MCCLENATHAN ACCUSTOMED TO PRESSURE RACING AT SPONSOR'S EVENT SONOMA, Calif. (July 21, 2009) - Cory McClenathan is a true veteran of the sport of professional drag racing in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. He's done everything,...
MCCLENATHAN ACCUSTOMED TO PRESSURE RACING AT SPONSOR'S EVENT
SONOMA, Calif. (July 21, 2009) - Cory McClenathan is a true veteran of the sport of professional drag racing in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. He's done everything, including surviving spectacular crashes, earning 30 national-event victories in 55 final rounds, sweeping the Western Swing, breaking the 320-mph barrier, winning the U.S. Nationals twice, and claiming second place four times since embarking on his pro career in 1991.
He's been there, done that. On this path he has enjoyed the backing and support of numerous high-profile sponsors and race teams. As he heads to this weekend's FRAM-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway, the second of three events in the "Western Swing," he will look for his second victory here in his fourth season with FRAM as his backer and his second with Don Schumacher Racing driving the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel Dragster.
He's the 1997 Sonoma Top Fuel champion and runner-up in 1993. He was also low qualifier in 1992.
"I don't think anybody wants to win a race more than the one where his/her sponsor is also the event sponsor," said Cory McClenathan, 46, who was born in Wichita, Kan., grew up in Southern California and lives now in Brownsburg, Ind. "FRAM has sponsored the Sonoma race for years, and this is going to be my fourth year with FRAM sponsoring an event and a car at the same time.
"FRAM is sending us into this event rolling right away. Along with having a number of the top people from the parent company coming in, there are a number of events scheduled. FRAM executives will be the Grand Marshal and the Official Starter, and we'll have a special race on the track on Thursday in production cars. I'll help explain to the participants how the starting lights work, how to stage properly and other safety points.
"This year my daughter Courtney and my girlfriend Debi are going to be in the special race too. It'll be fun to watch. In the past I've seen everything from a fist fight to somebody putting the car into the sand. Anything can happen.
"Then we'll have a dinner on Saturday night, where I'll get to speak along with my DSR teammates Tony Schumacher, Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman, as well as our team owner Don Schumacher.
"At the same time you're getting geared up for Sunday's eliminations," added McClenathan. "It is a lot more pressure on you. You want to do well for your sponsor, and obviously we're trying to be in the top five in points and get ready for when they bunch up in points for the Countdown to 1 playoffs after the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.
"It's a big weekend from beginning to end. When the weekend ends you can finally walk away with all the weight off your shoulders, hopefully after it ends in the final round.
"I've enjoyed a great relationship with FRAM. They completely understand that the fans who come out to the NHRA races go home and use their products. Economically, we're all tuning our own cars these days and we're keeping our cars longer. And it's so easy to talk about a product when you believe in it.
"On the race car we use over 100 Autolite spark plugs a weekend. We use a special kind of FRAM filter made for race cars. We use probably 16 cases of Prestone Brake Parts Cleaner during one weekend just on one car. Every other DSR team (six in all) uses it also, so you can imagine how many cases of Brake Parts Cleaner we use between rounds on these race cars.
"Not to mention all the Bendix brakes on the trucks and vehicles that we tow with. We use as many products in one weekend as most people do in over three, four or six months. So, FRAM is clearly a valuable sponsor, and we give back with appearances, the great hospitality DSR provides to customers, and by winning races for them.
"So, that's our plan this weekend, to win. Yes, there will be pressure on us to perform, but we'll do the best we can to represent FRAM the best way we can."