Inside Erica Enders’ love affair with the Gateway City
Some things just go together naturally like peanut butter and jelly, beer and pretzels, and lately, Erica Enders and World Wide Technology Raceway.
To be perfectly candid, Enders is a four-time world champion who wins almost everywhere, but statistically speaking, her success in St. Louis almost defies description. Consider that since the Camping World NHRA Series returned to the Gateway City in 2012, Enders has appeared in six Pro Stock finals and she’s now won five of them including last weekend’s barn-burner where she overcame rookie Dallas Glenn’s nearly perfect .001 reaction time.
Over that ten year span, Enders has a record of 27-5 in elimination rounds including 12-straight rounds over the last three years. Her last loss at WWTR came in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 event when she lost a close race against Tanner Gray. Since then, the Elite team has run the table.
At the end of the day, a regulation Pro Stock race is still 1,320 feet and while each NHRA venue has its own unique characteristics, one really shouldn’t differ greatly from another. Somehow, they do, especially in the context of a particular driver’s comfort level. Needless to say, Enders feels very comfortable in the shadows of the St. Louis arch and perhaps it’s simply because of familiarity.
“St. Louis has always been great to me,” said Enders. “I’ve been coming here since I was 16 years old driving a Super Comp dragster. Steve Torrence and I would load up pick-up trucks and trailers and with our parent’s permission come race. It’s always been great to me. I had a couple of semifinal finishes in the Super class racing and in my years in Pro Stock we’ve won here quite a bit.”
Enders scored her first St. Louis win in 2012 when she beat her buddy Allen Johnson on a holeshot. Enders won just two events in 2013, but one of them was in St. Louis and again, she won the final on a holeshot, this time over Mike Edwards. There was also a runner-up finish to Drew Skillman in 2015 that was a key component of Enders’ championship run that season.
“I don’t know what it is about this race track that is so kind to us but I’m grateful,” Enders said. “It’s magical. I think it’s awesome. There are a number of tracks that treat us well; Las Vegas, Bristol, Houston, and certainly this track. I don’t question it. I just go with it.”
For Enders, the timing of the St. Louis event is also advantageous. Initially a mid-summer event, it is now part of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which tends to give it an added level of importance for any would-be world champion.
This season, Enders came into the St. Louis event beaten and battered. An early loss in Charlotte left her 65 points behind Anderson. Winning rounds wasn’t a luxury, it was an absolute necessity.
“My sister has this saying that it all changes in St. Louis,” said Enders. “We’re halfway through the Countdown now. We put ourselves back within striking distance of Greg [Anderson] and we’ve just got to go to work. Honestly, I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence coming in. We’re getting crushed on the track right now. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled a bit behind the wheel. We still have a lot of work to compete for fifth championship, but I have the utmost confidence in my guys.
“This [Pro Stock racing] is all that matters aside from family. I carry a huge load of pressure and just needed to get back to having fun. I know there are 8 million people who would chew their arm off to be able to do what I do.”