A veteran Ontario-based dragster driver dipped his toes into Top Fuel waters this past weekend….

As the 2018 drag racing season now winds down to closure for Toronto’s Cayuga Dragway – fans attending last weekend’s final Drag Syndicate series event — did get a little whiff of nitromethane.

Brantford’s Jeff Chatterson, who has during his career driven a wide variety of dragsters, including most recently a NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series A/Fuel car, got his first chance to “stab n’ steer” a Top Fuel dragster.

Jeff Chatterson made his first ever “hit” in a Top Fuel car last weekend at Cayuga Dragway.

With the help of Canada’s Paton Racing team – Jeff took the very first step towards his intent of obtaining his Top Fuel licence when he climbed into the cockpit of the Paton Racing’s “Plan B” car.  That dragster, which was formally owned and raced by both John LaPorte and Ike Maier, had been acquired by the Paton’s earlier this season and recently it received some major investments.   

Jeff warms up the Paton Racing “Plan B” car — that’s Jeff’s brother Darryl looking on.

“Barry and I first discussed this possibility last summer,” said Jeff.  “I did have some plans for my wife Janet and I to fly out to Las Vegas early in November do some licensing runs (in the Paton car) after that fall national event race (NHRA Toyota Nationals).  But Barry wanted to get this car finished and together — so that opened up this chance for me to drive it.”

“The car has seen a number of upgrades,” he added.  “It was totally stripped down and then taken to Morgan Lucas Racing where it received a new front half.  Mark Morris also oversaw it being completely re plumbed and re wired – and all that was done just over the past two weeks.”

“As to have a chance to get into a Top Fuel car – I guess that had always been just a maybe for me,” he continued.  “So when that reality clicked in just over the past little while – that was hard for me to pass up — and here I am.”

For the Chatterson Family it was a family affair weekend too — including Darryl, Ryan (son), wife Janet and team jokester “Oakley”

Jeff was clear that at this point he does not have anything firm about going Top Fuel class racing — but also admitted that there is a reason behind completing his Top Fuel licence (which he will finish up getting early next season).

“For sure in 2019 we’re going to continue to run our A/Fuel car,” he reaffirmed.  “We are trying to open the door with regards to marketing the team and I’ve heard the theory there could be more receptivity for that — if it involves Top Fuel class racing.  We also do have a truck and transport that can work.  So we’ll see if getting my TF licence will help open some doors — but right now it’s just another step.”

Jeff Chatterson currently drives this A/Fuel car in NHRA in conjunction with Ohio-based “Dyno Dave” Heitzman.

Jeff was quick to also affirm his deep appreciation to Barry and Todd and everyone on the hard working Paton Racing team for the opportunity they provided him.   

Barry and Todd Paton do help provide a very important aspect for future Top Fuel class racers.

The Paton Racing camp has over the past decade built up a positive reputation for providing a sometimes overlooked but very important aspect to drag racing.  They give time and space for newer and budding Top Fuel racers to licence in a quality car — and in time Jeff Chatterson will be just the latest name added to that list.

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler