DENSHAM READY TO DEFEND TITLE INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1, 2005) -- Racebricks Funny Car driver Gary Densham has been waiting a lifetime for this weekend. Finally, after four decades of drag racing, the former schoolteacher from Gahr High in...
DENSHAM READY TO DEFEND TITLE
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1, 2005) -- Racebricks Funny Car driver Gary Densham has been waiting a lifetime for this weekend. Finally, after four decades of drag racing, the former schoolteacher from Gahr High in Bellflower, Calif., can walk through the gates of Indianapolis Raceway Park as the defending champion of the sport's biggest race, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Driving the third car for the powerful John Force Racing camp, Densham realized his dream of winning "the Big Go" in 2004. He beat a star-studded field of racers along the way and was cheered back to his pit by his peers, who were all thrilled to see the likable Densham win the most prestigious drag race in the world. Adding to the party was Densham's rare "double," as he had won the Skoal Showdown for the previous year's top-eight qualifiers earlier in the weekend, making his Indy stop worth $200,000.
"It was the greatest day, the greatest weekend of my career," Densham said. "No matter what happens to me, I'll always have Indy. And what made it extra special was the fact it was the 50th annual U.S. Nationals, so there was some history involved.
"The money meant nothing to me. It all went to the team and the crew any ways. It was winning the race that means the most to an old drag racer like me. The old saying is that if you can't win the championship then win Indy because it will make your year. I think it made my career. It is still so special to me."
Densham returns to IRP for this year's 51st annual U.S. Nationals intent on defending his title, although his situation is different from one year ago. This time he arrives in town as an independent racer, with a crew dotted with former students. He also has veteran tuners Greg Amaral and the newly-acquired John Stewart in his corner.
"We don't have the resources we had a year ago but our Racebricks Chevrolet Monte Carlo tested really well last week. We've come a long way from the beginning of the year. Basically we started from scratch and Marty Yacoobian of Racebricks came along at just the right time and set us up to race the full season.
"We feel like we can hang with the bigger teams. Once upon a time, Indy was the only national event so if you wanted to prove you had the baddest hot rod on the planet, you came here and lined it up against everyone else. We don't think we have the best car in the world right now but we're going to make people work to beat us. If there's one thing I learned it's that luck never hurts. If we got a little, who knows what could happen?
"The first U.S. Nationals I came to was the 25th annual one. They had closed some tracks out in California and I figured drag racing was pretty much over. I just knew the environmentalists would shut it down so came over here so I could at least say that I'd been to the U.S. Nationals before it was over. Then I come back 25 years later and win the damn thing. Dreams do come true. Just look at me."