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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Leah Pritchett


Tom Blattler
September 30, 2015

For Immediate Release

Gumout’s “Lady in Red” trades in drag racing suit for road racing uniform

Leah Pritchett Leah Pritchett Leah Pritchett Leah Pritchett Leah Pritchett Leah Pritchett
PAHRUMP, Nev. (Sept. 30, 2015) – Top Fuel dragster driver Leah Pritchett will trade in her thick Gumout drag racing fire suit for a thinner road racing uniform next weekend (Oct. 9-10) to drive a vintage Formula Ford open-wheel car in the Vintage Auto Racing Association “Shootout at the Ranch” at Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort Ranch and Country Club.

Pritchett, a semi-finalist in the “Gumout Lady in Car” Top Fuel dragster at the NHRA Carolina Nationals two weeks ago, recently trained in a Formula Ford testing session at Willow Springs Raceway north of Las Angeles in preparation for her road racing debut in the ‘Shootout at the Ranch.”

“Going from a 325-mile per hour Top Fuel dragster to a tiny 135-mile per hour Formula Ford road racing car is a drastic change for me,” said Pritchett, runner-up in this year’s NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta. “But I really have enjoyed the challenge of hitting the apex and shifting through the gears. In the Top Fuel car, the race is over quickly…. Under four seconds. In the Formula Ford, you have to concentrate much longer and hit your marks. The racing is different but just as tough mentally.”

Pritchett, the 27-year-old California native who resides in Avon, Ind., began her racing career at age eight in the Junior Dragster division and worked her way through the smaller ranks before making it to the ultimate drag racing class, Top Fuel, in 2013.

The veteran drag racer will return to the Las Vegas area three weeks after the Formula Ford event to compete in the NHRA Toyota Nationals at the ‘Strip” at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when Pritchett drives the Gumout ‘Lady in Red” Top Fueler for Dote Racing on Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Last year, Pritchett qualified fifth and took her mount to a semi-final finish at the “Strip.”

“I am not changing my career to move into the road racing ranks,” Leah said. “I’m a drag racer through and through. It’s something I wanted to do since I was six or seven years old. At age 12, I knew I want to race professionally. Now, this Formula Ford race is a unique opportunity to try another racing skill set. I have enjoyed the new challenge already.”

Going from the 1,000-foot straight line track of the National Hot Rod Association to the 3.1-mile road racing complex will give Pritchett a physical challenge for several days with practice and qualifying set for Friday (Oct. 9) and the Formula Ford main event scheduled for Saturday (Oct. 10).

The road racing track at Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club has a combination of fast sweeping corners, quick esses, off-camber turns, over 125-foot of elevation change and four high-speed straights. The new racing facility northwest of Las Vegas incorporates replicas of some of racing’s most famous corners including Mosport's 5a and 5b, Watkins Glen’s "Bus Stop", and Road Atlanta's turn one and Laguna Seca's "Corkscrew.”

“I know this Nevada track will pose a variety of challenges,” said Pritchett, a Cal State University communications graduate. “I have been thinking about the Formula Ford race almost every day recently as the weekend approaches. The training I received at Willow Springs was a great asset as I prepare for the Formula Ford race. It is a different mindset from the drag racing experiences but I feel I can use some of my racing thoughts and reflexes from the drag racing to the road course. I’m very excited about this new challenge.”

Here is video of Pritchett’s Formula Ford training recently at Willow Springs Raceway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF-rxq6umgk&feature=youtu.be

Here is video of Pritchett in her Gumout Top Fuel dragster this year at Las Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zb_eQ69p6kA

The NHRA Toyota Nationals at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway will hold qualifications on Friday (Oct. 30) and Saturday (Oct. 31) with final eliminations set for Sunday (Nov. 1).

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Contacts: Tom Blattler, Sport Dimensions, Inc., 317-525-5692
Kinnon Marshall, Sport Dimensions, Inc., 805-701-1216

About Leah Pritchett: Pritchett grew up in a racing family as Leah’s father, Ron, was a national record holder in land speed competition including at Bonneville. Leah began her racing career on her eighth birthday, driving her sister’s Junior Dragster at Pomona. Since then, Pritchett has recorded numerous titles including the Heritage Funny Car championship. Leah is one of only few pro drivers to hold NHRA licenses in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Heritage Funny Car and ProMod. Pritchett has three NHRA national event victories in the ProMod class. Leah began driving the Dote Racing Top Fuel dragster in 2013. Pritchett reached her first Top Fuel final round last April in the NHRA Southern Nationals. Leah is married to Gary Pritchett, car chief on Steve Torrence’s Top Fuel dragster.

About Gumout: Since 1945, Gumout has been America’s trusted performance additives brand – they have earned this trust by providing high quality products that consumers need to get the most out of every mile. Gumout products have been proven in the lab, on the street and on the track using cutting edge technology that maximizes performance in any type of vehicle.

About Dote Racing: The Dote family, now in the third generation of drag racing, began in drag racing in the 1980s and is currently operated by Mike Dote, and his wife, Connie. The Dote Racing team joined the Top Fuel ranks in 2009 and is focused on creating a top caliber effort in 2015 with the Gumout primary involvement. The Dote Racing team, led by team manager Doug Kuch and tuner Rob Flynn, is based in Monroe, Ohio.

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