Top Fuel a Tough Gig!
Despite the obstacles, John Laporte remains tenacious in his objective and vision to provide Canadian drag racing fans with another competitive Top Fuel dragster racing team….
We caught up with the Bowmanville-based team owner recently and he gave us his mid-season take on where his program is currently and also which direction he is trying to go.
In recent times the team formally known as the Nitro Express Racing Team has had some turmoil. After the event in Topeka in May, they did part ways with original driver, veteran Canadian Fred Farndon. They have since campaigned the car in recent weeks with primary driver Ike Maier but also with Tim Boychuk at the controls.
“Fred was determined to end his racing career in style and we did try our best over the last couple seasons to give him that opportunity,” Laporte said. “But I think sometimes in drag racing ego does take drivers further down the track then they should. That can prove to be very costly from a parts perspective. We did put Ike in the car because he understands the importance that if something is going wrong – you need to get off the gas so we can bring it all back to the pits and work on it. In this sport it is paramount that the driver understands that part of his role is to protect the parts. It is his responsibility to know when to take the car to the other end and when not to.”
Despite being 100% independent and unsponsored, Laporte’s team has made some solid strides in 2012. It is true that they have yet to qualify for a NHRA Full Throttle Series race so far this season – but the car has some good incremental numbers in the log book. The team, which is racing a dragster chassis that Anton Brown formally campaigned, has come quite close to sniffing elimination day on Sunday.
“In reality for a Canadian team in this class the barriers are everywhere,” John continued. “The financial aspect is a given because you are competing against very highly funded teams in the U.S. that have all the right people and parts. Our new car has made a difference because it took away some variables that we faced last year. Right now it’s been a task of adjusting the clutch properly to match our engine program with the new chassis.”
John is quick to cite the ongoing support and encouragement that he receives from fellow Canadian Top Fuel team owner, “The Captain” himself, Barry Paton, who he considers his mentor.
“Barry has been a key advisor for me and to be honest I don’t think I would be doing this without him,” John added. “We have a gentleman’s pact. It’s so cool that he is willing to share both his crew chief (Jimbo Ermalovich) and also allow his driver Ike Maier the latitude to drive both cars. Our agreement is not to compete against one another (at National events) so we adjusted our schedule accordingly.”
For the rest of 2012 expectations are that John and his team will see action at at least two more NHRA nationals dates – likely the St. Louis and Reading events.
“My objective remains the same as when I started this – there has not been a lot of recent Top Fuel history for Canada and I would like to help to change that,” he summed up. “Hopefully more Canadian fans and Canadian industries will take notice of what I and Barry are trying to do. It’s frustrating to me (and both of us) that it seems like we are much more well known in the USA then we are up here.”
For more information about John’s racing team visit: www.johnlaporteracing.com
Posted by: Bruce Biegler – Photos by: Bruce Biegler