Multi-time NHRA national event winner and division champion Mike DePalma has found a new home at Texas-based Elite High Performance as the general manager of the 35,000-plus-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The Arizona native moved to Fort Worth last year after teaming up with Richard Freeman, Marty Robertson, and the rest of the “big wigs” at Elite Motorsports.
Elite HP is the newest branch of the Elite dynasty that sells new and used race cars, race parts, tools, engines, pit accessories, and much more. This company was created to satisfy the final needs of Elite customers to be able to rely on Elite for every part of their racing program, from motorhomes and trailers at Elite Motorsports, horsepower from Elite Performance, sportsman needs at Elite-Patterson, and now sales and consulting through Elite HP. Freeman’s vision of an absolute one-stop shop became a reality with the 2020 launch of Elite HP.
Before making the move, DePalma was no stranger to the drag racing industry with a lifetime of experience that amplifies his abilities as a manager and head of the sales department. In early 2021, DePalma was asked to come out on the road with the NHRA Pro Stock mega-team. After one season on the road chasing Wallys, he made the transition into the full-time position of general manager of Elite HP.
For Freeman, it’s all about the people, and having begun racing with the Freemans in the late ‘90s, DePalma was a no-brainer as the right man for the job. A family friend that you can trust personally and professionally has always been the recipe for success for Freeman and Robertson. Elite HP would be no different.
DePalma’s career has allowed him to race with and drive for some of the sport’s greats like Bob Panella, Craig Eaton, the Chapparone Brothers, the Freemans, and more. Along the way, DePalma’s experience and drive catapulted him above the rest and prepared him for this chapter of his career. He even still gets the call to wheel the Elite Motorsports Competition Eliminator car out on tour.
Drag Illustrated sat down with DePalma to dive into a little bit of what he does, how he got here, and why Elite is the place to trust for your program.
You have been around this sport for your entire life. What ignited your fire to commit so many years to drag racing?
My father grew up street racing when I was a kid. By the time I could legally drive, I was on the road by myself in a pickup truck and an open trailer headed to any dragstrip that I could find. Even at 16, I knew that drag racing was so much more than a hobby. It’s a passion that once you get the taste, it’s tough to let it go.
Those who know drag racing know the name Mike DePalma. What are some of the highlights of your driving career that led you to where you are today?
I love Competition Eliminator. Most of my driving success is in that class. I’ve driven for so many great people and have learned so much about not only driving, but how the industry functions and the right people to have in your corner. I’ve racked up quite a few NHRA national event Wallys, a few division championships and my favorite, a JEGS Allstars double-up in 2013. We joined a very small list of double-up champs and I am so very proud of that accomplishment.
There are so many places racers can go to for the tools, parts, cars, trailers, etc. for their racing program. Why take your experience and name to the Elite umbrella and why should racers come to you?
Anybody can sell a car, trailer, or parts. The market is very strong right now. To me, the thing that sets all of Elite’s companies ahead of the competition is the group of people involved. Everybody that works with us is either a champion in their own right or closely affiliated with champions. We have made every mistake any racer could make or is about to make in building their program and executing their goals on the track. We’ve learned so much along the way in our own careers that it’s like a cheat sheet for our customers. We will not only place our customers in the right cars, with the right parts, hauled in the right trailer, with the best power we can, but we will help them put it all together to slap a few win lights on their resume.
You’ve got Top Fuel champion Michael Brotherton selling motorhomes and trailers, Mick Snyder selling parts, Todd Patterson and family at Patterson-Elite, and now me putting butts in cars. The experience and knowledge of the folks involved here is absolutely second to none.
From top to the bottom, this is truly an all-encompassing, one-stop shop for someone trying to put together or build on their race program. I’m thankful for the opportunity and am proud to be able to help my fellow gearheads chase their dreams.
For more information about Elite HP, visit EliteHP.com.