BRISTOL, TN — The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has been a “dream season” for Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens, and she intends to keep the dream going during this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Enders-Stevens leads the points standings by 123 points in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class with two national event victories and a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge.
At the most recent race in Englishtown, N.J., Enders-Stevens set the national record in elapsed time (6.464 seconds) and speed (215.55 mph).
“Hopefully, we can hold it for a while,” Enders-Stevens said. “Now that it’s the summer months, I don’t think there will be mine-shaft conditions, at least not until Reading. That’s usually the next race where records are broken.
“It meant a lot to us. I know it meant a lot to my team because speed equals horsepower in Pro Stock, and it just goes to show how strong our engine program is. I know Richard Freeman, Nick Ferri, and Jake Hairston are all very proud of it, along with the rest of my team. It’s just another accomplishment in what has been a dream season so far.”
And now she heads to Bristol, one of her favorite NHRA venues.
“Bristol is probably one of my top-three favorite tracks on the tour,” Enders-Stevens said. “I really enjoy going there, and it’s an awesome facility. It’s the South, and the people are all so kind.”
Plus, Enders-Stevens has reached the final round in two of the last three Bristol races, including the 2011 event when she returned to Pro Stock full time after five years.
“That was our first final-round appearance together,” Enders-Stevens said. “Since then I’ve been to one more final there. I haven’t won Bristol, but we’ve been runner-up a couple times. I’m looking forward to going back and going one extra round.”
Enders-Stevens has been busy since Englishtown, traveling to the Chevrolet Performance shop in Detroit with team owner Freeman to take delivery of a COPO Camaro.
“We got to take a tour of the factory and see every step of the production of the COPO Camaro,” Enders-Stevens said. “They only produce 69 cars per year, so it’s very special and it’s an elite group of people who have a COPO car.
“When we got to the end of the line and pulled the car cover off our Camaro, it was an exciting moment for all of us. I had no idea until that day that I was going to be a part of that program with Richard, and he asked that my name be put on the certificate of authenticity alongside his. That was a surreal moment and really exciting for me. I don’t show excitement very much, but that was a pretty amazing moment.”
Freeman made sure Enders-Stevens got behind the wheel with a Chevrolet official, and she drove it around the block before doing some burnouts in the parking lot. The future plan is for her to drive the car at some NHRA races later this season.
After Detroit, Enders-Stevens went to the Elite shop in Oklahoma before heading home for some time before a four-week stretch of races begins with Bristol.
Four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying will feature sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m., Friday, and 12:30 and 3 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations are slated to start at 1 p.m., Sunday. Both qualifying and elimination action will be broadcast on ESPN2.