Less than two months after announcing she was trading in two wheels for four, three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Angelle Sampey is ready to make her competition debut in the Top Alcohol Dragster category at this weekend’s Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
“I feel very confident going into this weekend,” said Sampey, who recently completed a test session in the Michalek Brothers Racing’s A/Fuel Dragster at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park last Wednesday, Oct. 4. “What a night and day difference between where I’m at now and those first few licensing runs at Brainerd (Minn.) back in August. I will admit, when I first got into the car last Wednesday, I was nervous again because I hadn’t driven in three weeks, so I just had to get that first run down and shake the nerves off but I was good after that.”
In late August, AB Motorsports team owner and driver Antron Brown announced that Pro Stock Motorcycle’s winningest female rider would be the first athlete to join his new AB Motorsports Accelerate Program, an all-encompassing driver development program, which aims to provide an array of resources for racers looking to make the next step in their careers.
Brown and Sampey jointly shared that their long-term goal is for Sampey to eventually move up to the Top Fuel category as an AB Motorsports teammate to Brown. To prepare her for the leap from a 27-year-long career on two wheels to 11,000-horsepower 330-mile-per-hour racing, Sampey will spend the last three races of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season, plus a Lucas Oil Series divisional event in Las Vegas, Nov. 3 – 5, competing in the Top Alcohol Dragster class with the intention of running a full season campaign in the category in 2024.
Under the guidance and watchful eye of Brown, a three-time Top Fuel world champion who made the move from Pro Stock Motorcycle to Top Fuel in 2008, Sampey will compete in the Michalek Brothers Racing’s A/Fuel Dragster at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals. She will close out the year driving the Samsel Racing A/Fuel car at the NHRA Nevada Nationals and Lucas Oil Series race in Las Vegas and the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. At all four events, Sampey will campaign the Mission Foods A/Fuel Dragster with support from GETTRX, Hangsterfer’s Metal Working Lubricants, FVP and Factory Motor Parts, and Lucas Oil. Since announcing her move to the Top Alcohol Dragster category, Sampey has been busy preparing for her Dallas A/Fuel Dragster debut.
“In addition to testing, I’ve been doing a lot of mental runs,” said the Mission Foods ambassador, who has 46 Pro Stock Motorcycle wins to her credit. “I go through the starting line procedure in my head a lot. Every night when I’m lying down to go to bed, I’ll do several runs in my head. Corey and Kyle (Michalek) made comments about that at testing last week. They both said it was very obvious that I came prepared, and they were just really happy with the way I drove the car. I was really happy with how everything went. The Michalek brothers run such a professional operation; they’re just amazing and I’m really looking forward to a great weekend with them in Dallas.
“I feel ready to go but I will say, the only thing that has me slightly nervous about this weekend is just the fact that I haven’t made a run with a car in the other lane yet. Once I can check that off the list this week, I’ll feel really good about it. I just want to make sure I’m paying attention to the other driver’s staging lights, getting down the track, and then just the whole process of getting off the track safely with another car in the opposite lane. There’s a lot to think about to make sure I’m safe, and my opponent is safe. I know I’m prepared; I just have some nerves with it being my first time having to do that with another car on the track.”
While Brown understands the reasoning behind Sampey’s trepidation, he feels that his protégé is more than ready to take the next step from testing in an A/Fuel Dragster to competing in an event, even likening her to a ‘seasoned pro.’
“Now, you can tell she’s at home in the seat of a dragster and she’s ready for competition,” said Brown, who has been working closely with Sampey as her driving instructor and mentor in preparation for her TAD debut. “The way she’s staging the car, she’s flawless. Even on the first two test runs last week, it blew the tires off, but I could tell she had been practicing her starting line routine a lot. That’s a big part of it, and now when she’s staging, she looks like a seasoned pro who has been going through the procedures for years. She made really good runs last week, and you can tell that she is getting more and more comfortable with the speed. She even made a run that would have qualified her third for this year’s U.S. Nationals field. I’ve just been really impressed overall, and I know she’s going to do a great job.”
Sampey will stage the Mission Foods A/Fuel Dragster for the first time in competition on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 4:30 p.m. CT as she begins qualifying for the 19-car Top Alcohol Dragster Texas NHRA Fall Nationals field. Later that evening, she will join several NHRA stars for the Stampede of Speed Pre-Stage Fanfest driver autograph session at Railyard Park in Waxahachie starting at 7:00 p.m. The Fanfest event is free and open to the public.