NORTH DINWIDDIE, Va. (June 5) — Scott Palmer knows exactly how drag racing fans in the Old Dominion feel about the NHRA’s return to Virginia Motorsports Park, mainly because he has the exact same emotions.
“I’m a regular guy, a fan, just like everyone who comes through the gates and walks through the pits,” Palmer said. “I did that for years and if I wasn’t lucky enough to be driving this CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster, I’d be right there with them again. I absolutely love this sport.”
Through years of hard work and an outright refusal to give up on his dream, Palmer will be attending this weekend’s race as the driver of an 11,000-horsepower, nitro-burning dragster. And with backing from CatSpot owner Tommy Thompson and the continued help of championship crew chief Jason McCulloch, who joined the team last weekend in Chicago, Palmer arrives with a legitimate chance to win the Wally trophy.
“We learned a lot in Chicago about running in the heat and the forecast for this weekend looks pretty much the same as what we just experienced so we are going to go there and try to apply this new knowledge,” Palmer said. “I love that track and the fans there are awesome. The last time we raced Virginia we turned on the win light against my buddy Spencer Massey so, you know, I have good memories of that place.”
No matter what happens on the track, Palmer will certainly be a favorite among a fan base that hasn’t witnessed a race in their backyard since 2009. Palmer and his team make sure they have fun at every event, and they always get the fans involved.
Unlike other teams, Palmer’s crew pulls their dragster out into pit row when they warm up so more fans can crowd around the car. They’re also notorious for stomping on the gas pedal a few times during the process to blast everyone in the area with a big dose of nitro.
“Under orders from the boss, our No. 1 goal every weekend is to have fun,” Palmer said. “You know, 10 years ago everybody whacked the throttle. Funny Cars always did big, long burnouts and the fans loved all that stuff. For whatever reason, all that has kinda tapered off. Nobody does it anymore; except for us. We’re the outlaws in Top Fuel right now. We still whack the throttle. We still invite people into the pit at night to have a look around. We still enjoy ourselves.
“We’ve got a bunch of good guys here racing together because it’s fun. We are just down-to-earth people, the opposite of the big corporate teams. CatSpot is a great company and Tommy Thompson is a down-home, normal person that is not only our sponsor but a great friend. He wants to keep it real. He wants us to stay grounded and do our own thing. So that’s exactly what we do and the fans really dig it.”
Top Fuel qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry qualifying action live from 2:30-5 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 6-8:30 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)