Steve Furr has won drag races throughout his career, but this year the Harrisburg resident has the opportunity to achieve something he’s never experienced before: an NHRA national championship.
Heading into the summer months, the 47-year-old Furr leads the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Gas national standings. He also is first in two Division 2 point standings: Super Gas and Top Dragster.
“It’s been a pretty good year so far,” said Furr, an engineering and technical services employee with Viance, a chemical company owned by Dow Chemical. “I’m sure it’s going to get more difficult as we go because there will be lots of folks on this point circuit that will show up that haven’t raced a whole lot yet on the West Coast and in Texas, people that I don’t ever see that will wind up challenging me for the national points. It’s not like I’m going to run away with it. It’ll be hard to win.
“I’ve won four IHRA world championships and six or seven divisional championships in IHRA. In the NHRA, I’ve won a divisional, but I’ve never won a national. Two years ago I chased it fairly hard, and I finished fourth. I really would love to win a NHRA championship.”
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Furr, a UNC Charlotte graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, began drag racing in the IHRA in the early 1990s after college. His brother, John, was already involved in the sport, having started in the IHRA in the 1980s.
“Working on cars and the fast cars are what got me interested in racing in general,” said Steve Furr, who will compete in about 25 races this year, with all but about six to eight of those being NHRA events. “I enjoy the IHRA and NHRA stuff – going on the circuit, going on tour and chasing the points. It’s a way of life. I have so many friends I have been racing with all of these years (that) I can’t imagine not doing it. I don’t know what people do that don’t race.”
In the roughly two decades since Furr began racing, the father of two said he’s probably won “somewhere around 100 events” in the NHRA and IHRA. He won his first IHRA championship in 1996 in Super Rod. That same year, Furr’s older brother claimed his third IHRA title in the Hot Rod class.
It was the following year that Furr decided racing two different cars on the same weekend would be more economically feasible.
“I got to thinking that my traveling expenses were my biggest expense, and if I had two cars I would have two chances to win,” Furr explained. “Basically, I would have the same expenses except for the entry fee.”
Since then, Furr has claimed three more IHRA Super Rod championships. His other titles came in 2004, 2006 and 2011.
He finished second four times in Super Rod during that stretch and second four more times in Top Dragster, a class known as Quick Rod in the IHRA.
He also earned IHRA Sportsman Driver of the Year in 2004 and 2006. Furr’s lone NHRA title came in 2009 when he won the Division 2 Top Dragster championship.
The first year that Furr competed with two cars, he finished second in the standings in both classes. And he notes the two cars couldn’t be any more different: A 1968 Camaro and a 2013 American Dragster.
“You have to really think about which car you’re in when you pull up there (to stage),” Furr said. “You can’t just pull up there and do the same thing in both cars. It’s totally different.”
At the IHRA events, Furr competes in Top Dragster and Super Rod, which is the same as Super Gas in the NHRA. When there’s not a Top Dragster class at a NHRA event, Furr competes in Super Comp.
At the IHRA events, Furr’s 12-year-old son Nicholas also competes in the Junior Dragster races. Nicholas began racing at age 8.
“I wouldn’t be racing without the support of my family,” Furr said. “My wife, Denise, and I have been married for 20 years. I was racing when we met, and she’s been very supportive. Sarah (9-year-old daughter) is my little cheerleader. They go with me to most all of them in the summer when they are out of school. I also try to do other things with them in the summer because they don’t want to spend every weekend at a race track.”
TV coverage for Summer Shootout
The eight-week Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway runs through July 29 and will be televised nationally on MAVTV and locally on WCCB Charlotte.
A 30-minute recap show will air in the Charlotte area on CW-affiliate WCCB at 1 p.m. on the Saturday following the Tuesday-night event. Nationally, a 30-minute recap show will air on MAVTV each Thursday afternoon between noon and 4 p.m.
Each show will be hosted by Speedway TV’s Lenny Batycki and will feature racing highlights from the seven Legend Car and Bandolero divisions, as well as interviews from victory lane. The show also will cover each week’s exhibition race.
Peltier loses on final lap
Concord’s Preston Peltier had to settle for second in the recent PASS Super Late Model 150 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway after 15-year-old Cole Timm of Mooresville wrestled the lead from the veteran on the final lap.
Trey Jarrell, from Kannapolis, took eighth, while Jared Irvan of Midland finished ninth.
Allison posts career-best finish
Justin Allison, grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison and All-Pro champion Darrell Brown, posted his best career finish in the ARCA Pocono race. After qualifying third, the Salisbury resident drove to a fifth-place finish, despite piloting a Ford that was stuck in fourth gear.