Seattle: Warren Johnson preview

Seattle Racer Marks First Year at "Warren Johnson University" Career move carries Auburn native to WJ's GM Performance Parts GTO crew Sugar Hill, Ga., July 19, 2006 -- One year ago, Adam Drzayich was a young man living a typical life. Born...

Seattle Racer Marks First Year at "Warren Johnson University"

Career move carries Auburn native to WJ's GM Performance Parts GTO crew

Sugar Hill, Ga., July 19, 2006 -- One year ago, Adam Drzayich was a young man living a typical life. Born and raised in the Seattle suburb of Auburn, he had the usual interests of a 23 year-old, including anything automotive, sports, music, movies, and girls. He also had a life-long passion for the sport of drag racing. In addition to assisting with his father Nick's competitive efforts, the personable young Washingtonian satisfied his quarter-mile cravings by getting behind the wheel, starting in a Junior Dragster at the tender age of 14.

After a bracket racing stint in the family's 1979 Cadillac DeVille, he advanced to the Super Comp division, where he won the Division 7 championship and was the Jeg's All-Star representative in 2004. Through it all, it seemed that racing would simply remain one of his leisure activities. However, following last year's race at Pacific Raceways, Drzayich decided to take his racing involvement to an entirely new level.

Leaving the comforts of home behind, he joined Warren Johnson's GM Performance Parts Pontiac GTO Pro Stock crew at the next stop on the POWERade Drag Racing circuit in Brainerd, MN, finalizing the transition by moving to Sugar Hill, Georgia a few weeks later. This weekend, as the straight line set prepares to return to the Pacific Northwest for the Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals, Drzayich will celebrate his first anniversary as a key member of one of the sport's high-profile teams. It is a move that he is thrilled to have made.

"I got involved in drag racing when my father Nick did, and it all spiraled downward from there," joked Drzayich. "In all seriousness, I've always wanted to know what else was involved in racing, but never had the opportunity to find out until a year ago when Warren and Pat Barrett (former crew member and close Johnson family friend) brought me on board.

"To be honest, I had almost given up on the whole deal. I had a job working at the auto auction, and was set to do that until Pat asked me if I wanted to work for them, and without hesitation I said yes. Fortunately, my family understood what I was doing and where I was going, and have been very supportive of my efforts.

"It's been an interesting first year, and this GM Performance Parts GTO team has had our share of highs, including the win in Phoenix and the test sessions that went so well during the winter, as well as a few lows, such as this period we're battling through right now, but overall, I have no regrets, and don't see myself leaving any time soon."

Naturally, one of the first questions that comes to mind when speaking to the most recent addition to "The Professor's" crew is what it's like to work for the irascible six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion. Although acknowledging that the expectations are high, he enjoys the atmosphere, as well as the wealth of knowledge he has already gained through the experience.

"You couldn't ask for a better guy to work for," said Drzayich. "He's reasonable, patient and will teach you anything you want to know. If you screw something up once, he'll stand there and laugh at you and tell you let's try it again, but he doesn't get upset. He expects a lot, but it's a given when you work for someone with his credentials in this sport.

"If it was up to me, I'd be here another ten years. I'm sure that somewhere down the road, I would like to get back to driving, but I would also like to be a crew chief. But before that can happen, I have a lot to learn, which is why I am here."

As Drzayich comes back to his hometown for this weekend's race, he looks forward to seeing family and friends, but in true Warren Johnson fashion, knows his work must come first.

"It's going to be a different experience racing in Seattle this year," stated Drzayich. "I'm sure a lot of people are going to want to talk, but we all understand that this is my job now, and that my performance affects everyone else on the team. We'll definitely have fun, and it will be nice to see everyone again, but winning this race is our top priority."

Finally, what does Drzayich's boss, the all-time winningest driver in Pro Stock history, and a four-time Pacific Raceways winner, think of his latest pupil?

"It's been a year since Adam joined us, and we haven't managed to wear him out yet," kidded Johnson. "Overall, he's done a pretty good job for us, working hard and absorbing as much as he can. He has a great attitude and gets along with everyone in the organization, which is the biggest part since we spend so much time working together.

"He's even survived his rookie initiation when he blew the motor in the burnout car, so I guess you can say he's a card-carrying member of the team, and we're happy to have him. Hopefully, we can figure out what has been plaguing our GM Performance Parts GTO as of late so we can once again challenge for the win and make Adam's homecoming a very successful one."


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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson