The fast-emergence of a new Canadian-based NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series TAD team has left quite an early impression…..

Brantford Ontario’s Jeff Chatterson is no stranger to drag racing.   For many seasons he campaigned a series of very unique and highly competitive Ford-powered dragsters in conjunction with his highly creative father Rick Chatterson.   But following Rick’s untimely passing back in early 2012, Jeff did step back from the sport for a time while he focused on operating and growing the highly successful Chatterson Machine & Die and Chatterson Fabrication companies.

Jeff Chatterson

Then however, Jeff Chatterson began to dip his heels back in the sport over the past two seasons.  That started with a supercharged TAD which he toyed with a bit.   About mid last season his mindset changed and he made a major move when he acquired an injected nitro racing operation and began to build his future around that.

Fast forward to present day 2018 — and there is certainly lots to report on that front.  Jeff has formed an alliance with his new race car’s former driver, “Dyno Dave” Heitzman (who is from Ohio) and lets just say the initial efforts for that new team are potential ridden to say the least.

During the recent NHRA Amalie Oil Gatornationals, Jeff fulfilled a dream when he entered his first ever NHRA national event in the Lucas Oil TAD class category.   And despite some probably long odds – he and his brand new team not only ran well – but also qualified for the field – which is a pretty amazing accomplishment this early on.

At Gainesville they managed a very promising 5.367 secs and ran a booming 268.45 mph terminal speed during time trials before losing out in round one to James Stevens.

“This has been quite the journey to get here and to this point,” reflected Jeff at Gainesville.  “(Racing here) has been something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while since my father passed away – because competing at this event was something he always wanted to do.”

“Before coming here to race we had a nice test session at Bradenton,” he continued.  “Then we went 5.38 at the Lucas Oil regional event – so we were able to get into this class mix rather early.  From this point our plans are to move forward — but stepping things up gradually.  Were certainly are not at the point where we are trying to rotate the earth.”

Despite relative team infancy, the Chatterson Racing/Dyno Dave M/S injected nitro car has already run very competitively within NHRA Lucas Oil TAD class racing.

Jeff was very quick to cite all of the support and to emphasize his new relationship with Dave Heitzman – who is the team’s crew chief.  

“Dave has been extremely helpful in our transition to all this,” he added.  “Not only does he bring us some vast knowledge and experience, he brought with him some key spare parts and components.  The fact we’ve run so well this early is a testament to that partnership.”

Jeff was also pretty impressed with his first ever tastes of nitromethane in his career.  Prior to the new dragster he had driven nothing but naturally aspirated and supercharged cars during his career (mostly Modified eliminator and IHRA Top Dragster).

“For sure this injected nitro car is more friendly to drive,” he affirmed.  “But wow what a feeling!   The first time I backed up the car all the nitro fumes just blew back into the cockpit.  And then when you flip the fuel pump to the high side when staging and all that popping and banging starts — that really got my attention — it’s just cool!”

Jeff’s race team is very family oriented. We like this image including his wife Janet and son Ryan with new team mascot and prankster “Oakley”

Jeff and Dave’s first season of racing in NHRA will likely include about 8 season appearances – divided up within mostly regional NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events and some more select NHRA national event races.  

But look for the very family oriented and independently funded race team (which also includes his wife and sons in key roles) – primary season highlight to be on the entry list for the marquee NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis over next Labour Day weekend.

Prior to going to injected nitro – Jeff’s team did toy with this supercharged TAD car – shown in testing at Cayuga Dragway last season.

Post and photos by Bruce Biegler