Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 - Page 38

Dirt

Right at Home

Ellen Eschenbacher finds a new , rewarding place in the sport at the Mid-West Drag Racing Series By Nate Van Wagnen

The title of Event Marketing Director doesn ’ t fully represent all that Ellen Eschenbacher does behind the scenes at Keith Haney ’ s Mid-West Drag Racing Series . From working with sponsors to bouncing ideas back and forth among Haney , the racers and the series ’ track partners , it ’ s a big change from Eschenbacher ’ s days of live streaming dozens of different races across the country . It ’ s a time-consuming position that ’ s reduced her live streaming schedule , but what she does for the MWDRS more than makes up for what she ’ s missing .

“ I do miss the live feeds but still manage to squeeze in a couple on Thursdays as we test at MWDRS ,” Eschenbacher says . “ But I love to talk to the people . The wives , moms , girlfriends , grandparents , and kids are the reason I even started doing this . So they can see their racer and be able to know they are OK .”
As of this season , the MWDRS races are streamed live on MAVTV Plus , so Eschenbacher feels better about focusing on her other duties at the races . She has a diverse list of responsibilities , each of which draw from her various experiences in drag racing over the years .
“ My time with Tony Pedregon Racing taught me a lot of the business end and working oneon-one with sponsors ,” Eschenbacher begins . “ It also helped me with the event organization side . I also helped Dave Hance with the Shakedown at E ’ town and ORSCA previous to that . Even my time as a chef in Atlanta and in catering prepared me for this . Cooking for 2,000 people a day isn ’ t unlike a race with its many facets .”
Eschenbacher is grateful for the opportunity
to work with the MWDRS and Haney . She first started working with Haney and the series a few years ago , and it ’ s more recently turned into a full-time position . Since Haney works during the week as the co-owner of numerous car dealerships in the Tulsa area , as well as Tulsa Raceway Park , Eschenbacher is able to help keep things flowing between events . It ’ s become a synergistic relationship between the two .
“ I am so lucky to get to do that and work with Keith ,” Eschenbacher says . “ His work ethic is insane . No one knows what goes on behind the scenes in his life . He has given me the opportunity to get to put so much of me into the series . He lets me make mistakes and never gets really upset . He gives great advice . I know when I call him , he will answer , and we can make a quick plan together . Watching his life with Misty [ Hayes ], about to get married , is such a wonderful part , too .”
Eschenbacher has seen the series grow from a small Pro Mod-focused group to a true touring organization including Pro Modified , Top Alcohol Funny Car , Outlaw No-Time , Top Sportsman , Top Dragster and two Jr . Dragster classes . It ’ s hard to say where the series goes from here , but Eschenbacher knows she wants to be a part of it all .
“ I would love to see the series grow , but we have to do it smartly ,” says Eschenbacher , who also does some work for Mark Menscer and Menscer Motorsports , as well as E3xtreme Media . “ Adding a class or two seems easy on the outside but it takes so much back-end preparation . Time frames , parking , safety – it is all so huge . We are still a small organization of very few staff . We are a group who loves racing and value the racers and their input .” DI
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TARA BOWKER AND COLE ROKOSKY
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