Drag Illustrated Issue 182, May / June 2023 | Page 154

ported me , specifically my wife , Alisha . I promised her I ’ d never do another race just a few years ago because of the stress , the anxiety , and the sleepless nights . There were three years there when we were doing the WSOPM in Denver in 2017 , 2018 , and 2019 . Just because of the logistical challenges of that venue being so far out West , being at such altitude and the date we chose in August , it was a tough one . It was a real uphill battle , but I think those challenges put us in a good position this year .
I remember lying awake at night , not sleeping at all , watching the ceiling fan spin until the sun came up , just terrified of the next phone call from the next racer that was going to call and tell me they weren ’ t going to be able to make it or the inevitable letdown that would come when I knew there was a guy that said he was going to come , but I kind of knew in my heart that he wasn ’ t going to .
All that said , having decided many times never to put on a race and to have Alisha trust me and believe in me blindly means the world . I ’ ve missed so many things – events and get-togethers – because I ’ ve been chasing this dream , and having their support throughout it has been pretty special . They really made it possible . They ’ re who I do it for , because as much as I love the sport of drag racing and as much as I love Pro Mod and throwing a party , this is how I choose to provide for my family . It ’ s the only way I know how to provide for my family , to be quite honest , and they support me .
Vic Alvarez and the gang at Bradenton Motorsports Park – that ’ s a special group of people . Going back to that , meeting me in the middle , giving me as much as I give them , that ’ s Vic Alvarez , that ’ s Wade Rich , that ’ s Gavin Carter , that ’ s Morgan Taylor . I feel like I ’ m in a partnership
with this group of people , and that is unique in this day and age . The race would not have been possible , in my opinion , anywhere else . I don ’ t think we could have done what we did anywhere else in the world .
I know that ’ s a pretty bold proclamation because there are a ton of incredible racetracks and a ton of incredible operators in the country , but there ’ s something special happening down there at Bradenton Motorsports Park . The location , the time of year , the weather – all these things contribute to it , but there are some young , firedup , determined people operating that facility . They were a perfect match for us . I may eat my words at some point , but I don ’ t care to do a race anywhere else . When I left on Sunday night , Vic told me , “ You ’ ve got the keys to this place , whatever you want to do ,” and he means it . I told him that I don ’ t want to do anything anywhere else . This is my spot , my home away from home .
Besides my Drag IllustrateD squad and the BMP squad , we had a lot of sponsors and people that stepped up . Jim and Annie Whiteley at J & A Service are one of them . Jim supported me for a long time , and I truly believe he believes in me . It feels good to have somebody as accomplished as Jim choose us . He can do whatever he wants and has supported every imaginable sanctioning series and different types of drag racing .
There was a moment on Sunday when , unfortunately , his son , Steven Whiteley , another one of our longtime supporters , just missed the show . There was a moment I was down on the starting line , and I looked up in the stands , and
Jim Whiteley and Steven and their crew were all sitting in the stands watching . I got chills . You don ’ t see that anywhere else . If you don ’ t qualify at an NHRA national event , by Sunday , you ’ re halfway home . The fact that a large majority of the people who didn ’ t qualify stayed and supported the event – that was a real moment .
Richard Freeman and the team at Elite Motorsports – Royce Lee and Robert Freeman , the Enders girls , Scott “ Woody ” Woodruff , and that whole gang – they don ’ t ask me a lot of questions , but I ask them if they want to be involved in something that I ’ m doing and they always say yes . They rarely ask for a time , date , and location because none of that matters ; if we ’ re doing it , they ’ re doing it , and that is special out here .
Marty Robertson , a Fort Worth friend of mine , a relationship that I ’ ve developed over the course of the last four or five years , has become a great friend of mine and another guy that stepped up to support the event in a big way with his new Type A Motorsports brand .
One that I have to mention is Tommy and Judy Franklin , the owners of the PDRA . Tommy was one of our invitees that made the show on Sunday . Those human beings are special . I ’ m very proud of the fact that pretty much every Pro Mod sanction or series in the world was represented at the WSOPM , but no one really showed up and showed the kind of support that the PDRA did .
We had the stars of the Mid-West Drag Racing Series . We had the reigning NMCA world champion . We had the reigning Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association champion . They all showed up , and I ’ m very appreciative of that , obviously , but the PDRA , I felt they behaved as if they were a country sending citizen athletes to the Olympics . I was watching the television broadcast , and this is
154 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 182