‘Real racers go to Indy’. That’s why Scott Palmer is competing in this year’s ‘Big Go’

The largest Top Fuel Indy field in a decade gathered at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA USA Nationals, and two of the 25 cars belong to Scott Palmer, who would never even continue racing. with Top Fuel were it not for the inspiration that Pro Stock team owner Ken Black gave him 17 years ago.

Today he has matching cars for himself and Alex Laughlin, two big tractor-trailers, and all the team guys and help he needs, but in 2005, Palmer was still a struggling rookie Top Fuel driver. He had 17 DNQs in his first 26 races between 2002 and 2004, and 2005 started badly, with a blown rear tire at the Winternationals damaging the frame.

“We were struggling a lot, we didn’t have any business with a Top Fueler,” he admitted, “but the only way to learn is to get one. Kalitta had helped us a bit and Rob Flynn had helped us, just some tips to keep us from getting hurt. We were just fighting; we had no parts and we had no money. We weren’t good at it. I know that people laughed at us because we were not good.

“I had a little problem with O’Reilly, which wasn’t money, just one thing where they gave me access to their suppliers, but I needed to go to Memphis. [the O’Reilly Mid-South Nationals] to get the money. Jim Wiens, who is still my clutch man and also builds chassis, fixed the car. We showed up there, and I think it was me and Spencer Massey at the Rebekah, we were so messed up no one wanted to work for us,

“Anyway, we showed up in Memphis and missed qualifying, and we were in the put options on Saturday night and Ken Black approached me. I didn’t know Ken Black, I never really knew him; I might have greeted him in the waiting lanes once, but I never had a conversation with him.”

See also  Notre Dame vs. Navy Prediction, Odds, Line: 2022 Week 11 College Football Picks, Best Bets from a Proven Model

At the time, Black, best known as the car owner of the Summit-backed Pro Stock team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line, was putting together a Top Fuel team for Hillary Will for the 2006 season.

“We were loading the trailer and he said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you for a minute about this team that I’m putting together.’ He asked me some questions and my opinion about Top Fuel and I told him the truth, some of which were probably not politically correct. I told him it’s tough here, that sometimes the guys who work the hardest, the little ones, usually don’t get the deals. It wasn’t the answer normal people would say, but he said he appreciated my honesty. We probably talked for 30 to 45 minutes.

“He asked me if I was staying on Sunday and I told him I was only five or six hours from home and I could leave that night. He said: ‘Stay here until tomorrow; I want to talk to you. Are you going to Indy? And I said, ‘Absolutely not. We don’t qualify here with 17 cars. If I go to Indy, there will be 30.

“I didn’t think anything about it, I just thought he wanted to say goodbye or something, it was so weird that Ken Black came over and talked to me because he’s a Pro Stock guy. I love Pro Stock because I’m a huge Bob Glidden fan.

“Anyway, later that night, probably 11:30 or midnight, we’re good to go. The truck is running, the lights are on, we’re ventilating, we’re going to try to back up and go home and Ken comes back. He says, ‘You have to go to Indy.’ He said, ‘I’m not going to Indy. I have no chance of going to Indy and doing anything but look bad.

“He told me that he and George Marnell had been to Indy about seven times before they qualified, and he said, ‘Real racers go to Indy. Let me ask you something: if you knew you would qualify at Indy and get that money, would you go?’

See also  Why F1 drivers fear a 'crazy' challenge at the Singapore GP

“I said yes. Yes, I would,’ and he pulls out a personal check for double Indy’s qualifying money, puts it in my pocket and says, ‘I want you to take this. Half of that, consider yourself “qualified.” The other half. buy some parts. You are a true runner. You’re going to Indy. But he said to me, ‘I don’t want people to know I did this. I am doing this for you. I do not want anyone to know it; do not tell anyone

“We took that money and fixed the car, bought some parts and went to Indy. We didn’t qualify, but that wasn’t the point. I am not exaggerating. If that hadn’t happened in Memphis, I would have been out of business. We were literally done.

“Originally, I wasn’t going to run Indy this year. Alex walked in and I heard someone say there were 24 cars entered at Indy, almost every car in the country. I don’t race nationally as much anymore – I do all my races, but I don’t want to be a full-time guy. It was good. I got into the top 10, showed that I could do it. Now I just want to run the races I want to, but I remembered what Ken said all those years ago, and I’m a real runner, so I called the NHRA and got involved.

“All this because of what happened in Memphis, where I went to fulfill a deal that was not worth doing and I met Ken Black. Then he told me that he didn’t want anyone to know what he had done, so I haven’t done it until now, but I think it’s time he took credit for helping me get to where I am today.”

Leave a Comment