NORWALK, Ohio (June 18) — There’s a quiet revolution underway in the NHRA, a throwback movement to a simpler time when having fun was the top priority and successes were always shared with family and friends. It’s drivers Scott Palmer and Dom Lagana and their CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragsters — racing in collaboration with CAPCO pilots Billy and Steve Torrence — and together they’re giving the huge corporate-backed teams fits.
“Tommy Thompson gave us an incredible opportunity,” Palmer said, referring to the owner of CatSpot Organic Cat Litter and a renowned drag boat racer. “I mean, who takes a chance on one of the smallest teams in the pits and completely funds a guy who has nothing? Nobody but Tommy. What he liked most is that we’re just regular guys, working hard, living a dream.
“He said, ‘Hey Scott, I’ll help you go as far as you want, and get you anything you need just as long as you don’t change.’ Well, we haven’t changed. We are trying to do the right thing out here and I think we are. And we still very much enjoy racing.”
With Thompson’s unwavering support, and a tuning alliance with the Torrences, Palmer has become a problem for many well established teams. Deep runs on Sundays, including a runner-up showing in Phoenix and a semifinal finish last Sunday in Bristol, has Palmer solidly in the Mello Yello top 10, making him eligible for the playoffs.
“Billy Torrence has this idea about making a mega team out of normal, family-oriented people, and he’s doing a great job of it,” Palmer said. “We all work together on this deal and people are starting to see it pay off. This is a collaboration of two full-time teams and two part-time teams with a goal of showing everybody you can still come out here, race hard, contend for wins and enjoy doing it all with your family.
“Adding (co-crew chief) Jason McCulloch a few races ago has been big. Jason has been on a lot of big teams and he loves the CAPCO/Torrence connection because he sees we race as a family, like him and his dad used to do. Me and Billy talked about him and decided he needs to be on this team to the benefit of us all. It’s working.”
The CatSpot/CAPCO alliance is working well indeed. Full-timers Steve Torrence and Palmer rank first and ninth, respectively, while Billy Torrence has risen to 12th place in five events and Lagana 19th in three starts.
“One thing that’s probably played to our favor is the new way they’ve been prepping racetracks,” Lagana said. “You can’t just go out there and pound away. You have to figure out what the track will hold and find that balance. That’s especially true when it’s hot.
“It’s going to be a hot race at Norwalk so we are going to take the setup we used this past weekend in Bristol when we qualified in the top half and tickle it a little bit. Norwalk is a new surface so everybody’s gonna be in a gray area with their tune-ups. I’ve heard (Norwalk’s surface) came out really smooth and flat. I’m real confident going into the next couple of races. I’m so excited.”