Hello Dote Racing fans! I’m once again writing from our shop in Monroe, OH. I drove over this morning from Avon, Indiana where I live. I got here just in time to go out to lunch with the guys. We were all talking about our plans for the long weekend. Doug Kuch, Tad Hefleck, Brandon Hazelton, and Justin Sturgill have been working hard since the minute they got back from our last race in Topeka. They rarely get days off, but thankfully they will have 3 days for Memorial Day this weekend. I think the general consensus is that they have a lot of projects at home that they have to catch up on.
We just got back from racing at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a late-spring event in the middle of America. It was sunny but not too hot or humid. In fact, for eliminations on Sunday morning, the air was so good, our first round opponent and a lot of other dragsters ran in the 3.70s. We dropped a cylinder right at the hit, and just didn’t have enough. We lost to Steve Torrence who qualified #2 and won the last race in Atlanta. We knew we had a tough opponent. Hopefully we will beat him next time.
It was only our 4th race while most other teams have already run twice as many events. We are getting better every time we go out there. We learned a lot from Topeka; all we can do is improve, and I’m confident that we will.
I was pretty busy the week leading up to the race. Doug and Justin picked me up in Indiana on their way to Topeka Tuesday morning. Doug and Justin drive our FX Caprarra Dodge to and from every race. Tad and Brandon drive our two semi- trucks. We drove all day and got checked into our hotel before sundown.
That worked out well because I had to be up early the next morning for a radio show appearance on Legends Country 106.9 with Lani Novak. It was really fun. I like radio and Lani was super easy to talk to. We gave away some tickets for the race to a lucky listener who answered our trivia question correctly. Lani asked what year I won Top Fuel in Topeka. The first caller said 2008 which was the right answer.
After the radio show, I met up with Raymond and Nancy Irwin, owners of Heartland Park Topeka. They were kind enough to let me borrow a Dodge Charger from Briggs Auto to drive since I had more appearances to do that day. It was interesting talking to them. Mr. Irwin told me that he had an economic impact study conducted and they found that the NHRA Summernationals impacts the local economy by about $160 million every year. That’s great news!
Next I went to downtown Topeka for an interview on V100 Rock Station with Forest. He then invited me and my team to Hooters for an event that evening where they would be promoting the race. Tad, Brandon, Justin, and I ended up going. Hooters isn’t my favorite place but my teammates enjoyed it, and I had the opportunity to go on the air again with V100 since they were broadcasting live.
I also did an interview with an AM sports talk radio show with Jake Lebahn and Mark Elliott. I could tell they were stick and ball guys, but I still tried my best to get them and their listeners excited about the race.
Thursday is setup day at the track, so the guys are there most of the day. One of our sponsors, Dave Stickland was there helping to clean. He introduced us to Adam’s Car Care Polish and we love it.
After all the cleaning he did, Dave was kind enough to drive me to downtown Topeka for the first annual “Speed Fest,” which had a great fan turnout. There were different booths set up and show cars there. A number of other NHRA drivers and I did a two-hour autograph session and encouraged everyone to come out to the race. It was really fun.
After that, we had a team dinner as we usually do on Thursday night. Our team owners, Connie Dote and Lynn Dote arrived Thursday along with our fly-in guys, Glenn Camp, Steve Moore, Charlie Zellman, and Chris Cycak. We all went to Famous Dave’s. It’s fun to hang out with everyone and relax before our weekend gets started.
Our next race is in Bristol, Tennessee, June 15-17. We aren’t racing in Englishtown this year but hopefully we will next year after we secure enough funding to contest the whole schedule. I’ll be there spectating and supporting Matt and his Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle team. Also my sister, Jessica, is coming in from California so she and I will get to spend some time together.
Matt and I have some fun stuff planned for this three-day weekend that I’m really looking forward to. We had a great few days after Topeka celebrating his birthday which was on Monday, the 21st. We had one quiet party at home and one party with all his Indiana friends and family at Boulder Creek in Brownsburg. Happy Birthday Matthew!
I hope you all have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. A very special thanks to all the women and men who have served our country.
Hello from the Dote Racing shop in Monroe, Ohio. We just back from racing at Atlanta Dragway and are preparing to leave for our next race in Topeka next week. It will be just our fourth race of the season. We look forward to getting our first round win at Heartland Park. Our Dote Racing team, led by Doug Kuch, is gaining experience, gathering data, and getting better with every race.
Although we didn’t win the race, we did get a picture of our Dote Racing dragster on the front page of the Athens Banner-Herald for our qualifying efforts. It’s always good for our team to get media exposure. I think our car is very photogenic. The fans are always telling us how much they like our colors and paint scheme.
And now our dragster has a little twin going down the track. Kimberly Klein of White Sulfur Springs, New York races her Jr. Dragster and recently had our painter, Ryan Korek of Korek Designs, paint her car to look like ours. I love how it turned out.
Kimberly went to the finals in her first race with the new paint. I think it would be so cool if she and I could line up next to each other and launch our cars. I got to spend some time with Kimberly and her family at the 4-wides. Here’s a pic of her, our team owner, Connie Dote, and her mom, Chrissy Klein. I hope they do lots of winning!
I’m always supportive of the other female racers. At ZMax Dragway, I was rooting for Michelle Furr when she won Super Comp a couple of weeks ago. I was fortunate to finally meet her last weekend. I used to race super comp also, so I know how tough it is to win a national event.
Super-class racers have to win almost twice as many rounds as the pro categories. I also got to meet Michelle’s daughter, Madi, who won in her Jr. Dragster following her mom’s big win. Michelle and Madi said they are fans of ours as well. Congrats again to the both of them!
My favorite fan of the weekend has to be Kendra Reddy. I met her and her dad years ago when it was Kendra’s first race. Now she loves coming to the races. She never forgot about me when I wasn’t driving, and she says she always roots for our team on TV. She and her dad stopped by our pit a couple of times over the weekend. My days at the racetrack are always better when I get to talk with great fans like Kendra.
Hopefully we will have three great days at Topeka and bring home the Wally. Heartland Park is one of my favorite tracks since I have good luck and good memories there.
Wow! What a wild weekend! Our Dote Racing team just got home from the 4-wide race at zMax Dragway. We qualified in the No. 11 spot after only making two qualifying runs. Then we faced a tough group in our first round. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short, but our team is getting better with every run. We are gathering data and learning a lot. It won’t be long, and we will be running with the best of them.
At this point we just need to make more runs. Most of the other teams have had five races and a lot of testing already this year. This was only our second race. We will continue to work the rust off my driving and crew chief, Doug Kuch, will continue to figure out our new car and all our new parts and pieces. It will be nice when we secure additional funding and can race the full season and test more. In the meantime, we will do our best. We have terrific team owners, smart, hardworking team members, and all the best parts.
In my last blog, I told you about what Doug, Tad, Brandon, Justin, and I do before the rest of our team arrives. Our team owners, Connie Dote, flew in on Thursday with her father in-law Lynn Dote. Connie is the manager for our team. She works really hard at making sure the team is organized and well prepared for all the events. Connie used to be a softball coach so she is also like a coach to us. She’s always very encouraging and gives good advice when she sees that I’m nervous or not happy about my performance. Also she is the eyes and ears for her husband, Mike, who has to stay home back in upstate New York and run their business. His Dad, Lynn, is able to escape for a few days. He mixes our fuel and makes sure everything runs smoothly. I took this picture with him and Doug.
Glenn Camp, our car chief, also flew in on Thursday. He is in charge of blowers, but when he’s not at the track, he works at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. The week before the race he was working 12-hour shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He arrived Thursday afternoon with no sleep after his twelve hour shift and flight. Then on Sunday after the race, he was back at work that night for another 12 hour shift. That’s dedication.
Our whole team is very dedicated. Besides Glenn, three of our other guys also have full time jobs and use their vacation time to work on our team. Charlie Zellman, who works on the clutch and buckles me in the car, flew in Thursday after a busy week of work where he is a Transportation Engineer with the Maryland State Highway Administration. Steve Moore, clutch assistant, and Chris Cycak, right side engine, drove in on Friday morning and had to be to work bright and early on Monday morning. All in all, these guys are great and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.
The fan turnout was awesome at zMax Dragway. I met people who came from Australia, Costa Rica, Aruba, Michigan, Maine, and lots of places to see the 4-Wides in person. It seemed like there were a lot of young people there too which was really cool. I always like for everyone to sign our fan banner. It means a lot to have so much support. We will keep the banners forever.
My boyfriend, Matt Hines, flew to Charlotte for the race even though his team had the weekend off. It was really nice to have him there. He, Connie, and I went to our first ever tweetup at Dave and Busters on Saturday night. A tweetup is where people who communicate on Twitter get together and hang out in person. John Amorosano, @NitroJohn, organized the event. It was nice to finally meet some of the people I’ve been talking to on Twitter. They are all so supportive and encouraging. Other drivers went, and it’s always good to talk with them too since we all get so busy at the track and don’t have much time to hang out. Doug Herbert, Larry Dixon, Blake Alexander, Alexis DeJoria, Terry McMillen, and Andrew and Dina Parise were all there.
Matt and I also had the opportunity to visit the Bruton Smith suite on Sunday and hang out with Kim Heard, her family, and some of our fans. It was awesome to hang out with them and watch 4-wide from that vantage point. It’s so cool to see that much horsepower at the same time. I’m thankful I got to be a part of it.
The next race on the schedule for our Dote Racing team is the Southern Nationals near Atlanta, GA. Doug, Brandon, Tad, and Justin are working hard at the shop. I’ll be counting down the days until it’s time to race again.
Hello from zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. I thought would do something different and give you a few updates from the track, as time allows. Usually we only talk about the actual race and a lot of people are curious about what else goes on for our team.
Our two Dote Racing 18 wheelers rolled out of our shop on Monday evening with crew members, Brandon Hazelton driving one and Tad Hefleck driving the other. They drove all night in order to miss traffic. They arrived at zMax Dragway in the wee hours of the morning and then they got to catch up on some rest before they got the trucks washed and emptied the tanks.
I left home on Tuesday morning about 5 for the shop in Ohio. Then Doug Kuch, Justin Sturgill, and I drove our team’s FX Caprara Dodge Durango to meet Brandon and Tad. It’s about an 8 and a half hour trip from our shop –including a short stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch.
Officials don’t allow us to park in the pits on Tuesday so all the teams just park in the field across from the track so we leave them there for the night. We got checked into our hotel and got settled in. Then we went to a good dinner at Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant. Our crew chief, Doug, has some entertaining racing stories that keep us laughing. I like getting to the race early. It’s nice to hang out with the team before racing starts.
Wednesday we parked about 11:30 to setup. Doug does his crew chief stuff and helps out Tad, Brandon, and Justin roll out the flooring, the awning, the lights, fans, tables, wash stations, and all the stuff. We don’t even get the car out. Wednesday is about setting up the pit area and cleaning. I try to stay out of the way because they like to get this part done as quickly as possible and they have their system. I stay busy by cleaning the lounges, the bathrooms, and anything else that needs cleaning. Plus I’ll help out with any misc. things that need to be done and of course update my Facebook and Twitter pages as often as possible. If I have a media event or something else, like the Globetrotters game that I went to last race, then I’ll go to that. Oh and sometimes I’ll make a lunch run for the guys.
Once we got done with our setup, which went fairly quickly, Doug, Tad, Justin, Brandon, and I went up to the starting line and discussed the change in procedures for four wide racing compared to what we’re used to with two-wide racing. I studied the 4 wide Tree a little so I know what to expect once I’m all strapped in and ready to run. Most of us racers try to do the same thing every time and don’t really have to think too much about the procedure; we don’t have “time” to think about the procedure. It has to all be automatic. Throw in a slight change, like doubling the number of racecars going at the same time, and we have to prepare ourselves for the differences.
Today (Thursday) we rolled out the car out and we’ll get it teched-in and weighed. I took a walk through the pits and saw that most of the teams are here and setting up. I’m always impressed by the amount of work that all these crews do to make our teams run. If you’ve ever walked around the pits, you will notice how immaculate and clean all the teams keep their equipment. The manufactures midway is pretty impressive too. All the setup and take down can’t be easy.
Anyway, the rest of our team and the Dotes will arrive at various times today. It should be a fun weekend. I’ll try to keep you updated as much as possible via NHRA blog, Facebook, and Twitter.