• Tag Archives PDRA
  • Montecalvo Welcomes Crew Chief Tommy Lee

    jmcamaroFor the last three seasons John Montecalvo and his Championship caliber Extreme Pro Stock team have utilized the talents of Justin Belfance as Car Chief and Crew Chief. A young talent in the sport, Belfance has been busy not only as Montecalvo’s main hired hand, but also starting a family with his wife Ashley in their Georgia home.  With his growing family requiring greater time commitments Belfance has stepped aside from his race career and busy travel schedule. In his place, Montecalvo welcomes well known tuner and driver, Tommy Lee.

    Tommy Lee has been a fixture among both Mountain Motor and 500 cubic inch Pro Stocks for decades. With experience as both a driver and a crew chief, Lee is as well-rounded and knowledgeable as they come.  “We we are excited to have Tommy Lee on board with us; it’s a bad news/good news scenario for our team” told Montecalvo. “It’s tough to say goodbye to Justin. He was a good fit for our team and did an outstanding job for us and we wish him all the best.  We’ll miss him, but I feel very comfortable having Tommy join us as he knows his way around Mountain Motor Pro Stock.”

    Montecalvo’s car, hauler and equipment have already been relocated to Tommy Lee’s Statesville, NC based shop. The team will operate from that central location, rather than Montecalvo’s New York home. “Tommy’s shop is closer to Sonnys for us and close to some good test tracks,” said Monte. “An added bonus is that he’s an excellent driver if we need him behind the wheel to test.

    “It won’t just be Justin that we’re missing this year,” Montecalvo continued with a decidedly somber tone. “One of our long time friends lost his battle with cancer just after Christmas. Donnie Crowder was a great man, and we will all miss him terribly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Debra and family. There is some solace in knowing he is with Shirley, Hank, Bert and all of our racing family that have passed. For sure he will still be watching over us, but from a much better view.”

    Donnie Crowder, former IHRA and PDRA official lost his battle with cancer on December 26th at the age of 63. He was laid to rest Monday, December 29th. He will be missed by many in the racing community.

    “We hope to honor Donnie’s memory throughout the 2015 season. We’re really looking forward to getting back on the race track and taking some win lights.  We want to wish all our friends a healthy and safe Happy New Year. We’ll see you soon.”

  • Todd Tutterow Brings Championship Home for GALOT Motorsport

    ttutterowThe GALOT Motorsports Team quickly rose to the top of the PDRA Pro Boost class in this inaugural year. The two GALOT drivers who called Pro Boost home this season, Todd Tutterow and Kevin Rivenbark, dominated the class, finishing one and two respectively in Championship points. Tutterow book-ended his year with final round appearances at both the PDRA season opener and the PDRA Finals. Add to that a couple of runner up finishes and a heavy handful of number one qualifiers and Tutterow came in first by over 200 points. Rivenbark earned the number two spot with back to back wins at Virginia and Tulsa.

    Tutterow points to the team’s sponsor as a major component to their success: “Our sponsor allowed us to do the testing and supplied the parts we needed to be successful. Kevin did a good job of driving. That always helps out, too. It’s pretty cool to be the first Pro Boost Champion. I like the class. Looks like it got very popular. I think we had more cars than any other class at the last race. They expected it to be and 8 car field when we started out, but the very first race had 16 cars.”

    Pro Boost was as popular among fans as it was among drivers and promises to be a star class again in 2015. Both Tutterow and Rivenbark plan on competing in the class again next season, proudly sporting their well-earned numbers.

    “I want to thank Jeff Bohr who came on board with us this year,” Tutterow added, giving credit where credit was due. “With multiple cars it was a lot for me to handle. He helps keep things rolling. Then I got Brad Schmidt that’s been with me for years. Also Scott Bertinotti and my son, Ty Tutterow. Of course, Earl Wells, and Kevin Rivenbark and John Strickland.”

    GALOT Motorsports would also like to thank Hank Thomas and Sunoco Fuels, Mark Payne Performance, Ross Racing Pistons, Neal Chance Racing Converters, Goodridge Fluid Systems, Triple T Trucks, MVM Motorsports and Miller Welders and Red Line Oil. The PDRA wasn’t the only place Tutterow had success this season. He was also crowned king at the ultra tough Piedmont Dragway-based Big Dog series.

    While most of their program stays the same for 2015, Tutterow said that GALOT Motorsports may possibly field a Pro Extreme car next season, along with the two Pro Boost entries. “It’s a possibility, but we don’t know definitely yet,” he informed. “I”m looking forward to next year. Can’t come quick enough.”

    For more on the world’s premier eighth mile drag racing organization visit www.pdra660.com. Follow the PDRA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

  • Dylan Stott Hoping to Add Another Championship to the Stott Name

    d-stott-1There are just two events left on the inaugural PDRA tour. Excitement is building as the time draws close to crown the first ever PDRA Champions. While all classes have produced phenomenal runs and thrilling competition, the Top Sportsman (TS) category will arguably be the class to watch as the season nears its end. There are only 190 points separating the top three competitors, making Top Sportsman the tightest points battle in the PDRA.

    Rookie driver Dan Ferguson leads the pack with 1698 points. Fellow North Carolinian Dylan Stott trails only 120 points behind, taking over number two from the veteran of South Georgia, Bruce Thrift (1508 points), with his win at the last event in Tulsa.

    Each of these drivers would like to claim their first World Championship, made all that much sweeter as going down in history as the original PDRA TS Champion. For Stott, however, a Championship would mean more than a resume` builder. It would continue the legacy of the widely known Stott name.

    Quain Stott, cousin to Dylan, lays claim to the 2006 IHRA World Championship and has been a regular top contender in the Pro Mod ranks for decades. Sadly, he was sidelined for the 2014 season due to a lack of primary sponsorship. Before Quain rose to the top of his game his brother, Mitch, took home the 2003 IHRA Pro Mod Championship.

    With Dylan’s win in Tulsa, he is one step closer to joining the fame of his cousins.

    “It was a really good weekend,” he told about the Tulsa win. “I knew there wasn’t a full field so I didn’t really lean on my stuff too much. I just put it in bracket mode to see how consistent it was. I had tough opponents. I had to run Bruce [Thrift] second round. He’s always tough. It was really big to get by him because he was head of me in points. Then I had to run Billy Albert in the finals. He’s another really good guy and a tough guy, too. I had to run him in South Georgia when I won, also.

    “My lucky break was probably first round. I was a little bit faster than we expected. I had to run Barry Daniluk. He red lighted and I was three under. The car was on after that. It was going a .29 every run.”

    Stott qualified 13th at a 4.26 in his RJ Race Cars built, Stott Ford backed ‘67 Mustang. After his lucky run against Daniluk, Stott took out Bruce Thrift who broke out by .003. In the semi-finals he faced Darrell Reid. The pair was nearly identical on the tree, but Stott was much closer to his dial. In the finals, it was a reaction time advantage for Stott that gave him the win that moved him up to second in points.”

    Despite being in a prime position for a run at the Championship now, Stott says it’s been difficult to get to this point in his season.

    “It has a been a rough year to say the least, like with everything that happened in Memphis,” Stott said, referring to a return road accident that nearly demolished his front end. “Then a couple weeks before Tulsa I was running at a local track and had a nitrous explosion and messed my front end up again. So the guys at our body shop actually had that fixed the Tuesday before we left for Oklahoma. They kinda patched everything up just to get us out there. We were hoping it would stay together.

    “It’s been a really rough year. We’ve fought back extremely hard. Hopefully it will all pay off in the end. I want to thank my dad, my grandpa, Jason Oteri, Keith Gilliland, Oakley Motorsports- they’ve been huge, Moroso and Hoosier Tire, and of course Stott Ford.”

    Dylan, who graduated from the Junior Dragster ranks, actually began competition in Top Dragster when he was 16. He added the Mustang when he was 18 and has competed in both categories for the last four years.

    “It is extremely hectic to run two cars,” Stott confessed. “But to get out of one car and go right back up with the next one is really fun. I really like it, and I actually I feel like it gives me a little bit of an advantage maybe because I’m getting an extra hit at the tree. I can see what the door car will do first and then dial the dragster off of that. It’s an advantage, but it’s really tough.”

    It’s clear that the Tryon, NC native has a preference over his two classes: “The dragster is fairly predictable. It will go straight pretty much every pass. Top Sportsman cars are so ill handling. You don’t really know what they’re going to do so you’ve always got to be on your toes, especially bracket racing one because looking over and trying to drive the finish line while you’re doing all that makes it really, really difficult – and fun.”

    Now Stott is taking his 180 MPH bracket car to Dragstock at Rockingham Dragway, where he hopes his efforts will be enough to close the gap on points leader Ferguson. “We’ve got a lot of stuff on the car that’s new. We’re trying to lose some weight to make sure we qualify for the last two because it’s probably going to get pretty crazy at Rockingham and Richmond as far as what it’s going to take to qualify. We’ve got the car set on kill, so hopefully we can get in, then set it back for bracket mode and hopefully win this deal. It’s definitely not going to be easy with Dan Ferguson and Bruce. Definitely can’t afford to give up anything.”

    The quickest time the Stott’s Ford machine has recorded so far is a 4.21. Stott predicts this won’t be fast enough to qualify for Rockingham or Richmond, but is planning on implementing a third system of nitrous to make the show. Running the third system will also take the 22 year old Parts Manager one step closer to his goal of joining his cousins among the Pro Mod ranks.

    “[Running Pro Mod] is definitely mine and my dad’s goal. We would need a lot of money to go professional racing, but that is definitely our long term goal. Seeing Quain and Mitch do that had a pretty big influence on what I wanted to do. I love the sport. I definitely want to live up to the name. For now, though, we’re focusing on the Top Sportsman Championship. We’ve got two World Champions in the family and I would like to join them. I think that would be pretty cool.”

    For more on the world’s premier eighth mile drag racing organization visit www.pdra660.com. Follow the PDRA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

  • Rookie College Kid on a Budget Hangs On to PDRA TS Points Lead

    They say necessity is the best teacher. Dan Ferguson is finding that out the hard way. As a 26 year old college student, he has all of the financial woes that normally accompany college students. Unlike most college students, however, Dan isn’t satisfied playing backyard games and beach volleyball on the weekends. Dan has his sights set on the PDRA Top Sportsman World Championship.

    With necessity as his guide and hard work and determination as close companions, Ferguson has not only solely funded his racing for the year, he’s successfully led Top Sportsman (TS) points since race two of the PDRA’s inaugural tour.

    “Well, at the beginning of the season my intention was to only run two of the races on the PDRA tour,” Ferguson explained. “I was going to run the spring Rockingham race and then the second PDRA one there in the fall. This season, I was starting out with a different motor, a new combination that I hadn’t ever run before. I was just going to call it a building year and have fun, no pressure.”

    A good run at Rockingham was all it took to change Ferguson’s mind. “I ended up going to the semi finals at Rockingham. After we won first round, I said to my buddies, if I come out of here top five in points I’m going to try to go to the next race. I came out like fourth in points, so I went to Georgia. Down in Georgia I went to the finals. Dylan Stott beat me, but I was able to take over the points lead. I’ve held onto it ever since. I beat Dylan at Rockingham in second round, and he beat me at Georgia in the final, and he and I have kind of had a points battle going on most of the season. Dylan is a very good racer. He has been second and third in points since Georgia. I haven’t won a race yet, but I’ve been consistently going rounds and been hanging on just enough to keep the points lead. I’ve been trying to win one; it just doesn’t come easy when you’re racing against these guys. The competition is tough.”

    For Ferguson, nothing has been handed to him, and he doesn’t expect this Championship to, either.

    “I’m trying to get my car running a little better, more consistent mainly. It’s a 15 year old car, built by a friend of mine, Jeff Solyan. He’d never built a car before and he did  a really good job, but it was just never made to go this fast. It was built to run like mid-7s in the quarter-mile, which was highly competitive in IHRA Top Sportsman at the time. When I bought it I put double frame rails in it, and added bars to it in other places also. It’s hard to compete against the guys I race with sometimes. I paid $21,000 for my car and that

     was a fair deal for it. Most of the cars I race against are $100,000 or  $130,000 cars. Even though I added some bars, it’s still older technology. It’s just not easy. It’s temperamental. Everything’s got to be right for it to make a smooth run. It’s not very forgiving to track condition changes. Makes it hard to run your dial in.”

    Still, the Pennsylvania native turned southerner has found success with his machine. “I’ve mostly done good when I needed to, and had a lucky round here and there” he continued. “Earlier in the year my car was pretty deadly, but lately I’ve been struggling with it a little more. It’s hard to get it hooked up. I’ve been working on it, though, and it’s been coming around. I lost first round down in Tulsa because it spun a little off the starting line and killed my 60′. I had a good light, so it was a bummer. But, I know why it spun, and I think I know what to change in Rockingham to prevent that.”

    Besides being a low-budgeted points leader, Ferguson is unlike many of his racing peers in another way: “I pretty much got into drag racing on my own. My parents were never really into cars. I got into riding dirt

    bikes when I was a kid. I grew up racing Motocross. My parents were really into that. We did that from the time I was 12 or 13 until I was 19. We hit it pretty hard during that time and raced most every weekend from March-November yearly. A lot of my friends I raced with were quitting, and my family moved to North Carolina. That was pretty much the end of my Motocross. There just wasn’t as much of it going on there. I’ve been a racer since I was a kid. I don’t have a clue what else I’d be interested in if I wasn’t racing right now. But after a period of transition, cars just ended up being the next chapter.

    “I never made a run in a race car until July 2011. I used to have a street car that I would take to the dragstrip, a ‘97 Trans Am WS6. I bought it Valentine’s Day of 2005 and sold it in March of 2011. It was bone stock when I bought it, and during the time I had it, I took it from running 13.90s to 10.80s. When I sold it, I parted out all the performance parts, and sold the rolling chassis in stock form separately to get the most money out of it. I used that money to start flipping cars pretty heavy, and also rebuilding and reselling motors. I hustled a lot and was able to buy my race car. This is my first year I’ve run a full season. In 2012 I raced March through July. Then I parked my car so I could sell my 565 and save up to buy a bigger motor. I

    sold my motor and I was flipping cars and trucks again to make money. I got another motor, but it took until August of 2013 to get back out on the track.

    “I started out with that little 565 engine. It was sweet. It took my through the beginnings of my learning curve, going from low 5s in the eight mile to 4.40s. The second motor I had was a 706. I only ran it from August 2013 through the end of the season. Then I had a chance to get the motor I have now, a 765, from a good friend of mine, Dale Pittman. He gave me time to sell the 706, so I sold the 706 and got his 765; it’s been a great motor.

    “My parents are very supportive of my drag racing, but as far as all the financial responsibility – that falls on me,” Ferguson stressed. “I go to community college, so I go to school really cheap. I buy and sell late model Trans Ams and Camaros and Duramax trucks and LT1 and LS1 motors. That’s how I support my racing. I was doing good until I decided to try to tour on a national series. Now I’m always broke,” Ferguson laughed. “I want to win this championship really bad. I hope I can make it happen. That would be a dream come true.”

    Ferguson is double majoring in Business Administration and Motorsports Marketing at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College with plans to be self employed upon graduation, possibly expanding his current buy and sell business.

    “It’s very tough to balance work, racing and school. The last couple of semesters with the racing, especially this spring semester- trying to come up with the money to go to Valdosta and Memphis- were very tough.”

    The driven college student also hopes future plans one day include a shot at driving a Pro Mod. “I’d love to drive a car in PDRA Pro Nitrous one day, or Pro Modified or Pro Extreme, or Pro Stock. I don’t care; they’re all awesome. As far as being on my own, I imagine Top Sportsman will probably be it for me. Teaming up with somebody down the road would be cool. For a youngster I know quite a bit about working on the car. I did all my welding, putting the bars in my car myself. I do my own motors, my own rebuilds. I had a mishap earlier in the summer. I burned up my motor really bad when one of the timing retards didn’t activate. It junked all the pistons, got molten aluminum on some of the rods, junked three of the sleeves. My good friends Ed Steffey and Ted Miller at Transfer Performance Machine did some work, but for the most part I did all the work myself. I have to. That’s the only way I’m able to race. If I don’t know how to do something, I pretty much have to learn, but I like it. That makes it so gratifying when you have a good race. I’m a hard worker. If I ever teamed up with somebody I’d be a lot more than just a shoe. I really believe I have the potential to be a good driver at a higher level one day. It would be cool if that happened sometime down the road, but I’m also happy where I’m at. Heck, I would bracket race a moped and still have fun.”

    Although Ferguson has had to handle much of what it takes to be a successful racer on his own, he says there have been many who have helped him along the way.

    “There’s a lot of people that have given me a lot of help. Whether it’s teaching me things about the car or racing, helping me work on the car, or coming to be my crew at the track, I’ve had a lot of help. Help is an absolute necessity in this sport. You cannot do it on your own. A couple of key people have been my

    grandparents and parents. They have been supportive and encourage me when I am stressed out or down. Ron and Jeff Solyan for selling me this car and teaching me how to run it and race in my early days. Marty Noir has been a big help and a great friend to me from day one. He has always been there to help, and did most of the sheet metal work on my car when I added all the bars in the chassis. John Podleyon is another great friend who has always helped me. He taught me a lot about working on cars back in my Trans Am days and is a key in how I got where I am today. Ed Steffey and Ted Miller from Transfer Performance Machine have taught me a lot about motors, and are a big part of the reason I can work on my own and do nearly any work necessary to it on my own. Bob and Darrell Dean- they’ve been a big help to me too in this

    journey. Before I did any work to my chassis, I took the car down to Quain Stott and he looked it over and told me where I needed to add bars, what sizes and thicknesses to use, and gave me a lot of pointers

    throughout that project. Without his help, this whole deal with putting a big motor in and going fast enough to run PDRA would have never even started. Jon Williams helped me get the car running fast only it’s second race out, at Rockingham this spring. We went from a best of 4.39 to running 4.12 in two races. He was a big help and still is. Dale Pittman of Pittman Engineering has been a huge help this year as well, especially when I hurt my motor earlier in the summer. He is a great friend and supporter of mine. There have been more who helped in various ways this year too, and I want everyone who has helped me through this journey to know how much I appreciate them.”

    With two races before the first ever PDRA Champions are crowned, Ferguson has his sights set on claiming his spot in PDRA history.

    “If I win the Championship I’m going to be putting that money back into my program. Maybe do more updates to my car or sell my car and put it towards getting a newer one. I have a really good motor and transmission, but having a newer car would be good if I am going to keep racing this fast stuff. I’d

    like to come back and run PDRA next year, for sure.

    “I really like racing with the PDRA. I like how fast it is. That throws a lot of other variables into winning the race. It takes a lot more than just being able to put up a good package (light and dial). I like all of the PDRA people and all the guys I race with. They’re all really good racers, some of best out there. They’re tough competitors and this points lead is going to be tough to hang onto, competing against guys like Ronnie Davis, Dylan Stott, Bruce Thrift, Aaron Glaser and others. They are all highly experienced Top Sportsman racers, former and present champions. Those guys are tough.”

    Going into PDRA Dragstock at Rockingham Dragway, Ferguson hangs on to the TS lead by 120 points over Dylan Stott, who won the last event. Bruce Thrift is just 70 points behind in Stott in third. With two races left it’s still anyone’s game in Top Sportsman. Win or lose the Championship, Dan Ferguson has had one incredible rookie year.

    For more on the world’s premier eighth mile drag racing organization visit www.pdra660.com. Follow the PDRA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

  • Rivenbark Scores First PDRA Win, Sits #2 Behind Teammate Tutterow

    1149668_602554053152405_1981307853_oGALOT Motorsports has taken over Pro Boost, with teammates Todd Tutterow and Kevin Rivenbark sitting number one and two in points, respectively. Joe Baker, Larry Higginbotham and Tommy D’Aprile round out the top five, but it’s been a decidedly GALOT year in the first season of Precision Turbo & Engine Pro Boost. Rivenbark has been in the semi finals or better every race after the season opener and Tutterow has two finals to his name, as well as two number one qualifiers.

    At the latest stop on the Inaugural PDRA tour, the NAS Racing US Drags held at Virginia Motorsports Park July 25-26, Rivenbark finally broke his streak of semi final finishes and scored his first Pro Boost win.

    “It’s gone real well,” Rivenbark said of his 2014 season. “Rockingham was a little frustrating. I qualified, but couldn’t race because the supercharger messed up. But since then at Valdosta, Memphis, and Martin I was in the semi finals. I beat myself in those races. Red lit once and fell asleep on the others. But it’s gone very well. At Virginia I seemed a little slow. We were having some mechanical issues. I really think Todd should have been number one, and I should have been number two or three. Then we wouldn’t have met until the finals. But it worked out well. We went to the semi finals together. We felt great going into the finals. Overall, this season has been terrific. To go to the semi finals and finals every since Rockingham and then get a win at Virginia is great.”

    Now Rivenbark sits just 165 points behind Tutterow in Pro Boost points. With only three events left on the tour, it will no doubt be an exciting race to the finish to crown the first-ever Pro Boost Champion.

    “After Martin I went from fourth to second [in points],” elaborated Rivenbark. “I said something about it and Todd said, ‘yeah but you got one bad guy in front of you’. So yeah, we’re good teammates and play well together, but he loves winning just as much as I do. Of course he wants to win. I want to win. On our team there are no lay downs. Go out there and the best car wins, let the chips fall where they’re going to fall.

    “These last three races our focus is to be very consistent. I feel like if we can stay consistent with my car we’ll do very well. We found a little extra horsepower with my car so I think we’ll be fast the last few races, especially when it turns cooler weather.”

    Both Kevin’s and Todd’s horsepower is all done in house, as part of the GALOT Motorsports dynasty, which also includes two Junior Dragsters, three tractor pulling teams and the completely renovated GALOT Motorsports Park in Benson, NC.

    “All of us work well together,” Rivenbark said of his team. “And it can get tough with just six people for two professional teams, especially if one car has an issue. Brad and Scott and Ty all do a wonderful job. eff Bohr helps tune my car and Todd tunes his, but they work together, helping each other with ideas and trying to make both of them better.

    “We work well together. I think that’s what it takes,” Rivenbark continued, pointing to the reasons behind the team’s success, part of which can also be attributed to team owner, Earl Wells. “Todd and I work well together. With him being a tuner as well as a driver he can relate to what I’m saying. I think the team gels well, and we’ve been doing this together for a while. Mr. Wells coming on provided the extra resources and support that has just boosted our program.

    “I appreciate Mr. & Mrs. Wells’ support in allowing us to do this. They are wonderful people. It’s rare to find a team owner that leaves you alone and let’s you do what you need to do. He pretty much leaves it up to us. And as long as we produce results he’s happy. But to be a driver at this level for someone like him is wonderful. There’s just no words to describe it. I wake up some days and have to remind myself that I really get to do this.”

    Kevin and Todd have also found success at the Piedmont Dragway Big Dog Series, but are making the PDRA their main focus. “The PDRA gives us a great place to race. You can tell it’s racer owned because they want everybody to be treated the way they want to be treated. The new Pro Boost class is a wonderful place to be. We think the PDRA is really going to thrive in the future. It’s a great place to race. I hope racers continue to support it and support it more. It would be great to get up to a 300 car count.”

    As the PDRA begins to round out its inaugural season, talks of plans for 2015 are already underway, with an event at GALOT Motorsports Park not out of the question. While the track was originally slated to open in 2014, added renovations pushed the grand reopening date to 2015. Tutterow and Rivenbark were able to make the first passes on the freshly resurfaced track on Wednesday.

    “Cale from the Traction Twins came down a couple of weekends ago and showed us how to use the new equipment they got us. We laid rubber all last week then came back on this past Wednesday and Todd made the first hit. The track has very, very good potential. The surface is smooth and it’s fast. I think all the racers are going to enjoy it.

    “The facility will officially open in 2015. We want everything to be finished and opened at one time. I think it would be a great race for the PDRA. It has the potential to draw a big crowd. We’ll see what happens.”

    For now, Kevin and Todd will focus on the final three events, looking to ensure that a GALOT Motorsports driver will be the first Pro Boost Champion. They head to Tulsa Raceway Park August 13-16 to continue the battle in Pro Boost. As always, tickets are free and fans can catch all the action via the Motor Mania Live Feed.

    For more on the world’s premier eighth mile drag racing organization visit www.pdra660.com. Follow the PDRA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.

  • Bruce Thrift Puts Himself in Prime Position to Be First Ever PDRA TS Champion


    A good ol’ boy from South Georgia, Bruce Thrift is also one of the toughest competitors Top Sportsman has ever seen. Despite a slow start to the 2014 PDRA season, he has worked his way to the number two spot in MagnaFuel Top Sportsman points and is sitting pretty for a run at being crowned the first ever PDRA Top Sportsman Champion.

    Thrift made gains in closing the gap between him and points leader Dan Ferguson when he won the PDRA US Drags in late July. According to Thrift, however, he shouldn’t have won the event. Friday night after qualifying, Thrift shaved a small piece sticking off his reactor button, not thinking about where the shaving might end up.

    “I was .001 and .003 Friday night,” relayed Thrift in his recognizable southern drawl. “Then went back out there Saturday and I could not hit the tree. I was consistent, but consistently slow. After I had been .001, I can’t take 40 numbers out of the box. I finally started dumping numbers in the finals. I said, ‘Lord you got me this far, what we going to do.’ Butcher went red. We’ve run probably eight or nine times after the last few years and every time we’ve run, me or him one has been triple zero up until now. Every time it’s four or five thousandths at the finish line. Me and Glen we’ve had some good runs over the years. He’s a very tough competitor. All of them are. You’ve got an elite bunch out there. You can’t take nothing for granted. It was my day though. Honestly, I didn’t drive good enough to win. I drove better than my opponent every round, but I didn’t really drive good enough to win. The guy that messes up the least is the one that wins. When it’s your day you can’t mess it up.”

    It wasn’t until Thrift was on his way home with the PDRA trophy in tow that he thought about the shaving causing a drag on his button. Further inspection at home proved his suspicions correct. Although Thrift’s reaction times could have been his nemesis, the consistency of his RJ Race Cars ‘07 GTO, helped him through the rounds.

    “The car was good now,” added Thrift. “It was unbelievable. It went a .24 every time down the race track. It’s just unreal. Gene at RJ Race Cars swears that’s one of the best cars they’ve ever built. It just does whatever you ask it to do. It’s consistent whether I’m running 4.06 or 4.24. It varied like three thousandths in 60 foot the whole weekend in Virginia. Makes it where you can concentrate on what you’re doing.”

    Thrift’s GTO is the same car Pete Berner drove to the 2008 IHRA Pro Stock World Championship. Thrift is counting on the GTO having at least one more Championship run left in it.

    “I’ve been playing in the Quick 4, but I’m going to back down on that for a race or two. I’m going to stay on my game, using two systems to get qualified, then race on one and concentrate on going rounds. If they ain’t careful I’m going to get it [the championship]. I would love more than anything to be the first PDRA Top Sportsman Champion. All of us want that, but I like the position I’m in right now.”

    As much as Thrift wants that Championship he knows he’s got his work cut out for him.

    “Top Sportsman is the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life,” he continued. “You’ve got to get a reaction time and drive the finish line. You’ve got to know what your car’s going to run. It’s tough, especially now with us having to run 4.20s just to qualify. I mean, whoever would have thought you would have to go 4.20s to qualify for a bracket race. In a door car. I remember when in Pro Mod – and it hasn’t been that long ago – you were the man if you could run 4.15. Now you have Top Sportsman cars bracket racing, running 4.0s. We’ve got a good group of guys and we’re fast and that’s what it’s all about.”

    At the same event where Thrift earned his first PDRA victory, history would be made as Aaron Glaser recorded the first sub-four second run in Top Sportsman, securing the number one qualifier at the US Drags with a 3.987 elapsed time.

    “It’s my opinion that the PDRA, that’s your true Top Sportsman racers. They’re the elite, the baddest of the bad. We had one go in the 3’s for the first time at Virginia. That’s just what it’s all about. It was hard for me not to. I seen Don Klooster go 4.02 right in front of me at Martin and I had run 3.5 hundredths faster than him and I said, ‘oh boy there’s my three’. I reached up to the radio to tell Micky to turn my third system on, but I had a game plan going into the race so I thought ‘no, no stick to the plan.’

    “The PDRA is doing a wonderful job. The fans love it. I can’t say enough good things. The trophy is just phenomenal. I’ve got one from every sanctioning body in the country. I got the Moser trophy and all, but the PDRA is my favorite. And then to get a Championship jacket with your name on it – you can tell they’re glad you’re there. They really surprised me with the jacket. That just makes you wanna get on board. The PDRA is where my loyalty is at.”

    Along with the consistency of his car, Thrift pointed to PAR Racing Engines and FTI Torque Converters and Transmissions as contributors to his success. “Most of all I want to thank Mickie Miller, my crew chief. He just loves the sport. He’s never drove a car in his life, never even been in one. But he goes wherever I’m at. If I can’t pick him up on the way, he lives nine hours from me, he drives to wherever I’m at. He won’t let me give him no money or diesel fuel. He loves the technical side. He keeps me safe and makes sure I’m in the groove and heading in the right direction. And he thinks his driver is the baddest one out there.”

    Next week Thrift will make the long haul from southern Georgia to Tulsa, Oklahoma to try and prove his crew chief right. With just three races left on the PDRA tour, Thrift plans to make every round count and be on top when it’s time to crown the inaugural PDRA Champions.

    For more on the world’s premier eighth mile drag racing organization visit www.pdra660.com. As always, tickets are free and fans can catch all the action via the Motor Mania Live Feed. Follow the PDRA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube.