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Reloaded for the ‘Re-Ride:’ Scott Palmer Announces Return with Top Fuel Pro Mod, Partnership with RACERSCLUB and Continuation of PBR Relationship

There was no question about “if” Scott Palmer would return to piloting a nitro Pro Mod—the question was when. Palmer, fondly named “The People’s Champ,” officially announces his return with “Re-Ride,” a ’52 Chevy fueled by nitromethane.

Palmer suffered a horrific accident in his “Studezilla” Top Fuel Pro Mod during an exhibition run at Mid America Dragway in Geuda Springs, Kansas. He was match-racing his long-time friend since the ‘90s, JR Sandlian. 

JR Sandlian

“On August 20th, [2023], the perfect storm hit me. I drove my Top Fuel Pro Mod too aggressively,” explained Palmer. “The videos show the absolute disaster of a crash it caused. It’s a miracle I lived through it. 23-year-old Joey [Gallegos], who runs a badass front-engine Top Fuel car, was on the return road and drug me out of what was left of the car.”

During those first few days in the hospital, Sandlian visited Palmer and asked him if he’d seen the car. Palmer answered with a no and wasn’t sure if anything was salvageable from the wreckage. Sandlian then told him there was nothing left of the Pro Mod, and that was when he went to work on sourcing and purchasing Palmer’s new Top Fuel Pro Mod.

“After a few surgeries and Chrystal [Shiveley, girlfriend] literally taking care of me for months, I was able to go to the shop, roll around in a chair, and start working on this car – the car that JR Sandlian bought and paid for himself to replace the Studebaker. He is the most unselfish man I’ve ever met. It’s been slow going for the past seven months working with very limited use of my right arm/hand, but our motto here at Scott Palmer Racing (SPR) is no ‘No Sissies Allowed.’ Not being able to work or do anything productive for six months could’ve easily been a career-ending accident, both physically and financially, if it were not for the friends I have. I’m back with all my sponsors, including PBR [Professional Bull Riders], and I’m ready for a ‘Re-Ride.’ SPR is reloaded, and we’re back!” exclaimed Palmer. 

Palmer admits full responsibility for the crash, calling it a “miracle” and “lucky to be alive” that he survived with only the minimal injuries he sustained. Furthermore, he has calculated his return to the nitro Pro Mod scene. His doctors have officially cleared him to race, and he continues to participate in physical therapy for his hand, which was injured in the accident.

“This car is getting some updates from what I learned from the crash,” he continued. “It’s got some better features that’ll make the whole project better.”

Throughout the healing process, Palmer has received support from his racing family. 

“There was never a ‘depressing’ day during the recovery, only positive days with support and encouragement from Dom Lagana (daily) and his brother Bobby, who have both been through major crashes with way worse injuries,” said Palmer. “But the focus all seven months has been ‘get back to racing.’ The entire disaster has been more positive than negative – but painful.”

Even though Palmer is announcing his official return to competition, he did test the waters at the 2024 Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod (WSOPM).

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“It was a phone call from Mark Micke offering to outfit my ’63 Corvette Pro Mod with his products from M&M Transmissions so I would be able to drive with my injuries at the World Series of Pro Mod,” Palmer explained. “Also, the invitation from Wes Buck [WSOPM promoter and DI founder and editorial director] to run the race gave me extra encouragement, knowing that it would be very difficult to be competitive at that event. Those two things were a major motivator in my absolute obsession with going to physical therapy and getting healed up enough to get to that race.”

When Palmer was asked when he would be on track, he answered, “I’ll be testing this beast and my Top Fuel dragster at the new Flying H track very soon.”

In other exciting news, Palmer will make his return with the support of the PBR, which stood by his side throughout this time period. The PBR understands that, like in bull riding, accidents happen to the stars of the sport and they very much stand behind them during these times. 

“I’m super proud and lucky to have this opportunity. The Studebaker bucked me off, kicked me, stomped me, and tried to kill me, kinda like the PBR riders, but I’m ready for my ‘Re-Ride,’” said Palmer.

Plus, RACERSCLUB has partnered with “The People’s Champ” to support him and his endeavors with “Re-Ride.” 

“Scott has been a close, personal friend of mine for years, and when I learned that he had a new Top Fuel Pro Mod, I knew RACERSCLUB had to get involved,” said RACERSCLUB Founder Wes Buck. He embodies the spirit of drag racing and, like us, is trying to grow the sport by adding entertainment value. Scott’s passion and commitment to the sport align perfectly with RACERSCLUB’s values, and we look forward to an action-packed season with him.”

Now, after working all winter long with “basically one hand,” Palmer is more than ready to get back in the seat.

“I’m never going to be world champion at anything,” said Palmer. “So if you’re not going to be world champion in something, you need to be spectacular at something.”

Palmer also thanks the support of his full roster of partners, including Fuel Tech, Black Star Graphics & Wraps for taking care of his last-minute needs (including this project), Race Star Wheels, Spell Paving, PBR and PBR Teams, Red Line Oil, Stroud Safety, Sandlian Iron and Metal, Marck Recycling, Interpack Total Packaging, Vollenweider Metal Works, Champion Auto Lifts, Trask Performance, DMPE, 142 Speed Shop, Baron Racing, and lastly, RACERSCLUB, DI and SPR.

This story was originally published on April 24, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.