After 22 years of racing Top Alcohol, former NHRA Division 4 Top Alcohol Dragster Champion Lee Callaway will be making the jump to Top Fuel in 2019. Callaway has purchased a complete running car from Scott Palmer Racing and will be competing at five NHRA Mello Yello events with assistance from Palmer.
Callaway, from Baytown, Texas, has competed in the NHRA Top Alcohol categories since 1996, winning the Division 4 Championship in 2002 and most recently won his hometown race, the O’Reilly Spring Nationals in 2016. He is the only driver since the inception of the Top Alcohol categories to win divisional events in a Blown Alcohol Dragster, an Injected Nitro Dragster and a Top Alcohol Funny Car.
“I pretty much grew up racing nitro and alcohol cars,” said Callaway. “My Dad (Dickie) ran with Johnny White’s “Houston Hustler” Nitro Funny Car and built and wrenched on a number of cars over the years. In ’96 I got my first TAD and we have raced as a family since.”
“Obviously running Top Fuel has always been a dream,” Callaway continued. “I mean, who doesn’t dream of that when you’re around it that long? It’s never really been feasible for me to do it competitively until now. Running my business takes a lot of my time these days, so I can only go to a few races a year. It just made more sense to run Top Fuel a few times a year with a nice car and operation than continue to chase the Top Alcohol deal.”
Callaway’s car will fly the colors of his collision repair shop, Callaway Collision as primary sponsor when he makes his debut at his home track for the Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, April 12-14. His car will also receive help from Run-N-Hide Ranch. He will receive technical assistance from Scott Palmer Racing and Lagana Racing. Callaway’s long-time Crew Chief Stacy McLemore will be making the jump with him.
“There’s no way I could have done this without the help of Scott,” stated Callaway. “We have been good friends for a long time. He has run on a budget before and knows where you can save money and where not to cut corners. We’re going to run this car like I did my Top Alcohol cars – we didn’t run a bunch of races, but we had the right parts and ran hard when we showed up. We have a lot to learn as a team, but with Scott’s help we are working hard to do it the right way.”
“At the Houston race, we are going to use this to promote my business Callaway Collision along with our other sponsors and partners,” Callaway added. “We are working hard to not only have a good car on the track, but present our operation in a professional manner to entertain our guests. We will be professional in everything we do, but anyone who knows me knows we are going to have a good time doing it. Running with Scott, there will be a lot of good times to be had in the SPR-Callaway Racing pits.”
The Callaway Racing Top Fuel team plans to attend the Dodge Mile-High Nationals in Denver, the Northwest Nationals in Seattle, the AAA Texas FallNationals in Dallas and the Nevada Nationals in Las Vegas.
Keep up with the team on Facebook and Twitter @CallawayTopFuel.