Cameron Ferre applies a large decal to Terry Haddock’s Funny Car, the bright Joliet sun making the process difficult – evidenced by a junked sticker resting on top of the black body. Ferre won’t drive this car; he pilots the Top Fuel dragster that sits alongside the Funny Car. The Huntington Beach native is part of the skeleton crew that keeps both cars running, hence decal duty.
“It’s harder than it looks,” he says with the same grin that may have helped him towards a career in film. He acted as a child, though that probably seems like a long time ago as he kneels in a parking lot outside the Route 66 Raceway cathedral with grease on his face. “The sun makes it pretty much impossible to get the thing to stick.”
That poses a problem for Haddock’s race team. Yes, every team uses decals and wraps in 2019. Paint is heavy and don’t even get us started on lead-based jobs; but few teams (save perhaps Alex Laughlin circa 2018) will apply and re-apply as often as Haddock and Ferre hope to over the course of the season.
Showing up at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals is something of a dangerous gamble for the light-walleted team. There are 20 dragsters on the property – that’s a tough nut to crack for a team that hopes to run in the mid-3.90s and employ the “park and pray” strategy. That’s not from lack of respect for the sport; they just can’t afford to do more than that right now.
Ferre, Haddock and the team did its job on Friday during the first qualifying session. The 33-year-old ran a 3.95, qualified 13th and will sweat it out on Saturday as seven dragsters attempt to move up the qualifying sheet. With the forecast looking dicey, it might not be sporting, but it would be hard to blame Ferre if he prayed for rain.
Haddock wheels his golf cart through the pits with the same determined expression he has on his face every time he appears on the midway.
“How’re you doing buddy,” he cries out. His reply to the same question remains the same it’s ever been: “Surviving.”
Ferre didn’t come from money – though he recognizes his own privilege to be in the seat of a Top Fuel dragster. He’s married and his wife gave birth to a son nine months ago. He works full time at RacePak. His parents, who also live in Huntington Beach, watch his son while the parents work. That’s a benefit almost as rare as driving a Top Fueler – and he knows it.
“I know I’m lucky with everything I do, and that kind of keeps me going,” said Ferre. “I try to put a positive spin on everything. When we get some money to keep going, that’s a good thing. I want to come out here and just keep going. It’s exhausting, but I also know that right now it’s absolutely worth it.”
Hard work doesn’t always result in success, but for someone with big dreams … it wouldn’t be so bad if all Ferre’s work turned into something great.