CONCORD, N.C. (April 25) -- Top Fuel driver Scott Palmer's preparation for this weekend's 10th annual NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals included cruising Tulsa in his Studebaker. This comes on the heels of his interesting lead-in to the Houston race, which was highlighted by a cross-country search for mojo.
"That Studebaker is my golf game," said Palmer, a drag racing throwback that still tunes his own racecars, including the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent Top Fuel dragster he'll race in Charlotte. "Everybody else golfs to relax. That car is what makes me smile."
To be clear, Palmer's Studebaker isn't quite like the one grandpa drove. His has a Top Fuel engine poking out of the hood and he dreams of making it run the quarter-mile in less than five seconds at speeds of more than 300 mph. It's a car Palmer tinkers with on occasion and admittedly the project has gotten a tad out of control.
"It's so crazy and outrageous," Palmer said. "It doesn’t even make sense what we’ve done to that car, putting a Top Fuel motor in a door car like that. We have a great time with it, though, every time we roll it out and it gets me back to my center.
"Since we didn’t have much time off after Houston I decided to load the car up, drive to Oklahoma and make a couple of runs. We made some changes to make it more aggressive and it ended up being way too aggressive. We’ve had runs that made it further down the track but that doesn’t matter. We had a lot of fun. Like I said, it’s my golf game."
Going to Tulsa Raceway Park was a hit of the reset button for Palmer, who earned his first payday as a driver at the facility.
"In the early '90s Tulsa Raceway Park was the first place that ever gave me money to come down and show off at their Midnight Drags event. All of us from Springfield (Mo.) went to the Midnight Drags about once a month and always had a great time. That time they paid me to be there was when I first got the idea I could do this for a living and survive. At the very least it gave me hope to keep trying.
"When you go back to where you started you remember why you race. It’s because you love it, not for anything else. It makes you realize how lucky you are to get to run at this level with NHRA too. It makes you appreciate everything that much more."
With his mind fully cleared and refocused, Palmer was able to speak on this weekend's four-wide event with optimism.
"I love the track at Charlotte and I love the four-wide thing," Palmer said. "I think it’s cool. We are ready to go and race. We have some things to show off.
"We learned a lot in Houston. Darren Mayer and his team at DMPE took our blowers and worked on them and it definitely made a big improvement. That in turn makes us need to work on our clutch program to compensate for the added power. We are just working on that now, which in the long run will make us quicker and faster."