By now you have probably heard the story of Jacob Elrod and his incredible 2012 racing season.
The three wins in three separate classes all in one day at the Grand Bend Motorplex. The seven Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am victories in nine finals in four different classes. The two Summit Pro-Am divisional championships. Yeah, it is safe to say that it has been a whirlwind year for the Harrod, Ohio native.
But what you may not know is that it hasn’t been all roses for Elrod this season. In fact, despite all of his successes, Elrod has also had his struggles and at one point he was on the verge of calling this year a complete failure. It even had him questioning his ability to drive.
“One race we were celebrating our first win of the season and we were like yeah, this is going to be a good year,” Elrod said. “The next I flip the car and then I was like yeah, I suck. I can’t even drive a car straight. It was definitely frustrating.”
Yeah, it was that kind of year for Elrod. And it all began in late June.
In only the second race of the Division 3 North Stars season on the Summit Pro-Am Tour, Elrod picked up his first win of the season in Top Dragster at Mountain Park Dragway giving the team a big boost of confidence going forward.
One week later, however, things quickly took a turn in the wrong direction.
Riding the high of his first win of the year, Elrod entered his car in the NHRA event close to his home in Norwalk, Ohio and suddenly found himself in a place he didn’t want to be – upside down.
“Here we are coming off of the win in Kentucky and I was feeling good about that and then I go and flip the car upside down in Norwalk,” Elrod said. “It didn’t really hurt it that bad, it just flipped on its top, but that really threw in some humility. We fixed what it was with the trans brake, but it really knocked us back down to earth.”
And then things took another turn, this time things flipping (figuratively and literally) back on track.
Just two weeks later Elrod was back behind the wheel at the MOPAR Nitro Jam Nationals at the Grand Bend Motorplex in Ontario and, as has been well documented, went on to win three classes in one race for the first time in IHRA history. Elrod won in Quick Rod, Hot Rod and Top ET, going an amazing 17-0 all in a single weekend. It was a defining moment for Elrod and it was a moment that completely turned around his year and, in reality, his entire career.
“You go to races expecting to win, or at least do well. Why else would we race,” Elrod said. “But while you expect to have a good weekend every time you load the car in the trailer, you certainly don’t expect to win in three different classes. That was such a magical weekend for all of us and something that I will never forget.”
From there Elrod’s season exploded with four more wins and two divisional championships in Top Dragster and Super Rod, qualifying both of those cars in the Tournament of Champions over the next two months while absolutely taking the drag racing world by storm.
“This year we have been stupid lucky. This is the one year where I was good when I needed to be and lucky when I needed to be so really everything just fell into place,” Elrod said. “I have had so many people come up and congratulate me, and not just regular people, but really, really good racers that I respect and look up to. To have them come up and say ‘man you are doing a good job’ is really humbling.
“I am used to looking up to these people ever since I was a little kid at some of these races and to have them say that they are watching you and rooting for you, that makes you feel really good.”
Now Elrod will try to do it again this weekend as he goes up against the best of the best in Top Dragster and Super Rod and tries to join his dad, a two-time IHRA champion, with his first career IHRA championship at Memphis International Raceway this weekend.
“Ever since the TOC started in 2009 the people that show up for this thing, they are not slouches,” Elrod said. “There are racers here this weekend from all over the country, as far away as Alaska. When you have people coming from Alaska and all of these states, they are not coming up here to just have a good time. They are here because they are good and they are here gunning for the win.
“We have got our work cut out for us. It would certainly cap the year and it would be amazing if we could win again this weekend, but after the year that we have had if I don’t win this thing you are not going to see me walking around with a sour face. How could I after a year like this.”
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