VETERAN PSM RIDER STOFFER RETURNING TO CLASS IN 2021
After a year hiatus, veteran Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Karen Stoffer is returning to compete in the NHRA class in 2021.
Stoffer returns to Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Racing to be a teammate with Savoie, the 2016 NHRA world champion. Both will be riding Suzukis.
“In 2020 with the COVID-19, I had to re-evaluate everything and relied very heavily on a pretty solid schedule for me to be able to balance my work, career, racing and my family appropriately,” Stoffer said. “With the erratic schedule in 2020 and the unknown of it we opted to defer everything to 2021. We got together with the WAR team and our sponsors and said let us just go ahead and let everything stabilize and we will defer everything to 2021 and that’s what we are doing.
“We are back with the WAR team. It will be fun. I have a good time racing with Jerry and (crew chief) Tim (Kulungian) and the whole team. We are going to race the full season. We have our sponsors with us, Big St. Charles, Ray Skillman Auto Group and Suzuki Extended Protection.
The 2021 NHRA’s Camping World Drag Racing Series begins at the 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway March 12-14.
Stoffer has nine career PSM national event wins, including two in Gainesville – 2007 and 2015.
“If you don’t have it you kind of miss it,” said Stoffer about sitting out in 2020. “I love racing and I have been doing it for so long. When you have distance, things become a little bit fonder. The crazy thing is so many things change so rapidly now in motorsports with engine changes, bodies changing, there are so many things that change every year now it is much more volatile with change than it has been in the past so you can really fall behind quickly. The good thing is Jerry’s been out there the whole time and staying up with all the changes, so I’m fortunate that way. I’m really excited about it. It was good for me to stay home and get everything established and stable, but I’m ready to race.”
Stoffer is unsure whether she will be campaigning a Four-Valve Suzuki.
“It’s going to be up to Tim and Jerry,” she said. “I know they have some in their possession and I know that they have their other motors as well that they have been working on, so I’m not sure what I’m actually going to be riding.”
The start of the week before the Gatornationals, NHRA is allowing for Pro testing which Stoffer said the WAR team plans to participate in.
“I’m so excited to get back out there because I didn’t ride for a season,” Stoffer said. “I just want to go out there and have fun and enjoy it and just get on a bike again. It’s more fun than nerve-wracking.”
In her first season with Savoie’s White Alligator Racing in 2019, Stoffer finished a career-best fourth in the points standings on a Suzuki.
With two races left in 2019, Stoffer was second in the points standings. Stoffer lost in the first round in Las Vegas and the semis at the season-ending race in Pomona, Calif., to drop two spots in the points.
Stoffer had one win in St. Louis in her last year, beating eventual world champion Andrew Hines, and was a runner-up in Chicago and Charlotte, N.C., in the fall.
Despite her success in 2019, she isn’t making any bold predictions for 2021.
“I have high expectations, but I will put the asterisk on that because there are so many things that have changed with the motor programs with the Suzukis this year,” Stoffer said. “We have been challenged with it not being a level playing field for so long and I fear that we might fall into that same situation. I have high expectations for me personally for riding, but beyond that it is really up to how our team plays with all the new transitions and changes that have occurred.
“My goal for me is to really ride to perfection. I really want to ride extremely well for Tim and the WAR team. They have been very supportive and very good, and I just want to shine for them and the sponsors. I would like to pick up where we left off in 2019 and move forward.”