Hours and hours of hard labor turn into six seconds of drag racing magic that Dylan Stott finds impossible to describe.
“When the car’s leaving, it will set you back, and it keeps you set back until you’ve dumped chutes,” Stott said. “It’s from one extreme to another. You’re pulling 4 Gs and then the next thing you know, bang, you feel like you’re getting thrown through the windshield because you’re dropping parachutes.
“It’s kind of funny how things progress. I can remember the first runs that I made in the door car and how fast it seemed and how everything seemed like a blur. The more runs you make, it’s like everything almost slows down.”
Stott hopes that the action around him continues to slow down – a state of mastery that elite athletes in many sports cite – while the competitive runs he makes in his 2018 Ford Mustang continue to speed up. Tryon-based Stott’s Ford Racing team is again ramping up for a championship run beginning this weekend in Orlando, Fla., where Stott is competing in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Winter Warm-Up.
Stott begins 2020 feeling as if he has unfinished business from a year ago, when engine issues derailed a campaign that seemed poised for a bright ending.
“Last year we were top 10 in the world going into Indy, and I still had like three or four races left to claim and there were people ahead of me that didn’t have any left,” he said. “We actually hurt the motor. If I wouldn’t have hurt the motor, there was no doubt we would have at least finished probably top five, the top ten for sure.
“I would love to win a world championship. That is my ultimate goal in racing, a world championship.”
Stott will spend this season again competing in the Lucas Oil Divisional Series as well as in NHRA Top Sportsman events, looking to win titles in each. The Divisional Series allows drivers to claim the best five finishes out of eight races, with those best five divisional finishes and the best three finishes in five national events comprising the points total for the NHRA Top Sportsman world championship.
To have a shot at those titles, Stott is focusing on delivering a solid effort every time he competes this season.
“Consistency,” he said of the key to winning a championship. “You don’t have to go out there and rotate the world and win every single week, but at least go deep, late finishes in all the races.
“Obviously you’re going to sprinkle some wins in there, but you win two or three, four races out of those eight, that’s going to be a really good chance in the world.”
Chasing a championship during 13 race weekends throughout the South and Midwest is a grind. It comes on top of Stott’s job as co-owner and assistant parts manager at the family’s car dealership in Tryon and the time spent with his father, Robbie, working on the car, the duo handling nearly all duties outside of engine building. Grandfather Harold Stott, a former drag racer and NASCAR crewman, is also a fixture at the track when his grandson is on it.
Stott welcomes the family affair that is his race team.
“It’s really neat,” he said. “My grandpa, he worked in NASCAR. . . but I can count on my hand how many races he’s missed since I was 10 years old. We’ve all been going together forever, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it without them, but it definitely makes it more enjoyable to be able to enjoy the good with them as a family. It’s really neat to have have them there and be able to work on the car with them. They’re with me all the time working.
“It’s a lot of work that takes up a lot of time. It is a lot of work for six seconds. But it is enjoyable.”
Stott admits that living up to a family legacy of championship drivers helps keep him motivated during the hours he spends away from the track, working on and tuning up the Mustang for its next run.
“As far back as my grandpa working in NASCAR, we’ve always been really competitive in everything that we do,” Stott said. “Business, racing, whatever. we’re very competitive. But that’s what got me to the point where I am now.
“There was a point where, not necessarily that I didn’t care as much, but there was almost a point like a light switch that went off. If we’re going to do this and we’re going to win and we’re going to be competitive and compete with the top teams, you’ve got to put in the work to get that. So that’s kind of what keeps me going, to be able to compete with those guys and beat those guys.”