ST. LOUIS, MO — Gateway Motorsports Park has always been a favorite track for two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, dating back to her adolescence when she raced a Junior Dragster at the facility. Her warm feelings for the track have only strengthened since she’s turned pro, one of many reasons she’s excited to return for this weekend’s sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
“We’re feeling like we’re on a bit of an uptick after posting two good runs Sunday in Reading (Pa.) and then you add in the fact we’re going to St. Louis, one of my all-time favorite tracks, and I can sense a little excitement in the pit,” Enders said. “We’re being realistic about where we are and what we need to do, and we’re still fighting hard.
“We’ve had a great string of successes at Gateway. We won there in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013. Then we earned the pole in 2014. We went back to the finals in 2015 and finished as runner-up, so yeah, it’s a great track for us.”
The most prolific female racer in Pro Stock history and the third most decorated female in NHRA history, Enders points to St. Louis as the place where her professional career officially began.
“Back in 2004 at St. Louis we announced that I would be racing Pro Stock,” Enders said. “It was a moment I’ll never forget. Finally getting to that point in my career was so huge. To go from a kid in the garage with my dad handing him wrenches to racing Juniors, to running a bunch of different sportsman cars, and then finally turning pro, it was a dream come true.
“It’s never been easy and we had plenty of struggles along the way but we persevered and reached the top of the sport in 2014 and 2015. Now our focus is on getting back to the top of the mountain and we won’t give up until we do.”
Through two of six Countdown to the Championship playoff races, Enders remains in sixth place in the Mello Yello world rankings. She knows going rounds in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro every weekend from here on out is tantamount to her ultimate success.
“We have tested and tested these cars and we keep finding little things that make us better,” Enders said. “The tire change really threw us a curve but we can’t complain because everyone is dealing with the same components. I say it all the time and I’ve never meant it more, but there is no other team, no other group of people I would rather be with in this journey. Hopefully I can reward my guys with a trophy or two before we’re done this year.”
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 5-6 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)