CHICAGO (July 6) — In the difficult mental game that is NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing, bringing a positive attitude to a racetrack can go a long way toward a good result.
ZaZa Energy Pro Stock driver Erica Enders heads to weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Route 66 Nationals with fond memories of Route 66 Raceway. Not only did Enders become the first woman to reach a Pro Stock final in NHRA history when she did so at Route 66 in 2005, but she also remembers racing with pride in the JEGS Allstar event for Sportsman drivers.
“I always enjoyed going to Chicago because it’s a really nice facility,” Enders said. “We never won there in the Sportsman ranks, but we always seemed to go deep into the elimination rounds on Sunday, which was always exciting. I just have a lot of fond memories of that track.”
The fondest came in 2005, her first season racing Pro Stock with Cagnazzi Racing. The team had been running well, and on that particular weekend, Enders was driving well.
“It was a whirlwind. It was awesome,” Enders said. “I was fairly new to Pro Stock and had only been driving for Victor for a few months at that time. We had been running really well and had competitive horsepower.”
Enders won her first two rounds of eliminations and faced legendary driver Warren Johnson in the semifinals.
“We hurt a motor in the semifinals, but Warren red-lit against me,” Enders said. “I remember thrashing because there was rain coming, and they only gave us 45 minutes in between runs instead of 75. We were totally thrashing to try and get ready. They were rushing us, rushing us, rushing us.”
When the team when to warm-up the engine in the pit, it wouldn’t turn over, and hearts sunk.
“It wouldn’t fire,” Enders said. “We had a minor problem, so we changed some stuff, we fixed it. I had to get suited up in the pit to go up to the staging lanes.”
NHRA officials were telling Enders’ opponent, Jason Line, to stage and make his run as a single. But Line refused.
“He was like, ‘No, this is her first final. She deserves to be here,’” Enders said. “He was a stand-up guy, and I’ll never forget that.”
In the rush to the line, Enders got out of her normal start-line routine and ended up red-lighting. But the experience was priceless, and Enders no doubt will be more prepared if she’s in a similar circumstance.
And she’d love to have it happen this weekend.
“It was a cool experience, and something I’ll always remember,” Enders said. “We made history that weekend as the first woman to ever go to a final round in Pro Stock. It means a lot to me and to the sport. Hopefully we can go back there and make some more history.”
Qualifying at Route 66 Raceway gets under way at 4 p.m. CDT Friday with qualifying continuing at 4 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations will being at 11 a.m. Sunday. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show at 9:30 p.m. EDT Saturday and eliminations at 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Contact: Lee Montgomery at 704-258-0903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit www.ZaZaEnergy.com for more information.