Adam Sinclair

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 

Porsche is continuing its longstanding legacy of recognizing and developing young talent, as five standout North American drivers are learning to hone their skills on and off the track during the third annual Young Driver Academy Oct. 19-20 at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama. 

Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) and Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) invited Austin Cindric, Scott Hargrove, Elliott Skeer, Colin Thompson and Sloan Urry to participate in the two-day, all-encompassing program.

 

Hargrove, Thompson and Urry are veterans of the North American one-make IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge championships. Hargrove, from Surrey, British Columbia, won the 2014 season title in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin. Thompson, from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, won the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship in 2014. Urry, from Park City, Utah, finished fourth in the USA series in 2014 and second in 2013.

 

Skeer, from San Diego, made his debut in 2014 in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and is a multiple race winner in entry-level single-make North American sports car competition. Cindric, from Mooresville, North Carolina, completed his second junior open-wheel championship season in North America and raced in Red Bull Global Rallycross in 2014 after extensive, successful short-track oval and karting experience.

 

The Young Driver Academy provides promising North American drivers with an opportunity to reap the numerous benefits of a program based on Porsche's European Junior selection process. PMNA and PCNA emphasize evaluation and development of the young drivers during the Academy, with the goal of discovering and nurturing talent in the United States and Canada that can reach maximum potential..

 

"We are now in our third year of the Porsche Young Driver Academy here in North America," said PMNA president and CEO Jens Walther. "In that time, we have welcomed many of the sports' top young talents to Barber Motorsports Park, and we continue to witness their progress up the ladder of sports car racing. While those invited are part of a small sampling of the remarkable driving talent available in the United States and Canada, we are proud to see the graduates of this program competing worldwide. This is not a competition but an opportunity for these drivers to learn skills that will provide ongoing benefit to their racing career both on and off the racetrack. We have seen the results in the success of the first two years. This year's class promises to have that same level of impact on the future of motorsports."

 

The comprehensive Academy experience includes classroom training in racing technique and media/sponsor relations, as well as off-track driver skill evaluation. All five drivers also will turn laps on the challenging 17-turn, 2.38-mile circuit at Barber Motorsports Park in identically prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.

 

Classroom and track instruction will be led by Porsche racing legend and lead Porsche Sport Driving School instructor Hurley Haywood, Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and GT racing champion Andrew Davis. Owen Hayes, director of operations for Porsche Motorsports North America, Dave Engelman, media relations manager - Motorsports and Brand Heritage, and other Porsche representatives and industry professionals also will provide training and evaluation.

 

The first two classes from the Young Driver Academy have continued to advance their careers at a high level of performance, further emphasizing Porsche's commitment to identifying and developing talent in North America.

 

Class of 2013 members David Ostella and Madison Snow climbed to the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in the 2014 season. Ostella drove in the Prototype Challenge class for Performance Tech Motorsports. Snow raced in the GT Daytona class with Snow Racing in a Porsche 911 GT America car.

 

Fellow Class of 2013 members Angel Benitez Jr. and Michael Lewis finished second and third, respectively, in the ultra-competitive Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship.

 

2012 Young Driver Academy participant Sean Johnston raced for the second consecutive season in 2014 in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Germany with Team Project 1.

 

Fellow 2012 participant Cooper MacNeil won the 2013 American Le Mans Series GTC championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, raced in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche and finished third in the GT Daytona class championship of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship driving a Porsche 911 GT America. Another member of the Class of 2012, Kyle Marcelli, competed in a wide variety of elite-level machinery in 2014, including Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona in the TUDOR Championship, and in a Porsche in the Grand Sport class of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

 

The final member of the 2012 class, Spencer Pigot, finished third in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin and won the Pro Mazda junior open-wheel championship.

 

Test & Tune Presented by R.J.S. Racing Equipment
Wednesday, October 22 

Run Whatcha Brung! Gates open at 6 pm. $20 to race. $10 to spectate. All racers must tech in by 10 pm. 

 

R.J.S. Racing Equipment will be selling diapers, parachutes and pit mats on October 22 and 29 during Test & Tune at PBIR. For more info, visit www.rjsracing.com or call their Jupiter, FL office at 1-844-904-7223. 

For all cars that run 10.99 or faster in the 1/4 mile, it will be mandatory to have either a diaper or an approved belly pan to race at PBIR's Drag Strip as of November 1. For complete racer tech rules, visit www.tinyurl.com/pbirtech.

 

Please note that Test & Tune on the Drag Strip is cancelled on the following dates: October 24, 31; November 5, 7, 19, 21; and December 24, 26, 31.

MTW Promotions Presents Mud Bog
Saturday, October 25
 
Want to get muddy while watching jacked up trucks challenging each other in drag duels? Come on out to PBIR on October 25! Spectator and crew tickets are just $15. Racer gates open at 1 pm, and racer tickets are $30. Spectator gates open at 4:30 pm, and the drag racing action starts at 6 pm.

Cars Under the Stars
Saturday, November 22
 

Join the Palm Beach Driving Club at the 2nd Annual Cars Under the Stars on November 22 for a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Palm Beach International Raceway to benefit Place of Hope. Ride-alongs with celebrity drivers, live music, food and more!

 

Dick Moroso Memorial
5-Day Bracket Championship
November 21 - 25
 
Presented by Madaris Window & Insulation and The Screen Shop, this is one bracket race you don't want to miss! On each day of this 5-day event, the winner takes home $10,000! This year, we pay tribute to the gentleman who founded the concept of big bucks races, Dick Moroso. 
 

33rd Annual Bennett Auto Supply Citrus Nationals
November 28 - 30
 
This legendary event on Thanksgiving weekend brings together a Pro Mod Race with Bracket Races and a Pro Show! Presented by South Florida Chevy Dealers, the 33rd Annual Bennett Auto Supply Citrus Nationals features more than $43,000 in payouts! The Pro Show includes Jet Funny Cars, GOJO Firebird and Top Secret, plus Superwinch, the Wheelstander. Spectator tickets are just $20 per day on Saturday and Sunday. 
 

For more information on upcoming events, connect with us at www.RacePBIR.com and www.Facebook.com/PalmBeachIntlRaceway. 
 
For details on the Palm Beach Kart Center at PBIR, call 561-578-5641 and visit www.pbkarting.com.
Visit www.RacePBDC.com to learn more about the Palm Beach Driving Club, featuring weekly track sessions for Members at PBIR.   

Following the spectacular season-opener to the FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing, tickets for the series’ second race – the Putrajaya ePrix – are now on sale.

Taking place on Saturday, November 22 2014, four types of fan tickets are available ranging from general admission – priced from just 50 Malaysia Ringgit (MYR) equivalent to 12 Euros – to the premiere grandstand seating option at 715 MYR or 155 Euros. Children’s tickets (aged 3- 12) will also be offered with a 50% discount from now until raceday. 

"The Putrajaya circuit is designed with precision, factoring in the city’s environment and Formula E’s sustainable commitment, to provide a robust racing circuit for the drivers," Dato’ Sri Johann Young, CEO of Formula E Malaysia, said. "Having support from the relevant authorities and the respective sponsors, we will build a race that provides a lasting impression for all spectators on the day.”

At 1.59miles (2.56km) and featuring 12 turns, the Putrajaya street circuit is located near the Perdana Putra housing the Prime Minister’s Office, using much of the main high street and passing several of the city’s most recognisable buildings such as the Ministry of Finance. It also encompasses the beautiful Seri Wawasan Bridge and Putra Mosque and will see drivers tackle a mixture of straights, slow to medium speed corners, a hairpin plus a tight first-corner chicane. 

“After the fantastic racing we witnessed in Beijing, we’re hoping for even more excitement in Putrajaya for Round Two," Francesca Triossi, Formula E’s Ticketing and Merchandising Manager, added. "Of course, with all Formula E events, fans have more than just great racing to look forward to with plenty of off track entertainment on offer such as driver autograph sessions, eBike displays, racing simulators and music.”

For more information on Formula E visit www.fiaformulae.com, or alternatively try the dedicated Putrajaya website www.fiaformulae.com.my 

 

 Jim Hargrove has been a loyal customer at OpenRoad Auto Group in British Columbia for years, and each time he stopped by the dealership he would share the story of his talented racing son, dropping off press clippings and brochures to owner Christian Chia.

 A regular competitor in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series, Chia politely listened to Hargrove's updates about his son competing in open-wheel racing across North America but never thought much more about it. That changed in early 2014 when Chia had a scheduling conflict that prevented him from competing in the first round of the season in mid-May at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

 

Chia decided to call Hargrove and set up a meeting with his son Scott to see if he would be a viable substitute driver for the race weekend despite never having sat in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

 

"Scott's only 19, and our meeting was so much fun," Chia said. "I was definitely nervous because I wasn't sure how he realistically thought he could go straight from open-wheelers to GT3 cars and be taken seriously." 

 

Eventually Chia decided to take a chance on the 19-year-old - with one request.

"I told him not to make a fool of himself and to bring the car back in one piece," Chia said. "A podium would purely be a bonus but certainly not the objective."

Christian Chia

 

Hargrove's race weekend started on rocky ground with rough weather and a brand-new car from Germany that the team had not shaken down before practice. But any doubts about Hargrove were erased almost immediately. Hargrove put the Porsche on pole and won both rounds of competition on Victoria Day weekend.

 

"We really took notice of Scott then," Chia said. "But part of me was thinking maybe he had beginner's luck, and I wanted to see if he really was something special."

 

As the OpenRoad Racing team began preparing for the second event of the season, in mid-June at Calabogie Motorsports Park, Chia decided to give Hargrove another chance.

 

Hargrove won the pole for Round 3 by nearly a second, eventually taking home second place and another win in Rounds 3 and 4 of the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin, respectively.

 

After Calabogie, Chia left Hargrove in the car to give him a fair shot at earning the championship.

 

"It was difficult for me to step out of the car because by nature I'm a competitor," Chia said. "I run a team because I am passionate about racing. At the same time, when I spot a talent like Scott's, I want to help nurture it. Also, he's from Vancouver like me. We don't have a strong race culture and community here, so that was another meaningful part for me."

 

With Chia's blessing to continue in the No. 69 OpenRoad Racing Porsche, Hargrove never looked back and went on to win the 2014 Platinum Cup championship despite stiff competition from veteran competitors Chris Green and Spencer Pigot.

 

"The caliber of drivers Scott was competing against was fantastic," Chia said. "Scott and Spencer are staunch competitors in the Pro Mazda series, as well, so that added an extra dimension of excitement."

 

Hargrove and Chia found they made a great combination as driver and car owner, but their partnership did not stop at the end of the racing season. Chia is opening a new Porsche center in Vancouver, and Hargrove has signed to be an ambassador at the venture.

 

"Porsche is a very dynamic brand, and because of that we often like to engage with the local community of Porsche owners," Chia said. "We think that Scott will be a great resource for Porsche owners to learn more about the dynamic nature of Porsche from a young man who drives these cars at the limit of their capabilities."

 

Chia has no regrets about the 2014 Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin season that saw him don a team owner hat instead of a racing helmet. But he is ready to get back behind the wheel in 2015.

 

"Between owning the team and driving behind the wheel, I'll always choose to be a driver," he said. "We'll be fielding another car next season, and I'd certainly like to be doing the driving!"

 

For the latest updates on Chia's ventures with OpenRoad Racing, visit openroadautogroup.com/openroad-racing-team. For updates on the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin series, follow @IMSA on Twitter. Join the conversation using #GT3CAN.

 

The eni FIM Superbike World Championship returns to the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on California’s scenic Central Coast for a third consecutive year July 17-19, 2015, and its only U.S. appearance.
 
“We continue to be pleased with the growth of the fan base for the Series,” says Gill Campbell, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO/general manager. “With the continuation of GEICO as title sponsor, it seems clear that the U.S. motorcycle industry also sees this as an important event in which to reach out to their enthusiasts.”
 
Nearly 50,000 fans saw the exciting action over three days as the Superbike World Championship continues to gain greater recognition in the U.S. It’s no surprise being that California is home to Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, Ducati and Suzuki. Visitors ride to Monterey, with twenty four percent of tickets buyers coming from Southern California to enjoy the sights and sounds of world class motorcycle racing. Additionally, the open paddock format brings fans together with their favorite riders to take pictures and ask for autographs and an open press conference area allows for everyone to listen in and take part in the show.
 
World Superbike is an important production-based bikes series and holds races across the globe, fielding a grid of nearly 30 riders of a dozen different nationalities on eight competitive manufacturer brands. Each of the fourteen rounds has a two race format and the results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for riders and one for manufacturers.
 
Tickets for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship, GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round go on sale in December and will be available online at www.MazdaRaceway.com or by calling the ticket office at 800.327.7322.

 The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season has been one of the most exciting seasons in drag racing history and it will come to a fitting end at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 13-16, at the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.

 

The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will once again battle for the coveted race victory and world championship titles at one of drag racing’s most tradition-rich events. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Rickie Jones (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the season-ending race that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.

 

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, NHRA will feature many of the sport’s greatest legends and those drivers will share some of their favorite memories from 50 years of the Auto Club NHRA Finals.  “The King of Speed” Kenny Bernstein, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, “TV” Tommy Ivo, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, Ed “The Ace” McCulloch, Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme will be featured during the event and participate in a series of special NHRA Legends Chats and a special autograph session on Saturday afternoon in the popular Hot Rod Junction.

 

The NHRA Legends Chats will run from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday and the special legends autograph session will take place between Saturday’s pro qualifying sessions. Fans can attend the Legends Chats and autograph session by obtaining a special commemorative 50th Anniversary NHRA Legends Card, which will be available on a first come, first served basis at the Hot Rod Junction.

 

NHRA fans also will play an important role in the 50th anniversary celebration as they will help decide the most iconic moments in the history of the Auto Club NHRA Finals. Fans will vote for their favorite moments from the event via interactive pages set up on NHRA’s social media channels.

 

On the track, world championship titles and race victories will be up for grabs at the fabled drag racing facility that sits just east of downtown Los Angeles.

 

Seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher is the points leader in Top Fuel. Schumacher has shined in past opportunities to earn world championship titles at Pomona and if he’s successful this season it will be a record eighth championship for the driver of the U.S. Army dragster. After a ho-hum regular season, Schumacher hit his stride in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, posting victories at Charlotte, Dallas and Reading. A four-time winner of the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Schumacher will try to close out his late season surge in style with another victory.

 

Doug Kalitta, Steve Torrence, defending winner and world champ Langdon and 2012 champ Antron Brown are all still in contention but will need extraordinary performances in the final two races of the season to catch and pass Schumacher.

 

Other drivers to watch in Top Fuel include Atlanta and Topeka winner Spencer Massey, reigning Auto Club of Southern California Road the Future Award winner Brittany Force, Pomona and Sonoma winner Khalid alBalooshi, Englishtown and Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner Richie Crampton and Denver winner J.R. Todd.

 

In Funny Car, Hagan took home the Auto Club NHRA Finals victory last season, but was disappointed his win didn’t include a world championship trophy as well. Following his recent win in Pennsylvania, Hagan enters the final stretch with a lead over John Force, and the Virginia cattle rancher’s Mopar Express Lane / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger is primed to make a run for a second world championship crown and first since 2011.

 

Force earned his 16th world championship title last season and this year his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang has been one of the quickest and fastest cars on the circuit. However, it’s going to take one of his best efforts to secure a record 17th world championship.

               

Force’s daughter Courtney is also a top contender for the championship, as she earned back-to-back playoff victories at Dallas and St. Louis and sits third in points at the controls of her Traxxas Mustang. She became the first female to post four wins in a season in Funny Car and the first woman to win back-to-back races in Funny Car. A world championship would be the icing on the cake to wrap up a dream season for the 26-year-old racer, which also included earning the 100th win by a female driver in the Mello Yello Series and passing her sister Ashley as NHRA’s winningest female Funny Car driver.

               

In addition to the trio of championship challengers, the list of potential event winners in Funny Car is deep, and includes three-time season winner Alexis DeJoria, Bristol winner Tommy Johnson Jr., four-time season winner Robert Hight, Ron Capps, Tim Wilkerson, Del Worsham and Cruz Pedregon.

 

In Pro Stock, one of the most intense playoff battles could be settled at Pomona. Jason Line leads the pack in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro and is followed by history-chaser Erica Enders-Stevens, a four-time winner this season who is trying to become the first female to win an NHRA world championship title in Pro Stock. Hot on her heels is Dave Connolly, Shane Gray and Allen Johnson.

               

The 2014 world championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle is coming down to Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammates Andrew Hines and Krawiec, the winner of this event last season. Hines currently holds the points lead over Krawiec, but the pair have gone back and forth during the season, both posting five wins each. Both riders are looking for their respective fourth world championship titles and may likely have to defeat each other head-to-head in Pomona to claim the season crown.

               

Special celebrations throughout the weekend are scheduled to highlight this significant milestone event. In addition to the NHRA Legends Chats and special autograph session featuring the legends, there will be several NHRA-exclusive Cacklefests showcasing the vintage dragsters of the sport’s early days, a special car corral in the Hot Rod Junction featuring a wide variety of vintage dragsters and classic race cars and The SealMaster Track Walk, where fans can walk on the famed Auto Club Raceway at Pomona track prior to Sunday’s final eliminations. The SealMaster Track Walk also will feature several of the sports legends.

               

As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.

               

Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.

               

The event also will feature thrilling competition and world championship finishes in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

               

Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Nov. 14, with sessions at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Nov. 15, at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16.

 

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRATIX.com. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.

It is amazing how one seemingly insignificant decision can have such a profound impact on a person's life. Or, in the case of IHRA Mod ET World Champion Mark Pressey, an entire racing season.

For Pressey, the 2014 racing season simply wasn't supposed to happen. Pressey finished last season with a broken car and, following a trying winter, the veteran racer out of Newport, Michigan had no intention of getting his car ready for the season. But one man changed all of that, encouraging Pressey to fix the car and get it ready for racing.

Just a few months later, that motivation led to Pressey earning the IHRA Mod ET World Championship at the Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.

"We ended last year with the car smoking and not running well at all. To be honest with you, I didn't mess with it at the end of the year. I just buttoned it up and put it in the barn," Pressey said. "But my buddy Rich West wouldn't let me sit around. He said to me, 'no way are you sitting it out, we are getting it fixed' and from there it has just been an awesome year."

That year included four finals, two wins and a track championship at his home track of Ubly Dragway before qualifying for the Summit SuperSeries with a runoff victory at the Division 5 Summit Team Finals. From there, Pressey put together a solid afternoon in Memphis that included one great package and two double-breakout victories to advance to the final against Division 7 Summit Team Finals runoff winner Benny Gossett out of Caprock Motorplex.

In the final Pressey got the jump at the line, posting a .022 reaction time to Gossett's .038, followed by a 10.159-second pass on a 10.14 dial at 129.74 mph to just edge Gossett, who had a 9.175 on a 9.17 at 140.33 mph. With that pass, Pressey secured the Mod championship and left him with only two words for his friend who wouldn't let him sit it out - thank you.

"What an amazing year. I really want to thank my good friend Rich who helped get me here, along with my son Jimmy who was crew chief for the weekend, Nick Janowiak and his girlfriend Amanda who came out to support me from Ubly Dragway, my entire Quick Temper team and everyone that cheered us on from home," Pressey said. "This is really a bit overwhelming, but we had a great weekend and the car ran great. What can I say, it is a Mopar."

On his way to the final, Pressey recorded wins over Gordie Stevens, Sambo Tyra and Bobby Arnett, producing double-breakout victories over Stevens and Arnett and a breakout victory over Tyra. Gossett had wins over Ernie Humes, Greg Sauvage and Kris Bunch on his way to the final.

Despite the stellar finish to the race, Pressey actually began the weekend with more issues with his car. During the only test and tune session of the weekend, Pressey's car began backfiring and failing to reach full power. Nervous, Pressey returned to the pits and gave the car a quick overhaul hoping to fix the issue.

"When we unloaded on Thursday, the car didn't want to run. During our first three passes the car was missing, popping and didn't want to reach a certain RPM. So we took the car back to the pits, pumped the fuel out, flushed the carb, put in new plugs and went back to work. Our next pass we went a dead-on 10.19," Pressey said. "We are thankful we had good weather on Thursday for the test and tune. After that the car was flawless."

With the win, Pressey not only gets the title of world champion, but he claims an awesome prize package that includes $10,000 from Summit Racing Equipment, a brand new 26' trailer from Performax Trailers, a $2,500 gift certificate from Trick Flow, a Gemini two-post Auto Lift, nearly $10,000 in prizes from Chicago Wheels, Hughes Transmission and Converter, Armor Coat Ceramic Header Coating, Rock Racing Battery, Jones Transmission and K&N, a vacation to Aruba and more.

"We saw a lot of weather, a lot of ups and downs and spent a lot of time just sitting and waiting, but we did it," Pressey said. "Thanks again to all of my friends. I went through some stuff over the past year, but I have some great friends that supported me. What an exciting year and what an amazing program IHRA puts on. It was a great experience for all of us."

The following transcript contains excerpts from an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teleconference featuring Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock), Courtney Force (Funny Car) and John Force (Funny Car).

 

MODERATOR: Erica is the driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. She has four wins this season, which ties a career best, five number one qualifying positions and only one first-round loss. She is second in points trailing Jason Line by only 35 points. If she were to win the championship, she would be the first female to win a Pro Stock world championship. Erica, you've led the points 13 races this year, now you're in second. Which one is easier or harder, being the hunted or hunter as you go into these last two events?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: I don't really know honestly. It was definitely fun. It's the first time in my 10-year Pro Stock career we've ever led the points. To be able to do it for 13 events was certainly fun. By no means was our objective to allow someone to go around us. We were forced to miss two races on the Western Swing. We're just doing the best we can with what we have. Having said that, I just try to focus at the task at hand, that's one race, one round at a time, just not get too ahead of myself. We're definitely still in the hunt significantly. With the qualifying bonus points that we've been acquiring this year, it is certainly doable. We can go into Sunday in Vegas, if we're able to do what we've done at the last few races, qualify (in the No. 1 position), be low, we can go into Sunday less than one round behind Jason Line. We're going to go in and focus and see what happens.

 

Q. Is there any more pressure now that you have these two races and you have this opportunity to make history? How do you approach it mentally?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: Mentally I'm just going to go into it like I've done all year. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't any pressure. There's been pressure all year long. My team has performed tremendously under it. My crew chiefs continue to give me a good racecar week in, week out. We have to battle it out. The pressure was immense in Reading, being able to see what was happening in front of me with (Dave) Connolly who was first in points of me, then Jason Line being beaten by my teammate second round, we had the opportunity to make up some ground. My stomach was a little tighter than normal. But having said that, I'm going to focus just one round at a time. I know I keep saying that. But I don't want to get ahead of myself and focus on something that's not ours yet. We just have to continue to focus to get there.

 

Q. The mental process that you have to go through all season, how does that compare to right now? While you're going through this, fans might want to know, do you have time to think about anything during the off-season?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: Sure. The pressure is immense in the Countdown. These final six races are extremely crucial. Leading the points all year, our largest lead being 240 points, ahead when the Countdown goes into effect, everything goes back to equal. Our domination was cut significantly. We've just got to focus on these last six. It certainly didn't start the way we wanted it to. It did at Charlotte, qualifying on the pole, being low for every session, then with the track condition being what it was had to move the event to Dallas. So Charlotte and Dallas being run in the same week, we didn't perform as well as we had hoped. Kind of behind the eight ball a little bit. Swinging as hard as we can. The pressure is certainly there. I honestly haven't changed my mindset at all as far as how I prepare. I mean, nerves are high. But it's just really weird. I think the majority of the drivers would agree. When you fire the car, all of that goes away and you just have to focus on what you're doing. You could be sick, feeling terrible, just really nervous. But when the car starts, everything goes away. I'm pretty sure my heart rate goes back to normal once the car fires. I'm able to focus on what I need to do. As far as the off-season is concerned, I will be returning to Elite Motorsports in 2015. We've secured our partnership. We're going to race together as long as we can. My team owner Richard Freeman has made that pretty evident. I've never been happier, honestly. I've got the best team in the world. For the first time in my professional career, I have a group of guys that have my back and we're having a lot of fun with it.

 

Q. Would you compare the two weeks that you skipped during the middle of the season to the time you've had off, which would have occurred no matter what, waiting to get to Las Vegas.

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: Sure. I mean, both weekends off I've been antsy and wanted to get back in the racecar. It's hard to start the Countdown off with four races consecutively and go three weeks of downtime. I've been working really hard on the sponsorship aspect of things, traveling a lot to our shop base in Oklahoma to work on that stuff, and of course our engine department, Elite Performance, has been hard at work at finding more horsepower. In a way it gives us more time to work on the funding aspect and horsepower aspect. As a driver, I'd rather be in the car every day if I could. It's pretty similar. Sonoma and Seattle were something we didn't want to do but had to do business-wise. This is just a little mini vacation NHRA has allowed us. We'll go back to Vegas all rested up and ready to get out and start swinging.

 

Q. Once Vegas is over with, you get another week off. Is that an important week off or would you rather go straight to Pomona right after Vegas?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: Like I said, I'd rather be in the car every day, if I could. But in between Vegas and Pomona, they have SEMA. I'll be there all week working with my sponsors, Royal Purple, GM, Chevrolet, and my team owner Richard Freeman and my engine builders will be there. We'll get to work on things in that downtime as well. I guess it won't necessarily feel as long of a downtime as it really is, then we can head into Pomona fresh.

 

Q. I know it's been a while, but Disney made a movie about you and your sister a while ago. What was that experience like? Do people besides myself still ask you about that?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: Yeah, they absolutely do. Disney still airs it on the Disney Channel. The kids that saw it initially when it was released back in 2003 have grown up with me and a new generation is starting to watch it as well. It's something I'm asked frequently about at the racetrack, the fans at the back of the pit. It's really exciting for me because I'm just a normal kid. Through a supportive family I've been able to accomplish a lot of really cool stuff. But I recognize that look in these kids' eyes that I had before I started junior drag racing, then after I got involved with the Junior Drag Racing League. Standing at the back of Angelle's (Sampey) pit, Shirley Muldowney's pit, Shelly Anderson's pit, looking at them like, man, I want to be like these ladies when I grow up. It's cool to recognize that look in the young kids' eyes now as they're looking at me. It's very surreal, humbling. As far as the movie experience goes, it was the same. Just surreal. Like, ‘Why are they doing a movie on my sister and I?’ We haven't done really anything that cool. But it was definitely an exciting deal. We filmed everything in six weeks in Salt Lake City. It was just a blast to be on set and see what that business is all about. Courtney and I were able to do all the 'stunt driving,' so every time the racecars were going up and down the track, it was Courtney and I driving. It was fun to be hands-on, to see how everything went down. To see the final product was really exciting. Knowing what we know about drag racing, we like to say they Disney-fied it a little bit. There's some aspects if you know anything about cars or motorsports in general typically doesn't happen. They said they were playing to the 50 million viewers who had no idea what drag racing was. In a nutshell, it was a very cool experience and very blessed to have had that opportunity.

 

Q. If you are able to win the Pro Stock title, what would be the sequel be called?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: I don't know. Hopefully that topic is visited. We'll see how it goes. We'll do our best here. We certainly have the best opportunity I've ever had in my career to accomplish this. We'll take it one step at a time.

 

Q. You've been racing for a while. Women's success in racing, can you touch on that?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: Sure. I'm honored to be a part of the movement. It's really cool. I've been involved in racing as a driver for 22 years now starting in junior dragsters when I was eight years old, moving on to Super Comps, dragsters, Pro Stock. It's been an awesome experience for me. I've been a huge fan of the ladies along the way. Now being a part of it with Courtney and Brittany Force, before they started with Ashley, I started racing Pro Stock in '04, so I was around when she was racing Funny Car as well. That was a lot of fun. Alexis DeJoria, they're all extremely talented. I think we secretly root for each other. I know I do. I try to get up there and watch as often as I can. Now with Angelle back, she's the winningest female driver in NHRA history with 41 national event wins, Shirley will be out, I was able to talk to her today. It’s really neat to be a part of it. I'm proud of the girls that have done it before me and the ones I'm having the opportunity to do it with now. It's just a pretty exciting time for our sport.

 

Q. You've been in Pro Stock for quite a while. This seems to be a breakout year for you. What do you attribute it to? More money for parts, confidence in the car, your team? What has helped you get to this marvelous point where you are right now?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: My team. Teamwork makes the dream work. That is absolutely so true. We operate on half of the budget that I operated on when I drove for Victor Cagnazzi for the last three years. We're a small team running on a small budget, but we've been able to accomplish a lot of really cool stuff this year because of the people involved. They're the most important part of the puzzle. Richard Freeman, my team owner, has assembled a tremendous group of people on and off the track. They're talented on track, but they're just great guys to the core. I mentioned that earlier, but that's the first time I've had that in my 10-year professional career. I attribute our on-track success to that. It's a no pressure, no drama situation, and I've never had that before.

 

Q. Last year the Elite Motorsports team qualified for some events, Rickie Jones driving the car, run a couple rounds until he won the World Finals. You being in this car for the first year, did you expect to be in this position in the Countdown being your first year with this team?

 

ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS: I guess we did. I mean, I'm an eternal optimist. I wouldn't have joined the team if I didn't think they were capable of what we're doing. Having said that, Rickie Jones gave up his seat for me to drive. He and his father, Rick Jones, are my crew chiefs. It's a really unique atmosphere. But, yeah, I mean, I hoped we would be here. I wouldn't use the term 'expected.' I don't want to come off arrogant by any means. I want to share my confidence in my guys. We've done a great job. We've missed out on quite a few races this year. I've lost on a few holeshots. We've shook. But we win and lose as a team. At the end of the day, that's what's most important. We've got a lot of heart. My guys have so much heart and determination and they never give up. You know when it's crunch time, they really shine. I'm looking forward to these final two races with them. I know that together we can accomplish a lot of really cool stuff in the future. I'm hopeful to seal the deal this year. We'll see what happens.

 

MODERATOR: Courtney, you've been so strong all season, two races left for the championship, do you and your team have a little left in the bank to make that strong push to hopefully your first championship?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: Yeah, I definitely hope so. That's our goal so far this year. We're in a pretty good spot right now. I think everybody is so close together in the points for this championship that you can shuffle up and down pretty easily. So you really just have to kind of stay ahead of the game. I think we've had the best car so far this season throughout the Countdown to the Championship. That definitely gives me as a driver and I think for our entire team a little bit of a boost of confidence going into these last two events. I'm excited and very hopeful that we can do well. But we're just going to have to keep pushing hard and take it round by round.

 

MODERATOR: Going to your shop in Brownsburg, was that a great way to get everybody back together, refocus everybody, recharge those batteries at this point in the year?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I went out to Brownsburg, visited the shop, saw my team, got to talk with my crew chiefs. Actually got to talk with Ron (Douglas, crew chief) about how I can improve as a driver. I think my biggest challenge right now honestly is pedaling that racecar down the track because it's not something you can practice so easily. You don't see drivers practice pedaling during qualifying. The only time you see it is during elimination rounds. I got to talk with my crew chiefs about that. Then I took my team out for dinner, got everyone pumped up, ready to put it all in for the last two. It's tough when you get a break like this. You kind of I think lose your focus about what you're going after. It's nice to get a little break, let everyone get rest, but for me, I'd rather be in the car, just continue on with the rest of the season because we were kind of on a roll up until Reading. But I'd like to be back in the car. Just wanted to get my team out to dinner, get them pumped up, excited, motivated going into Las Vegas.

 

Q. Erica has four wins, you have four wins. Talk about what you think that means for her, for you, for others of your gender?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: Well, I think it's awesome. I think both of us have had a pretty good season this year. I think it's amazing to have this be the year that really shines for all the females in our sport. I'm very fortunate and lucky to be a part of it. But it's awesome watching her get these wins. She's done such an amazing job. I've watched her race since before I was in a Funny Car. It's really cool to take this road along with her, Alexis (DeJoria), my sister Brittany (Force), all the other females. Like she said, Angelle coming back this year, I grew up watching her on the bike. I thought it was crazy what they did. I think it's an amazing year for our sport, for the ladies, but mostly for NHRA to really show we've got a sport over here that might be male-dominated, but the females are starting to take over as well. I think we're all just continuing to learn and improve and we're starting to shine.

 

Q. Do you think there's a best way for a contender to handle the playoff pressures you have right now?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: For me, I mean, I look at it, my dad and I alone, we have totally different ways we approach eliminations. My dad likes to get hyped up on coffee or Mello Yello and goes into the round. I'm more of the type that likes to be calm, collected and focused. I think it's a matter of how each individual driver wants to approach it. But for me going into these last two, I try to treat it as any other race, like the first race in the season. I don't want to think of it as, you have to do it now or it's over type of deal. I don't need that pressure, even though it's in the back of my head. I'm going to approach it like any other race and keep my focus, don't make mistakes, work with my team. We've got two left. We just have to hold on. Hopefully go rounds past my dad and (Matt) Hagan. We just have to fight to stay up and ahead.

 

Q. How do you like the Vegas track for yourself and your team specifically? How important is Vegas to have a shot to even win it?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: Vegas is going to be a huge race for our Traxxas team of whether or not we can even still have a chance at this championship going into the Pomona race. We really have to keep our focus. We have to go rounds, collect those bonus points throughout qualifying. It's hard. It's going to be tough coming from the No. 3 spot. You have to stay ahead of all the guys behind you, but you also have to almost try to go those rounds past Hagan, past my dad. In order for that to happen, their cars are going to have to stumble somehow, which doesn't happen very often. They're one and two in the points for a reason. We've just got to hold on and do our job in these last two. Going into Vegas for us, I think we've done pretty well there in the past. I've been in a final round with my dad last year where he went on to win the race and won the championship in that round. I'm hoping that this is a good track for all of our team. Looking in the past, since we have done well here before, I'm definitely hopeful that we can hopefully go rounds here at the track in Las Vegas.

 

Q. Obviously you and your two sisters have competed before. Can you talk a little bit about the biggest personality differences between you guys. I know you passed Ashley for most wins by a female. How did she take that?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: You know what's funny, Ashley has really always been the one that's very supportive. She obviously is a very competitive driver, as well. But it was actually kind of funny to see a little spark of competitiveness. She renewed her license in Funny Car earlier this season in my Funny Car actually at the Las Vegas track. I went on to get that win in Sonoma, passed her in wins in Funny Car. My goal was always to just reach as many wins as my sister had because I looked up to her so much. I knew she had done so well in Funny Car, I obviously kind of wanted to be just like her. But when I passed her in wins, I didn't even know what just happened. It was a very surreal moment for me. Ashley was so excited and so supportive. She never really compares her stats to mine and vice versa. It's always just been her full support on me, Brittany's support on me. Ashley, actually after that round, ‘Great, my little sister just passed me in Funny Car (wins).’ Maybe one of these days she'll get back in and try to get that back.  It was kind of cool to see a little bit of that competitive fire in her. It got me excited because I would love to have her out here in Funny Car with me competing. Brittany as well. We competed in the Top Alcohol Dragster category years back. We had a lot of fun with it, but we were always supportive of each other. Win or lose, it was just great to have my sisters by my side. Brittany went into the final round in Reading just a few weeks back. I was really bummed she didn't get that win. She and her team are coming close to their first win in Top Fuel. But it's great having my whole family out there. We're competitive drivers, but we really haven't been towards each other with my sisters and I.

 

Q. Talk about the conflicting emotions when you go head-to-head with your dad.

 

COURTNEY FORCE: It's tough. I think at the beginning when I first got into Funny Car, I was thrilled. This was a dream of mine. I grew up watching my dad race a Funny Car. Just to be paired up in the lane next to him, it was the most exciting, surreal moment I've ever experienced. I didn't care if I won or lost. I was in a Funny Car about to race my dad. I still get that every time I race him. It's still a surreal moment every time I pair up with him. Once you pass the finish line, all your emotions kind of change. You think to yourself whether you won or lost, someone's going home. Either I sent my dad home packed on the trailer or he sent me home. It's a little bittersweet. It was definitely bittersweet when he beat me -- well, the few times he beat me it is a little hard. When he beat me for the championship last year, I was going after that win, trying to move up to fifth in points last year at this point, and he took home the championship. I think the hardest thing for me was, yeah, we didn't get the win, I was really bummed, we didn't make an improvement on where we were at in points, but I also couldn't really celebrate with my dad for the championship. I think that was the hardest part for me. As his kid, I'm usually the first one there standing by his side, hugging him, congratulating him. It's a different feeling when you have your own team and you're going after your own personal goals. Definitely makes it hard running against him, and my brother-in-law Robert, as well.

 

Q. You've talked a little bit about your sisters. At the same time have they stepped up at all to give you the confidence that you can get the job done over these last few weeks?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: It's kind of been something we haven't really discussed. Brittany is still doing her thing in Top Fuel, trying to move up in points there. Dad is fighting for it. It's kind of hard for them to cheer me or dad on because they have to pick a side. I think they stay pretty neutral. They give me the confidence of there's two races left, staying positive, keeping your focus. Ashley will be at the next two races. She'll be there definitely for support and to help my confidence. But I don't really think we'll have a discussion until we actually get to the track. I mean, I think it will kind of change up then.

 

Q. Being that you and your dad are fighting so hard for this championship, is he still giving you driving advice when you're ready to go for rounds, prior to the racing? What is his attitude towards you since you're fighting for the same championship?

 

COURTNEY FORCE: He does still give me driving advice. It's great having him because obviously he's the one who taught me how to drive. Nothing really changes. We're still one team over here at John Force Racing. I think it would be exciting if either of us could get there. But the goal right now is that one of our teams does. So I'll be happy if dad can get the championship done this year, and Robert and myself. If one of us can get there, that's the ultimate goal for all of our sponsors, for Traxxas, Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, BrandSource, Mac Tools, Peak. We've got to make these guys happy. I'm with Ford Driving Skills for Life, this is actually National Team Driver Safety Week. It's great being a part of all these programs. But all these guys want me as a driver to get the win, get the championship for these sponsors. But dad's always there by my side. He's always peeking his head under my Funny Car body, giving me driving advice. I think that kind of stops when we have to drive against each other. That's when I'm kind of on my own. He just looks at me, tells me to have fun with it. If I'm not feeling safe, get out of it, don't make any mistakes. It's more that he's there for support 100% of the time. But the driving advice comes about 99 percent of the time as well. I don't think he can ever stop. To me, I may be a competitor, but I'm still his kid. He still wants me to do well in the sport. Doesn't matter who I'm racing. Obviously when I have to pair up against him, it changes a little bit. I'm kind of on my own. I take from I've learned from him and kind of use it to my advantage. It's a lot of fun racing with him. He does great giving me advice all year long.

 

MODERATOR: We're now joined by John Force who will be making an announcement about John Force Racing.

 

JOHN FORCE: Guys, I appreciate you allowing me to come on. This is very exciting. We're heading into the Countdown. Two races left. Robert Hight, my daughter Courtney, myself have a shot at this title as well as Hagan and possibly others. The reason for this call is I don't want to go to Vegas and have to spend my days there explaining to the media what's taking place. I don't want to have to do it at the final race at Pomona. As you know about me, my dad, he taught me to work together as a team with my brothers and sisters. We fought all the time. But at the end of the day we celebrated the good times and we stayed together in the bad times. I did the same thing when I went into high school playing football. To me it was all about the love, the dream. It wasn't just about winning, whereas in today's game it's about winning championships. It was about the love of the sport. I ran the football team the same way. Along the road here I had a little hiccup financially. I lost a couple of major sponsors. Ford and Castrol. I want to make it clear they've been nothing but good to me. I'm very strong with my partners like Auto Club, like Traxxas, Mac Tools, Peak Antifreeze, so many that are with me. I'm moving ahead. My job is to put three Funny Car teams and one Top Fuel dragster out there. That is my plan and I'm going to stick to it. We chase money with JMI, the agency I hired. I invested tons of money over the course of three years since this started, and it will continue to get to where I need to be. Yeah, we'll be making announcements at Las Vegas. We'll be making announcements in SEMA and right on through the winter, right up till opening day at Pomona about the financial backing of my two race teams with my daughter Brittany and myself. In the process, I've always been very open, very honest with my employees, told them where I stood, because I want to be fair to them even now in this conference. My employees understood that I may have to lose a few people. I may have to cut some wages. We've addressed that as we watched the money, where we were moving ahead. Financially I even dipped into my savings like I've done before, my wife and I, two and a half million dollars. With that I have the budget if no more sponsors come onboard, but I've got calls this morning and yesterday. Things are looking good. I hope not to have to invest that money, but I will if I have to. That way my four teams can race. I have a love and passion for NHRA. I feel I owe NHRA. I owe the sponsors and I owe the fans to race. That's me and my family. That's what I will do. I want to make that clear. In the process, maybe I'm too honest to my employees the way I lay it out. I want to be real straight. This is about their families, about their children and their homes, how they're going to make it. In the process, after St. Louis I started hearing some rumors. I thought everything was okay. I got this thing back together financially. I don't listen to rumors much, but it was bothering me. I got a call early this week from a number of team owners, but one that was being straight up with me. I'm talking to some of your employees and I'm talking to your crew chiefs, I'm looking at whatever. I said, ‘All is fair in love and war’, you got to do what you got to do. I was a little surprised that we're in the middle of the Countdown, but whatever. It's called business. I'm a big boy and I understand it.

In approaching my employees, I'm talking about my team, right now I'm leading the charge for John Force Racing with Courtney right behind me and Robert Hight. I approached my crew chief of 15, 16 years, Jimmy Prock, a great kid, brilliant, that won a championship with Robert Hight and a championship with myself. When I approached him, he couldn't give me an answer. That's what this call is about. I said, Jimmy, ‘You know where I come from. I need to know if you're with me or you're not.’ We danced around for a few days. Finally I said, ‘I need to know because I have sponsor contracts that have been signed, contracts that are on the table. I'm selling this powerhouse race team of power teams. You and Mike Neff lead my charge and I need to know where I stand.’ Jimmy Prock said, ‘I'm probably going to leave at the end of the year.’ I said ‘I need to know for sure.’ He said, ‘If I have to tell you, basically I need a change.’ I said, ‘I respect that.’ He turned in a resignation yesterday for the end of the year. I met with my brain trust, Robert Hight, Mike Neff and the group, John Medlen. I told Jimmy Prock I would accept his resignation, but I was accepting it now, I'll take it right now. So as of right now, Jimmy Prock is no longer employed by John Force Racing. I know it's in the middle of the Countdown and you think I'm committing suicide, but I'm not. I race from the heart. I'm about principle, I'm about camaraderie, I'm about loyalty. If a man's heart is not here with me, his job is to protect his family, he's got to do what he's got to do, and John Force has got to do what he's got to do. I've got about a week, I'm addressing the employees, if they're going to stay, I'll know that, have a commitment by late in the day, if they will stay through the Countdown. If not, I've got a week to build a complete race team. These are good people. I have no complaints. They've done their jobs. I'm a big boy. So that's basically it summed up. I'll be on overload at Vegas and Pomona. I have big announcements there, more coming. John Force and John Force Racing will be in business. My daughter is going to race, both my daughters, and Robert Hight. I'm very excited about it. That kind of spells it out. If there's anything you'd like to ask me, I'm open for questions.

 

Q. You're probably one of the best guys as far as a sponsor would want, the way you approach the team, promote the sponsors. Talk about the sponsorship side as opposed to having to do the team part of it, too, all the effort that you do, how you balance all that.

 

JOHN FORCE: I invested a $2 million game plan over three years. I hired Rogers & Cowan. You've seen our shows on CBS, different shows that we've done, to promote my family. This is all about sponsorships to show them who we are. I hired Octagon. I have Brent Travers who will be filming a documentary, NHRA, Tom Compton, was good enough to open that door. We'll be shooting at Las Vegas and Pomona. Shooting the Countdown basically. But it's been a lot of work. We're in a tough economy. JMI, Jon Flack, we work seven days a week. We're on the phone. Robert said to me that it's a world we've never been a part of. We live it. We got on a plane at 10:30 out of LAX. If I ever stumbled in a conference call, it's maybe because we slept an hour on the airplane. We had to address Indy because I always address my people face-to-face. Sponsorship, not done yet, but it's coming along real good. I'm excited about it. Like I say, it ain't going to happen. It's going to be a strong announcement because I have my first partner that stepped up to the plate with me, and I'll announce that at Vegas on Saturday. I'm going to have a Hot Rod to show you. I'm really excited about it. Again, others that are looking at SEMA to announce, then over the winter I'll be doing announcements at my shop. I'll do announcements at Pomona. I have to put the right partners together. That's the hardest part. So many of them conflict. So it's going to get done, and that's my word to you.

 

Q. Is Jimmy Prock the only member of your team that has left?

 

JOHN FORCE: My team is the only team that's kind of been disbanded. No, my other teams, everybody is there, Mike Neff. Courtney's team with Traxxas, very strong. My Top Fuel dragster, everything is strong.

 

Q. This obviously is a big shock to a lot of people. Why was it that important to let Jimmy go now? I understand the emotion of it, but you're going for your 17th title. Who do you find at this late stage? Did you think about bringing Austin Coil back?

 

JOHN FORCE: I didn't come to race to win championships. I never thought I had a chance. I was lucky and I dreamed of winning just a race, just to win a round. I race from the heart. It was never about championships. It's about what I love. It's about principle, loyalty and teamwork. I said that earlier. If I can't go after a championship and be surrounded by the people that want to be here. Jimmy Prock loves me. I love him. But this isn't where he needs to be in this time of life. Yeah, the Countdown was my call. He probably would have raced with me throughout the Countdown. But I have contracts being signed as we speak, and I can't sell them what I don't have. If I do, they could come back and say, we bought this team and we're not getting it. I'm going to prove that no man is an island. I will take my brain trust, I will take my people, we've always had backups, we will go into this fight and prove it. I'm not guaranteeing we're going to win a championship, but that's not what it's all about to me. To me it's about being with people that fight the fight every day. Jimmy did it for 15, 16 years. God bless the kid. I've got no complaint. What I'm saying is now I have to make a decision because I'm not racing for this championship. I'm racing for this championship and the next 20 years. Right now I've got to start building a team. Why wait till Pomona to start building a team next year in '15? I'm going to start tomorrow. I know where I stand with Jimmy. He was honest to tell me. I have to move ahead even if it jeopardizes us winning the championship. If you know John Force, you know the people around me, this is when we really get into the fight. That's to prove who we are. Like I said, no man's an island. We will team up. The outcome will be what it is. But at least I know where I'm going. I couldn't wait any longer. Jimmy, we shook hands, he walked out, and understood, I think he understood what I was doing.

 

Q. Can you take a second and talk about the conflicting emotions when you go head-to-head with your daughter.

 

JOHN FORCE: I loved sitting here and listening to her talk. She's just like her dad. Brittany, my daughters Ashley, Adria, they're all different. But I see the fire in her. She loves this sport. All my girls, Robert Hight, the way I do. It's what my life's all about. I never realized how much I wanted it and the fear of losing it. I had the same fear when I laid in the hospital bed in Texas (in 2007 following a crash at the Texas Motorplex). I laid there for five weeks. They were telling me it was over. Nobody tells me anything. I'm really thick-headed like my dad. I always believed that if you stand up and you fight and you're honest, you do the best you can, with a little help from the good Lord, the people around you, you'll be okay. If you win, that's great. That's the icing on the cake. But if you lose, and you gave it everything you got, you still won. That's the way my daughter fights me. Oh, she aggravates me sometimes when she tries to get in my head because I did all that smack talk back when I was her age. I've grown out of it. I just race. But to hear her, I see so much of myself. Brittany is a completely different animal.

 

Q. Do you have any candidates in mind to replace Jimmy? Will it be a temporary interim until after Pomona?

 

JOHN FORCE: I've always had an A, B, C plan in life on everything I do. I built my teams with an A plan, with a B backup plan. C plan isn't pretty. That's me tuning. You'd get a heck of a show; I'd be on fire every week. You'd see it on TV. I know because I tried it years ago. Nobody runs this race team. My lead is Mike Neff. Even though he runs the Auto Club Ford for Robert Hight, Mike Neff is the lead of my brain trust. He called meetings with the crew chiefs, Todd Smith, Dean Antonelli, Ron Douglas, Daniel Hood, John Medlen, the list goes on and on. Those are the ones that put me together and they protect me. They know the business, and Robert Hight. They'll sit in these meetings and make the decisions. It's already happening. We're going to come out swinging. I'll have a good racecar in the Countdown, you can count on that. The rest is where Lady Luck takes us.

 

Q. Your thoughts on the passing of the great Raymond Beadle on Monday.

 

JOHN FORCE: Raymond Beadle, in my life there were heroes next to my dad, there was heroes in drag racing. Of course, 'Big Daddy' Don Garlits, of course Shirley Muldowney, a woman, Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein and Tom ‘The Mongoose’ McEwen. These people were the ones I looked at that opened the door to winning, people that drove their cars, tuned their cars, drove their ramp trucks, whatever it took to win a race. They even tuned. Raymond Beadle was a unique individual. He I think invented the halter top for women. Made millions. But Raymond Beadle had qualities of a great driver. I watched him roll the car over at Gainesville. Stepped out of the car, where everybody else would have rolled up in the fetal position, stood up and put his hands over his head, made me cry. The crowd cheered. This guy didn't have water in his veins, he had ice water. Hell, he went on to NASCAR and won. He was surrounded by people that loved him and adored him. Dale Emery, those guys, they were lifers. Waterbed Fred (Miller). I learned from each of those legends, I learned my trade through. I didn't invent the sport of NHRA. People sometimes say, John Force, you're back, NHRA needs you. No, NHRA will be fine if I ever leave, okay? But like I said, I'm going to drop on a racetrack somewhere in an NHRA Mello Yello race. The truth is those guys are the ones that built it. I'm helping build it, the kids that are after me will continue to build it. Beadle had the love. He was loved by the fans, by the sponsors, by the NHRA, but loved by his people. He was fearless. I watched him in a helicopter jump out onto the roof of a racecar, go right in his fire suit to his seat and do a burnout in a few minutes. The guy was a showman, unbelievable. If I can ever leave this world like him, if he never left a mark with anybody else, Raymond Beadle scarred me for life. I love him with all my heart.

 

Q. Are Las Vegas and Pomona now the most challenging two races throughout your entire career?

 

JOHN FORCE: If you allow pressure because you're in the Countdown, whether you're ahead in the points or you're behind. I race two different styles. When you're in the lead, at least I do, you have a certain style to race, be protective of the points. When you're behind, you open up and it's guns-a-blazing. That's how I'm going into Vegas. I told my daughter Courtney and Brittany, you can't look at those races or any round or qualifying or a final any different than you did opening day at Pomona. The racecar doesn't know the difference. If you set the pace of where you're going and do what you've always done, then your best potential will come out as a driver in the driver's seat. So, nope, I'm going to address Vegas and Pomona as any other race and I'll see how the cards fall.

 

Q. I've been covering your racing and NHRA since you began. This is a surprise to me. The question I have, I know you said Jimmy has walked, Austin was mentioned already. Will Mike Neff be tuning your car for the next two races? Can you answer that?

 

JOHN FORCE: Mike Neff is the head of our brain trust. Mike Neff, working with John Medlen and the team, there will be input as there always is. Nobody's trying to replace Jimmy Prock. We don't play that game. Mike Neff, his job is to tune the Auto Club, that Ford Mustang, they need to tune it. That's what he needs to focus on. Robert, he's behind, but he's got a longshot at winning this thing, and I've seen it happen. It ain't fair of me. Yeah, I move crew chiefs around, but I'm not doing that. Mike Neff works with Ron Douglas, he works with Todd Smith, along with John Medlen, they work as a team. They hate the loss of Jimmy Prock. Jimmy Prock was a big part of that. But right now, no to that answer. Look, I made the decision on this, and I'm going to go with my decision, but I'm not going to jeopardize Robert's chance at a title or my daughter Courtney's chance at a title or my daughter Brittany at her first win. I don't do business that way. Like I said, it's not just about championships to me. It's can I rally this team back together? That's what I'm best at. I've done it a lot of times, and I'm going to try. I do appreciate the calls from team owners that called me and said there's stuff going on, you don't seem aware of it. I'm aware of it. What am I going to do? I wait till they do what they're going to do and then I make decisions. John Force needs to get up and rally himself and his team, whether new or old, and that's what I plan on doing. I hate to admit this, but NHRA has been my life. I grew up with Wally. I went right down the line with the people that ran it. Dallas Gardner, Tom Compton now. These are good people. They try to help. They want me to stay in this sport.  But I'm a big boy. Like I told Tom Compton, I'm going to make it, I'm going to make it on my own, that's my job. They try to help. They try to help all the racers that are out there. That's their job. Without us, the sport doesn't exist. Without all of the race teams, from the grassroots to the top. 

 

MODERATOR: John, that concludes the questions. Thank you very much for taking time out of your day and joining us on the call.

SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS will make its return to Las Vegas Nov. 1 and 5 at the MGM Resorts Village under the famous lights of the Las Vegas strip.

The events will mark the culmination of the Stadium Super Trucks' (SST) second season and will take place while thousands of off-road automotive experts gather for the annual SEMA show – a premier automotive specialty products trade event. A full schedule of racing will take place both nights with other racing series joining the SSTs, including a full field of high-powered Legend Cars.

The series will race on a similar circuit as last month’s OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California, which featured dirt and asphalt, metal ramps, a crossover jump and a technical rhythm section.

Tickets are on sale via the MGM box office (877-274-6958 from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. PST) and Ticketmaster, and are priced at $25 for adults, and $15 for children (12 and under) and military personnel.

The SST series has raced in front of more than 600,000 spectators so far this year as well as national television audiences on NBCSN, ESPN and ABC. The series also made its first appearance at ESPN’s X Games Austin and the event was overwhelmingly voted fans’ “favorite moment” on an ESPN.com poll.

The series features identically prepared trucks, which are made to resemble their scaled-down TRAXXAS radio-control-car counterparts. Like their TRAXXAS namesake, the trucks are designed to take flight. However, unlike RC trucks, they generate speeds of more than 150 mph. The trucks race on DOT-approved Toyo Tires and put on breathtaking shows by flying more than 15 feet in the air and hundreds of feet down course, launching off of man-made ramps and jumps.
SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS will begin its 2015 season in Adelaide, Australia, and later return back to North America for a full season featuring several IndyCar companion races and a number of stand-alone stadium races the series is known for. A complete 2015 schedule will be announced following the Las Vegas events.


For more information on the SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by TRAXXAS series, visit www.stadiumsupertrucks.com.

 

Sometimes, it is just your day.

Such was the case for 18-year-old John Tolisano III during the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals as the young man from Jupiter, Florida overcame a tricky racetrack and ever-increasing odds to win the Summit SuperSeries Junior Dragster World Championship at the IHRA season finale at Memphis International Raceway.

And he did it all in his final race ever in a Junior Dragster.

"It still doesn't seem real. To win my last race ever in a Junior Dragster and for it to be for the World Championship, it is just amazing," Tolisano said. "It is still so hard to believe, but I am sure it will sink in one of these days."

Under cloudy skies and on a racetrack that had seen off and on rain showers throughout the weekend, Tolisano entered the final day of the Summit World Finals looking to make magic happen in one of the trickiest classes to tune, with single-cylindered, single-digit horsepower machines providing a true challenge.

And it was that difficulty in finding a happy medium for his dragster that left Tolisano and his family searching for just the right numbers in an afternoon that produced plenty of upsets across more than a dozen classes competing in the sportsman championships that weekend.

"We started the weekend off well, but toward the end of the weekend we were really all over the place," Tolisano said. "The weather conditions really played with us a bunch, but in the end we were able to figure it out and it ended up well for us."

That ending included three red-light starts by Tolisano's first three opponents and an epic showdown in the final between Tolisano and championship runner-up Michael Wayne Turman. With the Summit SuperSeries Junior Dragster championship on the line, Tolisano got the jump on the line with a .021 reaction time to Turman's .039, followed by a 7.992-second pass on a 7.96 dial at 79.84 mph to take the win. Turman had a 7.915 on a 7.90 at 81.46 mph in the runner-up effort.

"The afternoon had been so up and down for us, we really didn't know what to expect in the final," Tolisano said. "But we were able to put together a good run and run the numbers and that led to me standing here in the winner's circle."

"We started the weekend off well, but toward the end of the weekend we were really all over the place," Tolisano said. "The weather conditions really played with us a bunch, but in the end we were able to figure it out and it ended up well for us."

That ending included three red-light starts by Tolisano's first three opponents and an epic showdown in the final between Tolisano and championship runner-up Michael Wayne Turman. With the Summit SuperSeries Junior Dragster championship on the line, Tolisano got the jump on the line with a .021 reaction time to Turman's .039, followed by a 7.992-second pass on a 7.96 dial at 79.84 mph to take the win. Turman had a 7.915 on a 7.90 at 81.46 mph in the runner-up effort.

"The afternoon had been so up and down for us, we really didn't know what to expect in the final," Tolisano said. "But we were able to put together a good run and run the numbers and that led to me standing here in the winner's circle."