Pro Stock driver Drew Skillman, the reigning Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner, has parted company with the Elite Motorsports team ahead of this weekend’s NHRA New England Nationals in Epping.
In a related announcement, Skillman has joined Gray Motorsports and will campaign his Skillman Auto Group Camaro as a teammate to Shane Gray. Skillman’s car will be tuned by Finnish native and veteran crew chief Tomi Laine, a two-time European Pro Stock champion.
This season, the first under the new NHRA rules that permit electronic fuel injection in Pro Stock, Skillman has driven to three semifinal appearances in eight races with the Elite team and is currently the fourth-ranked driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points standings. Skillman had been competing as part of a four-car effort that also includes Erica Enders, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Vincent Nobile, all of whom currently sit outside the top five in points.
Elite owner Richard Freeman emphasized that the choice to leave was Skillman’s.
"Evidentially, things weren't moving fast enough for the Skillmans, even though Drew is fourth in the points right now, and they started shopping around for another team,” he said. “I asked Ray [Skillman, Drew's grandfather and sponsor] point blank if he was looking to make a move, and he said they were, so I wished them luck.
"We recognize the team hasn't performed up to the championship standards we're used to here,” he added. “We knew it would be a challenge to switch over to fuel injection, and it certainly has been. But we're working harder than ever to get our performance back to where it needs to be, and we will get there.”
A third-generation racer who often competes alongside his grandfather, Ray, and his father, Bill, Skillman burst on to the scene in 2012 when he won the Super Stock and Stock titles on the same day in Atlanta. Skillman made his Pro Stock debut in 2015 as part of the Elite team and reached the final round in his first event in Pomona. Skillman went on to win his first Pro Stock event in St. Louis and finished the season as the No. 5 driver in the class.
Skillman won St. Louis for his first Professional victory and raced to four final rounds in his rookie season. He had three No. 1 qualifiers and ended up fifth in the final points standings.