January 24, 2017, High Speed Motorsports HQ, Orange County, CA—After recently setting the quickest and fastest times in an Arias-powered Nitro Funny Car, distaff driver Mendy “Nitro Kitty” Fry has signed on as the “shoe” for the “High Speed Motorsports” AA/Fuel Dragster and returned to the class (Nostalgia Top Fuel) — and the team — that gave her first shot in the vintage nitro-powered drag racing wars over a decade ago.
“I am so excited, I can barely stand it,” Fry reported. “Returning to High Speed — the team that gave me my first shot in Top Fuel, in Frank ‘Root Beer’ Hedge’s ‘Mastercam’ fueler — is like coming home.”
“Mendy has good experience in several Top Fuel cars and Funny Cars with a solid history of keeping them in one piece,” explained High Speed team owner and co-tuner Tom Shelar about Fry’s return to his fold. “This is a way to generate some new energy within both the team and the class — and an easy way to take fifty pounds off the car.”
A lighter entry based on a less-than-typical driver’s body mass is definitely an attribute, but Mendy and the High Speed team plan on punching above her weight.
“Our goal is to win a championship,” Shelar declared. “And take down (3-peat NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Champions) (Steve) Boggs and (Tony) Bartone.”
Shelar and Fry are on the same page. “It’s time to end Bartone’s championship streak,” Fry exclaimed, throwing down her own gauntlet. “We plan on running consistently in the 5.50’s, which means we should win more races than we lose.”
Which is no mean feat. “There aren’t any real slouches in this scene,” Fry added.
Besides winning races, Fry is tasked with an equally tall order — fulfilling the mission started by High Speed’s former driver, 2015 California Hot Rod Reunion Top Fuel winner Bill Dunlap.
“I hope I can do Bill’s legacy justice,” Mendy said. “Those are really big fire boots to fill.”
With Fry at the helm, High Speed Motorsports begins competition at the 2017 March Meet and will compete in all five 2017 NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel events.–30—
“Good Vibrations Saturday Night Nitro,” Auto Club Famoso Raceway, June 28, 2015 — In her first event win in a AA/Funny Car, Mendy Fry laid down a career-best 5.72 at 252 mph in “Smokey’s Darkside” ‘78 Challenger to claim the June 2015 edition of the “Good Vibrations Saturday Night Nitro” race at Auto Club Famoso Raceway. This was the quickest and fastest Funny Car pass ever with an Arias Hemi-Chevy using nitromethane as a fuel.
“This win was a series of firsts,” an elated Fry explained. “The first Nitro Funny Car win for the Arias Hemi. The first win for our team. The quickest and fastest run for the team and its driver. And for me, finally, my first Nitro Funny Car win.”
Fry’s first was no mean feat. With over a dozen Nitro Funny Cars entered, Mendy had to outrun some of the finest fuel coupes on the West Coast, including James Day’s “Pedaler,” Rick Rogers’ “Fighting Irish,” Brad Thompson’s “Jailbreak” and more.
After posting a 5.97 in the first session, “Darkside” tuner Smokey Alleman added a radical amount of timing and instructed to Fry to crank up the nitro percentage. Aided by those corrections, in the second and deciding round, the Darkside improved its performance by over two-tenths of a second.
“This was such a critical win for the Smokey’s Darkside team!” Mendy said afterwards. “When Smokey approached me in November of 2013, suggesting we do this with an Arias Hemi Chevy, I was pretty skeptical. I was not getting any younger, and I was still searching for my first Funny Car win. I wanted to move forward toward that goal, not backward into what I thought could be a lengthy project to develop an engine program. With my fingers crossed, I said ‘ok.’”
Fry’s faith was finally rewarded, as Saturday’s winning 5.72 was nearly a tenth quicker than the event runner-up, Robert Overholser. While trying to chase down the Darkside’s number, Overholser turned an elapsed time of 5.81 at 253-mph in the Ronnie Swearingen-tuned “California Hustler.” Unfortunately for the Hustler and the rest of the Chrysler’s, they were no match for the Alleman’s Arias Chevy-Hemi.
With her victory secured, Mendy said: “I clearly underestimated Smokey’s tenacity and stubbornness.”
She wasn’t the only one proven wrong.
“Hey Roland, I knew this’d run,” Alleman said to Roland Leong, who was observing with Alleman as the times were posted on the scoreboard. “I’ve been saying this for how long?”
On a more somber note, on the morning after the race, racers received word about fellow Funny Car driver Roger Garten succumbing to injuries suffered in a crash Saturday night. Fry posted on social media: “There really are no appropriate words. I am stunned that Roger lost his life in that crash, and offer my deepest condolences to his family.” Then, in reference to the sport’s highs and lows, she concluded: “Drag racing sure is a sport of contradictions.”
In her new column in Drag Racing Online, Mendy Fry reveals how all roads lead to the Darkside. She writes: “For a couple of years now, I was getting sick of not getting picked. With all of those Funny Cars out there racing, I had nothing. I felt like Carrie had a better chance of getting asked back to the school prom than I had of racing a fuel car again.”
12/1/2013, Nitro Kitty HQ–After a couple of seasons driving and diving for NHRA Heritage Series Top Fuel Dragsters, “Nitro Kitty” Mendy Fry has returned to the fray in Nitro Funny Cars, reaching an agreement with Larry “Smokey” Alleman to shoe his Smokey’s Darkside ’78 Challenger in competition for 2014.
During a recent visit to Alleman’s shop in Atascadero, Fry brushed off her firesuit and and climbed into the Darkside’s cockpit, and marveled that nothing needed to be adjusted.
“It’s a perfect fit,” she said.
Citing details beyond just pedal positioning and ergonomics, Alleman agreed. Having raced together in 2008 in Heritage Series Funny Car competition, “Smokey” noted they both have a fierce zeal to win races and stated that: “Mendy is as determined as I am. Maybe more so.”
With initial support from Arias Pistons and Titan Engineering, Alleman, Fry and crew plan to test before the Heritage Series’ season opener, the 2014 March Meet at Autoclub Famoso Raceway. During these initial sessions, Alleman’s goal is to dial-in a 426-cubic inch Arias hemi, a “hemi-heads-on-a-Chevy-block” combination that is unique amongst the 30-plus entrants expected to slug it out at the March Meet’s Funny Car Eliminator.
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: