I was beginning to think I would never get to say this: I’m back!! After being out of Top Fuel for over three years, I finally get to make a comeback. Dote Racing hired me and made it possible for me to license again. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this opportunity. Our first race is two weeks from today in Gainesville, March 9-11.
I’m so very thankful that the Dote family made me their driver so I can get back to doing what I love. The Dotes are as passionate about NHRA drag racing as I am. Lynn, his wife, Sue, their son, Mike, and daughter in-law, Connie, have been winning races a long time in sportsman drag racing. Now they want to do more winning in Top Fuel. They are racing in honor of their son-in-law Chad Wilcox who passed away in 2009. We have pictures of him on our car. He was a passionate racer too, and we will do our absolute best to get to the winner’s circle in his honor.
Our Dote Racing team, which is based in Monroe, Ohio, is planning on running 11-12 races this year beginning at the Gatornationals. We are actively seeking sponsorship and we hope to be able to run the full season and contend for the Full Throttle Championship in 2013 and beyond.
The Dote family is providing our team, led by crew chief Doug Kuch, with everything we need to be competitive. We just had a new car built by Murf McKinney and we have a shop full of parts and pieces that the team is diligently working on every day. I went to Murf’s in Lafeyette, Ind., a few times over the winter to get fitted for car. I was fortunate to be able to give input about where the clutch and throttle pedal should be in relation to how I sit in the car, in addition to the brake handle, chute levers, reverser, steering wheel etc.
We took our new car painted by Korek Designs down to the Florida sunshine in January and made about nine runs. We were testing some new combinations and getting our team all on the same page and working well together. Our team is comprised of car chief, Glenn Camp, plus three full time guys: Brandon Hazelton, Justin Sturgill, and Tad Heflick. We have three fly-in guys who have other full-time jobs; Charlie Zellman, Steve Moore, and Chris Cycak. They all have very different experiences and talents that they bring to our team. I’ll tell you about each of them in future blogs. Maybe I can talk one of them into writing a blog in the future.
I can’t wait to see all of my fans around the country. Many of them have become my friends. I’m so thankful that a lot of people kept in contact with me via Facebook, Twitter, and email. They were so encouraging during a time when we didn’t know if I would ever get to race Top Fuel again. My fans are amazing!
My boyfriend, Matt, is also amazing. He’s been by my side supporting me for the last few years. I don’t know what I would do without him. He flew down to Florida for testing and took a couple rare days off work to be there. He knew I was pretty nervous about getting back in Top Fuel after so long, so it was really nice having him there. And a fun little fact about us is that we got each other the exact same Valentine’s Day cards. What are the chances of that?
It will be great to have my family at some races this year too. I did get to spend a lot of time with them over the last three years so I’m thankful for that. I even went back and lived with my Mom for a while. (thankfully she didn’t mind having her adult child back in the house) I got to be there when my sister, Kim, won her first Wally at Samoa Dragstrip. I also was there when my other sister, Jessica, graduated high school. These are things I could never do while being on the racing tour. Being around my family for a while really helped me because they have all been so very encouraging and supportive
I’m really looking forward to having my Dad, Grandpa, and the rest of my family come out to our races again. They have always supported my racing career 120 percent. I’m running out of words to describe how thankful I am for the people who are close to me. It will be an awesome day when I get to have my family, the Dote family, my teammates, Matt, and some fans all in the winner’s circle together.
See you all in Gainesville where we will begin our quest to do just that!