Like most kids growing up in the 1970s, Scott Palmer grew up idolizing motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel so when he had a chance to visit the Evel Knievel Museum in last year’s Heartland Nationals, it se the stage for the one-race sponsorship that has been a huge hit at this year’s Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals. Palmer’s car sports a special paint scheme and his custom firesuit, which features a detachable cape, has also been a huge hit with the fans.
“When I was here last year, I met the guys who run the museum and I showed them a picture of my living room at home and one whole wall is nothing but Evel Knievel memorabilia,” said Palmer. “They knew that I was a huge fan and before I left, I had a small deal in place, but it eventually grew into a bigger promotion with Magic Dry. It’s been a big hit with the fans here and it’s by far one of my favorite deals that we’ve ever done. Evel might not have been a Saint in his personal life, but the kids who watched him jump in the 1970s didn’t care. He was their hero. I thought he was the coolest guy in the world.”
As much as he may have idolized Knievel, Palmer doesn’t consider himself a daredevil. In fact, his approach is far more calculated, especially where his Magic Dry Top Fuel dragster is concerned. After a rough start to the 2019 season, Palmer has made steady progress with a round win at four-straight events. Even though that streak was snapped a week ago in Chicago, Palmer believes he’s headed in the right direction.
“We have had a good couple of races and that’s because we’ve become more aggressive,” said Palmer. “Sometimes it costs us but that’s what we need to do to be successful. We need to be more aggressive in qualifying. That’s the one area where we should be able to improve. In Chicago, we had a blower malfunction and we went into the last session not qualified. I think some of my people were nervous, but I wasn’t. Hell, I raced for 15 years like that; wondering if I was going to be out there on Sunday. I thought those days were behind me but that was a good dose of reality.”
This weekend in Topeka, Palmer ran a respectable 3.89 on Friday night and that was good for only the No. 11 spot and that means a round one date against Antron Brown. Given the drastic change in weather conditions that took place overnight, Palmer figures he’s got a fighting chance against the three-time champion.
“Up until a couple of years ago, I would have wanted it to be hot and nasty on Sunday because I felt that was a big equalizer,” Palmer said. “Now, with the support I have from Tommy Thompson and the help I get from the Capco crew, we do what we can to try and run fast. We know we can run with the big teams. We just need to do it consistently. That’s our mentality. When Tommy first approached me, he asked me what my goals were and I told him, ‘I’m tired of being a chump. I want to win races.’ So that’s our mentality.
“This is my third year running the full tour and I never in a million years would have thought I’d have been able to do this,” Palmer said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m not going to let it go by.”