NHRA in Joliet: A historic first for Enders
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media July 1, 2012 9:55PM
Driver Erica Enders becomes the first female ever to win in the Pro Stock Car division at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet. | Michael DiNovo~For Sun-Times Media
1. Antron Brown. 2. Steve
Torrence. 3. Shawn Langdon.
1. Jeff Arend. 2. Courtney Force. 3. Alexis DeJoria.
1. Erica Enders. 2. Greg
Anderson. 3. Mike Edwards.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines. 2. LE Tonglet. 3. Hector Arana Jr.
Top Fuel: Antron Brown, 3.784 seconds, 322.88 mph def. Steve Torrence, foul.
Funny Car: Jeff Arend, Toyota Camry, 4.131, 309.20 def. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.454, 272.67.
Pro Stock: Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.627, 207.40 def. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.641, 208.36.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.940, 192.69 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, foul.
Top Alcohol Dragster: Jim Whiteley, 5.294, 270.05 def. Randy Meyer, 5.332, 268.28.
Top Alcohol Funny Car: Frank Manzo, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.597, 259.66 def. Cassie Simonton, Monte Carlo, 9.027, 98.00.
Competition Eliminator: Bruno Massel, Chevy Cobalt, 8.941, 104.96 def. Al Ackerman,
Super Stock: Michael Lund, Chevy Camaro, 10.515, 100.83 def. Joe Santangelo, Camaro, foul.
Stock Eliminator: Daryl Bureski, Olds 442, 11.396, 112.94 def. Bo Butner, Ford Mustang, 9.291, 133.54.
Super Comp: Tom Stalba, Dragster, 8.920, 163.63 def. Rusty Cook, Dragster, 8.930, 173.43.
Super Gas: Sherman Adcock, Pontiac Trans Am, 9.902, 161.00 def. Tommy Phillips, Chevy Corvette, 9.943, 144.92.
Super Street: Ricky Shipp, Chevy Nova, 10.867, 139.60 def. Trevor Larson, Chevy Corvette, 10.849, 147.31.
Updated: August 3, 2012 6:10AM
The National Hot Rod Association has prided itself on having numerous women enjoy success in its major events, including Shirley Muldowney in the Top Fuel division in the 1970s and ’80s and Angelle Sampey in the Pro Stock Motorcycle division in the 1990s and 2000s.
But no woman drag racer ever won a Pro Stock Car division race until Sunday.
Erica Enders, of New Orleans, and her 2010 Cobalt posted a 6.627-second time to beat Greg Anderson and make history at the 15th O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals Sunday night.
“When I hit my chutes and I saw the win light come on, I said ‘Oh, my God,’ ’’ Enders said. “Actually, I can’t repeat what I said in the car. My guys were screaming in my helmet. People were pumping their fists. I’ve dreamed of this day my entire life. When I can’t sleep at night, I think about winning. I thought about the speeches I would make. It’s so awesome that it finally came true.”
The 28-year-old Enders lost to Anderson in the finals in Joliet last year and at the time Anderson said he didn’t want to be the first to lose a finals race to a woman.
“After the race I gave him a hug,” Enders said. “He grabbed my shoulders and said ‘well deserved.’ That means a lot coming from an eight-hundred-billion-time world champion and somebody I’ve been chasing to beat for eight years.”
Enders has been racing in the division since 2005 and had been to the final round six times in her career and finished second each time before Sunday’s showdown with Anderson.
It was a good day for female drivers. Four made the semifinals in the three high-profile divisions — Hillary Will in Top Fuel, Alexis DeJoria and Courtney Force in Funny Car and Enders in Pro Stock. No female driver had ever won a race at Route 66 in those three divisions and it was the first time four females made the semifinals in one racing day.
Will lost in the semifinals to Steve Torrence and Force knocked out DeJoria. Jeff Arend beat Force in the Funny Car finals.
On a day that featured a 31/2-hour rain delay, the Top Fuel title went to Antron Brown, who bested Steve Torrence. It was Brown’s first race victory in Joliet.
Long Grove’s Tony Schumacher, a three-time winner at Route 66, had a rough Sunday.
He entered the Joliet event first in the Top Fuel points standings and was seeded first in the elimination round after setting a track record Saturday night. But he bowed out in the first round to 16th-seeded T.J. Zizzo, of Lincolnshire, after the rear of Schumacher’s car caught fire midway through the race. Schumacher was not injured.
“Man, that was pretty scary,” Schumacher said. “I can’t say that I felt something with the car before the engine let go. To be honest, we seemed to be on a good run. But then it all went bad in a real hurry.”
Schumacher said he lives two miles from Zizzo and the two frequently go out to lunch.
It marked the first time this season a No. 16 qualifier knocked off a No. 1 in Top Fuel. The last time it happened came in Joliet last year, when Zizzo beat out Spencer Massey. It was also the third time in the last four years Schumacher lost in the first round in Joliet.
Will eliminated Zizzo in the second round when Zizzo had mechanical trouble of his own.
First-round victims in the Funny Car division included last year’s Route 66 champ, Mike Neff, last year’s Funny Car season champion Matt Hagan and Beecher’s Dale Creasy Jr.
Legendary John Force, who entered Sunday’s action as the No. 1 qualifier, was knocked off by eight-seeded DeJoria in the second round.
Andrew Hines claimed the Pro Stock motorcycle division over defending Route 66 champ LE Tonglet. Hines won the event at Route 66 in 2007.