Expired engine ends Erica Enders weekend in opening round of Toyota Nationals


LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29) — It doesn’t happen often for Erica Enders and her Elite Performance race team but an expiring engine ended the six-time Vegas champion’s day in the opening round of competition.

“As hard as we push these motors it’s actually surprising it doesn’t happen more often but we got bit today and that ended our race,” Enders said. “We’ll be fine. It’s an easy fix and we have lots of spares so we’ll be prepared for Pomona, no problem.”

Had the motor survived through the finish line, the outcome could have been very different as opponent Allen Johnson was running close but was on the chase after Enders fashioned a .019-second starting line advantage after a great .010 reaction time.

“Allen’s my good friend and we love to race each other,” Enders said. “That sucker double-bulbed me but I stayed in my routine and cracked his ass with a great light. We were having a great race but when I got to fifth gear in our McLeod Chevy I heard the motor break. Our team owner, Richard Freeman, tells me to leg it out no matter what on race day but when I heard it break I looked over and Allen was right there.

“The smartest thing to do was push in the clutch and do everything I could to avoid further damage so knowing Allen was running strong enough to win I made an executive decision and gave it up. We’ll get him next time.”

The final numbers had Johnson crossing 6.716 seconds at 202.82 mph to Enders’ coasting 7.036 at 163.49 mph.

Enders has a busy week ahead with several appearances at the annual SEMA show here in Las Vegas. The team also plans to test their new Pro Mod car before the season finale, the 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 10-12, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.