Holding true to its reputation for tenacity, the Elite Motorsports team is already preparing for the 2024 season. The Oklahoma-based organization recently ended the 2023 season with a myriad of accomplishments, including a sixth NHRA Pro Stock world championship for Erica Enders and five drivers among Pro Stock’s Top 10. Rather than basking in the glow of their recent success, the largest professional team in drag racing has clarified its plans for the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.
While the team is making some big changes in a few areas, they also know better than to mess with success. Six-time Pro Stock world champion Enders will continue to pilot the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage/Melling Performance Camaro, while her teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. will sit behind the wheel of the JEGS/White Castle machine.
The biggest move involves two-time world champion Bo Butner, who is slated to be one member of a two-car Mountain Motor Pro Stock team with continued backing from Johnson's Horsepowered Garage, which is also the NHRA class sponsor. The other driver will be named at a later date. Butner will also transition to the role of Director of Team Development for Elite Motorsports.
"I am looking forward to racing the Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars in 2024," said Butner. "Helping with team development at Elite Motorsports is going to be a fun project to help ensure long-term success in and out of the race cars."
"This new position will help foster new talent in and out of the car. Having won NHRA events in six different categories and numerous bracket races, Bo is a perfect fit to help and head up this effort. We are in this for the long haul," added team owner Richard Freeman.
In related team news, Aaron Stanfield will drive a second Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage NHRA Pro Stock entry starting in 2024. This effort will continue to have support from longtime supporters Janac Brothers Racing and JC3 Energy Services. In addition, Melling has grown their involvement with Stanfield throughout the Countdown to the Championship to an associate level for the coming season.
"To say this has been a crazy couple of days would be an understatement," said Stanfield. "From winning Pro Stock at the [In-N-Out Burger NHRA] Finals, my wife having our second baby to now driving a Johnson's Horsepowered Garage car with the support of Melling and my longtime sponsors Janac Brothers Racing and JC3 Energy Service seems more like a dream than reality.”
“I’m very excited to further extend our partnership and relationship with Elite Motorsports,” said Jason Johnson, the owner of Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. “I have paid close attention to all the competitors the last few seasons, and Aaron is definitely a premier driver," said Johnson. "He is all business at the track, and JHG is looking forward to being there for all his future successes!”
“I am [also] really looking forward to watching the new Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars and think Bo’s new role with Elite will help the growth and support of all its teams.”
In one of the most highly anticipated additions for the 2024 season, veteran seven-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. will return full time in an exciting partnership with Scag Power Equipment and their more than 1,500-strong dealer network. Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer will also play a major role in his return."
“Being back behind the wheel at the Tulsa [Okla.] test and the Vegas and Pomona races these past couple weeks was extremely enjoyable,” Coughlin stated. “The feel and acceleration of the car, working with team Elite drivers and crew, and working with our great partners, namely Scag, surpassed my expectations and solidified in my mind that I wanted to make a run for future Pro Stock championships. I really look forward to working with the team at Scag Power Equipment to learn and help grow the relations with their dealer network and end users.”
“We have been proud of our association with Elite Motorsports,” said Randy Gloede, President/CEO of Metalcraft of Mayville, the parent company of SCAG Power Equipment. “Erica has done great at giving our dealer partners an experience that they will never forget. We are now excited to also partner with Jeg to enhance our dealer and Scag Power Equipment user group’s experience.”
Jerry Tucker will return to the team in 2024 with continued support from Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer. Tucker, of Lindsay, Okla., has spent the last 30 years racing everything from Sprint cars to Midgets and has also enjoyed success in drag racing. Tucker previously raced in the Top Sportsman class before joining the Pro Stock class for the 2023 season.
"I am really excited to return in 2024 and pick up where I left off,” said Tucker. “I learned a lot during my rookie year, and I have close to 100 laps under my belt. Having Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer on the car for a full season is going to be clean, crisp, and crushable."
The Cuadra family is excited to return in 2024 with support from Corral Boots and Cuadra brands for a four-car effort in NHRA's most competitive professional class. Fernando Cuadra Sr. and his three boys Fernando Jr., Cristian, and David are all looking forward to competing in 2024. In addition, the Corral Boots/Cuadra pop-up experience was at the final three NHRA national events in 2023. This unit serves as a mobile retail and marketing display using a 53" custom trailer that was designed by Elite Motorsports.
"Working with Fernando Sr., his boys, and everyone back in Leon, Mexico, has been great," stated Freeman. "Racing as a family is what it's all about, and we have seen tremendous growth in the on-track performance. There are plenty of wins on the horizon for this talented family of drivers. Working with Corral Boots and Cuadra on the business side has been very rewarding, and we are looking forward to a full tour of events for the mobile pop-up experience in 2024."
"I am really excited about next season, I feel confident with my race car and my team. Everything is moving in the right direction," explained Cristian Cuadra. "The way all of the Elite guys are supporting me makes me feel like I'm already a champion. I can't wait for 2024."
Melling Performance and Melling Engine Parts have been involved with Enders for a number of years and will continue to support her through all of her endeavors with Elite. This relationship has grown within the team at Elite Motorsports to include the Melling brands in a more comprehensive manner.
“What a blessing it's been to ride with Erica the past seven seasons,” said Mark Melling, Melling Engine Parts CEO. “We really enjoyed our involvement with Aaron last year as well. We look forward to 2024 with fingers crossed there will be a fifth championship in Pro Stock with Melling’s involvement!”
CTech Manufacturing will also have a more visible and engaged role in the Elite Motorsports program. Beginning in 2024, CTech Manufacturing will become the Official Tool Storage Provider for Elite Motorsports.
“We're incredibly proud to have CTech Manufacturing named the Official Tool Storage Provider of Elite Motorsports heading into the 2024 racing season,” said Mike Greenheck, Vice President of CTech Manufacturing. “As a longtime supporter, it's a pleasure to see the team continue to succeed at the highest level of NHRA competition. We are confident CTech's aluminum cabinets, carts, and drawers will keep the teams efficient and organized between rounds, helping them focus on what they do best: winning.”
The roster of Team Elite supporters also includes CHE Precision, High Performance Lubricants, Comp Cams, TMS Titanium, NGK Spark Plugs, Mac Tools, Under Armour, BENMIT Tubular, CFE Racing Products, Cometic Gaskets and CP-Carrilo Service, Crown Group, and CBR Air.