The just past 2014 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series season was a promising start for Greg Hunter and the Synoil Energy Services/Exact Air Top Alcohol Funny Car team….
While both the driver and team had plenty of prior racing experience, the combo hadn’t raced together before the start of the season. After developing a friendship over the past two seasons, team owner Geoff Goodwin, a Canadian drag racing icon based from Red Deer AB, and Greg Hunter, driver of multiple blown alcohol machines for more than a decade, paired up in 2014 to make an attempt at winning national and regional events.
“I thought it was overall a successful season. Obviously we wanted to win every race we entered but we had more positives than negatives through the season,” Hunter claimed. “We got a win at the Mission regional race, which was awesome. We had some success on the national level, reaching the semifinals at the spring Las Vegas race. We struggled some during the middle of the season but we got the car back on track at Pomona, running a 5.61. Though that only put us 14th in that show, we were really confident that we were going to be in the fifties by the end of the race if we could’ve kept going.”
The Synoil Racing team was defeated first round at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona earlier this month when a series of typical mechanical issues plagued Hunter’s run.
“Initially the car wouldn’t start. Once we made it to the starting line, Ryan (Protz, crew chief) had to disconnect the crank trigger and plug it directly into the magneto, so basically we had no timing control. Then we would’ve been in the race to the end but the blower belt finally gave up on the third or fourth pedal job. That’s definitely a part of racing. We can live with that. We know that we’re heading in the right direction and we’re looking forward to having a good year in 2015,” Hunter added.
Pre-season testing earlier this year was Hunter’s first time driving a Top Alcohol Funny Car since 2010. The Wyoming resident spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons sitting in front of a blown alcohol motor, competing in the NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster class. Before that, though, Greg campaigned his own alcohol funny car, so this year was a return to his roots.
“Being back in the Funny Car, making test runs and getting more seat time was important. I think every race we went to I grew more comfortable in the car. That’s what we’re going to build off of next year. Building off of positives is what we’re doing right now.”
Looking back at the season as a whole, Hunter was quick to point out a few of his highlights.
“Definitely the high point was winning the race in Mission. Qualifying number 2 at the Vegas spring race was also a highlight for us. Even going to Dallas was a high point in the season. Even though we didn’t qualify, we were able to go to a race that was new to us. Being able to experience that as a team was great. We’ll probably go to Dallas again next year and maybe add another new race to the schedule. That will be a high point as well. The time spent with our sponsors and the chance to get to know them at the races was also a constant highlight.”
Greg Hunter was extremely impressed with the team that he joined in January. The group bonded quickly and held together through a couple trying moments during an otherwise successful season.
“It was great to spend time with the Synoil crew. Nobody ever got mad at each other. We were disappointed when things didn’t go our way but no one got mad or blamed anyone, we just kept working at it, figured it out and got it turned around. That’s a great characteristic of a team, to go through a struggle and work it out together. I think that’s the biggest success that we had as a team.
“I want to thank team owner Geoff Goodwin for bringing me on to drive his car this year. Big thanks to my crew guys for their hard work this season: crew chief Ryan Protz, car chief Tom Goodwin, Wally Protz – top end, Johnny Leach – clutch, Harold “Fudd” Fjallman – oil and fuel, Gary Savage – utility man, Phillip Cook – transmission and parachutes, and Jane Willis, who helps host our hospitality area. Of course I also want to thank my wife and back-up girl, Staci, as she is a big part of my being able to race,” Greg concluded.
Greg Hunter and Geoff Goodwin’s Synoil Racing Top Alcohol Funny Car team are gearing up for the 2015 season. With primary support from Synoil Energy Services and Exact Air Compliance Systems, Hunter will run a full schedule of NHRA Mello Yello Series national events and LODRS regional events. Synoil Racing receives additional support from Twister Piling, Proform Concrete Services, Prowler Contracting, Ron Hodgson Chevrolet, Hamptons Oilfield Services, MD Truck Repair, Mobil1, Landale Signs, Pumps and Pressure, and CleanBoost Oil.
Like Synoil Racing on Facebook – www.facebook.com/synoilracing.
Posted by: Nate Van Wagnen
Photos by: Bruce Biegler