Erica Enders has been in the spotlight long enough to know a special race when she sees one.
After experiencing the inaugural CTech World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS a year ago, there was no hesitation in putting the race in the upper echelon.
“I’ve been to my fair share of events and I can say wholeheartedly the World Doorslammer Nationals was out of this world,” Enders said. “It was one of my favorite races I’ve ever driven in. It was high energy, there was so many people there, and it was a really fun environment.”
It’s also just the start, which has the four-time Pro Stock world champion excited for this year’s event, which takes place March 5-7 at Orlando Speed World Dragway.
With a full year to put together the second race, the sky appears to be the limit for an event that puts the spotlight on the stars in Pro Stock and Pro Mod.
Enders more than qualifies as such and is widely regarded as one of the most popular — and certainly most successful — drivers in the sport.
She enjoyed another banner season in 2020, winning her second straight world title last year, with her fourth title giving Enders more than any professional female in NHRA history. But she also listed the CTech World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS as one of her top moments in 2020, even while losing in the first round to Elite Motorsports teammate Troy Coughlin Jr., who made his Pro Stock debut at the race.
Enders saw the inner workings of a race that came together quickly, gaining immediate support from racers and sponsors and then going off almost without a hit.
“It went really well and the reception was awesome. All things considered, it went off with a bang,” said Enders, a 29-time event winner in Pro Stock. “This year it’s going to be bigger and better. There’s more classes competing, you’ve got sportsman classes there, and it’s all really exciting. I think everyone is on board to put together a great showing.”
Enders lauded the likes of Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman and Drag Illustrated Founder Wes Buck for bringing the race together so quickly a year ago, believing things will take off even more in 2021.
The same massive $75,000 payday — the biggest single-race payout in Pro Stock history — remains, while $10,000 will be awarded to winners in Factory Stock Showdown, Super Stock, Stock, Top Sportsman and Competition Eliminator.
Enders will pull double-duty this year, racing in both Comp. Eliminator and Pro Stock and is thrilled about the addition of the sportsman classes to the CTech World Doorslammer Nationals presented by JEGS this year.
“Sportsman racing is where it all started and it plays such a pivotal part in our sport. Those classes deserve big purses and to race on a really large stage,” Enders said.
The race in Orlando certainly qualifies as that.
In addition to the big doorslammer crowd the race attracted last year, there was a distinct outlaw feel to the event, which is a stray from the normal, buttoned-up feel to Pro Stock.
Enders called driving through a sea of people on the starting line a goosebump material, something that’s normally usually reserved for the likes of Radial vs. the World racing.
Getting to experience that in a Pro Stock car brought a smile to Enders’ face, and it remains an aspect of the race she’s still most excited about heading into the 2021 event.
“To have that street race feel to it, it was pretty intense and I really liked it,” Enders said. “It was a really fun format and definitely exciting. We put this race on to make everybody feel important and have fun, and this was just a great environment where everyone could enjoy themselves.
“It’s definitely one of the biggest stages we can perform on in Pro Stock and certainly for the biggest purse.”
That part has Enders motivated to improve on her showing from the inaugural race. Her 2020 ended in perfect fashion — a victory in Las Vegas and a world title — and she’d like to keep that momentum going to open 2021.
“The mindset is the same for me,” Enders said. “Whether it’s testing or racing for a championship, your mindset can’t change. You want to go out there and win. My team gave me a great car last year, but I allowed some distractions in. Hopefully we can go out there and have a great performance this year.”