History Finally Comes for Erica Enders! 

After 20 years of racing, eight years in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class and 6 final-round appearances, KLR Group driver Erica Enders won the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway on Sunday…..  

History will forever show the name Erica Enders as drag racing's first ever female Pro Stock winner!

Enders beat nemesis Greg Anderson – who knocked off Enders in Chicago’s final one year ago – to become the first women to win a Pro Stock national event in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.  Sunday, though, the tables were turned, as Enders left first and outran the four-time champion with a run of 6.627 seconds at 207.40 mph. Anderson came up short after a pass of 6.641 at 208.36 mph.

“For pioneers like Shirley Muldowney and Shelly Anderson-Payne, they were my heroes growing up, and all the women who paved the way,” Enders said. “There are a lot of little kids who look up to me. I’m blessed enough to be in the position to be a role model for them through the Disney movie. I hope that they see me win and know that no matter what, anything is possible. You’ve just got to set your mind to it and follow your dreams. With hard work, anything’s possible.”

“I’m really glad it was here in Chicago. This is actually the place of my first final in Pro Stock in 2005, so it’s nice to circle back around and get it done here.”

To top the historic win off, longtime boyfriend and mountain-motor Pro Stock racer Richie Stevens proposed Sunday night, and Enders accepted. A December wedding is in the works. 

Erica Enders was very convincing while winning Pro Stock in the GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt

Asked where the Wally trophy will go, Enders said she’ll give it to her father, Gregg Enders.  

“That one goes to my dad, who’s been my rock and my best friend,” Enders said. “He’s the reason I am who I am and why I’m in this position.”

Fuel Titles to Antron and Arend

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jeff Arend (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the rain-delayed NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. 

In Top Fuel, Brown raced to his second victory of the season behind the wheel of his Matco Tools dragster when final round opponent Steve Torrence fouled at the start in his Capco Contractors dragster. It was Brown’s 33rd career victory and his third win at this track, as he claimed two wins here in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Antron Brown won for the 3rd time of his career at Route 66 Raceway

“It doesn’t get better than this,” Brown said. “Coming here to Route 66 Raceway is always special and goes beyond words because our team owner Don [Schumacher] will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and what he’s done for the sport and our teams is amazing.  Right now you look at Top Fuel and see how competitive that the class is. It’s as tight as Pro Stock car. We’re running e.t.s that are neck and neck, winning by 12 inches or less at over 320 mph.”

With the win, Brown moved to second in the points standings, behind series leader Tony Schumacher, the event’s No. 1 qualifier who was upset in the first round. Brown outran Morgan Lucas, David Grubnic and Shawn Langdon to advance to the final round.

“When you get a race win now with the competition that we have to go through, it’s just remarkable,” Brown said. “The team is doing a great job, and it’s all worth it. The blood, the sweat, and the tears. The heat was like a sauna, I mean I’m 10 pounds lighter than I was on Wednesday. It just feels good to knock one out of the park again. To gain some points and get it done. Because the Countdown is right around the corner. We have just six races left. So we have to get some momentum going for the Western Swing, Indy, and the Countdown. It’s crucial right now, and we’re going to have some hot races in the countdown.”

Canadian native driver Arend claimed his first Funny Car win of the season and fourth of his career by defeating rookie Courtney Force in the final round. Arend powered to a performance of 4.131 at 309.20 in his DHL Toyota Camry to hold off the 24-year-old Force, who finished in 4.454 at 272.67 in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. 

“This was a real team effort this weekend,” Arend said. “I didn’t do the best job as a driver, at least not with my lights, but we were able to get it done. My crew got this car turned around faster than I’ve ever seen them do it and that made all the difference in the world. This is the first win for the new Toyota Camry so that makes it even more special. I got to the final (here) last year and didn’t win so this also makes up for that. I like to make the most of second chances.”


Jeff Arend's DHL Racing team was steady while taking the FC title

Arend raced past Tony Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and Jack Beckman to get to the final. He said the three hour rain delay, which forced teams to have quicker turnaround times in the pits between rounds, actually helped him stay focused today.

“We have some new guys on our team this year and they really stepped it up especially after it rained and we had to turn the car around quicker than usual,” Arend said. “I call them the “yeller fellas” and they did a heck of a job this weekend. That 4.10 in the semis was a great run but we were solid all weekend. We ran good numbers every time. In the semis we had Jon O [Oberhofer, crew chief] Connie [Kalitta] andDel[Worsham] in our trailer and they make the right call and the car responded.”

Arend jumped from 10th to sixth in the points standings and locked up the seventh starting position in the lucrative Traxxas Funny Car Shootout at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Robert Hight, who lost to Courtney Force in the second round, remained at the top of the points order, while second-place Ron Capps saw his six-race final round streak come to an end with a first round loss to rookie Alexis DeJoria.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, three-time world champ Hines claimed his second win of the season on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson when final round opponent LE Tonglet turned on the red light at the start on his Nitro Fish Buell. It was Hines’ 27th career victory. 

Andrew Hines notched career win #27 in PSM

“As soon as I popped the clutch I saw LE’s red-light and I knew I’d won,” Hines said. “Then, it was a nice comfortable ride. I saw him in front of me and paid more attention to his bike than mine and I think I probably missed high gear.”

In earlier rounds, Hines defeated Scotty Pollacheck, Chip Ellis and Hector Arana Jr. The victory continued the Vance & Hines team’s streak of victories this season as Hines and teammate Eddie Krawiec have won all five bike races this weekend. Hines, however, was looking for a get healthy weekend after back-to-back second round losses at the last two events.

“We came in here with a new mindset,” Hines said. “I’ve been down on myself the last few weeks and after Englishtown we took the bike and changed all the wiring and then went testing. I rode my bike and then rode Eddie’s [teammate Eddie Krawiec’s] bike and I ran pretty much the same on both so I came in here with a lot of confidence. Matt [Hines, crew chief] has a good tune-up for hot and muggy conditions and that made the bike a joy to ride. I’m also looking forward to going to Norwalk next weekend.”

With the victory, Hines cut Krawiec’s series lead to 75 points.  

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues July 5-8 with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio.

Event Essentials:  NHRA O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals (June 28-July 1st, 2012)  Joliet, IL. 

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Antron Brown 3.784 322.88 33rd
R/UP: Steve Torrence 3.809 322.42  
Low ET: Tony Schumacher 3.763    
Top Speed: Spencer Massey   326.79  
Bump Spot:   3.892    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Jeff Arend 4.131 309.20 4th
R/UP: Courtney Force 4.454 272.67  
Low ET: John Force 4.050    
Top Speed: Johnny Gray   311.57  
Bump Spot:   4.362    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Erica Enders 6.627 207.40 1st
R/UP: Greg Anderson 6.641 208.36  
Low ET: Allen Johnson 6.597    
Top Speed: Allen Johnson   209.26  
Bump Spot:   6.659    
Winner: Andrew Hines 6.940 192.69 27th
R/UP: LE Tonglet 7.985 118.92  
Low ET: Hector Arana 6.884    
Top Speed: Hector Arana   195.08  
Bump Spot:   7.072    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners: Name ET MPH  
Top Alcohol Dragster Jim Whiteley 5.294 270.05  
Top Alcohol Funny Car Frank Manzo 5.597 259.66  
Competition Bruno Massel 8.941 104.96  
Super Stock Mike Lund 10.51 100.83  
Stock Daryl Bureski 11.39 112.94  
Super Comp Tom Stalba 8.920 163.63  
Super Gas Sherman Adcock 9.902 161.00  
Super Street Ricky Shipp 10.86 139.60  


Allen Johnson was the performance star again in Pro Stock -- setting both low ET and top speed

Sportsman Summary

In the final Sportsman final rounds for from Route 66 Raceway and the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Jim Whiteley, Grand Junction, Colo., and Frank Manzo,Morganville,N.J., took home the wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car respectively.

Colorado's Jim Whiteley won in dominating style in TAD

Whiteley, worked his way through the field and ran 5.294 seconds at 270.05 mph in his final round victory over Randy Meyer,Spring Hill,KS, who clocked in at 5.332 seconds, 268.28 mph.

Manzo faced off against Cassie Simonton,Brooklyn Park,Minn.and posted a winning run of 5.597 seconds, 259.66 mph in his ’10Monte Carlo.

**Manzo, making his 20th appearance in the JEGS Allstars which showcases the best Sportsman-level drivers from NHRA’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, scored his 10th victory in Top Alcohol Funny Car. Other Allstar winners are Bruno Massel, Woodridge, Ill., in Comp Eliminator; Sherman Adock, Fortson, Ga., in Super Gas; and Ricky Shipp, Needham, Ind., in Super Street.

Bruno Massel took his super cool turbo car to a win in Comp

Other racers visiting the winner’s circle were Bruno Massel, in Comp Eliminator; Mike Lund, (Bettendorf, Iowa), in Super Stock; Daryl Bureski, (Elgin,IN), in Stock Eliminator; Tom Stalba, (Williamstown,N.J.), in Super Comp;  Sherman Adock, in Super Gas; and Ricky Shipp, in Super Street. 

Posted with files from:  Rob Geiger, Alex Baca and Jamie Stephens

Photos by:   Bruce Biegler

To view DragRaceCanada’s extensive event photo gallery click:  HERE

**Editors Note:  Saturday’s Jegs Allstars Event will be posted with a separate story and photo gallery in the Lucas Oil Hotzone.