Lee Both a Racer and a Fan when Talking about Gatornationals GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 11, 2010 -- It is easy to forget that most drivers in all disciplines of racing not only enjoy competing on the track, but are also big fans and historians of...
Lee Both a Racer and a Fan when Talking about Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 11, 2010 -- It is easy to forget that most drivers in all disciplines of racing not only enjoy competing on the track, but are also big fans and historians of their sport. Such is the case with Paul Lee, driver of the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil/WileyX Funny Car, when it comes to this weekend's 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
A native of New Jersey, the Gatornationals always represented the first chance for Lee and most other East Coast racers to dust off the cobwebs and hit the track for the first time of the race season.
"The Gatornationals are awesome," Lee said. "I mean, it's truly one of the major events on the circuit along with Indy, Pomona, and of course for a New Jersey guy, Englishtown. Gainesville was always the first race of the season for us, and it usually wasn't too hard to get us excited about leaving the snow and the cold to go down to Florida.
"I bet in the last 20 years or so I've only missed maybe one or two Gatornationals. Now, I wasn't racing every time, but if I wasn't in a car you could still find me in the grandstands. This was just always a race you circled on the calendar, and if I wasn't fortunate enough to be racing in it, I was still a fan and wanted to be watching it. It's just a great event and I'm looking forward to the weekend."
The 52-year-old Lee is a four-time national-event winner in the Funny Car category, winning once in 2008 in the IHRA Nitro Funny Car class and three times in 2004 in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car. The former CFO of Boninfante Clutches now owns McLeod Clutches, a California-based high-performance clutch shop.
"My parents retired down to Florida about 45 minutes from the track," Lee said, "so they are going to come over and watch us. It will be great to spend some time with them and their first chance to see me behind the wheel of the CANIDAE car. It should be fun."