Two-time drag racing champ Erica Enders looking to add ‘Gator’ skin to her wall

Erica Enders 2017 NHRA Pro Stock

GAINESVILLE, FL — One of only three women in history to capture a world championship in any of the top forms of motorsports, Erica Enders has amassed 21 national event victories in her illustrious career. However, that impressive number of wins doesn’t include one from the prestigious Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, a fact Enders would like to change at the 48th running of the event this weekend.

“I’ve always looked at the Gatornationals as one of the big-time, heritage races on the schedule so certainly we’d love to win it,” Enders said. “There’s a real party atmosphere with Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day going on, plus all the people escaping the snow up north come down for the weekend. It’s always a lot of fun.

“We’ve been super busy since Phoenix, testing the Pro Stock car, running our Omaha Track COPO Camaro in Stock at a divisional event, and even racing in an NMCA event. I’ve been driving some sort of racecar for 12 days straight. It’s been a blast.”

Enders certainly knows how to win as her Richard Freeman-led race team collected 15 Pro Stock victories in their two-year championship run, six in 2014 and nine more in 2015. She says the recipe and ingredients used to cook up those successes haven’t change a bit.

“Richard is really good at creating a family environment and keeping everyone happy and motivated at the same time,” Enders said. “We have three Pro Stock teams under the Elite umbrella this year and all of us have worked together for a long time now so we know how to get the best out of the entire group. There is no ego on this team. We’re all working together for the best of the team.

“All three cars have started well and we’re all in the top 10 in the Mello Yello points so we’re happy. Most of all, we’re still having the best time, hanging out and racing with each other. I wouldn’t trade this group for anything.”

Gainesville will offer Enders two chances to win as aside from her Pro Stock car, she’ll be racing Terry Peterson’s Omaha Track COPO Camaro in the first of five Factory Stock Showdown scheduled this season. The car features Patterson-Elite horsepower.

“It’s a great racecar, very fast and super smooth,” she said. “I do know we’ll be up against the best Stock racers in the country and everyone wants to win this deal so it’ll be cutthroat, but I pretty much have raced under that pressure my whole career. We’ll be ready.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions for the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals are scheduled for 12:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 12 and 2:30 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with two qualifying shows, one at 12 a.m., Friday, and the other at 11 p.m., Saturday, followed by live elimination action beginning at 1 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in EDT).