MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Ten years after last competing as a team in NHRA Top Fuel competition, racing partners Doug Foley and Tim Lewis have confirmed their return to the NHRA’s Top Fuel class.
Foley Lewis Racing will make its season debut at the NTK Spark Plugs NHRA Carolina Nationals, Oct. 11-13 at zMAX Dragway. The car will be driven by Todd Paton, and Foley will renew his Top Fuel license on Monday after the race.
“We’re excited to be back out there,” said Foley, who last drove a Top Fuel dragster in 2011. “It’s honestly not an opportunity we ever really thought about. It’s not like we sat there for 10 years waiting to go Top Fuel racing again. It was just something that we discussed early this year, and we’ve worked since then to get a program together. We’ve had a lot of great fans through the years and we’re excited to see them starting in Charlotte and next season.”
Foley returned to racing in Top Alcohol Dragster last season after selling his drag racing experience business in 2017. He was preparing for a full season in Top Alcohol Dragster earlier this year when he and Lewis decided to try Top Fuel again.
“Really, I think there were two reasons why we decided to go Top Fuel racing,” said Foley, who owns and operates Foley Home Sales with his wife, Shelagh. “The main reason is we were scheduled for 16 races [in Top Alcohol Dragster] and there was no way work was going to allow me to go to 16 races. My professional life was just pretty busy.
“Secondly, the opportunity came along for me to discuss going back to Top Fuel racing in February,” Foley continued, “so we discussed it for a couple months and made the decision in May that we’re going to do it.”
Longtime nitro racing tuner Scott Gaddy worked over the summer to convert Foley’s Don Schumacher Racing-built chassis back to a Top Fuel dragster after its short time as a nitro-injected A/Fuel dragster. Richard Hartman of Horton Race Cars made the chassis updates, while Gaddy assembled a stockpile of parts and equipment, including a transporter modified by TechnoCraft to meet the team’s needs.
“Tim and I really appreciate Scott’s effort over the last several months,” Foley said. “He’s spent countless hours in the shop and we wouldn’t be ready if it weren’t for the time and effort he’s invested.”
Once the Foley Lewis Racing team felt they were ready to hit the track, they started looking at options for testing and renewing Foley’s Top Fuel license. In early September, the Mooresville, North Carolina-based team decided to enter the Carolina Nationals with driver Todd Paton. The Top Fuel veteran will make the car’s first passes in competition, while Foley will take over the seat on Monday for his license renewal passes.
“Knowing that we’re 15 miles from the track, it just made a lot of sense to find a way to enter this race,” Foley said. “It’s not that easy to get a quality track surface. For us, getting some runs on the car and shaking everything down was more important than anything. We can get some data and figure out the car during the weekend. After my runs we’ll have half a dozen runs or more on the car. That will allow us to build towards next year.”
The Carolina Nationals is the only race Foley Lewis Racing plans to attend this season. The team intends to spend the offseason preparing to run a partial schedule in the 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.