BRISTOL, TN– With two world championships, 21 national event wins, and a 221-137 race-day record, 32-year-old Erica Enders already has experienced many high points in her drag racing career, but perhaps the two moments she takes the most pride in happened the last two years at Bristol Dragway when she won back-to-back NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals titles on Father’s Day.
“Going all the way back to the beginning, my dad (Gregg Enders) always has been there for me,” Enders said. “He used to race himself and that’s what got me started. He sacrificed everything to make my dreams come true, and although I’ll never be able to fully thank him for what he’s done, winning the last two years on Father’s Day and dedicating those Wallys to him was a very cool feeling.
“Those two wins have made Bristol one of my favorite tracks of all time. I already loved the place because it’s a Bruton (Smith) track and it’s really, really nice. Then you throw in the way the fans treat us there and the beautiful scenery, it’s so easy to love that place.”
While it’s fun to reminisce on the past and conjure up the images of good times with her father, Enders can’t help but look at this year’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals as a place she’d love to finally get her Elite Performance/Mopar Dodge Dart on a winning course.
“It’s no secret we’re struggling a bit,” Enders said. “But as I’ve said many times, we have an awesome team of professionals over here and no one is complaining about all the extra work that has been put in this year trying to get our two Dodges up to speed.
“We see encouraging signs in testing, at the shop on the dyno, and even from our teammates Jeg (Coughlin) and Vincent (Nobile), so we know we’re getting closer. We just need to keep our heads down and work.”
As a driver, Enders has been doubling down on her efforts in the cockpit.
“I have a few things I do mechanically with the car, but I know the biggest impact I can make is behind the wheel,” she said. “I’ve worked extremely hard on my mental focus and keeping the exact routine every time. I want to do all that I can to help, and if that means I need to cut double-O lights at the Tree, then that’s what I strive to do.
“We won a lot of races and two championships as a team and we’ll get through this as a team. That’s what my dad taught me. There’s no quit in this pit.”
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at 1 p.m., Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will air qualifying action from 2 to 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, and eliminations from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday.