Follow along with Joe Morrison as he campaigns Leverich Racing’s Top Fuel car! This is Part 4 of his story. You can read Part 3 here: https://www.racingjunk.com/news/69677/
Willy Wonka said it best – “So much time, so little to do. Wait. Strike that, reverse it.”
It’s been a while since my last blog – and no, I haven’t successfully captured that Never-Ending-Gobstopper of NHRA Top Fuel Dragster sponsorship funding. But I finally punched that first Golden Ticket, completing the first phase of my 40+ year goal of being a licensed NHRA Top Fuel Driver.
I missed qualifying at my first event by less than 0.003-seconds, but we qualified at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals in the lucky 13th spot, getting the pleasure of staging next to Clay Millican in the opening stanza.
However, the story of how I accelerated from “soon to license driver” to competing at an NHRA National Event in the Kings of the Sports, is a long – yet important – one. It’s filled with ups and downs, a global pandemic to combat, and even a few lessons to learn. But it’s a good story, so I hope you’ll forgive me for the length of this post.
Let’s fire it up.
Time is a Precious Thing – Never Waste It
After submitting my first blog, there really wasn’t a whole lot to write about. I went to the Gatornationals with the idea of helping the team then finishing my license during the “Monday Nationals.”
Then COVID-19 hit the United States (and the entire world for that matter) like a Freight Train (one of my favorite cars of all time BTW) and everything came to a grinding halt. One cool experience was being able to attend the Hall of Fame dinner to see my friend (and racing legend) Don Enriquez inducted and Robert “Bones” Balogh inducted by that Jack Beckman guy. That was certainly the highlight of the trip to Gainesville.
After the looooong wait through April, May, and June, we were finally cleared to get back to the track. Since that time, I feel like I have truly been living life at 300 MPH (which technically – I haven’t run 300 yet, but it’s coming soon – trust me). Thanks to the staff at Maple Grove Raceway, the Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association for allowing us to run during their event, and an amazing group of friends who all pitched in to help I finished my licensing passes with a best run of 4.03 at 293 MPH.
I could finally say that I am a Top Fuel Driver!
The story book ending of the licensing adventure was one for the ages. The saga was covered by several racing news sites, so rather than repeat what was already published I want to bring you up to date with our latest racing adventures and what we have planned for the remainder of 2020.
It’s funny, we had what seemed like SO much time off but now there is a ton of racing happening all at once.
In addition to driving the Leverich Racing Top Fuel Dragster, I have the honor of shoeing for my friend Rocky Pirrone’s and his low-six second Super Camaro Nostalgia Funny Car for a couple cool events. The first one is in Oxford, Maine this Sunday September 6 followed by the rain delayed Island Dragway Anniversary Race on September 13th in Great Meadows, New Jersey.
Island Dragway is like home to me, and I would love to see a great turnout for a track that has meant so much to me my entire life. If you are anywhere near NJ, please come out and support a great track. This year has been brutally tough on racetracks. If we love our sport, now is the time to go out (wherever you are) and support your local dragstrip.
So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World
This weekend, September 5th my non-profit Right2Breathe® is hosting a charity car show called “Thunder in the Park”. My good friend Al Liebmann has put together an amazing group of Funny Cars, Dragsters, Movie/TV Cars, Customs, and specialty cars.
The event will be ABSOLUTELY EPIC (following State of New Jersey guidelines with only permitting 500 people to attend). For everyone near the TD Bank Ballpark (home of the Somerset Patriots minor league baseball team) there is a link for tickets to the event for both spectators and car show entries: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thunder-in-the-park-tickets-115648486737
If you do not live anywhere near New Jersey – but would like to show off your ride “Virtually” – Right2Breathe is also running a virtual car show! There are some cool prizes for winners provided by several great sponsors including Summit Racing Equipment, POR15, and Lucas Oil.
To enter the Virtual Car Show, go to the Eventbrite page and make a $10 tax deductible donation (or more!) to Right2Breathe here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/right2breathe-virtual-car-show-tickets-118099967181 All types of cars are welcome- race cars, hot rods, street rods, rat rods, muscle cars, exotics, whatever you like!
The Suspense is Terrible – I Hope It’ll Last
In an ironic twist, to close this blog installment I’ll bring us back to the beginning. NHRA recently announced that we’ll have six final events for the 2020 season – wrapping this less-than-stellar season in Viva Las Vegas. For me and the Leverich Top Fuel team – we’ll head back to the place we planned to finish my licensing – legendary Gainesville Raceway at the end of September.
After that event – the rest is TBD. Racing back-to-back National Events is exceedingly difficult for a part-time, all-volunteer crew to pull off successfully. But for now, I’m looking forward to the next race in the top fuel car at the end of September as we head back to Gainesville for the Gatornationals. Maybe we’ll secure some much-needed sponsorship funding and have a chance to wrap up our season in the Great State of Texas – maybe even Las Vegas (I did earn my license on 7/11 after all).
Our buddy Willy Wonka once said, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams.” While the first half of 2020 has certainly been a challenge for all of us, the lessons I’ve learned have just strengthened my resolve to wrap up the NHRA season in a World of Pure Imagination. 😉