NHRA Top Fuel points leader Leah Pritchett has enjoyed her rise to drag racing prominence, but she had some humble beginnings.
Something of a child prodigy, starting at 8 years old and winning 37 competitions in just eight years, she wasn’t afraid to start from the bottom. Fresh out of college in 2010, Pritchett broke into the Top Fuel ranks and worked on everything from balancing the budget, speaking with sponsors and she even used her college communications degree to write press releases.
What brought Pritchett through those times was her noticeable passion for the sport.
“Honestly, I think I value this more than a lot of the other drivers,” she said. “Not that they didn’t at one time. . . . I’ve fought for so long. I’m not going to blanket (my) passion.”
She didn’t let that slow her, though. She joined Don Schumacher Racing and secured a sponsorship from Papa John’s pizza. And she started this season with a bang, winning the first two races of the season — the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., and the Arizona Nationals in Chandler, Ariz.
Pritchett added another victory at the Springnationals in Baytown, Texas, a runner-up showing at the Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C., and two semifinal appearances in the first eight races of the season.
Her success as of late, though, hasn’t gotten the best of her.
“The ramp of the success has been unbelievable . . . but I’ve been in this sport for so long that I know it could turn at any moment, because it’s such a humbling sport,” said Pritchett.
“One of the biggest factors for handling it has been the way my team is handling it,” she continued. “It’s easy to let your confidence soar through the roof, but we check ourselves.”
Her success has landed her plenty of interviews and time in the spotlight to display her passion and charisma, and she has grown to like it.
“I operate much better in a chaotic atmosphere,” she said. “And if that’s the way it has to be, that’s the way we’re going to roll.”