• 2020

Reflection Before Racing

Mopar® Drivers on Lessons Learned During COVID-19

LEAH PRUETT

“This whole COVID-19 pandemic has commanded attention to many parts of my life that I always knew I needed and wanted to work on but just didn’t have the time. Living in Lake Havasu during the spring is a gorgeous time for outdoor activities, and I made sure to make the most of social distancing with purchasing a mountain bike and burning calories that way. I made my own outdoor activity agenda, which consisted of running, biking, wake surfing, and off-roading side-by-sides.

What COVID-19 has taught me about racing in general is that there is nothing, I mean nothing, like the feeling of strapping into that Mopar® Dragster. I’ve tried and engaged in many adrenaline-inducing activities during that time, searching for that same type of feeling that the dragster gets, but nothing comes close. Okay, maybe sending a side-by-side off a 200-foot cliff in a CanAm in Swing Arm City, Utah might have been a little close. I’ve already known how much I loved my fans, but this time has reiterated it more than ever. I have realized that I thought there could be nobody missing racing more than me, but I was wrong. I see it online, and now in person, how much joy our racing brings our fans, and that has brought the biggest smile to my face.”

RON CAPPS

“With our normal racing schedule, none of us ever get to spend enough time with our families. For me, even though I try really hard to plan family trips around the races, as well as try to get the whole family out to the track together several times during the year, it’s just not the same as being home.

A lot of times it can be tough being at the racetrack and having your family there because while it’s great having the time together after qualifying, you still have to focus on your racing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than having your family there when you win a race, but having that time at home is really important too, and this pandemic allowed us racers to do that.”

JACK BECKMAN

“It’s made me savor the time with my kids, and appreciate how truly “great” my life is. Of course there are always issues/problems, and things I wish were better. But overall, I feel so fortunate for the position I am in. After surviving cancer and intense chemotherapy, sometimes this pandemic seems surreal. But having several friends suffer through it, it obviously needs to be taken seriously.

My hope is, after things settle down, that in the near future we “forget” about this entire scare. I don’t mean that to sound glib or cavalier, but I want my children to grow up without fearing what might happen, and instead focus on doing good things and making their lives whole and satisfying.”

MATT HAGAN

“The break from racing allowed me to really devote my time to making sure we’re running a tight ship at home, and because I had plenty of time to do that during our four-month break, when we returned to racing I was less stressed; it really took the pressure off and has allowed me to completely be in the moment now that we’re back at the track. Make no mistake, this pandemic is horrible, of course, but there is a positive to take from everything, and for me, having that time to take a deep breath, center my life and spend uninterrupted time with my family and growing my businesses has been a good thing.

Since we’ve been back our Mopar® team has already won a race. It’s great to see the fans that have come out. They’re following the rules, wearing the masks, social distancing; they’re doing everything they need to do in order for us to be able to keep racing and put on a great show. Having the fans there when I was getting ready for the final round during our first weekend back really got me pumped up, and it was the same thing that next weekend. I can’t imagine racing without fans, and without them cheering you on and getting you hyped up. There are other series that are racing without fans, and I’m so glad we’re not having to do that. I’m proud that NHRA is taking the necessary steps to get us all back out there.”

TOMMY JOHNSON, JR

Marc Gewertz/NHRA

“I think as drag racers the thing we have the least of is patience, and throughout this whole ordeal we have needed patience. It has given me a time to actually slow down and enjoy some other things in life I didn’t know I enjoyed so much.

Watching your team come together not just as coworkers but more as a family has been inspiring to watch.

This affirmed for me how strong race fans are. They’re diehard individuals with a tremendous passion for our sport. When it became time to go racing again, they were 100% in and even with a new normal, they didn’t hesitate to adapt to whatever it took for them to attend.”