Elite Motorsports, the largest professional team in drag racing, will make its first foray into Top Fuel at the upcoming In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. Spencer Hyde will pilot the Elite-sponsored Top Fuel entry in a dragster owned by Todd and Tony Paton.
Hyde, an accomplished drag racer from Ontario, Canada, won the Drag Illustrated World Series Of Pro Mod presented by J&A Service earlier this year at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Fla. The talented young driver is excited to make his NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series debut after experiencing success behind the wheel of the Paton-owned Top Fuel machine at a couple of match races over the summer. While he’s garnered significant achievements in several drag racing series, this will be the first time for him to compete at an NHRA-sanctioned event.
“I’ve raced Pro Modified mostly with the PDRA in the Pro Boost class,” said Hyde. “In February, I completed my Top Fuel License in Gainesville, Fla. with Todd and Tony Paton and the Paton Racing Team. My plan was actually to run the GatorNationals this past March with the Paton Racing Top Fuel Team.”
However, Hyde was invited to the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, which switched up his plans. The World Series Of Pro Mod was a pretty awesome event for Hyde as he raced his way to victory from the No. 32 qualifying spot. It’s clear that he had no trouble making the transition from Pro Mod to Top Fuel. When he was making his licensing passes in Gainesville, Hyde powered the Paton Racing Top Fuel dragster to an impressive pass of 3.80 seconds at 324 mph, the second-quickest pass ever made in the machine. Moreover, during a Top Fuel match race this summer in Empire, N.Y., he reset the track record.
Competing behind the wheel of an 11,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster has been a dream for Hyde since he was young. Growing up with family ties to the sport, he knew he wanted to race one day and he started pursuing this path at only 14 years old.
“I started in Jr. Dragsters in 2006,” said Hyde. “In Canada, I grew up around snowmobiles and motorcycles. My parents wouldn’t let me race either of those but I had a buddy who raced Jr. Dragsters. I started going to the track with him. One thing led to another and 18 years later we’re Pro Mod and Top Fuel racing.”
The stars aligned for Hyde when a casual conversation during the Menards NHRA Nationals in Topeka, Kan. led to his partnership with Elite Motorsports.
“I was hanging out with the Elite team earlier this year in Topeka and Bobby Lagana happened to be in the pit,” recalls Hyde. “He recognized me from when I was in Gainesville getting my license. He helped the Paton team when we were there, so we were chatting about it. Richard was kind of listening in and I told him I was looking for funding to go to an event and Pomona was one that they were pushing me to do. That’s when he said, ‘I’ll back you for Pomona.’”
Todd Paton, the owner and occasional driver of the Top Fuel entry in which Hyde will compete is confident that Hyde will make the most of his first NHRA event.
“We are really looking forward to this,” said Paton. “Spencer did well in his licensing laps. In his first full pass, he did better than my career best in the car, so we are pretty impressed with him. He took to it like a pro. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do behind the wheel at an actual NHRA event. Partnering with Elite will cause a lot of buzz in the pits and I’m looking forward to that too. I think it will catch a lot of people off guard to see their name on a Top Fuel car. I’ve always been one who enjoys the drama that goes along with drag racing so I think it will be entertaining in more ways than one. I’ve known the folks at Elite for a long time and I’m excited to get to work together on this.”
The In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip will take place November 9-12 in Pomona, Calif.