GEICO Suzuki pro Stoffer smiling 'til the end

Karen Stoffer
Karen Stoffer

Photo by: Ted Rossino

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – Karen Stoffer and her GEICO Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle team plan to celebrate this weekend, no matter the result of the NHRA World Finals.

That's because Stoffer has had a career season on the GEICO bike, winning once and ranking in the top five in points. Though mechanical problems have plagued the team lately, Stoffer prefers to look at the body of work rather than recent races.

"It's definitely been the most emotional, roller-coaster season we've ever had," Stoffer said. "We started out so well, and we ended up so low. Ultimately, the wonderful thing about it is the team is strong, the team has held together. We have our original team we've always had, and it seems like we've gotten stronger and closer and more synergistic during all the problems we've been having. The guys have been working their butts off.

"I'm going to celebrate no matter what. This isn't the celebration and the outcome that we wanted or thought we were going to have. As I look at the whole season and how strong our team is and how well we worked together, I'm going to celebrate, no matter what."

Stoffer led the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings as recently as Sonoma in late July. She had won once, in Denver, and reached three other final rounds and made one semifinal round in the first seven races of the season.

But then mechanical gremlins crept in, and the team changed engines at least once in each of the last eight races. The team's fifth engine, "Blazin,'" will be in the GEICO Suzuki this weekend.

"Right now, the hope is to qualify," Stoffer said of Pomona. "We've got one motor, and hopefully it'll last. We've had eight races that have gone by where we put more than one motor in our bike. This will be unique if we can make this motor last for the entire event.

"We have faith in it, and it should be a pretty good motor. Hopefully, we'll be able to qualify and get in the show. We'll work with what we have and do the best with what we have."

Stoffer saw her streak of qualifying for 118 races in a row – what was the fifth-longest current streak in NHRA – come to an end in Las Vegas. But her confidence in her team hasn't wavered, and neither has her team's chemistry and work ethic.

"That doesn't even need to be said," Stoffer said. "The team's been phenomenal. It doesn't show in our rankings now, but the team has worked very hard. It's just been weird stuff that's happened to us that put us in the predicament we're in. (Crew chief) Gary (Stoffer) is good at getting the tuneup. I'm a little concerned that we won't have four hits considering the weather, but Gary's so good at it, and hopefully, we'll be able to hit the tuneup early on."