Looking back at TopekaFriday, May 25, 2012
Posted by: Hillary Will, Dote Family Racing

Hello Dote Racing fans! I’m once again writing from our shop in Monroe, OH. I drove over this morning from Avon, Indiana where I live. I got here just in time to go out to lunch with the guys. We were all talking about our plans for the long weekend. Doug Kuch, Tad Hefleck, Brandon Hazelton, and Justin Sturgill have been working hard since the minute they got back from our last race in Topeka. They rarely get days off, but thankfully they will have 3 days for Memorial Day this weekend. I think the general consensus is that they have a lot of projects at home that they have to catch up on.

We just got back from racing at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a late-spring event in the middle of America. It was sunny but not too hot or humid. In fact, for eliminations on Sunday morning, the air was so good, our first round opponent and a lot of other dragsters ran in the 3.70s. We dropped a cylinder right at the hit, and just didn’t have enough. We lost to Steve Torrence who qualified #2 and won the last race in Atlanta. We knew we had a tough opponent. Hopefully we will beat him next time.

It was only our 4th race while most other teams have already run twice as many events. We are getting better every time we go out there. We learned a lot from Topeka; all we can do is improve, and I’m confident that we will.

I was pretty busy the week leading up to the race. Doug and Justin picked me up in Indiana on their way to Topeka Tuesday morning. Doug and Justin drive our FX Caprarra Dodge to and from every race. Tad and Brandon drive our two semi- trucks. We drove all day and got checked into our hotel before sundown.

That worked out well because I had to be up early the next morning for a radio show appearance on Legends Country 106.9 with Lani Novak. It was really fun. I like radio and Lani was super easy to talk to. We gave away some tickets for the race to a lucky listener who answered our trivia question correctly. Lani asked what year I won Top Fuel in Topeka. The first caller said 2008 which was the right answer.

After the radio show, I met up with Raymond and Nancy Irwin, owners of Heartland Park Topeka. They were kind enough to let me borrow a Dodge Charger from Briggs Auto to drive since I had more appearances to do that day. It was interesting talking to them. Mr. Irwin told me that he had an economic impact study conducted and they found that the NHRA Summernationals impacts the local economy by about $160 million every year. That’s great news!

Next I went to downtown Topeka for an interview on V100 Rock Station with Forest. He then invited me and my team to Hooters for an event that evening where they would be promoting the race. Tad, Brandon, Justin, and I ended up going. Hooters isn’t my favorite place but my teammates enjoyed it, and I had the opportunity to go on the air again with V100 since they were broadcasting live.

I also did an interview with an AM sports talk radio show with Jake Lebahn and Mark Elliott. I could tell they were stick and ball guys, but I still tried my best to get them and their listeners excited about the race.

Thursday is setup day at the track, so the guys are there most of the day. One of our sponsors, Dave Stickland was there helping to clean. He introduced us to Adam’s Car Care Polish and we love it.

After all the cleaning he did, Dave was kind enough to drive me to downtown Topeka for the first annual “Speed Fest,” which had a great fan turnout. There were different booths set up and show cars there. A number of other NHRA drivers and I did a two-hour autograph session and encouraged everyone to come out to the race. It was really fun.

After that, we had a team dinner as we usually do on Thursday night. Our team owners, Connie Dote and Lynn Dote arrived Thursday along with our fly-in guys, Glenn Camp, Steve Moore, Charlie Zellman, and Chris Cycak. We all went to Famous Dave’s. It’s fun to hang out with everyone and relax before our weekend gets started.

Our next race is in Bristol, Tennessee, June 15-17. We aren’t racing in Englishtown this year but hopefully we will next year after we secure enough funding to contest the whole schedule. I’ll be there spectating and supporting Matt and his Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle team. Also my sister, Jessica, is coming in from California so she and I will get to spend some time together.

Matt and I have some fun stuff planned for this three-day weekend that I’m really looking forward to. We had a great few days after Topeka celebrating his birthday which was on Monday, the 21st. We had one quiet party at home and one party with all his Indiana friends and family at Boulder Creek in Brownsburg. Happy Birthday Matthew!

I hope you all have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. A very special thanks to all the women and men who have served our country.