The daily hustle at the dragstrip is in the past for 2013 but NHRA drivers are still busier than ever with their own Christmas celebrations this week. Many may be dreaming of low ETs and great reaction times dancing in their heads, but all share a common bond of family first and great friends in their life. “The Burnout” appreciates the numerous NHRA drivers taking time out of their active schedules to share their fondest Christmas memories with fans and here’s what they had to say:
Tony Schumacher “Every Christmas is special because it’s my birthday. But if I had to pick the most special one, it would have to be 2001, the year my first boy was born – Anthony Joseph. That was the year life changed in a big way in the Schumacher house. It opened the door for a whole new way of life for our family, and it’s just gotten better ever since. That’s what made Christmas 2001 so special.”
Tim Wilkerson “Let me tell you, if you grew up in my house with my mother, you couldn’t possibly pick the best Christmas. They were all tied for the best Christmas ever, and they were really spectacular and fun. Once Krista and I got married and had Daniel, Kevin, and Rachel they all became tied for the best Christmas all over again, and they’re just as much fun from the parents’ perspective as they are when you’re a kid. Whether I was the kid or I was the dad having Christmas with my kids, every single one of them has been great and I love Christmas in the Wilkerson house.”
Matt Hagan “Man, my best memories now are with my children, my wife and my family. Right before Thanksgiving my boy (Colby, 7) shot his first deer. He did it all himself. He was bustin’ pumpkins at 100 yards but I wanted to get one closer. At about 30 yards that buck came running up to us and he got it. To make memories like that with your children is something he’ll always remember and I’ll always remember. The first deer I ever got was with my dad.
“But I remember getting my first pellet gun (6 or 7) and being able to kill stuff (laugh). My mom worried about me shooting myself but it meant a lot that my dad trusted me enough to give me something like that and to turn me loose. I look back and feel sorry for all the birds around me house. They were glad to see me grew up.”
Greg Anderson “Christmas of 2009 about a week and a half before my house burned to the ground. Mine and all my close friends and neighbors’ next door houses burned to the ground. Our ‘close-knit neighborhood family’ was forced to move from the area & build new homes elsewhere. We would all get together and have Christmas parties. We became very close friends with the neighbors being there 12 years. I miss the quality time that we spent together. In hindsight we now realize how special that Christmas was when we were all together. It’s just not the same and we no longer have a chance to have quality time with our special friends, family and neighbors. It’s something we can’t do anymore. I miss those days. We miss our special friends from over there. We don’t get to see them very often. We lost kind of a big part of our lives.”
Courtney Force “My best Christmas ever was last year’s Christmas because I spent it with my family up at Lake Tahoe. It was so fun with my nephew, Jacob, because he was old enough to rip open all of his presents and be excited about them and I loved getting to see the look on his face. I spend a lot of time out on the road, racing with my family, but I always enjoy being able to spend time with them away from the chaos and the busy schedules to just have a break and have some fun. I love heading up to Lake Tahoe because we get to enjoy the snow, watch Christmas movies, go sledding and snowboarding. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a white Christmas and to just have the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company away from the race track!”
Jeg Coughlin “Christmas time is always special for many reasons, but I would draw back to my youth in the 70’s when growing up in a house with three older brothers and waking up to a white Christmas and presents under the tree…not to mention the smell from the kitchen as the day progressed and Christmas dinner was nearing!”
Chad Head “Every Christmas is the best. My favorite one was when I got engaged to my girlfriend, Michelle at 10,000 feet in Telluride, Colorado. Yeah, my story involves a couple bottles of wine and a ring.”
Brittany Force “I wouldn’t be able to pick the best Christmas because every Christmas has meant time with my family which is always so special to me. My family loads up our car and drives to Lake Tahoe to celebrate the holidays together. My sisters and I always enjoy cooking in the kitchen while singing Christmas songs and my family always catches up on our favorite holiday movies by the fire. We have done everything over the years in Tahoe from building snowman to ice skating together. Our tradition use to be Carl’s Jr on Christmas Eve but since I cried years ago over the wrong happy meal we changed our tradition to Chinese food. My family always exchange presents on Christmas Eve and still set out cookies for Santa with my nephew Jacob. Christmas morning we spend the day cooking a big dinner and opening gifts from Santa. I’m so excited for Christmas this year because now I will have 2 little nephews to get into the holiday spirit with. “Everything we do in Tahoe for the holiday are always done as a family and is something we look forward to all year long.”
Allen Johnson “The best Christmas was probably a few years ago (Xmas 2009) when I gave my dad Roy his replica 1974-75 super stock championship Mopar Drag Pak Challenger as a surprise and had some of his old racing buddies there to help in the experience. The entire family was there for the unveiling; it was very emotional. He came out of “retirement” to run it in Bristol, TN, that spring and was No.1 qualifier and raced in the semi-finals. It was awesome.”
Jeff Arend “Best Christmas ever? Probably the first one my wife and I got to spend with our daughter. 2001. Family is priceless.”
Jason Line “I hope the next one is a memorable one (laughs). Last year with my kids was great. They get excited about it. To them it’s such a big deal for them (Jack and Emma). Obviously in all that we try not to lose the actual meaning of Christmas. We don’t want it to get lost among all the gifts and other stuff. It’s not supposed to be just about that. That’s for sure.”
Adam Arana “Every Christmas that I get to enjoy time with friends and family is special to me.”
Erica Enders-Stevens “1998. I had just turned 15 in October and had gotten my permit. In November, we had gone to a car show, Autorama in Houston, and I saw this big, jacked-up Ford pickup truck that I fell in love with. I made this long list of reasons why my dad should buy it for me.
“I came down the stairs Christmas morning, and we were opening gifts, but it seemed like I didn’t have that many. Courtney was opening presents for days, but I didn’t say anything. My dad then said, ‘Hey, go outside and get the newspaper.’ I opened the front door, and there was the truck, with a big bow on top of it.
“We all got in it in our pajamas and slippers, and I drove around to all my friends’ houses: ‘Look what I got for Christmas!’ I got to learn how to drive with that truck.
“Then, last year was pretty special, too, for that was our first Christmas together as husband and wife.”
Antron Brown “Whole month of December we’re able to decorate and do things with the family. We go to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas … the kids start opening presents at 5 in the morning and church isn’t open that early. We do toy drives with our church. We all make sacrifices to help others have a good Christmas. Our whole family is part of that.
“The most meaningful part is that we remember what the holiday is for; for my faith background we know what Jesus is all about and it’s Christ’s birthday. Every time we think of Jesus we think of being thankful and giving to one and another. Each year is a special one because it makes you think about what you’re blessed to have and that you can share it with your family.
“Each year is the next and best one.
“I can remember the ones as a kid when I might have gotten a bike but I really can’t remember a lot of the toys I received. I remember special ones now because I get to share it with my kids.”
Hector Arana Jr. “I don’t remember the year, but I was in sixth or seventh grade, and we were still in Miami. I got my first dirt bike. That was the best Christmas ever. I unwrapped the helmet first and was like, ‘No way.’ Then I went outside, and there was the dirt bike. I had wanted one forever.”
Hector Arana Sr. “I would have to say my best Christmas would have been 2009 when I won the championship. I got to go to different places and do some interviews. I also went to Puerto Rico and went to the race track there, and I was treated with open arms. I felt like someone really important to the sport. That felt good.”
Jack Beckman “When I was 3, I remember walking down the hallway and hear this noise and it was our Beagle puppy that I named Chrissy – because Merry Christmas would be too long – in a laundry basket next to the Christmas tree. That I remember some 40 years later is pretty cool.
“From the time you’re 13 until your kids get to the 2, 3 or 4 years old stage, the present portion of Christmas dwindles and now with a 2- and 6-year-old ( Layla and Jason) those feeling happen all over again. Just to see their eyes light up and the appreciation is pretty cool.”