Each year, as part of the K&N Horsepower Challenge for the NHRA Pro Stock competitors, K&N Engineering also gives fans a chance to participate in all the action, both by having a say and voting for the eighth and final driver who will get to participate in the race-within-a-race, as well as a shot to win big for themselves.
NHRA Pro Stock drag driver Vincent Noble brought home a Horsepower Challenge victory and won brand new Toyota Tundra for Peggy Coleman
For 2012, eight sweepstakes finalists were selected from the thousands of entries that poured in from all over the country. Each finalist was provided travel expense and event credentials to the NHRA national event at Summit Motorsports Park and once there they were paired with one of the NHRA Pro Stock K&N Horsepower Challenge contestants. Should their driver win the Challenge, they would become the proud new owner of a K&N Horsepower Challenge Edition Toyota Tundra.
When the drivers and sweepstakes finalists were paired prior to the commencement of the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge, Joplin, Missouri resident Peggy Coleman may have been the last to be partnered with a driver but that selection was about to pave the way into a dream weekend for the survivor of last year's devastating tornado.
"We had a lot of major damage to our home and to both of our vehicles," she explained of the severe weather's aftermath. "I had full coverage on mine, but we only had liability on Gary's truck. FEMA didn't do anything to help with his truck, so he's been driving it with all kinds of damage to it and everything we have fixed on it has been out of our own pockets."
"Years ago, I used to enter a lot of different sweepstakes and I never won diddly," she laughed. "After the storm, I didn't have internet for over a year. So when I did, I thought I would get back online and start entering some of these sweepstakes again. The K&N Sweepstakes was one of the very first that I entered."
Persistence started to pay off in a big way for Coleman when she was selected as a finalist, although she was quite doubtful for the too-good-to-be-true news and was quite reluctant to believe what she was hearing.
"The day the lady called me to tell me I had been chosen as one of the eight K&N finalists, I was in complete disbelief," she reflected on first learning of her soon to be very good fortune. "This lady was doing everything she could to convince me that it was legit. I just still did not believe it and thought it may be a scam, so much so, that when we got off the phone I did a reverse lookup of the number she called me from and then I finally realized that it was apparently real."
When the time came for Peggy and her fiancé to head to Norwalk, Ohio, she was extra excited to attend the NHRA national event, not only because it would be the very first professional drag racing event she had ever witnessed, but they were also looking forward to a vacation away from all they had been dealing with since the storms blasted through their home and lives.
"Just watching it and witnessing it, I was in total awe of all the power those machines have, period," she admitted of her experience. "When we were down close to the track and were able to take in all what the drivers and teams do, I just couldn't believe how these folks do this. I am most definitely a new drag racing fan, that's for sure."
"For him being that young and so humble and so sweet, I was just amazed," she pointed out of her first thoughts meeting Vincent Nobile. "He wasn't all macho or anything, such a nice young man and a great driver."
As Nobile went through the rounds, knocking down Allen Johnson and Mike Edwards on his way to meet up with Jason Line in the final, Coleman couldn't believe all the excitement that was building for the young driver from Dix Hills, New York that she was cheering on. So much so, that she lost sight of what was really at stake for her and her fiancé.
Peggy Coleman could not have been happier to be selected as a contestant in the K&N Horsepower Challenge
"It was all so much fun and everyone from K&N and Vincent's team were all so hospitable throughout the entire weekend," she continued. "Every round Vincent would win, I'd keep telling him ‘You're going to do it.' I was just so excited to be a part of everything that was going on, to be able to witness all of it from the starting line and to cheer him on and look for that big red "W" to come on in his lane. I actually got to the point that I forgot all about a chance to win the truck."
When it came time for the final matchup, Coleman and her fellow finalist were whisked to the top end of the track, where they stood in the back of a Toyota pickup to wait for the outcome of the championship round between Line and Nobile.
It was all down to the $50,000 on the line for the winning driver and a Special edition 2012 Toyota Tundra Double Cab, created by Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and K&N Engineering, for the winning finalist.
"We didn't get to actually see the final and the next thing you know, the race is on and we hear the cars coming down the track," she said. "The way we knew who won was by the handheld radio they had down there with us. They had told us before the round that whoever won was to stay in the back of the truck and the other was to hop down."
"Well, I was listening to all that was going on and who won and the other guy jumped off the truck. It was all happening so fast and I thought to myself, why is he jumping off the truck and what's going on," she laughed. "And they had to tell me a couple of times that Vincent won and I won and I just could not believe it."
When the word hit the professional pits of all that Coleman and her fiancé had been through over the last year, several teams spoke up and offered to pay any taxes that would need to be taken care of on Coleman's winnings. Once the Toyota Motor Company heard of the generous offers being made, they took it upon themselves to step up their involvement and made sure that Coleman would have no out-of-pocket expenses for her new custom truck.
"That just brought tears to my eyes," she said of hearing the news. "Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better. That just blew me away."
Coleman pointed out how grateful she was to K&N and to Nobile and his family for the entire experience. "When it came down to it, my mind was just not on the chance of winning that truck. To me it was going to be a great vacation, a chance to get away with all that is going on down here and it was even more than I could have expected. What K&N does by giving people this opportunity is amazing. We got to see and be a part of some great racing, we met some wonderful people from both K&N and Vincent and his team, which we won't soon forget. I can't begin to thank everyone involved in making this all happen for us."
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