After a year-long hiatus from competition, popular NHRA Heritage Series driver Mendy “Nitro Kitty” Fry will return to the hot seat when she wheels the Mike Fuller Motorsports AA/Fuel Dragster in a match race contested during this weekend’s Super Chevy event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This is a sort of bookends for Fry, who originally gained notoriety in Top Fuel dragsters by becoming the first woman to clock a quarter-mile Top Speed over 250 mph, before climbing out of those volatile machines in 2008 and accepting posts in a pair of Nitro Funny Cars.
When asked about her decision to return to the ferocious, fiery front-engine dragsters, Fry said: “Why Top Fuel? And why now? I dunno, probably because Fuller asked!”
She then compared the two forms of NHRA Heritage Series nitro-burning machines and reasoned: “Honestly, I had considered the (front-engine) Top Fuel chapter of my life closed—I sat behind the motor for three seasons, ducked parts, paid my dues on skinny tires, and moved on to funny cars where, quite frankly, things were totally happening. But the chance to work with Mike and his team is pretty compelling. I’m very tight with him and all of his guys—you can’t ask for a better group of people!”
She then spoke of the difficulties and technical complexity with the dragsters, and with the Mike Fuller entry in specific. “All of that aside,” she said, “there’s the challenge of the ride itself. It’s no secret that this once hard-hitting team has been struggling of late. I don’t think that struggle has been driver-related at all, but to be the driver in the seat when they figure the tune-up out would be pretty cool. It’s no doubt that this thing has more whistles and gadgets than a street-corner, one-man band (trained monkey on the music box being me!), so I’ve got a little catching up and a learning curve going on. But they’re willing to put up with that, so I say, let’s do it. We’re going to try it out at this Vegas deal, and then go from there. I’ve been stuck in work-related doldrums that only a snootful of nitro can release me from. So, we’re going to strap my ass in this ride and see what we can do!”
Fuller and Fry will be among four fuelers that will square off at Vegas: The others are Bill Dunlap in the Circuit Breaker, Neal & White and Brendan Murry’s “Running Wild” entry.
AA/Fuel Dragster action goes down at noon and 3 PM on Saturday, April 30th, and again at 1 PM on Sunday, May 1st.
Now that I have your attention, I’d like to tell you about a different kind of race, one that requires fan involvement and sponsorship. Yes, race fans, it’s that time of year again, where I pimp out all of my friends, fans and peers for a very good cause, the fight against breast cancer. To that end, I need sponsorship for my participation at this month’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®.
Last year at this charity walkathon, my entry, Team Clarient, raised $15,400 towards breast cancer research, and this year, with the drag racing world’s help, I know we can make that total even higher!
This year’s event happens September 26, 2010. I need your help now in order to accomplish Team Clarient’s goal of $19,000 and my personal goal of $4,000. If you would like to join my team, you can follow the instructions I’ve included below. My team name and number is: Clarient 925.
No donation is too small. I believe it is easier to get $1 from 1,000 people than $1,000 from one person, so please help spread the word through the Internet. Thank you so much for your generosity in the fight against breast cancer.
Making a donation is simple and easy—simply click on the link to my personal donation page at the bottom of this message. If you would prefer, there is also a down-loadable form to send in donations through the mail.
Visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure – Orange County:
Did you see the cover of this week’s National Dragster?? –MF.
NHRA’s cover description: “Leah Pruett-LeDuc, Adam Sorokin, and Mendy Fry are among the stars and the Beach City Corvette among the cars featured in our special nostalgia racing issue. (Marc Gewertz and Tim Sutton photos)”
Inside of National Dragster’s Nostalgia Racing Special: “NHRA Historical Services, Adam Sorokin, Leah Pruett-LeDuc, Mendy Fry, Roland Leong, tribute Funny Cars, Donnie Couch’s West Coast Funny Car Factory, the DragRacingOnline.com AA/FC Challenge presented by Lucas Oil, the Paso Posse, and Sportsman stars of the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series.”
If one is a Nitro Funny Car racer, this weekend’s March Meet is the tournament where one makes a statement — and a proclamation of legend.
Famoso Raceway’s 52nd March Meet has all the markings of being an epochal event, if not just historic. For the first time in drag racing since the AHRA/PRO National Challenge at Tulsa International Raceway in August, 1973, nearly two score of honest-to-goodness blown-on-nitro AA/Funny Cars will attempt to qualify for a spot in a 32-car eliminator.
For Funny Car driver “Nitro Kitty” Mendy Fry, however, merely filing an entry for the race was daunting enough. During her end-of-year racing hiatus, Frau Fry suddenly parted ways with her last team. Similarly, Donnie Couch, her on-again/off-again partner-in-grime (and West Coast Funny Car Factory founder) was himself between projects, kicking the proverbial can against the shop doors, waiting for an opportunity to present itself.
None did. Until racecar owner Gary Messenger offered up his dormant (and for sale) Future Flash ’73 Charger, a machine that both Couch and Fry competed with in 2008. A deal was struck: Install a short block, acquire a bunch of odds’n’ends and nitro-strength hardware, buy a drum of fuel and cases of oil, borrow a trailer and get thee to Bakersfield.
Thus Donnie and Mendy got proactive over the winter, calling in a myriad of favors for donated expendables for their borrowed flopper, now rechristened the West Coast Funny Car Factory/Nitro Kitty Charger. Because of these efforts, this weekend Messenger’s machine will enter the copious cavalcade of fuel coupes jousting for entry in what has the potential to be the mother of all Funny Car races, with Couch turning the wrenches and Fry swapping pedals.
NITRO KITTY RACING MARCH MEET NOTES:
Among those ponying up parts, pieces and petroleum products for this bi-partisan, joint effort of Nitro Kitty Racing, Donnie Couch’s West Coast Funny Car Factory and Gary Messenger Ltd.: Hyevon Choppers, Lucas Oil, SCE Gaskets, Molinari, M/T Tires, Justice Bros., Burning Motorhome Promotions and MCC Construction.
Advisory March Meet Nitro Funny Car Schedule: 1st round of Qualifying: Friday, March 5th, 2 PM. 2nd round of qualifying, Saturday, March 6th, Noon. 1st Round Eliminations: Saturday, 3 pm. Further eliminations, Sunday, March 7th, 11 AM.
Hot off the presses! The “Chicks Rule” issue of Garage Magazine (out now!) features an eight-page spread on Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car coquette “Nitro Kitty” Mendy Fry. The detailed article chronicles the arc of Fry’s career — the highlights, the explosions, the wild rides, the unexpected wins and some moments best forgotten — and gives a glimpse of things to come as Fry enters the 2010 NHRA Heritage Series Tournament at the helm of Gary Messenger and Donnie Couch’s West Coast Funny Car Factory Nitro Kitty Charger.
Besides the story on Mendy (penned by John Burns, and illustrated by Tim Sutton’s stellar photography), the new Garage is rife with estrogen-addled bios on burlesque queens, vampish tattoo artists and a woman wing-walker!
Bring your copy to the March Meet at Famoso Raceway next month and get it personalized. -30-
Greetings everyone! Mendy Fry here. First off, a belated Happy New Year to everybody! As we make our way into the 2010 racing season, I want to share my official story for the year ahead:
Right after the 2009 California Hot Rod Reunion, the team owner of McCain’s Bomb Squad parked the race car, citing the uncertainty surrounding a pending trademark infringement lawsuit. Ironically, although the legal brouhaha still hasn’t been settled, they have already hired another driver. (Honestly… you do the math!) As part of that equation, factor in that I’m happy for that team’s new bomber pilot, 2008 AA/Fuel Dragster champ Troy Green, and hope he does well over there.
In November, my old team owner Gary Messenger let ace-tuner Donnie Couch put the Future Flash Funny Car back together so we could make exhibition passes at the NHRA World Finals in Pomona. In the pits there, Gary let tire-kickers know the car is for sale, but until money changes hands, Messenger said Donnie and I can run the car in 2010 out of Couch’s “West Coast Funny Car Factory,” as long as we are the ones paying for its day-to-day operation. So, we’re working on gathering sponsors. (And a motor!)
Even though it is not a done deal, right now there’s a great buzz around the concept of running the Future Flash with Donnie tuning. But you know how those deals go sometimes… If it doesn’t come together, I’d definitely consider driving for someone else, but I have to admit — I hope you all don’t take this the wrong way, because this is REALLY going to sound stuck up — I’m not going to drive an uncompetitive car, just to drive. I’d rather sit it out. Beyond that, I’m pretty sure I’m over racing in Nostalgia Top Fuel also. That class is just struggling to survive. Yeah, they’re a kick in the pants to drive, but I’d like to stick with (wo)man-handling Nitro Funny Cars in NHRA’s Heritage Series.
To that end, beyond the possibility of resurrecting the old Future Flash — which has been renamed the Nitro Kitty Charger — a couple of pretty cool and competitive teams have put out feelers about my driving for them this year, all of which makes the 2010 season seem pretty exciting.
What else? Jesse James’ GARAGE Magazine is doing a full-length feature on moi, entitled “Here’s Looking at You, Nitro Kitty: Mendy Fry is One Cool Cat.” Look for it next month! And this month I’m in National Dragster’s Suzy’s Scrapbook column….
So that’s it. That’s my story. Hopefully I’ll be running something other than my mouth at the March Meet…. -MF-
To watch the live podcast, point your browser to http://www.speedsceneracing.com at 6 pm PST. Moreover, call in 1-800-809-0802, get on the air and join in the bench racing! Among tonight’s topics up for discussion: Mendy’s 2009 season in review (including what it is like to race Nitro Funny Cars in the NHRA Heritage Series with luminaries like Roland Leong and Donnie Couch), as well as a glimpse into her racing plans for 2010, including discussions with NHRA and IHRA Top Fuel teams.