Near the headwater region of the great Mississippi River in the middle of the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’ sits Brainerd International Raceway, home of the Lucas Oil Nationals to be run August 15-18. And one of the great young women icons of drag racing will be there to defend her title from a year ago.
The only female driver to win a Pro Stock event in the NHRA will be back in action at Brainerd, Minnesota, as Erica Enders-Stevens announced that her Victor Cagnazzi Chevrolet Camaro will return after being out for four races in-a-row due to sponsorship problems (source: WFO Radio).
Amazingly enough, despite having missed several races this season, Enders-Stevens still sits ninth overall in the standings and will comfortably make the Countdown to the Championship. By the way, she was number one qualifier at Brainerd a year ago with a record elapsed time and was a dominant car over most of that weekend (source: Yahoo! Sports).
With the help of funding from one of the teams part-time sponsors, Charter Communications, Erica will be able to defend the race she won a year ago. Charter has a huge market in the region and it made sense for them to partner again for this race with Cagnazzi and Enders-Stevens.
The unusual situation arose when her main sponsor prior to this, GK Motorsports, surprisingly pulled their sponsorship a year-and-a-half sooner than expected. This is not a good time to be looking for sponsorship because even if corporations were to make the move to back a race team, they usually do it at the end of summer for the following season. Most businesses have a set budget annually and there isn’t much in the way of discretionary funds – especially during these recessional times – available for a major partnership in professional classes like Pro Stock.
Money woes to continue?
When teams aren’t financed well, they often lack the ability to keep personnel. It will be interesting to see if Cagnazzi and Enders-Stevens can continue running as well as they did earlier in the season. Five years ago, Erica was in the same situation and sat out a season. Even though drag racing has a great track record as far as women participating, its been argued as to whether motorsports is helping or hurting female drivers advance in racing.
Here’s hoping in the area that made Paul Bunyan famous, another famous person who won in Minnesota to help make a name for herself last year will find success again and possibly coax investment from potential marketing partners.
Does someone want to associate with a winner who’s also one of the most marketable people in drag racing?
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