Posts Tagged Houston

Erica Enders suffers red-light disqualification in opening round race versus husband

HOUSTON, TX — Two-time world champion Erica Enders threw away what was the quickest and fastest pass of the 30th annual NHRA Spring Nationals by leaving the starting line nine-thousandths of a second early in a Round 1 loss to her husband Richie Stevens.

The automatic disqualification negated a stellar 6.523-second blast at 213.37 mph that would have delivered an easy win over Stevens’ 6.589 at 210.64 mph. It left the Cypress, Texas native more than a little perturbed.

“There was no showing off there,” Enders said, quelling talk she was trying too hard to best her husband. “That was just a simple A to B run. I was set up to be conservative on the tree so we weren’t showing our hand against someone we can easily outrun by six or seven hundredths of a second.

“It is an extremely unfortunate outcome that we red-lit. I’m pretty damn good with sitting on my clutch pedal and I gamble with thousandths of a second all the time and to miss it by nearly a hundred of a second, that just does not happen with me. I’ll risk sounding a little over confident because I think our track record speaks for itself.”

Enders immediately questioned the distant between the pre-stage and staged timing beams, which can sometimes get knocked out of alignment ever so slightly, causing fractionally quicker reaction times.

“I don’t think it was accurate,” Enders said. “Richie didn’t have better than a .040 light all weekend and he went red too (by .003). Go look at all of the other first round match-ups and how good the tree was for everyone. It doesn’t add up.

“I would bet everything I have the roll out (distance between beams) was messed with overnight. It had to been. There’s no way I missed it that much. They get messed sometimes, they absolutely do. They take the whole thing down every night and put it back up so when I’m out here gambling with thousandths of a second, that’s a big risk.

“We were set up there to have about a .020 light and that just wasn’t the case. I am sorry to my whole Elite Motorsports/Lupe Tortilla/Transportation Impact Chevy Camaro team. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow but the good news out of all of it is we finally have a racecar again and they know we are coming.”

Enders won’t have long to brood about her regrettable race as the tour immediately heads east for next weekend’s eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Hometown girl Erica Enders primed for big race day, starting against her husband

HOUSTON, TX — Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders loves racing at home and her hometown fans love her for bringing so much glory to the Bayou City. It’s a relationship the Cypress, Texas native wants to expand Sunday when she races from the No. 4 qualifying spot for the trophy of the 30th annual NHRA Spring Nationals.

“So happy to be back in Texas,” Enders said. “It’s no secret I love this state and being at the track where I started racing as an 8-year-old kid is perfect for me. We won Pro Stock in back-to-back years in 2014-2015 and those were the same years we won it all so Royal Purple Raceway is obviously good luck for me.”

Behind the wheel of Richard Freeman’s Lupe Tortilla-sponsored Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, Enders blasted to a best of 6.573 seconds at 210.14 mph to set up a first-round elimination date with her husband Richie Stevens, who topped out at 6.615 at 208.52 mph during time trials to qualify 11th on the grid.

“We’re getting all our ducks in a row here at Elite Performance,” Enders said. “My teammate Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) is on the pole and Vincent (Nobile) and Alex (Laughlin) are both looking strong. We’re looking to dominate the class like we did during our championship runs and we’re definitely getting closer to that goal every weekend.

“Richie hasn’t raced in almost a year so it’s great to see him come out and make some good runs. But once we line up tomorrow I’ll treat him like any other competitor and do everything I can to rip his throat out. We’re here to win and it’s been more than 16 months since that’s happened so we’ll do whatever we have to do.”

Enders has now qualified in the top half of the field three times in the first five races of the season. She was third in Gainesville, Fla., and sixth in Pomona, Calif. Still, the 21-time national event winner knows qualifying well hardly matches a victory on race day, but it’s a great start.

“We won with Lupe Tortilla on the car two years ago and sharing the winner’s circle with (owners) Stan and Sheila Holt was a memory I will always cherish,” Enders said. “There are a million ways to say ‘thank you’ but nothing beats winning the race. That’s the ultimate ‘thank you.’

“Having them back on the doors this year is super special to me because they have supported me since I started drag racing as a kid. Plus, they’ve been feeding us every day so we’re feeling great and everyone is happy.”

Pro Stock eliminations start at noon with television coverage on FOX Sports 1 kicking off at 4:30 p.m., Sunday.

“It would be hard for me to say how much my team means to me,” Enders said. “These guys are so awesome and special and it’s really nice to see their hard work pay off with a strong qualifying effort like this. Now we’ll get back to work and see what we can do about winning this race.”

Erica Enders coming home to race Lupe Tortilla/Elite Motorsports Pro Stock racecar

HOUSTON, TX — Winning her hometown race always has been a great talisman for native Houstonian Erica Enders, a trend she’d love to continue at this year’s NHRA Spring Nationals, which take place Friday-Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown.

Enders, who was born and raised in Houston, won the Pro Stock title at her home track in 2014 and 2015, which propelled her to NHRA championships those same two years. Now, with sponsorship from Houston-based Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants, Enders is hoping another Lone Star victory will spur a successful journey to this year’s Mello Yello world championship.

“We’re looking for nothing less than another win,” Enders said. “I love this race above all the others. It’s home, not only for me but for my guys as well because we’re close enough to the shop (in Wynnewood, Okla.) that all of our family members and friends are able to come to the race.

“We are all thinking about eating at Lupe Tortilla every day. Stan and Sheila Holt (Lupe Tortilla owners) have been my best friends forever. I love them so much and to have their support again for this race is extra special. We’ve won with Lupe Tortilla on the doors before so we know they are good luck!”

This year’s visit to Royal Purple Raceway will feature Enders racing the same Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro she piloted to the 2014 Houston title and world championship, giving her a real level of comfort.

“We’re definitely getting better,” she said. “I know none of us have been home very much because we’ve been constantly testing since even before the season started. We’re used to winning races and winning championships so anything less than that is not up to the standards we set for ourselves.”

Currently seventh in the championship points after four national events, Enders has a semifinal and two quarterfinal finishes to her credit. She also raced to the final four in the elite K&N Horsepower Challenge at the tour’s last stop in Las Vegas.

“We’ve got big horsepower,” Enders said. “We keep working at matching that power to the car. All this time we’re investing will pay off very soon. I can feel it. We’re ready to light up the scoreboard in Houston.”

Aside from her duties in Pro Stock, Enders will be competing in Super Gas in Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski’s ORTEQ Energy Technologies Chevrolet Camaro roadster. “Another chance to win,” said Enders, who won Super Comp at the Houston track in the past.

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday, with eliminations starting at noon, Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins with a live qualifying show at 7:30 p.m., Friday, followed by elimination action at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times listed in CDT).

Pro Stock champ Erica Enders can’t bring home another Houston win

Erica Enders | NHRA Houston 2016

HOUSTON, TX — The 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals this weekend at Royal Purple Raceway didn’t go exactly as Erica Enders had hoped, and it certainly didn’t go as well as the 2014 and 2015 races for the two-time Pro Stock champion.

Enders, who won her home race here the last two years, fell in the first round in 2016 with her ShirleysKids.org/Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart.

“Winning only makes you want to win more, and when you don’t you’re clearly disappointed,” Enders said. “We’ve had a lot of fun here the last couple of years, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this time around. That’s OK; it only makes all of us fight that much harder to get back to the winner’s circle.”

Enders was born and raised in Houston before moving to New Orleans several years ago to live with her husband, Richie Stevens. She remains a Texas girl at heart, and she still has family and friends in the Houston area.

Plus, Royal Purple Raceway is home to her first career race, in a Jr. Dragster at age 8, and to her first career national event victory, in Super Gas in 2004. Ten years later, she won here in Pro Stock and then repeated a season later.

“I’ve said it before, but I love coming to Texas,” Enders said. “I really loved it the last two years, and I still love it even though we lost today. We’ll be back.”

Enders’ pass of 6.659 seconds at 207.18 mph was quicker than Chris McGaha’s 6.668-second pass at 206.26 mph, but McGaha was a tick quicker with his reaction time, and he got to the finish first by about three feet.

“No excuses: I got beat on the Tree,” Enders said. “I pride myself on doing my job on the line and with my shifts, and I didn’t get it done today. I’ll be back.”

The NHRA Mello Yello tour takes a weekend off before returning to action May 13-15 with the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

Two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders gunning for Houston three-peat

Erica Enders Houston NHRA Pro Stock 2016

HOUSTON, TX — Racing in her home state of Texas always puts a smile on the face of two-time Pro Stock champion Erica Enders. So does going fast with her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge, which she did in qualifying for the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals on Friday at Royal Purple Raceway.

Enders grabbed the No. 6 spot — her second-best qualifying position of the season — with a pass of 6.635 seconds at 209.14 mph.

“It is nice to be back home,” said Enders, the 2014 and 2015 Houston winner. “Coming out on Friday and running a little bit better than we have been was certainly encouraging.”

Enders and her Elite team continue to develop their new ’16 Dodge Dart after NHRA mandated fuel-injected engines with a 10,500 rpm limit. Building a new car and tuning it to the new rules has been a challenge but one Enders and her team are up for.

“Today was OK,” Enders said. “It was very hot, the racetrack was crazy, probably similar to what it’s going to be tomorrow. We got two good practice runs for tomorrow. It’s not going exactly how we had planned, but we don’t know how to quit. We’ll just keep digging deep and figure it out.”

Enders will square off against No. 9 qualifier Chris McGaha in the first round Sunday in an odd ladder required by a 13-car field. McGaha’s best pass was 6.646 seconds at 208.39 mph.

Enders was born and raised in Houston and is a Texas girl through and through despite now living in New Orleans with husband Richie Stevens.

“I’m glad to be back home,” Enders said. “I love Texas; I’m not shy about that. This track holds a lot of history for me and certainly a lot of special memories. It was the first track I ever raced on, back in the early 90s, and it was the first track that I won a national event on, in Super Gas. And then we were able to win back-to-back years here in Pro Stock in 2014-15.

“We’ve had lots of fun here, and I’m hopeful that trend continues.”

FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 11 p.m. to midnight, Saturday. Eliminations will air from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday.

Erica Enders to spotlight Shirley’s Kids charity at Houston race

Erica Enders | Shirley's Kids | NHRA

HOUSTON, TX — Shirley’s Kids, the charity headed by legendary drag racer Shirley Muldowney, will adorn Erica Enders’ Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge at the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals this weekend at Royal Purple Raceway.

Shirley’s Kids’ mission is to lend a hand to children in need in the markets where drag racing has become a part of the community.

“Shirley’s Kids has already impacted the lives of two amazing kids and their families, and I’m happy to carry its logo this weekend,” Enders said. “Shirley did a lot for this sport, and she continues to help others through Shirley’s Kids.”

The Shirley’s Kids-adorned Dodge is made possible through the generous contribution of Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants. None of the money donated to Shirley’s Kids goes to the sponsorship of Enders’ race car, as Lupe Tortilla is providing all of the funding.

Lupe Tortilla has been voted the No. 1 Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas on numerous occasions, with locations across Houston as well as San Antonio, Austin, Beaumont, Katy, and College Station.

“Stan and Sheila Holt have done so much for Shirley’s Kids,” Muldowney said. “I can’t thank them enough for helping the kids at the races we go to, and now to see Shirley’s Kids on Erica’s car is icing on the cake. They are trying their best to help us spread the word so we can help more children.”

Muldowney is slated to attend several NHRA national events in 2016 as Shirley’s Kids continues to help children in need. The next race on her schedule is this weekend in Houston. She also will attend races in Atlanta, Englishtown, Bristol, Denver, Indy, the second Charlotte event, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Pomona, as well as the Jr. Drag Racing Western Conference Finals in Tulsa, Okla.

For more information, visit www.ShirleysKids.org.

Shirley’s Kids is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity created to help children in need. Because its namesake, four-time world champion Shirley Muldowney, has lived her life in drag racing, the organization first seeks out deserving children within the drag racing community. Recipients may be struggling with medical issues or financial hardships brought on by a personal or family tragedy. Because of corporate support, 100 percent of all proceeds raised go directly to the designated children.

Texas girl Erica Enders hopes for a three-peat in Houston

Erica Enders 2016 Mopar NHRA Pro Stock

HOUSTON, TX — Two-time Pro Stock World Champion Erica Enders is a tried-and-true Texas girl, so racing at her home track this weekend is a special treat.

Enders, who grew up in Houston, will return to Texas for the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals, a race she has won the last two years.

“Houston was the place where I won my first national event in the Sportsman ranks,” Enders said. “And 10 years later, we were able to get it done in Pro Stock and then do it back to back.”

Enders started her career in the NHRA Jr. Dragster program, racing successfully with her younger sister Courtney. As Erica got older, she moved to the Sportsman classes, winning her first national event in 2004 in Houston in the Super Gas category.

Eventually, she landed in Pro Stock, winning her first race in 2012, but winning at home in Houston was always a priority, and she finally got it done in 2014 with Elite Motorsports. Enders’ success continued last season, when she repeated as the Houston winner.

“We faced a lot of adversity at those two events,” Enders said. “Things happened to our car; we hurt some engines and had to do an eleventh-hour engine change (in 2015). To be able to ignore all of the distractions that come with a hometown race and win is pretty cool.

“I know it can be done, and with the strides we’re making in the right direction, I’m hopeful we can have another good showing there.”

Enders has two chances to win this weekend, as she returns to the Super Gas ranks when she gets behind the wheel of the ORTEQ Energy Technologies car for owners Buddy Wood and Cody Ortowski. Plus, Enders will be rooting for Mike De Palma Jr. in the Comp class.

“I’m driving Super Gas and Pro Stock,” Enders said. “We’re going to have our C/Altered car in Comp Eliminator, which is my 2014 championship car with a new Elite Performance motor. That should be pretty exciting and should be a fun weekend.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. CT, Friday, and 1 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action from 7 to 8 p.m., Friday, and 11 p.m. to midnight, Saturday. Eliminations will air from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday.

NHRA champ Erica Enders wins hometown race, powers into points lead

Erica Enders-Stevens wins Houston 2015

HOUSTON — Erica Enders won another drag race Sunday in her native Houston to barge into the championship points lead for this first time in her title-defense season. Enders beat Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile, Jonathan Gray, and Chris McGaha for her second straight NHRA victory. It was also her second consecutive win at Royal Purple Raceway, where she began her racing career at the age of 8.

“I didn’t think anything could top winning here a year ago,” said Enders, who attended Spring-Cypress High School and Texas A&M University, “but this just might have done it. We ran a special-edition car with Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants on the door. Stan and Sheila Holt (Lupe Tortilla owners) have supported me since I was racing Jr. Dragsters and they are like family to me. To win this one for them was over the top.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever worked harder for a win. We had a complete engine change before racing Jonathan. We went to warm up, and we realized there was a big problem with the motor. There was 10 minutes until we needed to be in the staging lanes and I thought we were done, but the guys got after it and pulled it off. They are unbelievable.

“Big thanks to everyone from all the other teams that jumped in and helped. That’s what’s special about drag racing: We all want to beat each other on the racetrack, but we’ll do anything to help the team you’re about to race if they need it.”

This was Enders’ 14th Pro Stock victory, although she quickly deflected any praise to team owner Richard Freeman of Elite Motorsports and crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones.

“I say it every time anyone asks and I’ll say it again, I have the best team in drag racing,” Enders said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish in the last year and half is nothing short of amazing. I always dreamt of winning here when I used to run my Jr. Dragster here with my dad and sister, and when I dreamed about winning, I would dream about being with a team just like this … the very best.

“I credit Richard for putting together an awesome group and constantly motivating them to push themselves every race. This is my dream and it continued today.”

By the numbers, Enders beat Johnson with a 6.562, ran a better 6.553 against a red-lighting Nobile, took out Gray with a 6.570, and dispatched McGaha with a 6.571. Her average reaction time was a stellar .017-second.

Enders will now take two weeks off before racing again May 15-17 at Atlanta Raceway in Commerce, Ga.

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