Top Fuel rookie Jake Opatrny and the Leverich Racing team have chosen a “home game” for their next assault on the field, competing at the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by Peak Performance.
Opatrny, of McHenry, Ill., will run the event with Chicago Federation of Labor/Proud Union Home as primary sponsor. Opatrny is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 and is excited to promote them in Top Fuel competition.
The Chicago Federation of Labor is an umbrella organization for unions in Chicago, Ill., and is affiliated with more than 300 labor unions and represents more than 500,000 workers. Proud Union Home is a nationally recognized campaign developed by the Chicago Federation of Labor to help union members and supporters show their pride and America's labor movement and the middle class and offers merchandise such as yard signs garden flags, doormats, T-shirts, and more.
“We are excited to be able to highlight our nationally recognized Proud Union Home Brand on Jake Opatrny’s Top Fuel dragster,” said Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “As a member of Operating Engineers Local 150, the CFL knows that Jake understands that Proud Union Home is more than an icon, but a way of life for working families.”
"I'm really excited about running at Route 66 Raceway because the last time I was there, in 2019, I was just a fan walking the pits and watching the races from the wall,” said Opatrny, who licensed in late 2021 in Del Worsham’s dragster. “It's where my drag racing passion started years ago and launched a lifelong obsession. As soon as I saw my first pair of Top Fuel cars, I said to myself, 'I want to do that,' and I never stopped thinking about it. It’s going to be cool to be able to run at my home track, in front of friends and family who I've driven nuts for pretty much my whole life about wanting to do this. Now they will finally have a chance to watch me do it. It's also where I made my first passes in a Super Comp car through Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School.”
Opatrny made his Pro debut last year in St. Louis in the Leverich car with backing from the Illinois State AFL-CIO as part of Opatrny’s #UnionStrong campaign in which he encourages unions to stand in solidarity with each other and promote the hashtag.
"We all work tirelessly to try to find the sponsors and the money to go to these events,” he said. “Chicago is the big one, it's our Super Bowl, because it's where the majority of my marketing pull exists, and Illinois is probably the largest union state in the country.”
Opatrny will also be flying the colors of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 (Countryside, Ill.), the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 9 ( Denver Colo.), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 117 (Crystal Lake, Ill.), and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 701 (DuPage County, Ill.)
Additional help will come from Foundation Mechanics, Automotion Training & Consulting, Burromax Mini Bikes, Goodson, Mark’s Mixers, Specialized Auto Craft, Superior Engine, Hi Tech Cam, Smith Systems, Edge Welding Supply, and DA Lubricants. Opatrny is also working with Mission 22 representing the 22 a Day campaign, bringing awareness to veteran suicide.
Opatrny and the Leverich team also ran this year’s Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals and is hoping to put what they learned there into practice at Route 66 Raceway.
"We're confident going into the weekend,” he said. “I think the car will probably run a career-best right out in the trailer. When we were in Gainesville, we kind of had to start at square one from the incident we had in St. Louis, where the crank busted. We put a new engine together and just kind of crept up on it, and we learned a lot. We think the car will be stronger than ever, and we're very optimistic to see what kind of numbers we'll throw up on the board.”