Gary Ormsby Jr. said he can remember since the day he was born, sitting in his late father's NHRA Top Fuel Dragster and dreaming of being a drag racer.
His dream came true.
The 35-year-old Californian is racing full-time as an NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol Dragster that's capable of traveling the length of two football fields in about three seconds at more than 220 mph.
Ormsby will be among racers competing in the West Central Division second round at Brainerd International Raceway Friday through Sunday.
"I love driving dragsters, it's the coolest thing, I think," Ormsby said.
Ormsby has iced the competition in the division so far this season. He leads defending champion Dave Wells of Iowa by eight points despite not advancing to a final round this season. He also clicked off the quickest run in NHRA history, a 5.13-second elapsed time, at an NHRA national event in Topeka earlier this season.
Ormsby's career began at age 19 when he worked on his father's pit crew.
His dad raced until 1990, winning the Top Fuel points title in 1989 and almost winning it again in 1990.
When his father died, Ormsby, then 24, was named manager of his father's auto dealership and stayed in that position for five years.
"I could see I wasn't able to chase my dream and win a drag racing championship," Ormsby said of running the car dealership. "It really wasn't me, to be honest with you."
In 1996 he got behind the wheel of a Super Comp and a Super Eliminator racer. His eliminator racer was capable of traveling the quarter-mile in 7.90 seconds.
He earned his Top Alcohol Dragster license in 1997 but didn't start racing until 1999. His first NHRA national event was the Winternationals in California. That same year he also competed in six Northwest Division races.
His father also raced at some of these events. Ormsby said fans often approach him and tell him how they liked his father's style and personality.
"It just puts a little more fire underneath you to do good," he said.
The reason Ormsby is racing in the West Central Division this season is that his car owner and former racer Randy Meyer lives in Kansas. The division is based in Missouri.
Ormsby will race in all six of the division events except at Denver and Wyoming. He also will race in six national and other division events.
It's Meyer's goal to finish among the top three in division points. Ormsby's goal is to win a championship.
Ormsby's goal coincides with what his father told him before he died: "Do what you love or you'll never be successful."
* Qualifying for Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car is at 4 p.m. Friday and 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday. Elimination rounds for the two classes start at noon Sunday.
* Racers pre-registered as of Tuesday include Funny Car racers Jay Payne, 2001 West Central Division champion Cy Chesterman, Kirk Williams, and Vern Moats and dragster pilots Ed Schmeeckle, Jerod Dreher and Chris Ricketts.
* Payne, the defending champion, won his 22nd national event in Atlanta earlier this season. He also won the 2001 Southeast Division Funny Car Championship.
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