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Five Minutes With Chris Vandergriff
Five Minutes With Chris Vandergriff
an Interview by Tim Glover
Chris Vandergriff has been working for the past year and a half to put together his Top Fuel Dragster operation. Recently, he sat down for a few minutes to give an update on his progress and an insight into what got him started.
Q: What got you interested in NHRA Drag Racing?
CV: I've been around the sport all my life. My dad, Bob Vandergriff, Sr., has been associated with NHRA since the early 70s, and has worked closely with Wally Parks and a lot of the top racers through the years. I remember as a kid going down the track to pick up Joe Pisano's car after a run. I grew up around Shirley Muldowney, Raymond Beadle, Don Prudhomme and many others who treated us as family. Ed McCulloch is my godfather. You couldn't ask for a better childhood. I guess you could say I've been up close and personal with the sport through my dad's early management involvement with the NHRA.
Q: Do you ever think back on your 2001 Lanier National Speedway Truck Championship?
CV: I miss the competitive side of things and the rivalries I had with my peers in the truck series. Winning the championship was my goal since day one. After four years, we achieved it, and then felt it was time to move on. We feel that NASCAR has outpriced themselves to corporate America, so going back to my family's roots in professional drag racing is the logical and economical choice to compete at a high level. Drag Racing gives you a better "bang for the buck".
Q: When is your next race?
CV: We're headed to Indy for the U.S. Nationals (Indianapolis Raceway Park, August 28 - September 1.)
Q: How are you preparing for Indy?
CV: Since our successful Atlanta debut, we have been stockpiling the necessary parts it takes to compete at this level. We feel our inventory is sufficient to go out and compete with the best of the best. We're not just out there to show up. We're out there to win. We're ready to compete at the top level. Preparation is the key to a successful team. Without it, you might as well stay home and not embarrass yourself or your sponsors.
Q: What are your future plans?
CV: We want to get Vandergriff Motorsports back out on the race track full time and make a run for the NHRA Powerade Top Fuel Championship as soon as possible. In a nutshell, Vandergriff Motorsports is very pleased to be returning to quarter mile action after our successful Atlanta debut, and look forward to the possibility of competing full time in the near future.
Q: Do you have anything to add?
CV: Vandergriff Motorsports is pleased to announce a new to drag racing corporate sponsor, EFans.com. We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Jack Wissman and his investor group with the EFans.com family for their interest in Vandergriff Motorsports and NHRA Drag Racing.
We currently have a one-race sponsorship, with the potential to grow it into a full time program in the near future. EFans.com is a new organization that gives avid auto racing fans the opportunity to participate in the sport's inner circle through direct sponsorship of racing teams in a variety of racing series. Benefits include exclusive access to the teams they sponsor, eligibility to participate at select VIP trackside events, participation in the EFans.com Savings and Rewards program, discounts on racing apparel and other racing merchandise and the opportunity to win free tickets and other valuable merchandise. We're excited about the opportunity to be involved with them.
A big thanks goes to my crew chief Terry Manzer for believing in myself and my abilities, and Chris Irwin for being more like a brother than an employee and being the best lead mechanic and friend a driver could ever ask for.
Thank you to Hedman Husler Hedders, TD Performance products, Hamburger Oil Pans, Chikara Import Exhaust and all the fine employees of Vandergriff Enterprises, along with Valvoline Oil, Champion Spark Plugs and Venolia Pistons. And last, but not least, thank you to my family for their support and my girlfriend Sandy for her love and support through all of this.
See Tim Glover's continuing coverage of Atlanta Dragway Results and read other press releases from Tim in our News section.