Old Bridge Township Raceway Park is a favorite destination for many NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series competitors, and not just because of the history at the famed track.
KLR Group driver Erica Enders, for instance, would love to secure a Pro Stock victory at Englishtown. But she also likes racing there because of its proximity to one of her favorite destinations, New York City.
"We fly in Wednesday morning, and after the NHRA press conference, I'm going straight to the city," Enders said. "I'll spend a couple days there doing some meetings, eating some good food and having some fun. It's a different planet up there. I used to go there about six times a year. It's a fun city, but it's a faster pace than I like. I like good, old slow Southern time."
Still, Enders doesn't mind the fast pace for a day or two, especially when she serves as a tour guide, as she will this week to one of her crew chiefs, Dave Connolly, who will make the trek to Manhattan with his girlfriend. Connolly, crew chief alongside Tommy Utt on the GK Motorsports team, hasn't spent much time in the city, so Enders is happy to show him around.
"I always like going up there because I like spending time in the city," Enders said. "We always make it a point to go to Little Italy for dinner."
Italian food will also be a staple in the GK Motorsports pit area, thanks to the mother of team owner Victor Cagnazzi. A New York native, Cagnazzi grew up on Long Island, and his mom Connie will feed the team in Englishtown.
"Vic's mom usually makes meatballs," Enders said. "She brings them to the race track. She cooks a bunch of Italian food and brings it out. She knows I like cheese, so she always brings me fresh mozzarella. It's amazing."
While Enders and her team eats well, they also have their eye on a victory. Enders is sixth in the Pro Stock points standings, having won at least one round in five of the eight races in 2012. She's reached the final round once and the semifinals once.
Last year, Enders qualified third at Englishtown and advanced to the second round.
"There's a lot of history there," Enders said. "We qualified second there last year but got beat on mph, so we ended up No. 3. It's Pro Stock country up there, so it's always fun to hang out with the fans and sign autographs. They love us, and we love them. Those fans are great."
Enders and her team tested Tuesday at Farmington Dragway in North Carolina, hoping to improve the performance of the KLR Group Chevrolet.
"It went well," Enders said. "It actually got cut a little short today because of the rain, but Dave went and tested some stuff last week, too. We're good. I'm excited for that the weekend holds."
The first two rounds of Pro Stock are scheduled for 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. Friday, with two additional rounds at noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations should begin at noon Sunday. All action will be shown on ESPN2.