CHICAGO, IL – Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders has a wealth of quarter-mile excitement to draw from this weekend as she takes the controls of her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals, just outside of Chicago.
“Chicago has a lot of meaning to me because we won our first Pro Stock race there in 2012 after seven long years of trying,” Enders said. “It was such a huge deal, a culmination of so many things. It felt wonderful. It was a big relief and also immediately made you want to do it again. I’m always excited to head back to Chicago.”
Enders, a 33-year-old native of Houston, and her team are also excited about getting additional primary sponsorship backing on the sides of her red racer from marketing partner Melling Performance this weekend as well as NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ events in Denver, Sonoma, Calif., Seattle, and Indianapolis.
“Having Melling Performance step up and take the doors for the rest of the summer is really big for our team,” Enders said. “We’re going to do everything we can to put our red Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Camaro in the winner’s circle at least few times.”
Chicago holds many opportunities for Enders to celebrate at one of the NHRA’s historically quickest and fastest racetracks. Among those is the running of the JEGS Allstars event, a unique race-within-a-race Saturday for the “Best of the Best” from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
“I’ll definitely be up in the stands watching the JEGS Allstars race,” Enders said. “My Elite Motorsports teammate, Jeg (Coughlin) Jr., and his family put on the biggest and best race of the year for the top Sportsman drivers and the competition is intense. You know I’ll be rooting for Division 4!
“We’ve had significant success in Chicago over the years, not only in Pro Stock, but I always do well there in my Sportsman cars too. I’ve never won a Sportsman race there, but I always seem to go deep on race day. I have a good vibe with that racetrack, for sure.”
Last month Enders, one of the sport’s most popular drivers, won in Epping, N.H., marking the first win for the Houston native since the fall of 2015. However, the feisty resident of New Orleans and her team are not resting on their laurels after a taste of success and some overdue time off.
“The week off was definitely needed after racing four weekends in a row,” Enders said. “It gave all of us a chance for a quick rest and then get back to work on some things we need to do. We stayed to test after Norwalk in an effort to get the car a little more consistent for these summer races.
“We’re doing so much better this year, but we’re nowhere near satisfied yet. There’s a lot more on the horizon and our goal right now is to reach a strong level of consistency before the Countdown to the Championship (playoffs) starts.”
Pro Stock will hold qualifying sessions at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m., Friday, and 3:15 and 6 p.m., Saturday. First round of eliminations begin at 1 p.m., Sunday. NHRA TV on Fox FS1 includes live Chicago coverage 5-7 p.m., Saturday, and 3-6 p.m., Sunday. Times are local and subject to change.