Hello NHRA racing fans! Tomorrow we’re heading southeast to the 4 Wide Nationals at ZMax Dragway in North Carolina. It’s the second race of the season for our Dote Racing team. Before I start packing, I thought I would give you a quick update.
I am really looking forward to this race. It’s the first time I’ve ever competed in the four-wide format. I’ve watched from the grandstands near the finish line and I thought it was so cool to experience 32,000 horsepower roaring down the track. Now I get to pilot one of the four nitro cars roaring down the track, and I’m so excited. I’ll admit I’m also a little nervous. I’ve been racing two-wide for about 15 years so it’ll be a little bit of an adjustment. I know that I have a really terrific team who gives me a great car so that helps ease my nervousness.
Our Dote Racing team had a successful first race in Gainesville last month. For our first run of the year, we went 3.91 which was exactly what our crew chief, Doug Kuch, said he wanted to run. I didn’t hear over the P.A, but apparently we held the number one spot for a majority of the session. We improved to a 3.84 in our second session which ultimately allowed us to hold on to the number nine spot going into race day. Everyone on our Dote Racing team was pleased with our qualifying efforts. There’s a lot of tough competition in top fuel and we’re able to run with the best of them. Unfortunately, we lost first round to Spencer Massey and the Fram team, but for our first race, we are pleased. Our car is going down the track consistently. I know that our team is going to continue to get better and better. The Dote Family gives us everything we need to be competitive and win races. Doug Kuch and the guys are a smart, hard-working group so I know we’re going to be successful. I absolutely love our team and I’m so excited about our future.
We have a tremendous amount of fan support which means so much to our team. We put up a fan flag in Gainesville and we’re thankful to everyone who signed it. It’s now hanging in our shop in Monroe, OH. We will have a banner similar to this at all of our races so I hope all our supporters will stop by and sign it and say hello.
As always, I’ll be updating my Twitter and Facebook pages throughout the race week –pending Internet connections at the track. My twitter handle is @HillaryWill and on FB, I have an official fan page. I’ll try to post pictures and update you on what’s happening with our team as often as possible. After the race, you can go to www.DoteRacing.com to see pictures and read my post-race update. Diana Dote takes great pics throughout the weekend that we post on our website.
Also, please stop by Dave and Busters on Saturday night, 4/14, at the Concord Mills Mall at 7:30 p.m. We’re having a “tweetup” organized by John Amorosano, aka @nitrojohn. A “tweetup” is not officially in the dictionary yet, but it might be in the future. I get some funny looks when I talk about it; in case you’re wondering, it’s where people who communicate together via Twitter actually get together and meet in-person. Other drivers attending are Alexis Dejoria, Blake Alexander, and Terry McMillen. We welcome anyone who wants to attend. And you don’t even have to even be on Twitter.
Well I better start packing. I can’t wait to get to ZMax Dragway and get racing again. I know my Dote Racing teammates have been working hard since the last race. We are ready to do some winning! Please keep cheering for us and I’ll update again soon .
I was beginning to think I would never get to say this: I’m back!! After being out of Top Fuel for over three years, I finally get to make a comeback. Dote Racing hired me and made it possible for me to license again. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this opportunity. Our first race is two weeks from today in Gainesville, March 9-11.
I’m so very thankful that the Dote family made me their driver so I can get back to doing what I love. The Dotes are as passionate about NHRA drag racing as I am. Lynn, his wife, Sue, their son, Mike, and daughter in-law, Connie, have been winning races a long time in sportsman drag racing. Now they want to do more winning in Top Fuel. They are racing in honor of their son-in-law Chad Wilcox who passed away in 2009. We have pictures of him on our car. He was a passionate racer too, and we will do our absolute best to get to the winner’s circle in his honor.
Our Dote Racing team, which is based in Monroe, Ohio, is planning on running 11-12 races this year beginning at the Gatornationals. We are actively seeking sponsorship and we hope to be able to run the full season and contend for the Full Throttle Championship in 2013 and beyond.
The Dote family is providing our team, led by crew chief Doug Kuch, with everything we need to be competitive. We just had a new car built by Murf McKinney and we have a shop full of parts and pieces that the team is diligently working on every day. I went to Murf’s in Lafeyette, Ind., a few times over the winter to get fitted for car. I was fortunate to be able to give input about where the clutch and throttle pedal should be in relation to how I sit in the car, in addition to the brake handle, chute levers, reverser, steering wheel etc.
We took our new car painted by Korek Designs down to the Florida sunshine in January and made about nine runs. We were testing some new combinations and getting our team all on the same page and working well together. Our team is comprised of car chief, Glenn Camp, plus three full time guys: Brandon Hazelton, Justin Sturgill, and Tad Heflick. We have three fly-in guys who have other full-time jobs; Charlie Zellman, Steve Moore, and Chris Cycak. They all have very different experiences and talents that they bring to our team. I’ll tell you about each of them in future blogs. Maybe I can talk one of them into writing a blog in the future.
I can’t wait to see all of my fans around the country. Many of them have become my friends. I’m so thankful that a lot of people kept in contact with me via Facebook, Twitter, and email. They were so encouraging during a time when we didn’t know if I would ever get to race Top Fuel again. My fans are amazing!
My boyfriend, Matt, is also amazing. He’s been by my side supporting me for the last few years. I don’t know what I would do without him. He flew down to Florida for testing and took a couple rare days off work to be there. He knew I was pretty nervous about getting back in Top Fuel after so long, so it was really nice having him there. And a fun little fact about us is that we got each other the exact same Valentine’s Day cards. What are the chances of that?
It will be great to have my family at some races this year too. I did get to spend a lot of time with them over the last three years so I’m thankful for that. I even went back and lived with my Mom for a while. (thankfully she didn’t mind having her adult child back in the house) I got to be there when my sister, Kim, won her first Wally at Samoa Dragstrip. I also was there when my other sister, Jessica, graduated high school. These are things I could never do while being on the racing tour. Being around my family for a while really helped me because they have all been so very encouraging and supportive
I’m really looking forward to having my Dad, Grandpa, and the rest of my family come out to our races again. They have always supported my racing career 120 percent. I’m running out of words to describe how thankful I am for the people who are close to me. It will be an awesome day when I get to have my family, the Dote family, my teammates, Matt, and some fans all in the winner’s circle together.
See you all in Gainesville where we will begin our quest to do just that!
I was really impressed by Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien in his final shows last week. I’m not a huge fan of his comedy style, but I liked his attitude in his closing shows. I admire him as a person and I think he has good character. He worked really hard and made his dream come true, which was to host The Tonight Show. He got to do it for a short time; now he isn’t going to have the show anymore. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and spending a lot of time blaming and being angry at others, he’s maintaining a positive attitude. He’s moving on and seems ready for the next chapter in his life. He was very thankful for the opportunity. He just wants to continue to do what he loves. For him that’s “having fun on television.” As I watched Conan on his last nights with NBC, I realized I can relate to him in a lot of ways. Instead of TV, my passion is driving Top Fuel. I’m sure that’s the not the last time we will see Conan. I’m willing to bet he will come back stronger, doing what he loves with another network.
I, too, plan to return doing what I love, as you probably know if you’ve been reading my blogs. I have some things in the works. I can’t wait to tell you all the good news when I have something solid to announce. It can’t come soon enough for me. I’m so thankful for all the fan support. It means more than you could ever know.
I think last time I wrote, I was leaving for Northern California for the holidays in December. It was so nice to be back with my family again. I spent a lot of time with my sister, Kim. She was nice enough to pick me up from the airport at 1 a.m. when I got there, and then she let me tag along with her wherever she went for the entire 10 days that I was there. We stayed at our mom’s house in Eureka and we spent a lot of time with her.
On my first day there, Kim and I, went to lunch with my Dad and Grandpa. Then we went to my brother, Kevin’s, basketball game. He’s an awesome player and led his team to victory at the game I got to see. His picture was even in the paper the next day.
On Christmas Eve, my dad had a little get together which was really fun. Then after the party all five of my sisters and brothers -- Kim, Kevin, Jessica, Austin, and I -- got together in front of the Christmas tree for a picture. All of us don’t usually have the chance to be together because we are all so busy with sports, work, and the geography between us. I don’t think all five of us have been together in a long time. I loved that we could all hang out and spend time together.
After my relaxing trip to California, the real work began once I got back to Michigan. It was moving time, which is never fun. Thankfully my boyfriend, Matt Hines, came over to help me pack and move. The two of us loaded nearly everything of mine into his truck and trailer. The best part was that moving day was when it was about 10 degrees – with the wind chill - outside so we were like icicles before we were finished.
We moved all the stuff to my new residence, which is in Brownsburg, Ind. The biggest challenge is that the apartment I now rent is about half the size of my condo in Ypsilanti. I lived in Michigan for four years and accumulated a lot of things. I have a lot of racing memorabilia that means a great deal to me and I cannot part with. Of course, I have a lot of shoes and clothes that I definitely “need.” It’s actually sort of sad that it’s a problem to have too much stuff. I was really feeling guilty about it. I gave a lot of things away to Goodwill and to my church, but I still am finding it a real challenge to eliminate things I don’t really need.
After the move but before I had time to get settled, Matt and I took a ski trip that we had been planning for a couple of months. We went with his brother, Andrew, and Andrew’s wife, Tanya. We flew to Vail, Colo., where we skied for three days. It was so much fun. Matt hadn’t skied since the mid-'90s but you would have never known. He’s a great skier. I think we both challenged each other racing… I mean skiing down the mountain. I like skiing in Colorado because even though it was cold, there was blue sky and sun the entire time. Matt and I always have a good time together, but we had an especially good time in Vail. I definitely wouldn’t mind going back there again.
In order to do stuff like that, I need a j-o-b. Right now I’m spending a lot of time working on getting back in a fuel car, which I’m praying will happen sooner rather than later. That’s obviously my first choice for a job. I’m also trying to get settled into my new apartment. I’m still trying to figure out how to creatively organize my new place. It’s small but cozy. It works for me for now. I’m just excited to be in Indy now. I do miss a lot of the people at Kalitta Motorsports. There are some really good people there. I made some great friends who will always be my friends. I’m forever thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of that team.
I’m so excited for the new season to start! I’ll be in Pomona and Phoenix. I can’t wait to see, feel, hear, and smell some nitro!