I’m really glad I’ve been sharing this diary with you because when – and if – things slow this week I’ll spend more time than usual online to read about the NHRA Winternationals.
Can you believe that Leah Pritchett – me – won the Top Fuel title Sunday at my home track in Pomona! Really, our Papa John’s Pizza team won all four of our rounds to get my second NHRA Wally Trophy and the first with Don Schumacher Racing. And the night before the Papa John’s team with crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Joe Barlam sent our dragster to four win lights.
I can’t say all the memories that flashed back when my DSR teammate Matt Hagan and I were driven in front of the crowd to the winner’s circle. Matt and I are backed by Dodge and Mopar and we’re powered by Pennzoil. Matt also won the Funny Car pole. That gave our boss, Don Schumacher, a double-double and he didn’t have to go to In-N-Out to get it.
I’ve mentioned Don, Todd and Joe. I wouldn’t have been in the winner’s circle without first my parents and family, and Ron Thames of FireAde who provided the sponsorship for me to get started with DSR midway through last year. And of course, “Papa” John Schnatter and all of his franchisees became our primary sponsor this season and has delivered so much to making this happen.
Everyone back at DSR headquarters from our front office to our fabrication and machine shops own a part of this Wally. And there would not have been any celebrating for our team last night were it not for our teammates. Don has a collection of the best drivers in professional drag racing.
In the semifinals, I beat one of my teammates Tony Schumacher and was pretty amped about outrunning the eight-time champ. Tony was one of my first drag racing heroes when I was 14 and still is.
As big as that one was and beating Doug Kalitta in the final round, another monumental win was in the second round when I outran Steve Torrence. Steve is one of the best, and I’m very close to his family.
Oh yeah, my husband Gary Pritchett is Steve’s clutch specialist.
There is no more competitive couple than us. It’s very intense when we have to race each other. We don’t talk when we’re in competition and before we have to race each other, we do not even make eye contact in the staging lanes. But Gary is my rock and always has been. He’s been there for me every step of the way. He understands my commitment to succeeding in this sport. He encourages me. He motivates me.
As much as I love where I am today in NHRA Mello Yello racing, I love him even more.