TOPEKA, Kan. — Spencer Massey has gathered some special memories over the years at Heartland Park Topeka, a race track that he considers his home away from home.
The driver of the Schumacher Electric dragster has been to the last two finals at the popular Midwestern dragstrip, but his history there begins well before the 2011 season.
“I ran my first national event in an alcohol car there,” said Massey, a Ft. Worth, Texas native. “It has always been a track that has been special to me. I’ve won there and tuned a lot of cars there. I won my first race for DSR at that track. I am very familiar there. It’s like my second home track, behind the Texas Motorplex.”
Massey will try to make it three finals in a row and claim his second win at Heartland Park, May 17-19 at the NHRA Kansas Nationals. David Grubnic (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Massey says everyone in the area rolls out the red carpet when the circuit comes to town.
“The city of Topeka is really a racer-friendly town,” Massey said. “It’s fun to go there because everyone really supports the race and it’s something everyone there looks forward to each and every year. As racers, we enjoy the atmosphere of that event and we always look forward to getting back out there.”
Massey holds the Top Fuel track speed record at 329.10 mph, which he set last season. Over the years the track has become known as a high-performance showplace, and that also puts Massey in a great mood to go racing there.
“As a driver you get really pumped anytime you get to go to a track that has a reputation for producing great performance numbers,” Massey said. “We want to win races and championships, but we also like to make these cars go as quick and fast as possible. For years Topeka has been a track that’s been known as a record-breaking place.”
While the potential for records will be a part of the mix at Heartland Park, the focus for all Top Fuel drivers will be dealing with the incredible level of talent in the category at the moment. Five different winners have emerged with Wally trophies in the first seven races. Massey, who won the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte, N.C. in mid-April, says he expects more of the same throughout the season.
“There are just a lot of really great cars right now,” Massey said. “It’s like bracket racing at 300 miles per hour. That puts quite a bit of pressure on us as drivers, so it can be nerve-wracking when everybody has great reaction times. At the same time it is a lot of fun too, knowing that every race is going to be really close.”
Last year Massey left this event first in the points standings. He enters the race this year fourth overall and is looking to improve on that position. He feels like his team is making great progress.
“We’re just starting to get on a roll,” Massey said. “The team is jelling together with the new canopy, new tune-up and the new crew members. We didn’t come out of the gates as strong as we did last year, but we are getting better and having fun.”