . . At Las Vegas, a mother and father had come up to me and talked to me on Friday. Then Saturday a different father came up and talked to me. Both of them were parents of Afghanistan combat veterans who came home and killed themselves. What do you say to parents like that?" Beckman asked. 

    "To put things in perspective, a bad day at the racetrack doesn't even register to what these folks have gone through. To know that through our program, trying to raise funds, issuing the grants to places like the brain treatment center, this is not a commercial, this is just to frame [the question] 'What has been the highlight of my year?' " he said during an NHRA-sponsored teleconference. "I'm thinking through our efforts there's a lot of parents that won't have to say that in the future, that we can get the treatment for those veterans that have post-traumatic stress and are at a high risk of suicide, get them in before the worst happens, get them started on their path back to a new normal." 

    His own "new normal" in terms of performance is something Beckman can articulate in five words: "Whatever Jimmy says, I'll do." 

    He said, "We started off this year with a DNQ in Pomona. But I wasn't really nearly as disappointed as I thought I might have been. I think the reason is I'm looking ahead and I know what we're capable of. I know Jimmy Prock's track record. I know we were going to get a solid foundation underneath us and start winning races. I always said Jimmy needed 20 runs to the finish line with this new hybrid combination before he could start collecting enough data to make consistently quick runs. I think our final round win at Charlotte was the 18th run to the finish line with that combo. I think we're actually right on target for a great year. 

    "Whether that equates to a championship, who knows? With the Countdown format, it really changes the composure of the points system. You've got 18 races to get yourself in the top 10, and then you kind of throw all that away. It's almost like when NASCAR waves the yellow flag, everybody bunching up," Beckman said. "Then for six races you better hope you don't have any silly things go wrong, a bearing seize up, a clutch finger break. In the final round at Houston, we had an O ring that went bad on our fuel slide valve. Stuff like that during the regular season is a hiccup. In the final rounds, it could take you out the championship." 

    Using the same logic, the same calmness, Beckman shrugged off a 2013 season that was much less impressive than his Funny Car championship year of 2012. 

    "Yeah, I won it in 2012. Everybody said we had a really disappointing 2013. Well, we really didn't," he said. "We went to three final rounds. Same crew as 2012, Todd Smith calling the shots. We finished third in the points. I wouldn't by any means consider that a disappointing year. It's just that when you come off winning a championship, maybe anything but another championship is disappointing. [In] 2014 the wheels fell off . . . incredibly frustrating year, very disappointing. Never finished outside of the top five. Didn't finish within the top 10. Never won a race. That's the first time since I started racing – well, I don't know if I won a race in '88 – but from '89 on, I'd won at least one race every year in my sportsman car. In 2013, I won the Traxxas Shootout. 

    "[But] 2014 was the first time in 25 years that I did not win a single race. I can't put my finger on one specific thing that was the reason for our lack of success. We certainly tried just as hard. I thought we had just as much talent onboard. Things just didn't go our way," Beckman said. 

    Toward the end of last year, he received a happy surprise – the arrival of Prock. 

    "When I heard he was coming over to my car the last two races of last year, I didn't believe it. I didn't know what his plans were going to be for 2015. Don could put him on any of the teams," Beckman said. "I was grateful that not only did he stay on my team, but John Medlen came over. We kept Chris Cunningham." 

    And Beckman has been more than willing to accommodate him. 

    "I've changed a lot of things I do to suit Jimmy, burnout routines and a couple other things," he said. "Sometimes it's easier for the crew chiefs to change their routine about the driver; sometimes it's the other way around. The reality is we probably both changed our approaches a little bit. For instance, just the burnout . . . When we went to Palm Beach, we did 15 test runs. It took us six to get the burnout RPM correct. The difference was the way John and I pressed the throttle pedal down on the burnout. Jimmy had to adjust the car to suit me. Backing up from the burnout, he and Medlen had some preferences for the way they like the clutch movement to be, and it was pretty easy for me to adapt to that." 

    Whatever happens, whoever his crew chief is (and he might have to take his shoes and socks off to count them all), Beckman has fashioned the best strategy for himself when it comes to ensuring the best outcome each round. 

    "What's the best way to approach every single run? I found myself Sunday morning at Houston rolling up there, saying, 'Why am I extra nervous today?' I think the reason was I hadn't qualified No. 1 for so long, maybe I was putting extra expectation and pressure on myself," he said. "If you were going to say that not putting undue pressure on yourself is the right way to approach each run, by definition I got to say that's the right way to approach the championship. It's certainly easier said than done. But I know I perform better, and I'm certain if answered honestly, everybody would agree that they perform their best without undue pressure. 

    "This cliché about digging deep, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, I just think people are missing the mark a little bit on that one," he said. "I think when you're confident, calm, and cool, I think you're more able to go out there and able to execute run after run the way it needs to be done." 

    The intensity in drag racing, Beckman said, is unique. When it's showtime at the dragstrip, the emotions, the processes, the thrill is something no other sport can match. 

    Someone asked Beckman, "What is drag racing most similar to, if anything?" 

    Replied the racer, "Great question. And 'nothing' is the short answer. I can delve a little bit deeper. NASCAR, you send a bunch of competitors out there, the event lasts a long time, there's a lot of strategy and moving around, people don't show their hand till late in the race, there's the burst, then there's the top 10. Usually the person who finishes ninth is pretty happy. The person who finishes fourth says, 'What a great day, another top five finish.' You hear NASCAR drivers say that. I've never heard a drag racer lose in the second round and go on TV and say, 'Man, another top-five finish. This is wonderful!' 

    "Our sport has a winner and a loser. It's a different format. It's what makes it so incredible. It's what makes it so incredibly difficult," he said. "So if you were to take that approach, it's similar to boxing in that you get out there, and at any second any mistake, it could end. You go out there and you have a great round, you go back to your corner. Guess what? You have to get ready to do it again and again and again. At the end of the day there's one person that didn't lose. Everybody else, by definition, is a loser in drag racing. I don't mean to say that as a negative sort of thing. I think it's what makes our sport so incredibly special.

    "No, it doesn't last three hours like a NASCAR race with all the strategizing, but you have to be so incredibly mentally focused for a short period of time, then you got to get out of the vehicle, go back, decompress, let the adrenaline come down, interact with the fans," Beckman said. "Another difference is I've never seen a Major League baseball pitcher go out and pitch an inning, then run up into the stands, sign autographs for 15 minutes, then go back to work again. I don't know if the average person appreciates that about drag racing. In one day, that helmet might be on four different times and you have to completely go into your zone to perform. Then when it's off, there's an expectation that you go interact with the fans. I love to do it. There's a lot of drivers that would rather not do it. They sit in their trailers. I think that's unfortunate, because the fans deserve more than that. But I love that aspect of being able to settle back down, interact with the fans, get your breathing and everything restored, enjoy things for a while, then go back to this high level of focus." 

    His next chance to do all that will come at the May 15-17 Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

     

    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.

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  • BOB VANDERGRIFF LEADS CHARITY FLYWHEEL COMPETITION TO BENEFIT MAKE-A-WISH
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    Your favorite drivers from the NHRA will be working up a sweat to help make wishes come true for deserving children. 

    The Vandergriff Foundation has teamed up with Flywheel Sports to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On Thursday, May 14th at noon, Bob Vandergriff Jr. and his wife Marisa will lead this fun and challenging ride at the Flywheel Sports location in Alpharetta, GA. NHRA race fans will be able to donate money in support of their favorite driver.

    Participating with the Vandergriffs will be: BVR teammates Dave Connolly & Larry Dixon, Tommy Johnson Jr, Matt Hagan, Shawn Langdon, Steve Johnson, Steve Torrence, Leah Pritchett, Morgan Lucas, Richie Crampton and Shane Gray.

    “The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a wonderful organization and we really wanted to help them out,” said event organizer Bob Vandergriff Jr. “Granting wishes for these wonderful children really hits home for my wife and I as parents. We appreciate Make-A-Wish’s involvement in our sport with Terry Chandler and Don Schumacher Racing.”

    Flywheel is an intense, indoor cycling workout that measures a rider’s resistance, speed and power output. Drivers will be able to see all of their statistics up on large screens and compete against each other during this 45 minute ride.

    To donate in support of your favorite NHRA driver, go to www.vandergriffwishes.kintera.org

     

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  • JOIN WITH ERICA AND ELITE TO COMPLETE RACING IN RED DOCUMENTARY
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    Want to be a part of Erica Enders' championship racing team and in the process help document her 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world title? This is how you can. 

    Before the 2014 season, Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman partnered with Danielson Entertainment Group, LLC and Design con Carne, Inc. to capture on film the ins and outs of what turned out to be a championship season. 

    Now, to finish Racing in Red, Enders and her team need your help. Fans can donate to the project to help complete it and become part of the race team, too. Through a Kickstarter funding page (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/racinginred/racing-in-red), fans can learn how to earn prizes through sponsorship of the racing documentary.

    "I've said over and over again that we have the best fans in the world," Enders said. "Their support to us in this venture means the world to us. One of the most common questions I get when I sign autographs in the pit is, 'When is there going to be a sequel to the movie (Right on Track)?' Here is our opportunity, and the only way we can get it done is with the fans' involvement. I'm thankful in advance for their contribution and their involvement in our team." 

    Donations of all sizes are accepted, with prizes awarded at certain donation levels:

    $1: Thank you!

    $5: Racing in Red sticker

    $15: High-definition digital download of the film and a Racing in Red sticker

    $30: An Enders T-shirt, digital download of the film, and a Racing in Red sticker

    $60: Blue-ray or DVD of the film, digital download, a limited-edition Racing in Red/Enders T-shirt, and a Racing in Red sticker

    $100: Movie credit, Blu-ray or DVD of the film, digital download of the film, and a Racing in Red/Enders T-shirt

    $250: Elite Motorsports crew shirt, movie credit, Blu-ray or DVD of the film, digital download of the film, and a Racing in Red/Enders T-shirt

    $500: Racing shoes signed by Enders, movie credit, Blu-ray or DVD of the film, digital download of the film, and a Racing in Red/Enders T-shirt

    $2,500: A parachute signed by Enders, Producer credit, Blu-ray or DVD of the film, digital download of the film, and a Racing in Red/Enders T-shirt

    $10,000, $7,500, $5,000 corporate sponsorships to have your company logo on Enders' Chevrolet

    Drawings are planned throughout the campaign for special prizes, and all donation levels will be included in the drawings. 

    The filmmaking team traveled with Enders and her Elite team through most of the triumphant 2014 season, capturing behind-the-scenes moments that most fans don't get to see. They were able to document the highs and lows of Enders' season, getting portraits of Enders and her team members, from owner Freeman and his family to crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones. 

    "It's pretty amazing that Richard hired this company to film our season at the opening test session before 2014 started," Enders said. "For them to have been there and captured our dream season is pretty surreal. I'm excited to see everything compiled and how it all turns out. It will give the fans a behind-the-scenes look at exactly what we went through to accomplish what we did." 

    The film is estimated to be ready for distribution in July 2016. 

     

     

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  • FIRST-TIME WINNERS VISIT VICTORY LANE AT PDRA CAJUN NATIONALS
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    Jason Scruggs and Mike Castellana scored victories May 2, in Pro Extreme and Pro Nitrous, the top two classes in the inaugural PDRA Cajun Nationals at Thunder Road Raceway Park, near Shreveport. It marked a welcome change for both former class champions as neither had previously reached victory lane with the all-eighth-mile Professional Drag Racers Association since its inception early last year.  

    Also picking up pro class wins were Gerry Capano with a career-first title in Pro Boost and reigning class champ Eric McKinney with his third-straight Pro Extreme Motorcycle event title. Meanwhile, sportsman class victories went to Ronnie Davis with his first PDRA Top Sportsman crown and Mike Greene also with his first PDRA Top Dragster win. Brooke Heckel and Scottie Taylor also prevailed in Pro Jr. Dragster and Top Jr. Dragster, respectively.

     

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  • SNIDER, COX AND CAPANO LEAD FIRST DAY PDRA QUALIFYING
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    Brandon Snider stepped up in the third and final round of the day to take over the provisional Pro Extreme qualifying lead at the inaugural Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) Cajun Nationals. Also qualified number one in the PDRA pro classes with one more session to go on Saturday are Jay Cox in Pro Nitrous, Gerry Capano in Pro Boost, and defending Pro Extreme Motorcycle champion Eric McKinney.

    In the PDRA sportsman classes, Tricia Musi placed first in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman with a career-best 3.97-seconds pass at 188.96 mph over the eighth mile at Thunder Road Raceway Park, while Wade Pennington paced the Dart Top Dragster field with the class' only three-second run of the day at 3.85 and 190.32 mph. Also, Nicholas Cannon leads the way in Huddleston Performance Pro Jr. Dragster and Mia Schultz holds the tentative top spot in Huddleston Top Jr. Dragster. 

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  • CORY MAC DOING OFF ROAD TESTING SATURDAY
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    Veteran Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan will finally get to try his hand at off road racing Saturday.

    Cory Mac, as he is known, is slated to make some test laps in a Pro Lite Series truck at Lake Elsinore (Calif.).

    “I can’t wait,” McClenathan said about testing this weekend which will be his inaugural attempt at off road racing.

    The truck, which is owned by Dave Winner, a longtime friend of McClenathan’s, was built to compete in the Lucas Oil Regional Off Road Racing Series. Winner owns Fabtech in Chino, Calif.

    According to Cory Mac, he is scheduled to compete in his first off road racing event in late May.

    McClenathan is competing in a limited NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule in 2015.

    Cory Mac is driving two dragsters for owners – Mike Dakin and Dexter Tuttle. McClenathan will run nine races with Dakin and then a handful of other races with Dexter Tuttle starting at Charlotte Sept. 18-20.

    McClenathan made his Mello Yello Series season debut with Dakin at the Gatornationals March 12-15 in Gainesville, Fla., but failed to qualify, making a best run of 4.666 seconds at 162.06 mph.

    McClenathan said he scheduled to compete at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals May 15-17 in Atlanta with Dakin.

    Cory Mac has won 34 career Top Fuel national events, the last coming in Seattle in 2010 when he was behind the wheel for Don Schumacher Racing. McClenathan has finished second in NHRA’s Top Fuel world standings four times in his career – 1992, ’95, ’97-98.
     

     

     

     

    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.

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  • GRILLIN’ AND CHILLIN’ WITH TERRY McMILLEN
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    Drag-racing fans and the public in general are invited next weekend to visit NHRA Top Fuel owner-driver Terry McMillen at his new 20,600-square-foot race shop at Elkhart, Ind.

    The first annual “Grillin’ and Chillin’ With Terry McMillen” Open House weekend will kick off Friday, May 8, with a customer appreciation event. The public is welcome Saturday, May 9 for a tour of the facility and a meet-and-greet with the driver of the Amalie Oil / UNOH “InstiGator” Dragster - complete with hot dogs and hamburgers.

    The shop is at  56959 Elk Park Drive, Elkhart, Ind. (46516). It’s located south of the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 80 / 90) and North of U.S. Highway 20

    From Interstate 69 in Fort Wayne, take the U.S. 30 West exit. Follow U.S. 30 West to N. 800 W. (46.8 miles). Turn right onto N. 800 W. and follow N. 800 W. / Indiana State Road 19 through Nappanee, Ind. (29.6 miles). Turn left on West Franklin Street / Lincolnway East. Turn right onto Elk Park Drive. Shop is on the left.   

    From the junction of U.S. 31 and U.S. 20, south of South Bend, Ind., travel east on U.S. 20. Take Exit 86 for Elm Road, toward Indiana State Road 331 North. Turn right onto Highway 331 North / Elm Road. (Follow signs for Mishawaka, Ind.) Turn right onto Lincolnway East. Turn left onto Elk Park Drive. Shop is on the left.  - Susan Wade

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  • THE SAFETY PLATFORM STILL WORKS WELL FOR DIXON
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    It has been nearly two months since Larry Dixon’s infamous crash at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, but the hits just keep coming.

    YouTube hits that is.                                                              

    Dixon’s crash during the third round of qualifying during the Gatornationals that sent his car violently flailing into the air has been viewed nearly two million times on YouTube. It has shown up on news programs in dozens of countries and resulted in countless interviews and discussions on the topic of safety in drag racing.

    So with all of the focus centered on his spectacular March crash and not on his first full-time season behind the wheel in more than three years, you would think Dixon would be a bit tired of talking about the accident.

    Think again.

    “I never get tired of talking about it. It sure beats the alternative,” a smiling Dixon said. “I mean, it’s definitely quite a spectacular wreck. I don’t feel fortunate that I’ve done that twice in the same type of accident, but I feel fortunate that the injuries I sustained 15 years ago in the same type of wreck, that we worked really hard on specific areas of the cockpit to make sure that if we ever got into a situation like that again, I wouldn’t have those same injuries.”

    Indeed, Dixon’s wreck in Gainesville was eerily similar to a wreck he suffered in Memphis in 2000 that left him with a broken leg, concussion and eye injuries. This time, however, Dixon walked away without a scratch, leaving him thankful for the vast strides made in driver safety and more than happy to talk about the issue whenever it comes up.

    And that includes remembering the very people that helped make the cars safer.

    “General Motors, and at the time Herb Fishel, who headed up the racing program. We still stay in touch. Monday morning I sent off an email to him thanking him again for what he did to the cars to make sure I don’t break my legs or suffer a concussion, split my helmet,” Dixon said. “There were so many things that happened. To be able to go through that type of wreck – the crash box said 109 g – to be able to go through that and walk away, I’m just thrilled from that standpoint.”

    In addition to putting a spotlight on the advancements in racer safety, Dixon is also quick to point out the increase in worldwide attention his wreck has brought to the sport in general, a brutal reality in a sport where it seems only spectacular accidents seem to break through the mainstream news barrier.

    “Obviously, I didn’t want to go through the accident, but it got so many hits on YouTube and such. The world saw it,” Dixon said. “I got emails for interview requests from Germany and England, Asia. I mean, it literally went worldwide. People are obviously paying attention.”

    On the track, Dixon is in the midst of a historically competitive season in Top Fuel, with six different winners in the class in the first six races. Currently, Dixon sits eighth in the championship standings in the Bob Vandergriff owned machine, with a runner-up finish coming at Las Vegas.

    With momentum on his side, the three-time champion believes it is only a matter of time before this team breaks through with a win.

    “With the rule package in place this season, it seems you can win from any position. At Vegas we qualified 15th and here we get to go to a final round. Last week we were 12th and I think we have a racecar that can win,” Dixon said. “The rule package that’s in place, there’s not a lot of room for development. You have a lot of cars that run very similar times.

    “Those early rounds at Houston this past week, everybody was running 70s. If you’re going to be in the game, that’s what you’ve got to do. With that being said, anybody can win if you are running with the pack.            

                    

     

     

    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.

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  • PATTERSON WINS STAR RACING RIDERS CHALLENGE
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    Andrew Patterson of Taylors, SC will be living his dream when he will compete on a Star Racing-prepared NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle May 15-17, 2015 at the Atlanta Dragway.  Patterson won the coveted grand prize of teaming with 3-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle World Champion, Angelle Sampey,  by outscoring the field of 25 top notch contestants.

    The journey began for Patterson at an early age when he began riding a dirt bike, but things changed as a teenager. “I was about 14 years old and was riding my bicycle with all the other kids in the neighborhood, “said the 30 year old South Carolina native. “ I guess I got bored, or maybe just wanted to be the “cool” kid, but I decided I was going to sneak and get my mom’s Harley Davidson Sportster out and learn how to drive it.  I did amazingly well for the first time and rode it up and down the road for hours.  After doing that several times I was addicted and I knew I wanted my own motorcycle when I was old enough…and was never sure whether my Mom knew that I had been borrowing it.” 

    Andrew got his own motorcycle at 16 and knew that someday he wanted to compete at the highest levels of motorcycle drag racing. His drive and determination led him to race at tracks in South Carolina and Georgia with continuing success and when he first saw the announcement of The Star Racing Riders Challenge at the Man Cup event he knew this was something he could not pass up. That weekend he went home and put his bike up for sale, but friends and sponsors helped him raise the money to compete.

    The 25 riders were divided into three groups with the top two from each group advancing to the finals over a two day period. The finalists, Alex Hughes of Arlington, Texas, Justin Collier of Orlando, Florida, Derek Cesari of Warminster, Pennsylvania, Ryan Oehler of Bloomington, Illinois, Ralphie Navarro of Woodbridge, New Jersey and Patterson competed in an emotional and grueling competition that left these excellent riders in a near deadlock. When the dust cleared,  Andrew Patterson outscored Justin Collier to capture the coveted crown. Collier received $2500 for his runner-up performance.

    “Winning The Star Racing Riders Challenge is a dream come true for me in more ways than one,” added Patterson. “I have always dreamed of racing NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycles, but knew that I couldn’t afford it.  Now that I have won The Challenge, not only do I get to compete on Pro Stock Motorcycle, but I get to do it with what I consider the best team in the sport.  What’s even cooler about it is the fact that I will be doing this at my home track, the Atlanta Dragway, where I am currently the Summit Super Series Motorcycle track champion.  All of these things combined plus the support from my fiancé Lorene, my family, my Atlanta Dragway family and the fans in Atlanta have me excited beyond belief.”

    In 2014 Patterson won the Street ET championship and was the 2014 National Dragster Challenge winner in Pro ET and Street ET in the same day receiving two National Dragster Wally trophies. This makes his debut in NHRA Pro Stock motorcycles a memory to last a lifetime.

    “I am really excited to team with Andrew in Atlanta,” stated Star teammate Angelle Sampey. “He topped an amazing field of riders and kept his cool in an intense and emotional competition. I am looking forward to testing and racing with him.”

    When asked about what it might feel like when he lines up for his first attempt at qualifying Andrew showed the confidence that got him through the challenge. “I will feel right at home, said the rookie contender. “When I pull up to the line on my Star Racing Pro Stock Suzuki, nothing will be different in my mind. Not only is Atlanta Dragway my home track, but I am the track champion there.  I make hundreds of passes per season there in multiple classes, and all the racers there are like family. I will imagine that it’s my same fans in the crowd, and pretend it is just another weekly points race! I will have support from all the regular racers and fans at Atlanta cheering me on and making sure I feel right at home.”

    Patterson has been preparing for this moment his whole life…and now as his opportunity approaches he is spending countless hours in final preparation. ”I spend hours every day picturing myself on the motorcycle and making mental passes down the track.  Each night before bed I write down each step that it takes in detail from burnout to slowing down in shutdown area to get the bike down the track. I will also be racing at Atlanta Dragway this weekend for a Summit Super Series point’s race and will use that time to become even more familiar with the track and my target.  We will be testing the motorcycle a few days next week to get it dialed in and get me even more comfortable with it.  Star Racing and I will be bringing our “A” game to Atlanta!”

    Patterson’s prize package is valued at an estimated $25,000 and includes teaming with Angelle at Atlanta, a 3 day test prior to the event, his own Star Racing Bates leathers, Star Racing hero card, press releases, marketing package with Rolfe Schnur Motorsports Marketing, an Impact Vapor LS helmet custom fit for PSM racing, plus a number of other valuable items.

    “Andrew did a great job at The Challenge,” said team owner George Bryce. “The competition was fierce and came down to the last run to determine who would win. We are working hard in the shop to give him the best motorcycle and get him ready to compete. I wholeheartedly believe he will get the job done.”

    “The Star Racing Riders Challenge was all we hoped for and more,” said Jackie Bryce. “We are tweaking the format and should be announcing next year’s challenge in the near future. The Star Racing Challenge II is coming April 2016.”

    For more information on Star Racing, The Star Racing Riders Challenge or Andrew Patterson please call Jackie Bryce at 229-924-0031 or email Jackie@StarRacing.com.

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  • FRANTIC ENGINE SWAP WAS KEY TO KEEPING ERICA’S STREAK ALIVE
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    The Miracle on Ice. The Drive. The Catch. The Guarantee.

    All are iconic moments in sports history that will live on forever as examples of great individual and team success helping propel even the biggest of underdogs to championship glory.

    Perhaps, one day, we can add the “11-minute engine swap” to that list as well.

    While not a championship defining moment – yet – the frantic and darn near impossible-to-believe engine change made by the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock team during the O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway was one of those moments that could, down the road, stand out as a defining moment in the attempted back-to-back championship run of ace driver Erica Enders-Stevens.

    “The motor change going into the semifinals in Houston was probably one of the most amazing experiences in my professional career,” an elated Enders-Stevens said. “That environment in our pit, I can’t wait until people see the footage of it. It was absolutely incredible.”

    And incredible it was.

    Following a second-round victory over Vincent Nobile, the Elite Motorsports team, headed by team boss Richard Freeman and crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, returned to the pits preparing to face Johnathan Gray in the semifinals.

    Like any other between-round session, the team went to work preparing the car in a live television-shortened session brought about by the ESPN 2 broadcast. But with 15 minutes remaining, the team found something wrong with the car and was forced to into one of those “test your mettle” moments that all professional teams eventually must face.

    And in the face of adversity, the team answered the call and managed a miraculous 11-minute engine swap that saved the round and, eventually, led to Enders-Stevens collecting her second consecutive Wally.

    “There was 15 minutes left before we had to be in the water for live TV. We just manned up. Everybody threw in on the racecar,” Enders-Stevens said. “Drew Skillman’s guys got an engine out of the trailer, took the intake manifolds and carburetors, while my guys drained the water, and disconnected the motor in my car. There was one moment prior to deciding what we were going to do that one person said, ‘I don’t know if we have time,’ but I’m like ‘we have got to try.’

    “That was it. Everybody pulled their weight, pulled together. Not only did they get the job done, but they got it done with zero mistakes. It was just such a cool environment to be in.

    “Over the years I heard champions like Bob Glidden, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Allen Johnson say, ‘you have got to learn how to win.’ This is one of those moments. We were able to get it done.”

    Following the engine change, Enders-Stevens didn’t miss a beat, putting together a 6.570-second run at 211.03 mph to defeat Gray. Enders-Stevens would eventually win the event, her second in a row, with a victory over Chris McGaha.

    While not a championship-defining moment just yet, as the season progresses, who knows what this moment will mean in the team’s hunt for a second Pro Stock championship. All Enders-Stevens knows, is that this moment reaffirmed to her what she knew all along – that this team can truly accomplish anything.

    “I have all the faith in the world in my guys. I know that we all want it very, very badly and that everybody is trying their hardest every time we go up there,” Enders-Stevens said.

     

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