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Feb 06, 2014 - 05:45 PM
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2014 NHRA: Leah Pritchett Returns To The Site Of Her 8th Birthday Present, Pomona Raceway with new Gumout sponsorship
Posted by: newsla on Feb 06, 2014 - 05:42 PM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: Leah Pritchett Returns To The Site Of Her 8th Birthday Present, Pomona Raceway with new Gumout sponsorship


For Leah Pritchett, her eighth birthday present led to a lifelong dream. And this weekend at Pomona Raceway, that dream becomes more of a reality in the 54th Circle K NHRA Winternationals drag races at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds.

 

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Pritchett, who grew up in nearby Redlands, participated in her first drag racing event at age eight as part of her birthday present. Her parents let Leah drive a Junior Dragster at 45 miles per hour at the same track she will compete at this weekend. It was that spark that has propelled the personable 25-year-old Cal State, San Bernardino graduate into the ultimate drag racing ranks, the Top Fuel dragsters.

This Friday, Pritchett, whose maiden name was Pruett, will debut her new Gumout/Dote Racing dragster when time trials begin at 1 p.m. at the famed 1000-foot drag strip on the west side of the fairgrounds. Qualifying continues on Saturday with final eliminations Sunday at 11 a.m. PST.

“It is amazing that I didn’t know what that eighth birthday present would lead to in the future,” said Pritchett, who was a Top Fuel rookie driver in 2013. “My dream was to then race in the top class at NHRA, Top Fuel, and then also to have a major sponsor to back my effort. Now that is coming true in 2014.”

Pritchett worked her way up the drag racing ladder, scoring numerous championships in the Junior Dragster competition and then winning events in Pro Mod and Nostalgia Funny Car divisions. While working on her communications degree in college, Pritchett drove a variety of drag racing machines including gaining her Funny Car pro license.

“I won races in the Pro Mod class (3 national wins) and the Nostalgia Funny Cars too,” said Pritchett, “but I wanted to get a ride in the Top Fuel dragsters some day and the Dote Family gave me that opportunity. I am grateful for that chance.”

Now, with the Gumout sponsorship, Pritchett hopes to start winning races as early as this weekend at Pomona in the 54th edition of the NHRA season opener.

“We tested recently at Las Vegas and made three good passes with the Gumout car,” she said. “I feel very good about coming to Pomona this weekend. But we are a smaller team right now so we must use the Pomona race as a test too. We have some new equipment and we are still learning about the parts.”

Pritchett, who recently married Torrence Racing car chief Gary Prtichett in October, has not raced since her wedding. So does Leah need to get back acclimated to the driver’s seat?

“I hadn’t been in a race car for some four to five months, so I was anxious to get going at Las Vegas last weekend,” she admitted. “But it was pretty easy for me to get everything ready when we fired up the engine for the first time. Now, we need to go to Pomona and perform well. And I think our Gumout/Dote team can do that. I’m excited to get started.”

And then Pritchett’s dream as an eight year old will almost be fulfilled. Winning an NHRA Top Fuel national event will be next.

GUMOUT NHRA CONTINGENCY PROGRAM

Gumout also is back supporting the sportsman racers in the 2014 NHRA Gumout Contingency program.

Gumout will pay contingency awards on-site after every NHRA National event this year. The eligible classes will be Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Top Sportsman and Top Dragster.

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