It was never meant to be a retirement.
Mitch Myers, who shocked the world with quarter-mile elapsed times of 5.109 and 5.118 during the 2004 NHRA Finals that are often credited with being the catalyst to officials altering the rules for injected nitro-burning combinations in Top Alcohol Dragster forever, accepted his 2004 Top Alcohol Dragster Championship trophy in Palm Springs the next day and seemingly rode off into the sunset at the pinnacle of his career.
Myers left the sport triumphant in performance and vocal in frustration. However, he didn’t swear off drag racing forever. After 15 years away, Myers was presented with the right opportunity and will return behind the wheel of an A/Fuel Dragster owned by Larry Miersch that will be tuned by Miersch and Jim Rizzoli.
“It’s been 15 years since I won the championship and walked away,” said Myers. “I never said ‘never,’ but I haven’t set foot on a racetrack since I walked off the track in 2004. It’s going to be surreal.
“A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. The safety is better. I flew down to get fitted in the car, and it was so odd. Believe it or not, I fit like a glove. It was like 15 years evaporated. I don’t have any reservations about my age. I’m in better physical shape. Heck, I was still in third grade when John Force graduated high school.”
The dragster will sport the livery of a host of sponsors throughout a schedule of 8-10 national events including and connected to EPHA Inc. – Myers’ company which manufactures products that include hose protectors, spacers and looms. Forrest and Morgan Lucas offered their support with associate sponsorship from Lucas Oil and Protect the Harvest. Though the No. 1 within Myers’ competition number of 610 will be displayed prominently in his first effort since winning the title, his aspirations lie in playing the spoiler role rather than chasing points.
“I have no intention of running for a championship,” said Myers. “Past champions are entitled entry to any national event, and one of the things I told Larry is I want to make it fun by going to the races that we want to race at. There won’t be a lack of funding or ability, so we’ll see if we can be a thorn in the side of a couple people.”
For Miersch, pairing with Myers offers the opportunity to reunite with Rizzoli and compete for wins with the crew that had reached national event finals together in recent years at the Auto Club NHRA Finals and Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Myers maintains a lifelong friendship with 2004 championship crew chief Steve Boggs, who may advise as time permits around his main focus of defending the Top Alcohol Funny Car championship with driver Sean Bellemeur and car owner Tony Bartone.
“After Larry and I talked, the first people I talked to were my 84-year-old father and my mother to get their blessing, because my dad had been part of every race I’d been to in my career,” said Myers. “The second person I called was Steve to get his opinion. He obviously isn’t available because he’s racing for a championship with Bartone and Bellemeur, but I’ll see if I can get advice from him here and there.
“We were pitted next to Larry at Pomona in 2004 when we were No. 1 qualifier and he didn’t qualify. I saw a spark in the young kid – Steve and I both liked him. We exchanged messages, and one thing led to another. Larry presented me the right opportunity at the right time with the right people. I’ve been friends with Rizzoli since he was crewing at Morgan Lucas Racing. We have good chemistry and a competitive car. I wouldn’t count us out.”
“The brain trust is the best I ever had to deal with,” said Miersch, who is a multiple time BMX champion residing in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It is going to be a ‘We’re baaaack’ kind of tour. We’ll race at some of tracks where Mitch has won before. He has never been to Indy. I have some unfinished business there, so we are both excited about going there.”
Myers and the Miersch Racing A/Fuel dragster will debut at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 5-7.