Thursday, May 23, 2024

Spending a day at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals

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By Nick Massa | Contributing Writer

This weekend, the National Hot Rod Association is at the NHRA New England Nationals. While this event is only in its second event ever, as one of the newest tracks, last weekend, the tour was at one of the oldest.

For the 46th time, the NHRA stars came to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J for the historic Toyota NHRA Summernationals. It was the tours ninth event in its 24 event schedule.

Well, I am back again for another NHRA Drag Racing event. It has been a few years since I was here — and for the first time as a member of the media. Although I love this sport, I coach football, baseball, basketball, as well as scout for my sons, so my time has been filled up over the past eight years.

A few years ago, when they were 16 and 12 years old, I took them to Raceway Park for the first-time. When we first walked in, the Funny Cars were up and I told them both to put their headsets on, because the noise of the engines.

They refused and said, “No, Dad we are fine.” Well, the cars went down the track and they both would put their hands over their ears and looked over at me with amazement. It was a great time had by all that day.

This year; however, would be my first NHRA event as a writer for The Capital Sports Report. I was very fortunate to interview a special individual on Media Day, Wednesday, June 3rd, in Dote Racing‘s Leah Pritchett.

Is Pritchett, the driver of a Top Fuel dragster, on the cusp of joining the female-powered club? A life-long racer, who has won a round as a pro for the first time ever at historic Raceway Park in 2011, Pritchett is coming off her first career final round appearance at the NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta.

I would say, “Yes, because she is young, beautiful, and can go over 300 mph.” That’s hot enough to ignite any engine. She was not only humble when I interviewed her, but she was downright genuine. I told her that I had a special connection for women in racing and in sports – and I always root for the underdog.

From the looks of the way Leah has been racing lately, she won’t be an underdog for long. It’s only a matter of time before she picks up her first-career Top Fuel wally.

For eliminations, Pritchett qualified fourth with a 3.736 at 321.04 mph. That’s a good run and put her in a nice spot for Sunday. However, she spun the ties and was eliminated in the first round. After her run, she looked disappointed and I didn’t have the heart to ask her any questions until well after the race was over.

She is such a great competitor and I wouldn’t expect anything less from her.

On Sunday, well after she was eliminated, we walked around the pits and took some pictures. We tried to get an additional interview with her by the Dote Racing trailer. Out came Leah, who went to her golf cart, before being bombarded with fans wanting her autograph and pictures.

She was eliminated early, and she still made time out of her schedule to sign autographs and take pictures with fans. That’s what makes her so special, as she still went out of her way to make her fans happy.

I truly enjoyed myself at the race on Sunday. The smell of Nitro, the burning rubber, and of course, the fastest cars in the world racing down the track at over 300 mph. And who can forget some of the most beautiful women in racing pushing their cars to the limits. Truly priceless. indeed.

Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III is the Publisher of The Capital Sports Report. He has been in the Journalism field since August 2002. Since that time, Mr. Caruso has covered many marquee events. This includes 13 Heisman Trophy ceremonies, 2 Little World Series events, and one Army-Navy College Football game.
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