BAYTOWN, Texas - Darrell Alderman was on top of the world in the early 1990s. He won his first two NHRA Winston Pro Stock championships in '90 and '91. During his 1991 campaign he recorded 11 victories in 14 final round appearances. The win...
BAYTOWN, Texas - Darrell Alderman was on top of the world in the early 1990s.
He won his first two NHRA Winston Pro Stock championships in '90 and '91. During his 1991 campaign he recorded 11 victories in 14 final round appearances. The win total still stands as the modern day record for most national event wins in one season in the Pro Stock category. By 1992, Alderman's personal demons had caught up to him. He was suspended from NHRA competition for both the '92 and '93 seasons in regards to personal legal matters. Alderman returned to the track in 1994 in spectacular fashion. He earned five more wins in nine final rounds and scored his third Winston championship. He had re-established himself as one of the dominant drivers in Pro Stock. The next season proved to be a difficult one for Alderman as he struggled through the year and finished a disappointing 14th in the NHRA Winston standings. An unfortunate vandalistic break-in at Alderman's race shop cost him the entire 1996 season due to the loss of parts and machinery. The next three seasons Alderman battled to regain the championship form he had demonstrated earlier in his career.
"When I was winning all those races back in the early 1990s, I had the world by the tail," said Alderman. "Everything we did as a team was successful. I am very lucky to have had the opportunities in this sport. One of the greatest things has been the support of the fans."
In 2000, Alderman drove his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger to his first top 10 finish in six seasons. The introduction of the new hemi engine seemed to spark the three time champ as he earned two runner-up spots (Denver and Topeka, Kan.) and finished ninth in the standings, despite not qualifying for seven events in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock category.
Backed with the Hemi engine inside his Team Mopar Dodge R/T , Alderman will continue to resurrect a career that many thought was over when he competes at the 14th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil, March 22-25, at Houston Raceway Park. The $1.8 million race is the fourth of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
"Houston has always been a great track for me," said Alderman. "I won a race back in 1991 and have had some nice runs there. It's pretty smooth, which will give us a better chance. We seem to run well on the faster tracks. Since (team owners) Nickens Brothers Racing is located about 40 miles from the track, we kind of consider it home as well. The team does a lot of testing there, which seems to help on race weekend." Alderman, from Morehead, Ky., has not won an NHRA national event since the 1997 season and realizes the opportunity he has this year to regain his glory. "I want to win a fourth championship," said the 51-year old Alderman. "It's been an awfully long time since I've felt this good about my chances. We have really come together as a team and its starting to pay off on the track. We just need to maintain some consistency and keep improving. It's a good feeling to know I have the equipment to get it done now."
The Dodge R/T Alderman currently competes in will be replaced with the new Dodge Neon which will rival the Chevy Camaros and Pontiac Grand Ams introduced into the category during the NHRA's 50th anniversary season. "I tell you what, these Hemi engines really surprise me," said Alderman. "I was pretty skeptical about a new engine, especially with the struggles of the past couple of years. We did have some problems at the first part of last year, but ever since that Denver race we've been pretty strong. I think that I'm in a good position for the championship. When we get the new Neon's ready, I think we'll have the cars to beat. Right now, the R/T's have a little disadvantage to the newer cars." Alderman and his former teammate Scott Geoffrion were always considered formidable opponents in the 'door slammer' ranks, and the duo became known simply as 'The Dodge Boys' after they joined forces in 1994.
At the conclusion of the 2000 season Geoffrion was replaced on the team with Mark Osborne. Osborne has driven in both Pro Stock and the Pro Stock Truck categories. He has four career victories in 11 final round appearances and looks forward to the competing as the newest member of Team Mopar. "One of the reasons I wanted to join this program was because of Darrell," said Osborne. "He is a real professional and is a great talent. I feel pretty lucky to be involved with the likes of Mopar and I know we have a bright future. Darrell expects a lot from me, and I think it's a great motivator. The other thing that really gets me going is the fact that I have a Hemi engine under me. I can't tell you how much potential this thing has."
Always a fan favorite, Geoffrion rose to prominence as a test driver for five-time champion Warren Johnson in the early '90s and was the first Pro Stock driver to record a pass under 7.10 seconds. Most recently, Geoffrion grabbed headlines when he set the new Pro Stock national elapsed time record with a stunning 6.809 second run in Memphis, Tenn. "As you know, Scott and I are real close, and I miss him being around," said Alderman. "But Mark is a great driver and will help this team quite a bit. I've known Mark for a long time and we get along really well. We'll just move on and look towards the future." -NHRA