Posts Tagged Houston

Erica Enders-Stevens gears up for Houston homecoming with Lupe Tortilla, Elite Motorsports

Enders-Stevens gears up for Houston homecoming

HOUSTON, TX — Coming home to Texas always puts an extra kick in Elite Motorsports driver Erica Enders-Stevens’ step, and she has even more reasons to be upbeat about the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals this weekend at Royal Purple Raceway.

For starters, she will be sponsored by her favorite restaurant, Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants, and she’s coming off a second consecutive double-up at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Enders-Stevens won the special K&N Horsepower Challenge on April 25 in Las Vegas, then won the regular national event the next day. She became the first driver since Bob Glidden to pull off the sweep two years in a row, and now she’s coming to race in her hometown, where she won last year.

“Vegas was huge for us,” Enders-Stevens said. “We didn’t exactly start off the season the way we wanted to. Granted it wasn’t horrible, but we hadn’t gotten a handle on the tires and the fuel yet. Staying after Charlotte to test got things looking up for us. It was a huge confidence builder, and it was also pretty surreal to be able to double up two years in a row.

“That was an awesome experience. I believe we create our own momentum, and we’re on a high right now. I’m excited to carry that into Houston.”

She moved into second place in the Pro Stock points standings with the Las Vegas win and hopes to go back to back in her hometown. Born and raised in the Houston area, Enders-Stevens now lives in New Orleans with her husband, Richie Stevens.

The 2014 win in Houston was her first pro victory in her hometown.

“It was a really important race win to me, not only because it was my first professional win in my hometown but also because it’s sort of a home track for my team owner, Richard Freeman, as well,” Enders-Stevens said. “And it was the first Pro Stock race my dad ever got to see me win. It was really an exciting weekend and everything came together.”

Enders-Stevens hopes that happens again, especially after partnering with longtime friend Stan Holt’s Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants.

“We’ve got a different name on the door this weekend, and it’s a great family-owned business in Lupe Tortilla,” Enders-Stevens said. “Stan Holt has been a big part of my career going back to Jr. Dragsters, and he’s been a longtime family friend. We’re really proud to fly his colors in Houston and support him. Hopefully we’ll get a bunch of people to go try the best food in the country.”

Qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m. CT, Friday, and 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., Saturday. Final eliminations will start at approximately noon, Sunday. Saturday qualifying will be broadcasted at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Sunday’s elimination action will air live beginning at 2 p.m.

Houston-based Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants to sponsor reigning champ Erica Enders-Stevens

Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants to sponsor Erica Enders-Stevens

HOUSTON, TX — Lupe Tortilla, routinely voted the top Mexican restaurant in Texas, will assume title sponsorship of the record-setting Pro Stock race car of reigning world champion Erica Enders-Stevens at the upcoming O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.

A 31-year-old superstar in the world of professional drag racing, Enders-Stevens is a Houston native who attended Spring-Cypress High School and Texas A&M University. She has been supported by Lupe Tortilla founder Stan Holt, his wife Sheila, and their restaurants since she began her driving career at age 8, a relationship that continues to this day with her team owner Richard Freeman and his Elite Motorsports operation.

“Stan has always been a part of racing and my personal life for as long as I can remember,” Enders-Stevens said. “He has always been there for me and I consider him and Sheila part of my family. Stan even performed the wedding ceremony when Richie and I got married.

“We had the best year of our professional lives in 2014, winning six races and the championship. I was honored to become the first female Pro Stock champion and join my heroes Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the only women in history to win a major motorsports title. The neat thing is that Lupe Tortilla was with us every step of the way.

“It would be another dream come true to win this race for Stan, his sons, Sheila Mae, and all of their employees across the state. No matter what, if we can remind people to go eat at one of their restaurants, then I’ll be super happy, and trust me everyone leaves that place happy. It’s the best Tex-Mex ever.”

Based in Houston, Lupe Tortilla boasts 17 locations across the greater Houston area as well as Austin, San Antonio, Beaumont, and College Station.

“It’ll be really neat to see the Lupe Tortilla car on the racetrack,” said Holt, who drag races himself at the Sportsman level. “We came up with the idea to support Erica and the Elite Motorsports team at this race since it’s in our backyard, and when I talked to my sons about it they thought it would be a lot of fun.

“We always have a good time at the races, and many of the professional drivers and crewmen come to visit and have lunch or dinner when they’re in town. We have great relationships with so many people out there, including the Angel family, who own the racetrack. The NHRA is really a big family and we’re happy to feed them all.”

The 28th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals takes place from April 24-26 at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown.

Erica Enders-Stevens Captures Hometown Pro Stock Win in Houston

Erica Enders-Stevens Houston Winner Circle

BAYTOWN, TX — Ten years after her first national event win as a sportsman in Super Gas, Erica Enders-Stevens returned to the winner’s circle at Royal Purple Raceway Sunday for her first Pro Stock win at her home track.

The number two qualified Enders-Stevens faced number one qualifier and friend Allen Johnson in a rematch of this season’s Gainesville final during the 27th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals outside of Houston, Texas.

“I had to get him back for Gainesville,” said Enders-Stevens. “Allen and I and [Allen’s wife] Pam had breakfast on Friday morning for Pam’s birthday. We talked about how cool it would be to qualify 1-2 and go to the finals and we did just that with the Good Lord’s blessing. Doing it on a holeshot makes it that much sweeter. He got me on a holeshot in Gainesville.”

Erica’s Elite Motorsports Camaro shot out of the gate early in qualifiying, going to the top of the field during the opening session, but missing out on the number one spot late Friday when Allen Johnson posted a best 6.555 to her overall best 6.562.

However, Erica’s Elite Motorsports Camaro continued to run to the top with two more passes Saturday in the 6.56’s (6.562 and 6.568) that would have her as the fastest car for three of the four qualifying sessions. That consistency would be crucial for Sunday’s race in front of a hometown crowd, family, friends and sponsors.

During first round of eliminations against Matt Hartford, Erica came out swinging, cutting a sharp .006 second reaction time and running the lowest ET of the round with a 6.578 at 211.26 mph.

Her next two rounds meant defeating multi-time champions Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to make it to the finals. With lane choice in her favor, she swiftly moved through Line with a 6.577 second pass to his 6.639, then advanced over Jeg after he fouled out with a -.004 red light. Erica’s semifinal ET of 6.584 was just one-thousandth quicker than Johnson’s 6.585, giving her lane choice for the finals.

With the threat rain showers looming, the event’s paced sped up and teams rushed to get cars prepped and to the staging lanes. There was a moment of tension when officials motioned to start and Johnson made his way to the right lane while Erica and her team scrambled under the tower.

“We were thrashing,” Enders-Stevens said. “We had to make a last minute transmission change and go through the gears and make sure everything was right. We got up here and A.J. already was in his car buckled up and I had not even had my firesuit pulled up yet. I was getting in, my clutch can was still open, my hood scoop was still in, I was still hooked up to the golf cart, and you want to talk about pressure and craziness. It was very intense. I was pulling up into the water box and A.J. had already done his burnout and backed up. Fortunately enough I was able to focus and get done what we needed to get done. I thanked Allen down at the top end for waiting as long as he could because he didn’t have to. My guys once again gave me a really great Chevy Camaro to drive to the winners circle.”

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Her focus would be key as Erica beat Allen on a holeshot. Her .018 reaction time and 6.594 at 210.60 mph elapsed time was enough to hold of Johnson’s .044 reaction and 6.588 at 210.28 mph pass to capture her 8th career victory.

“I have never won Indy, so I don’t know what that feels like and I have never won the Championship, but this one rates right up there,” Enders-Stevens said. “This one is as important to me as Indy probably is to all the other drivers.”

The importance was obvious by the number of people gathered in the winner’s circle. Family, including her sister, Courtney, and their father, Gregg, as well as husband Richie Stevens and his family were all in attendance. Close friends from childhood and from years spent at the racetrack, as well as those of the Elite Motorsports crew and sponsors joined in and huddled together for photos.

New sponsors Mark Stockseth, Lloyd and Linda Wofford of Engines, Inc. and Steven and Kim Bruno of United Mechanical all saw their first race of the season result in a Wally, and sponsor Royal Purple celebrated a win at the track that bears their name, adding to the festivities and capping off a successful weekend.

Erica is looking to keep the success coming, thanks to an Elite Motorsports team that continues to deliver a dominant car capable of the speed and consistency necessary to hold on to the points lead and win.

“My team’s been really awesome,” said Enders-Stevens. “I’ve had a really consistent race car. That’s what it takes Sundays, consistency. The ball’s in our court. We’ve got to carry the momentum. That’s important in this game, and I know I keep saying that, but it’s huge, and we’re going to keep carrying it as long as we can. Pro Stock really goes in cycles, so I’m really hoping this is our cycle, and we’re going to keep fighting for it.”

They’ll put that consistency to the test when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals May 16th-18th.

Pro Stock Leader Enders-Stevens Sets Sights on Houston Hometown Victory

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BAYTOWN, TX — Heading into just the 6th race of the 2014 season, Erica Enders-Stevens has already captured the Pro Stock national speed record, won the K&N Horsepower Challenge, appeared in three national event final rounds, won the SummitRacing.com Nationals in Las Vegas, and became the overall Pro Stock points leader for the first time in her career.

Yet a win at this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway would be even more special.

“This is home. It’s where I grew up watching my dad race and where I started racing Jr. Dragsters,” recalled Enders-Stevens. “My first national event win happened here in Super Gas in 2004, so it’s been 10 years since I’ve been in the winner’s circle at my home track. Making it back there this weekend would be one heck of an anniversary celebration.”

If this season’s performance is any indication, she may have just what it takes.

Her Elite Motorsports team, led by Richard Freeman and co-crew chiefs Rick and Rickie Jones, has developed a consistent race car tailored to Erica’s driving style. The red Chevy Camaro’s 500 cubic inch powerplant from Elite Performance builders Nick Ferri and Jake Hairston routinely delivers some of the highest horsepower in the class when comparing finish-line trap speeds, including the record-setting 214.69 mph speed set in Gainesville.

“It’s been amazing racing with them,” Erica said of her Elite Motorsports crew. “We’re having so much fun together, and I think that translates into how well we communicate with each other when getting the car set up for each round.”

With her arrival in Houston, Erica’s pit will be bustling with family and friends coming to wish her luck.

“It’s always great to come home and see everyone,” said Erica. “I try to get here early so I can spend some quiet time with family before the races, then all weekend it’s family, friends and fans. It’s busy, but fun.”

It’s not just Houston family and friends coming out to support Erica, new associate sponsors have come on board to support the Elite Motorsports team.

Industrial engine builder Engines, Inc., led by Lloyd and Linda Wofford, and Steve and Kim Bruno of Oklahoma City-based United Mechanical have signed on for the remainder of the year, with Mark Stockseth of Stockseth Racing joining the team’s efforts for Houston.

“We’re very fortunate to have the Woffords, Brunos and Mark Stockseth getting behind our program. They’re dedicated business owners who work hard for what they’ve accomplished, and we’re excited to be associated with them as marketing partners,” said Enders-Stevens.

In addition, locally-based synthetic lubricants company, Royal Purple, for which the track is named, is also cheering on the Elite Motorsports Camaro after coming on board with their support earlier in the season.

“This is Royal Purple’s home track as well as mine, so we want to win this here for them and for everyone else who support us,” notes Enders-Stevens.

Friday’s Pro Stock qualifying is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (CT), with Saturday’s sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eliminations for all classes begins at 11:00 a.m. Sunday.

TV broadcasts on ESPN2 will air the qualifying program starting at 5:00 p.m. Saturday and the elimination show at 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening.

Haney, Enders-Stevens head to Houston with momentum

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HOUSTON (Oct. 17) – After Keith Haney Racing swept the Legal Pro Mod class at the Throw Down in T-Town last weekend, team owner/driver Keith Haney wasn’t sure how he could top that, but then he thought about the ADRL World Finals IX this weekend at Royal Purple Raceway, where he and NHRA star Erica Enders-Stevens will be racing.

“You know what could top it?” Haney said. “If Erica and I meet in the final round. That’d be cool.”

Haney faced teammate Monroe Guest in last weekend’s Throw Down final in Tulsa, Okla., and scored his first victory in four years but hopes not to wait that long for his next win.

Haney will bring his two RacingJunk.com/Lucas Oil Camaros to Houston, Enders-Stevens’ hometown. Haney’s car carries a new Reher-Morrison engine that powered him to victory in Tulsa.

“With the new motor we’ve got in my car we can get it to go low,” Haney said. “We can make the other car go faster, but how much more depends on the power that’s underneath it. It’s not a No. 1 qualifier, but we want to be in the top half of the field. Our driving abilities are good enough to win races. You don’t always have to have the best car, but you have to have the best package.”

The package this weekend includes pink paint schemes on both cars to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“I’m excited to drive the Pro Mod car again,” Enders-Stevens said. “It should be a really fun weekend to be back home in Houston. We’re sporting a pink paint scheme, and I’ll be the only girl in Pro Mod driving a pink car.”

Enders-Stevens was born and raised in Houston, and though she lives in New Orleans with her husband Richie Stevens, she is always eager to race in her hometown.

“I’m always pumped to race at home,” Enders-Stevens said. “I love Texas and I love racing in front of the hometown crowd. I’m excited that we’ve got two competitive race cars this weekend. We’ll see how it turns out.”

Haney is excited, too, especially because he’ll be racing where he won his first NHRA race, a Top Sportsman event in 2009.

“I’m going back to where I won my very first Wally,” Haney said. “We’re excited about it.”

Enders-Stevens returns to Keith Haney Racing for final two ADRL races

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TULSA, Okla. (Aug. 25) – Drag racing star Erica Enders-Stevens will be back in Keith Haney Racing’s Pro Mod Camaro for the final two ADRL events of the 2013 season, team owner Keith Haney announced on Sunday.

Enders-Stevens will race in Dragstock X on Sept. 6-8 at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, N.C., and then in her hometown event, the World Finals IX, on Oct. 19-20 at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Brandon Pesz of Lethal Acceleration will continue as crew chief.

Enders-Stevens, a native of Houston, raced for Haney in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month,
Erica Enders-Stevens

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marking the first time she drove a nitrous-powered race car. The five-time NHRA winner qualified for this year’s Countdown to the Championship in Pro Stock, but her Cagnazzi Racing team has been sidelined because of lack of sponsorship.

“I’m really excited to have been invited back to drive for Keith,” Enders-Stevens said. “That was a really fun opportunity in Memphis, and given some more time in the car it will only get better. I’m glad to be going back.”

Haney, Enders-Stevens’ car owner and teammate, was overwhelmed by the response she got in Memphis, giving additional exposure to Keith Haney Racing sponsors Lucas Oil, Pro Torque, Racing Junk, Monroe Guest Motorsports, Regional Hyundai, Suburban Chevrolet, Classic Chevrolet, Miami Chevrolet Buick GMC, Nissan of Muskogee, and Tulsa Raceway Park.

“It was really, really good for her and good for Sportsman racing,” Haney said. “It was amazing for us, too. We just keep growing.”

Haney hopes to continue capitalizing on Enders-Stevens’ popularity through social media and fan interaction.

“It’s good for the sport,” Haney said. “It’s good for Keith Haney Racing, it’s good for our sponsors.”

Plus, it’s good for the ADRL, and league co-founder Kenny Nowling knows it. He offered the team free entry and free testing for Enders-Stevens’ appearances in the remaining ADRL races.

It’s also good for Enders-Stevens, who loves racing in Houston. After the race in Memphis, she immediately inquired about racing again for Haney.

“She got out of the race car and said, ‘I’d love to drive again,’ ” Haney said. “I said, ‘OK. What race would you like to drive?’ She said, ‘I’d like to drive in my hometown.’ ”

Houston has always been special for her, as it was the site of her first national event victory, in Super Gas in 2004.

“I’m so glad to be going back home,” Enders-Stevens said. “We raced there in April and didn’t have the best of showings, so to be able to have another opportunity in a car with twice the horsepower is really cool. I’m looking forward to it.”

As an added bonus, husband Richie Stevens will be part of Haney’s crew in Rockingham.

Video: Erica Enders-Stevens & Dave Connolly Interview Segment

Watch this interview segment of Erica and crew chief Dave Connolly aired during the Spring Nationals in Houston.

Houston native Enders-Stevens in search of hometown victory

ee4Erica Enders-Stevens is easily the most successful woman in NHRA Pro Stock history. After a stellar 2012 season behind the wheel of her GK Motorsports Chevy that produced four wins in seven final rounds and a fourth-place points finish, there is one thing that would make her even more proud: to win a Wally in front of her hometown crowd at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway.

“It would be amazing to win at home,” Enders-Stevens said. “We were able to get it done in Super Gas at the national event in 2004. I’m hopeful that we can seal the deal in Pro Stock as well. Not only am I from Houston, but my sponsors are also. It would be twice as special.”

Enders-Stevens is hoping that the momentum her team produced from winning the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix in late February will help push her to a second victory this season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.

Enders-Stevens practically grew up at Royal Purple Raceway, where she got her first taste of speed behind the wheel of an NHRA Jr. Dragster.

“I obviously love racing at home,” Enders-Stevens said. “I made my first pass at RPR back in 1992 in my Jr. Dragster, and prior to that, I grew up there watching my dad race. We had a lot of success in my JDRL and Sportsman days at RPR. That track and the Angel family [track owners] mean a lot to me.”

Enders-Stevens is already off to a great start this season with one win in three final-round appearances as well as a runner-up finish in the lucrative K&N Horsepower Challenge, a specialty bonus event that took place in Las Vegas. Currently sitting third in the points standings, she is looking forward to more positive results in Houston and throughout the 2013 season.

“I’m pleased with our efforts so far this season, but being the perfectionist and eternal optimist that I am, I know we can do better,” Enders-Stevens said. “We let a big double-up win in Vegas slip through our fingers. We have been testing nonstop since then, and I’m confident that we are bettering our new Chevy Camaro and ourselves. One thing is for certain: When we go up to the line, I know we have all given 150 percent.”

If the Pro Stock fan favorite is going to add a Royal Purple Raceway victory to her list of accomplishments, she’ll have to hold off a tough group of challengers, including two-time defending event winner Nobile, defending world champ Allen Johnson, series points leader Mike Edwards, and Summit Racing’s Jason Line and Greg Anderson, among others.

[Source: NHRA.com]
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