For Harrod, Ohio's Jacob Elrod, being a major player on a championship drag racing team has been a part of his life since a very early age, after all he's been taught well by his father, David Elrod, who has numerous IHRA World Championships to his name in a handful of classes. So it really comes as no surprise that Jacob has now joined his father in making some drag racing history of his own, and he did so in grand style winning three separate classes during a single event. Elrod drove two of the Team Elrod Racing entries to IHRA victories in Quick Rod [8.90 Index], Hot Rod [10.90 Index], as well as becoming the Box E.T. class winner and after the runoff race, even the overall E.T. victor during the Nitro Jam event at Grand Bend Motorplex in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada.
Just a week after a win in Kentucky, Elrod emerges unscathed after a layover during Top Dragster qualifying at the Norwalk National. Photo By: BME Photography.
All in a weekend's work for Jacob Elrod surrounded by his Hot Rod, Quick Rod and Over All E.T. Event Champion IHRA Ironman collection.
Elrod is no stranger to competing in more than one class at a time, and with the team's stable of race cars, you just never know what classes he may show up in from event to event and the month of July proved to be one full of mountains and valleys for Elrod as he worked his way through the various team car and classes. He started off July by competing at an IHRA double divisional event in Clay City, Kentucky where he found himself with a Top Dragster win and joined one of his Team Elrod Racing teammates, Pat Forster, in the winner's circle, after Forster grabbed both a Quick Rod win and a Hot Rod runner-up all on the same day.
Unfortunately for Elrod, the high of winning wouldn't last long as he and his teammates next ventured to the NHRA National Event in Norwalk, Ohio just a few days later only to find himself upside down during a Top Dragster qualifying session due to a minor misfortune, but it looked worse than it was and the team had the car ready and back on the track for round one.
"Yeah, I get my first win of the season in Top Dragster and I go into Norwalk on 'cloud-nine', after driving really well and then I flip the car, barely qualify and then with just some stupid things that happened, our team was out first round in all three cars that we had entered," he confessed.
Where Elrod didn't have the successes he may have been gunning for at Norwalk, he shook them off and was about to more than make up for them when the team rolled into the Ontario, Canada facility two weeks later. Jacob was set to drive the team's 2003 Racetech in Quick Rod and the 1978 Chevy Monza with its 598 BBC in Hot Rod, but that wouldn't be all he would be running.
1978 Monza sporting it's K&N Pro Stock Composite Hood Scoop, One of Two Car That Jacob Elrod did "triple" duty in at Grand Bend.
"We didn't enter the E.T. portion of the event until late in the day on Saturday," Elrod explained. "We made one time run, where everyone else had two or three, and when we went up for first round I was going to have to run a dragster that was much slower than us. I asked my dad if they were running cross-talk. He watched a couple of pair and you could easily tell that they were. So I set my box up and was ready to go."
"I get up there, I'm looking at both sides and my tree doesn't come on and I look over and her side is on and I thought 'oh, no', he exclaimed. "I let go of the button and I'm hitting the bump down button as fast as I can and I'm like a second on the tree. Well, the girl did her job and I thought about asking them for a rerun, but it was her birthday and they were all excited that she won, so I knew they had buybacks for first round E.T., so that's what we did."
By the time festivities were in the books for Saturday, Elrod had already advanced to second round of both Quick Rod and Hot Rod, plus he would be heading into the Box E.T. buyback round. Now, he's looking ahead to how many rounds he needed to go to get the win in each class, as well as putting together a game plan with the team.
"I knew there were only three more rounds in Quick Rod and Hot Rod I knew there were four more rounds," he reflected. "In Hot Rod, the guy I ran second round broke, so I had an easy round there and that gave me the bye at seven cars for round three. That was about the time Sunday morning that things got really hairy."
Elrod may have been running three classes, but he was doing so by only utilizing two cars, with the dragster pulling double duty of both the 8.90 throttle stop index class with its .400 Pro Tree as well as the Box E.T. class, which is a wide open .500 Full Sportsman Tree. Two very different ways to race and somewhat different starting line procedures to manipulate in the same car.
Getting closer to a chance to make drag racing history, Jacob ever-so-carefully stages his 2003 Racetech during the final round of Box E.T.
"The officials told me they weren't going to wait on me or hold up the show," he pointed out. "I don't think they ever had to wait on me and actually a couple of times when I was the first car to the lanes when the class was called. Without my team, wow, I would literally jump out of one car, not even take my suit off and jump into the other one, time slip in hand. So when I would get up into the lanes as we were determining lane choice, I was studying my time slip to try to use that to decide what I was going to do, dial in a car that was completely different than what I just ran. No time to look at the weather station, nothing."
Where he was quite pleased with his driving skills in the dragster, whether it being very consistent on the tree in E.T. and some mad driving skills at the top end in Quick Rod, Elrod is the first to point out his blessings in Hot Rod. "I was a tank," he laughed. "Hot Rod was really all a blessing from Grandma Jetta, I swear. She had to be sitting down with angel wings on the Hot Rod car, because I was trash on the starting line all day. But, I had the faster car [more MPH] and I was driving the finish line pretty well."
Another part of Elrod and his extremely tightknit families' tremendous month of July, was losing a very important family member, Jetta Jones Elrod Leonard just a few days before leaving for the Grand Bend event. "I knew she was right there with me for every round," he added.
As Elrod blasted his way through the rounds in all three classes, it really started to sink in that winning all three categories during a single event and making drag racing history was well within his grasp. Even with all the pressure, Elrod kept his thinking on the light side. "The announcers started messing with me," he chuckled. "The speakers are so close and ever by the track where you can hear sometimes in the car, that after I got the first win in Quick Rod, he says something like ok, he's already got one win, let's keep a tally and see if he can get another one. The stands are just packed, the Canadian fans are something else and cheering, but it's also like they are waiting for the show to drop."
Elrod's final round matchup found him taking on Rick Stroud, where Elrod more than doubled his competitor up on the tree and pushed Stroud farther under the index for a double breakout victory, the first of the day with more to come.
"Once I got the Quick Rod win, I just felt like I had a monkey off my back and then later with the Hot Rod win, I just felt so relaxed," he said. "But right after the Quick Rod final, I knew at that point I still had three or four rounds left in the E.T. class, but it was just all fun after that and I really didn't feel any pressure."
He earned his second IHRA event championship Ironman of the day by denying Kevin Orr the winlight in a very similar run to his final in Quick Rod. Elrod was holding a hundredth as they blew by the tree and carried it to the 1320 ft. mark, again forcing his competitor take the stripe, for another double breakout win.
"I don't know how else to say it, but at this point we are thinking let's see how much fun we can have with this, this could get really offensive," he joked about the possibility of winning three categories. "We could look really greedy, but when else are you going to have the opportunity to accomplish something like this."
Just minutes after his second win of the day, Elrod moved his efforts back to finishing off the Box E.T. class where he trailered Dan Morgan by putting together a much tighter total round package and now, it was time to seal the deal.
Although Elrod's team members have all has their fair share of successes at the facility over the years, he had only just as recent as last year won his first race at the venue when he secured the IHRA Nitro Jam Box E.T. win as well as the overall E.T. title.
And now he was looking to do it again in 2012.
To take it all, Elrod still had one more run to go for the overall E.T. winner title where he would face Steve Doornsbosch for a shot at not only the $5,000 to the champion, but a chance to make drag racing history. Where most would think that Elrod had the most to lose, it wasn't he but his competitor that seemed to fold under the pressure, and at his home track, Doornsbosch missed the green by .020 and with the gesture he thereby handed Elrod the final piece to the puzzle of what has to be the most phenomenal race weekend of his life.
"Just unbelievable," he reflected of the moment. "I even got to drive the car back up the track and was stopped by and getting congrats and high fives from the officials and then I got the ice cold cooler treatment, too. [laughes] You know my dad was the very first in IHRA history to win two classes at the same event, so to be able to make some of my own history and win an unprecedented three in a single event is something that I am extremely proud of."
"It was just a fantastic weekend for the team," he pointed out. "Pat [Forster] and his son Will, Deon Walker, who is a student in High Performance at UNOH, plus mom and dad. Mom takes care of me and hands me water and an iced down wash cloth and dad is pouring over the cars to make sure they are staying mechanically in shape and just letting me just drive."
"The products we use have a lot to do with our success," he added. "Of course there were some rounds in the Hot Rod car, but when you think about the dragster being hot lapped like it was between two different classes and twelve runs in a short amount of time, we can't have something breaking, if we can help it. All our cars, not just the Monza and the Racetech dragster but also the Vette Roadster and the American dragster all use K&N filters. We've used other products and with K&N filters we know what we get every time we take one out of the box. Others we used many years ago would collapse, you would have a hard time getting them off and you just don't have any of that with K&N's wrench-off oil filters. We use the same [HP-3002] on each car."
"The K&N composite scoops that we added to the cars early last year are just fantastic," he continued. "They all look super with the carbon fiber, they're light and strong plus with the special air filter that K&N has designed for each one, they are made to flow air for larger motors like we run and we don't have to worry about dust or anything else getting into our motors when we have rounds to win."
And in Jacob's case, with three shiny new Ironman trophies for his mantel, more like races. Thanks to his superb showing at the IHRA Nitro Jam in Grand Bend, he has also earned two spots in the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions in Quick Rod and Hot Rod where he will have a shot to run for World Championships in the classes later this fall at the IHRA season finale in Memphis, Tennessee.
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