Endurance racing is all about family.
Go to any NHRA event and you’ll likely see parents competing against their sons and daughters, as well as brothers and sisters competing against each other.
The NHRA has many famous families: the last names of Force, Pedregon, Torrence and Schumacher are a small sample of the many legendary family names associated with the sport.
Add the McGaha last name to the mix. During this weekend’s US Nationals in suburban Indianapolis, father Chris and his son Mason McGaha are chasing the Wally (the winner’s trophy) for a possible victory in the Pro Stock class.
After a successful tenure in sports racing, the elderly McGaha made his Pro Stock debut at Indy in 2011 and won for the first time in 2015.
Son Mason made his debut at the 2020 edition of the event, causing a sensation by advancing to the semi-finals as an 18-year-old.
Mason, a third-generation race car driver after grandfather Lester and father Chris, has yet to win on the NHRA’s biggest stage, but winning at Indy would mean everything.
“I don’t even know how you could describe it,” Mason said. “Indy, that’s like our Super Bowl.
“Winning the period to me will mean more than anything, but if you could do it at Indy, I don’t know if there’s a word to describe how great that would be.”
The NHRA has been literally all Mason has known his entire life. He went to his first race when he was just a few months old and grew up going to the racetracks with his dad.
“I thought at the time that everyone had a race car,” Mason said. “When I was a kid in school, when he was little, he would ask, ‘What kind of race car does your dad have?'”
While he has yet to win a race, Mason has put together a respectable campaign for 2022. He currently sits seventh in the Pro Stock standings and looks to make his first appearance in the six-race countdown to the Championship playoffs, which begin September 15-18 in Reading, Pennsylvania.
For Chris, the main goal he would still like to see is Mason finally winning that elusive first race. As for him, he would just like to count down.
Chris is currently ranked 14th in the Pro Stock rankings. He will need a miracle to make it to the countdown.
“Once you get to Indy and start hearing the word ‘championship,’ it’s life or death to me,” said Chris. “You have to get yourself in order now. Either it’s over or you’ll have to figure out what you’re doing.
Chris also said he would like to see more opportunities for drivers further down the standings to make it to the countdown.
“One thing I think Countdown has always missed is a wild card,” Chris said. “There has to be a wild card and a way to get one.
“(But) I guess there really isn’t a creative way to do it. Yeah, you’re letting guys who’ve done really badly, like me, have a chance. But at the same time, what’s cooler than when a Wild Card team wins the Super Bowl?
“Or when the team that didn’t have a shot at the Final Four goes all the way and wins it all? I know it would be good for the sport. Clearly people wouldn’t be as excited as I am, but still, I think it would be great to see a guy come from behind and win it all.”
And what better way to kick off the playoffs than by winning the last race before the countdown begins with Monday’s final heats.