The drag racing world lost one of its best on Monday, October 19th. Eric Lane, a long-time mechanic and current co-crew chief on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Dodge Charger driven by Cruz Pedregon, was killed while crossing a street as the team transitioned from last weekend’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals race at Dallas to the next event, the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals at Houston.
Pedregon’s team had intended to take some personal time near Mineral Wells, Texas between races, enjoying some fishing and being together without the tension of working on the car. Lane, 47, was struck and killed by a car while walking back from a restaurant, the team said.
Known as “Hop” from when he worked for John Force – who has a nickname for nearly everyone on his teams – Lane began his career with Gary Densham Racing in 1998, shortly after his graduation from Universal Technical Institute in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. When Densham moved his operation under the John Force Racing umbrella, Lane joined that team and would work with Jimmy Prock on Robert Hight’s first Funny Car championship team in 2009.
Lane moved to Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) and was assistant crew chief to Rahn Tobler during Ron Capps’ 2016 championship year. When Ford returned to NHRA Funny Car competition with Bob Tasca III, Lane was instrumental in building the team and helped Tasca to back-to-back victories in 2019. Later in the season Mike Neff joined Tasca’s operation, and Lane moved to Pedregon’s operations for the final three races, continuing with the two-time champion’s team throughout this year, alongside his best friend, Nick Casertano.
“Eric was energetic and shared the same enthusiasm for the sport as I do,” Pedregon said. “He was known for his skill in working with NHRA teams but even more so for his upbeat personality and bringing smiles to everyone on the team and those who stopped by the pit. We were coming into our own, Eric, Nick and I, in turning the car around, and his contributions will be a big part of our success moving forward.
“We’re still taking it all in, but as a tight-knit group, we will be getting together and do what we know Eric would want us to do, and that’s focus on the race ahead in Houston,” Pedregon continued. “I’m so proud of Nick, who is set on doing the right thing for his best friend, for Eric’s family and for the team.”
Pedregon’s long-time sponsor, Snap-on issued a statement through its chief marketing officer, Samuel Bottom: “Snap-on has been a part of the motorsports community for decades and, as a sponsor, we have close working relationships with the teams and individuals who wear the company’s name. Our hearts go out to Eric’s family and we mourn with Cruz, the team and the entire NHRA family on the loss of one of drag racing’s stand-out professionals.”
Lane, a resident of Avon, Ind., leaves behind beloved wife Kelly and daughter Melaynee.