Erica Enders-Stevens celebrated her 2nd straight Pro Stockcar championship title at the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, entering the race with a fairly large lead over her closest challenger, 4-time champion Greg Anderson, in the standings. She previously beat Anderson in the finals at Route 66 Parkway in Joliet, IL on July 2, 2012. The win made her the 1st female driver to win in NHRA Pro Stock. Her winning time at that event was 6.627 seconds for the 1,320 foot run. To date, she currently holds both sides of the NHRA National Record for Pro Stock, 6.464 seconds and 215.55 mph set at Englishtown, NJ in 2014.
“It’s just an incredible day,” exclaimed Enders. “I’m kind of speechless. Vegas has always been really good to me, and it’s nice to keep our streak going with now 22 consecutive round wins. It’s mind-boggling. We came into the weekend and everyone was talking about the championship such as what we have to do, crunching points and all that. My crew chiefs and I decided we weren’t going to talk about that and just take things one round at a time. I’m excited to be part of a such a great group like Elite Motorsports”.
Enders-Stevens, 32, has been racing since she was 8, and ended up winning the Division 4 Jr. Dragster championship in 1993 the 8 to 9 year old class, before being crowned Junior Dragster Driver of the Year 2-years later. In fact, she had 37 career wins during her 8-years competing in the division, and her original Enders Racing Junior Dragster car is on display at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
At 16, she moved up to compere in her first national event final (Houston) to become the youngest NHRA national event finalist, and was named the 2000 NHRA Sportsman Rookie of the Year. Then In 2004, Erica became the 35th woman in NHRA history to earn a national event victory, in Super Gas class at Houston. The following year Enders-Stevens became the first woman to compete in the NHRA’s Pro Stock Category since 1993; the first woman in NHRA history to qualify in the top-half of a Pro Stock field; and the first woman to reach a final round in Pro Stock (at Chicago), and ended up with more round wins in 2005 than all other female drivers in NHRA Pro Stock history combined. She was also a finalist for the “Road to the Future” award for the season’s top rookie. But that was only the beginning of an incredibly successful career and a long line of other firsts that have included being the first woman to qualify No. 1 in Pro Stock at Heartland Park, Topeka, KS in 2006, followed by another runner-up finish at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fl.
After returning to Cagnazzi Racing in 2011, Erica then broke the national speed record in Pro Stock at 213.57 mph at the Gainesville round, and defeated 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch in Round One of that meet.
This year, Erica Enders-Stevens smashed 2 records for female NHRA drivers. At Charlotte’s zMax Dragway in September, she scored her 19th career win, surpassing a record previously held by Shirley Muldowney in Top Fuel for the most NHRA national event wins by a female driver. She then broke Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angelle Sampey’s single-season record of seven wins in 2001, this October when claiming her 8th victory of the year, at the Texas Motorplex.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s events in Vegas also saw Anton Brown take the title for the Top Fuel championship, with Antron Brown taking the title, while Robert Hight the Funny Car final over Tommy Johnson Jr. in the Funny Car final. However, the title for that class is yet to be decided. The series ran its last elimination round of the season on Nov. 15 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, CA.