Paige, 14, and Belle, 9, compete in the Jr. Dragster class in the United Kingdom, racing out of their home track, Santa Pod Raceway, in their respective age classes.
“We are thrilled to have Paige and Belle as part of our program,” GK Motorsports principal Gaston Kearby said. “They come from a terrific family, and we’re happy they are now a part of ours. We will do all we can to support Paige and Belle as they move up the ranks of drag racing, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the United States.”
Paige, who has been racing since 2007, scored a victory in her Jr. Dragster at the FIA European Finals in 2010. The rain-plagued 2012 season was successful, too, as she raced to the finals in the Open Sport Nationals and to the semifinals of the FIA European Finals. Paige ended up third in the UK National Championship last year.
Belle got her license a day after she turned 8 years old in 2011, and she started her first race a day after that. Last year, Belle raced to the quarterfinals of the SPRC Summer Nationals.
Paige and Belle join NHRA Pro Stock drivers Erica Enders and Dave Connolly and AMA Pro Road Racing rider Kyle Wyman as part of GK Motorsports, an integrated, multi-platform racing enterprise consisting of high performance vehicles across multiple forms of motorsports.
|POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7) – There are still plenty of rewards left for KLR Group driver Erica Enders in the 2012 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season at this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.Enders can finish as high as second in the Pro Stock points standings and can earn a fifth victory in what has been an historic season for her.
“I don’t want it to end,” Enders said of 2012. “It’s been a great year and I’m so blessed and appreciative of everything that’s happened. We’ve worked our tails off and succeeded in so many ways. But there’s a lot left to get done and I really look forward to 2013 to accomplish more goals, like winning a championship.”
Enders sits third in the points standings, 71 behind second-place Jason Line and 14 ahead of fourth-place Vincent Nobile. Enders’ best career finish in the points was sixth last year.
“We run really well at Pomona,” Enders said. “I’m excited to go back. There’s a lot on the line. Jason can be caught and I need to stay ahead of Vincent.”
Enders’ career year shifted into high gear with her victory at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., on July 1. That was the first time a woman won a race in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class. The victory ignited a charge for Enders, who won four times in 10 races, including back-to-back wins at Seattle and Brainerd, Minn.
She also has two No. 1 qualifiers, two track elapsed-time records and seven final-round appearances this season.
Closing out the season with a victory at Pomona would be a big accomplishment for native Texan, who now lives in Louisiana.
“It would mean a lot to win at Pomona and end the season on a high note,” Enders said. “There’s a lot of history at the track and it would mean a lot to have a Wally from the Fairgrounds. That’s where a lot of things started for me and also where I met (NHRA founder) Wally Parks for the first time as a kid. It’s definitely an awesome place for me.”
Enders’ 1992 Jr. Dragster currently is on display at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, where she will make an appearance Nov. 9 for the Auto Club Q&A “Night of Champions” at 6 p.m. local time.
Enders’ GK Motorsports team is also one of the finalists for the NHRA Full Throttle Hard Working Crew Award, which will be decided by a fan vote at http://www.nhra.com/hardworkingcrew/. Voting concludes midnight after Sunday’s race.
But KLR Group driver and top contender Erica Enders won’t let the pressure get to her in this weekend’s Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, even as she tries to chase down points leader Allen Johnson.
“I say the same thing all the time: I don’t take any one race more importantly than any other race,” Enders said. “Having said that, there are only two races and eight rounds of eliminations left, with six needed to catch A.J. It’s a crucial time, and something that I’m excited and optimistic about.”
Johnson is 83 points ahead of Jason Line and 125 ahead of Enders, who has had her best season as a professional this year by winning four times.
“It’s something I think about every day,” Enders said of the title race. “I can’t change the outcome. All we can do is our best and hopefully, it’ll work on our side.”
Las Vegas is one of the favorite trips for NHRA competitors, given the glitz and glamour of Vegas. But Enders will be all about business this week.
“I’m going in on Wednesday, and I’ve got the press conference and autograph session on Thursday,” Enders said. “We qualify on Friday. I’m extremely serious about what’s going on, and there’s definitely no room for error on anyone’s part.
“I’ll go there business-minded and have fun after the fact. We’ll hopefully celebrate a win on Sunday night.”
Enders’ four victories have come in the last 11 races since her historic first win on July 1 in Chicago. She became the first woman to win in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class that day, but she’s proven to be one of the top drivers in the sport since then.
In addition to the four wins, Enders has two No 1 qualifiers, two track records and three final-round appearances this season.
Her GK Motorsports team has stepped up its game, and that development continued during the two-week break since the sport’s most recent race, at Reading, Pa.
“Just because we had two weeks off from national events doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of hard work going on at the shop and in the background,” Enders said. “Engine development stuff is always in the works, and the dyno is always running.”
ESPN2 will broadcast the eliminations show starting at 7 PM Houston time Sunday.
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 30) – Old Bridge Township Raceway Park is a favorite destination for many NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competitors, and not just because of the history at the famed track.
KLR Group driver Erica Enders, for instance, would love to secure a Pro Stock victory at Englishtown. But she also likes racing there because of its proximity to one of her favorite destinations, New York City.
“We fly in Wednesday morning, and after the NHRA press conference, I’m going straight to the city,” Enders said. “I’ll spend a couple days there doing some meetings, eating some good food and having some fun. It’s a different planet up there. I used to go there about six times a year. It’s a fun city, but it’s a faster pace than I like. I like good, old slow Southern time.”
Still, Enders doesn’t mind the fast pace for a day or two, especially when she serves as a tour guide, as she will this week to one of her crew chiefs, Dave Connolly, who will make the trek to Manhattan with his girlfriend. Connolly, crew chief alongside Tommy Utt on the GK Motorsports team, hasn’t spent much time in the city, so Enders is happy to show him around.
“I always like going up there because I like spending time in the city,” Enders said. “We always make it a point to go to Little Italy for dinner.”
Italian food will also be a staple in the GK Motorsports pit area, thanks to the mother of team owner Victor Cagnazzi. A New York native, Cagnazzi grew up on Long Island, and his mom Connie will feed the team in Englishtown.
“Vic’s mom usually makes meatballs,” Enders said. “She brings them to the race track. She cooks a bunch of Italian food and brings it out. She knows I like cheese, so she always brings me fresh mozzarella. It’s amazing.”
While Enders and her team eats well, they also have their eye on a victory. Enders is sixth in the Pro Stock points standings, having won at least one round in five of the eight races in 2012. She’s reached the final round once and the semifinals once.
Last year, Enders qualified third at Englishtown and advanced to the second round.
“There’s a lot of history there,” Enders said. “We qualified second there last year but got beat on mph, so we ended up No. 3. It’s Pro Stock country up there, so it’s always fun to hang out with the fans and sign autographs. They love us, and we love them. Those fans are great.”
Enders and her team tested Tuesday at Farmington Dragway in North Carolina, hoping to improve the performance of the KLR Group Chevrolet.
“It went well,” Enders said. “It actually got cut a little short today because of the rain, but Dave went and tested some stuff last week, too. We’re good. I’m excited for what the weekend holds.”
The first two rounds of Pro Stock are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. Friday, with two additional rounds at noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations should begin at noon Sunday. All action will be shown on ESPN2
By Rob Geiger
LAS VEGAS (April 1) – GK Motorsports driver Erica Enders had her best weekend of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, racing to the semifinals of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Along the way, Enders was terrific behind the wheel, leaving first in all three Pro Stock elimination rounds Sunday. Her three reaction times were .015, .026 and .027 seconds, and she won on a holeshot in the first round against Ronnie Humphrey.
“After Gainesville, where I hit the Tree and it turned out to be on the wrong side, I had to come back here and get my confidence back,” Enders said. “We left on everybody today, so that’s a plus.”
Enders fell to eventual race winner Allen Johnson in the semifinals, but her solid performance moved her into the top 10 of the Pro Stock points standings.
“It is early, but we need to stay in the top 10,” Enders said. “That’s money every weekend, and it’s important for how it sets up for the Countdown to the Championship. We’re going to race hard all year and hopefully build some consistency. I’ve got all the faith in the world in my guys. We’ve hired the best people you can hire. We’re going to be OK.”
After qualifying 10th, Enders faced No. 7 qualifier Humphrey in the first round. She cut a .027 light, beating Humphrey off the line by a gigantic .072 seconds. Enders made a pass of 6.661 seconds at 206.42 mph, beating Humphrey to the finish despite his faster pass of 6.647 seconds at 206.95 mph.
In the second round, Enders faced Larry Morgan, who upset No. 2 qualifier and three-time Vegas winner Mike Edwards in the first round. Enders left first again with a .015-second light, then beat Morgan with a pass of 6.728 seconds at 205.63 mph to Morgan’s 6.743 at 205.16 mph.
Against No. 3 qualifier Johnson, Enders left first again, .026 to .047, but Johnson’s car was faster, going 6.659 seconds at 206.89 mph to Enders’ 6.735 at 206.01 mph.
“We’ve been fighting our hot rod all weekend,” Enders said. “That’s evident by the elapsed times we put up there. We’re going to sort her out. We’re going to test before Charlotte and be ready to go there.
“I’m proud of my guys. We fought a good fight this weekend. It was nice to make it to the semifinals.”
Enders will take a break next weekend, enjoying some time off with her family and with boyfriend Richie Stevens.
“It’ll be nice to get away a little bit and take some much-needed time off,” Enders said. “We’ll head to Charlotte fresh.”
The next Pro Stock race is the 4-Wide Nationals, April 13-15, at zMax Dragway in Charlotte.
LAS VEGAS (March 26) by Rob Geiger – Erica Enders hasn’t driven her GK Motorsports Chevrolet for more than two weeks, but the Pro Stock driver has been plenty busy as she prepares for this weekend’s 13th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
After a weekend off following the race in Gainesville, Fla., Enders spent 10 days in Boston, speaking to high school students about the dangers of driving while distracted. Plus, she got in a little sight-seeing with her boyfriend, fellow drag racer Richie Stevens, in the historic city, visiting the Old North Church, the site of the Boston Massacre, Samuel Hall, Quincy Market and the bar from the television show “Cheers.”
Enders spoke at six schools in the Boston area, one in Rhode Island and another in New Hampshire. A driving simulator is used as part of the presentation.
“It’s not a ‘scared straight’ program because we don’t show any crashes or anything like that,” Enders said. “We just want to show the kids just how quick something can happen, especially when you are inexperienced like a 16-year-old.
“Like all of us, I have texted and e-mailed while driving before, but this program really has shown me what can happen when you drive distracted. Even talking on your cell phone is a cognitive distraction.”
Enders is renowned for her focus in a race car, and she’ll put that on display at Vegas this weekend. Her Cagnazzi Racing team recently added veteran Tommy Utt to serve alongside crew chief Dave Connolly, and Enders’ Chevrolet Cobalt has seen an immediate performance upgrade.
“Our performance has gotten a little bit better and I hope that continues in Vegas,” Enders said. “We’ve got a great car and my guys are awesome.
“We’ve been testing a lot. We’re really working on our car management and things are getting better. Everyone works really well together, and our confidence is high.”
Enders isn’t much of a gambler, but she does enjoy playing card games with Connolly and crew member Johnny Utt on occasion. But there’s a catch.
“I go sit and play cards with Dave and Johnny and Richie, when he’s here,” Enders said. “But I don’t use my money. I use their money.”
Enders certainly hopes she plays with house money at The Strip this weekend.
Qualifying for the Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals get under way with a pair of sessions starting at 2 p.m. on Friday. Qualifying continues on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with eliminations starting at 11 a.m. Sunday from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. ESPN2 will broadcast the qualifying show at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and the elimination show at 4 p.m. Sunday. All times listed in Pacific Daylight Time.
Another win would add to his commanding 28-point lead over second-place Blake Wharton, a former teammate. Barcia said he’s starting to feel the championship pressure shift from his shoulders to those who are chasing him, because with just three races left they are running out of opportunities to try and catch him.
“I just love to race right now,” Barcia said. “You have to deal with pressure every weekend no matter what. I’ve done my best to run smart, smooth races all year long and it’s worked out for me.”
Barcia said he plans on staying smart and smooth in Texas because he knows another win would put him that much closer to a second straight title.
“Houston has always been good to me and it has good dirt,” Barcia said. “It should be another good weekend for me; really for all of us in the GEICO Honda pit. The whole team has been doing just awesome and I can’t wait to get back on my bike.”
GEICO Honda Supercross rider Kevin Windham is entering a “home” stretch of sorts over the next few weeks with the race in Houston, a week off for Easter at his current residence in western Mississippi, then the event in his native New Orleans. Three straight weeks of no airplane flights should also do wonders for Windham’s aching back.
“I’m hoping this trio of races will help me bounce back quicker, being so close to home,” said Windham, who crashed hard two races ago in Indianapolis. “Everyone who rides Supercross has to deal with injuries – it’s a tough sport from that aspect. We’re going to find the right program for me that will be the right balance of riding and recovery.”
With James Stewart week-to-week nursing a myriad of injuries including a broken hand, Windham, who has two podium finishes in the last three weeks, has found himself in the thick of tight points race.
Windham trails fourth place Davi Millsaps by three points and third place Stewart by 11. Sixth-place Justin Brayton is also in the mix, as he trails Windham by just a single point.
“The GEICO Honda team has been strong all year, and now we’re getting the results to back it up,” Windham said. “And I’m looking forward to the hometown crowd. The fans have been great all year but I know it’s going to be special the next couple of weeks.”
The team’s other Lites East rider, Justin Bogle, is hoping that being close to his home state of Oklahoma will turn his luck around. The rookie has shown flashes of brilliance at points this season but mistakes have hampered his finishes.
“Being so close to home a lot of my friends and family are going to be there,” Bogle said. “That should make it more comfortable for me. I just have to concentrate on minimizing my mistakes out there.”
Lites West rider Wil Hahn of Decatur, Texas, will once again pilot a 450cc bike and race Supercross in Houston for Muscle Milk Honda, a sister operation to the GEICO Honda team. Hahn finished 10th last week in his Supercross debut, which was also his first race back from a long layoff due to a hip fracture.
“I’m really happy with the way Toronto went,” Hahn said. “The biggest relief is knowing that I treated my injury correctly. I never once felt anything wrong with my hip the whole time I was out there. It’s always good to have a platform to build off.
“I can’t wait to get to Houston. My whole family is driving down to be there. The dirt in Houston is almost exactly like what I ride on when I’m home. There’s going to be a real homecoming feeling when I get down there.”
Practice for Saturday’s race begins at 12:30 p.m. CDT at Houston’s Reliant Stadium with opening ceremonies starting at 7 p.m. The Supercross race will broadcast on Sunday by CBS affiliates across the country (see local listings for times) and the Lites East racing will be broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday on SPEED TV.
By Rob Geiger
That record still stands a year later as Enders and her GK Motorsports team prepare for the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway.
Pro Stock’s best drivers took a shot at Enders’ mark throughout the 2011 season, as well as the first two events of 2012. But none have gone faster.
“We’re very proud of that record,” Enders said. “We want to hold on to it as long as possible. Weather-permitting this week, I’m sure it’ll get busted. I hope it’s by us.
“It’s been nice to hold on to it for a year. That’s something you don’t see happen a lot in this class. I was proud to carry it, and we’re hopeful it’ll stick, or that we can reset it when the weather and the race track are ideal.”
Enders and her Cagnazzi Racing team, led by crew chief Dave Connolly, are spending two days testing in Bradenton, Fla., in preparation for this weekend’s race. The memories of last year’s record-setting performance are still fresh in their minds, but they hope to make new memories this weekend.
Some may also remember Enders’ victory over NASCAR star Kurt Busch at Gainesville last year, as Enders dispatched the past Sprint Cup champion in the first round of eliminations.
“I’m excited to go back,” Enders said. “I’m hopeful we can improve on last year’s performance. We set the speed record, we beat Kurt, but we lost lane choice for Round 2 and that cost us. We’re just going to have to figure some things out in our test in Bradenton. We need to keep the consistency and go some rounds.”
It may be a little too warm at Gainesville this weekend to set any records, but the track will still be quick. That’s not the only reason why the 28-year-old Enders likes racing at the famed track.
“It’s one of Pro Stock’s favorite races because the people there are true Pro Stock fans,” she said. “They sell out the race every year, and it’s just a fun environment because the fans are really into it. I’ll probably sign 10,000 autographs this weekend.”
Gainesville was also the site of Enders’ second career final-round appearance, though she had problems that round and lost to Tom Martino in 2006.
“We blew the tires off the car – tried to rotate the Earth,” Enders said. “That was the worst tire shake I’ve ever had in my life. We broke the transmission mounts, battery mounts, bell housing, back glass. It made my gums bleed. It was terrible. We weren’t winning that race, that’s for sure.
“Still, it was a fun experience to go to the finals. We know what we’re doing now. We can definitely get it done. It just has to be our day.”
Qualifying rounds will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday with eliminations slated to begin at noon Sunday. ESPN2 will show qualifying highlights from 5-6 p.m. Sunday with eliminations airing from 6-9 p.m. Sunday.
Kansas City Assembly Plant employees kick off ‘Truck of Texas’ Trophy Tour Kansas City Assembly Plant employees kick off ‘Truck of Texas’ Trophy Tour
DALLAS – March 5, 2012 – The “Truck of Texas” trophy is on its way back to Texas after making a stop at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri where the award-winning truck is built. The Texas Auto Writers Association named the 2012 Ford F-150 the “Truck of Texas” after the annual Truck Rodeo in October.
Employees at the plant enjoyed having the opportunity to see up close the prestigious trophy that stands nearly three-feet-tall and represents Ford’s commitment to quality. F-150 Lean Manufacturing Manager Will Cowell, a veteran KCAP employee who has dedicated 20 years to Ford, praised the work ethic of his colleagues on receiving the accomplishment.
“In 2011, Kansas City built the best quality truck (F-150) in North America,” Cowell said. “That’s possible because of the men and women at the plant. A big thanks to all the employees of the Kansas City plant.”
Cowell also explained why Texas and the F-150 work so well together.
He said, “We’re like matched pairs and matched partners. Texas has a saying ‘Don’t Mess with Texas,’ and Ford’s saying is ‘Built Ford Tough.’ What better partnership!”
Forty-eight vehicles were evaluated by 57 registered TAWA members. Ford won in seven additional categories for its trucks, crossovers and EcoBoost™ engine technology. Trophies were presented for the following awards:
- · Truck Line of Texas: Ford Motor Company
- · CUV of Texas: 2012 Ford Edge
- · Heavy-Duty Pickup Truck: 2012 Ford F-250 King Ranch Super Duty
- · Luxury Pickup Truck: 2012 Ford F-150 Platinum EcoBoost
- · Full-Size Pickup Truck: 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
- · Mid-Size CUV: 2012 Ford Edge Limited
- · Outstanding Feature: Ford EcoBoost Engine Technology
The Truck of Texas trophy will be on display for guests of the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo from February 28 – March 18. The trophy will then go on a statewide dealer tour through September.