- Tuesday 04 June, 2013
From bracket Camaro to Top Alcohol Funny Car.
NORWALK, Ohio – A Top Alcohol Funny Car team proves dreams defy boundaries and odds.
“We're the oldest rookies in the category,” said Mike Little, 55, owner of a Top Alcohol Funny Car sponsored by Champion Auto Sales, LaGrange, Kent., and his own company, Video Solutions, Louisville, Kent.
The team lines up in the National Hot Rod Association Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, focusing on District 3 races for 2013, Mike Little said.
“We're a brand new team with this 2002 Chevy Camaro,” said driver Rob Pheister, 47, Louisville, Kent. “I was 18 the first time I went down the dragstrip. This is our first year in Top Alcohol Funny Car. We did Nostalgia Funny Cars before this.
“We've done some NPCA, National Pro Comp Association,” Rob Pheister said. “We also ran with the Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit with match racing.”
The fledgling Top Alcohol Funny Car team introduced the Champion Chevrolet Camaro to the track in September of 2012.
“Cavalcade is our second race,” Rob Pheister said. “We went to Gainesville to license, raced the last Indy race, then we're trying to do this one.”
Similar to many sportsman racers with off-track, regular jobs, Rob Pheister, builds seats for Ford trucks at Johnson Controls.
“It's not as exciting as it sounds,” Rob Pheister said, then grinned.
Mike Little's journey to owning a Top Alcohol Funny Car began with bracket racing a 1968 Camaro at a local track.
“I raced for 21 years,” said Mike Little, Goshen, Kent. “My dad, Jim Little, did some round track racing. My dad always went to the races with me. My dad and sons have always helped me out.”
Now adults, his sons, Chris Little, Chicago, and Matt Little, Louisville, Kent., usually meet at the track to crew.
As a youngster, Chris Little raced Junior Dragsters, even as far away from home as Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk.
“We were at a Junior Dragster race here about 12 years ago,” Mike Little said. “About 400 Junior Dragsters were here, and it was cold.”
Eventually MUTINY happened: A 1969 Mach I Mustang Funny Car with a Ford body and a blown Chevy engine.
“We bought an old Funny Car because we thought it was cool, and didn't have a plan beyond that,” Mike Little said. “Then the Nostalgia stuff took off, and it's been going since then. The Great Lakes Nostalgia Funny Car Circuit, they're a good group.”
Each step up in the racing arena required events further away from home.
“My wife, Lisa, is very supportive,” Mike Little said. “But she doesn't usually come with us. She's very patient and tolerant.”
This season the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, part of the Mello Yello and Lucas Oil drag racing series, falls on a weekend full of family commitments July 4-7, 2013, so Mike and Rob probably won't make the lineup that weekend at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
“We're trying to run Division 3 regionals,” Mike Little said. “We're under funded. We have to pick and choose. We will try some National events when it's time to do that.”
Professional concerns figure in the mix. Mike Little owns Video Solutions, which builds audio video systems and enables video conferencing for corporations. Some clients are known internationally.
“We maintain the Mohammed Ali Museum in Louisville,” Mike Little said.
But in the pits they're wrenching for a sweet combination and nudging into a tune, the stuff of dragstrip dreams.
To connect on Facebook.com with driver Rob Pfeister, click on: Rookie and loving it! To connect with Champion Chevrolet Top Alcohol Funny Car owner Mike Little, click on: Savor the dream!
“Our aspirations are no higher than this,” Mike Little said. “This is plenty. We really just want to be involved. We can be competitive, but we don't have the funding to run with the big dogs.”