NHRA drag racing phenom Aaron Stanfield grew up in Bossier City, La., thinking his ABCs stood for alternators, blocks and crankshafts.
That’s because his grandfather, Howard Stanfield, a successful sportsman-class racer, taught him to identify engine components at an early age.
“I never got to watch him race. He passed away in 2012. He had Parkinson’s disease, so around the time I started really getting into it, his health wasn’t there,” the newly crowned two-time Factory Stock Showdown champion and Pro Stock hard charger said. “But I remember as a kid, going up to the shop. He was always involved in everything my dad (Greg Stanfield) did, from the early Pro Stock Trucks to his Pro Stock (career).
“I remember being really young and he would bring me in the engine room. They would have an engine assembled and he would point at different parts. He would make me remember and name all the parts. He was a teacher at our local vo-tech school,” he said of his grandpa, who taught for 20 years at Caddo Career and Technology Center in Shreveport, La. “I just remember being really young and knowing what all the parts are called.”
That’s what makes 26-year-old Aaron Stanfield a bit of a throwback in the style of Bob Glidden, Warren Johnson and the pioneers of drag racing who built, serviced and raced their own cars. He clearly is cut from the same sheet metal as his dad Greg, with his classic good looks, ready smile, humility and track record.
Greg Stanfield won 13 national events and earned four national Super Stock championships. He competed in five classes: Pro Stock, Pro Stock Truck, Stock, Super Stock and Competition Eliminator. Aaron Stanfield, who drives the Janac Brother’s Rcing entries in both the NHRA Pro Stock and Factory Stock Showdown classes, also has experience in entries in the Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp and Top Dragster categories.
The third-generation racer’s 2020 achievements alone included earning the Factory Stock Showdown championship in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro by winning five of the six races. At Houston Raceway Park, he won three trophies in one day, claiming his first Pro Stock victory with Elite Motorsports, winning the FSS race and securing his first FSS title.
On top of that, he earned the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Division 4 Top Dragster championship.
This year, Aaron Stanfield entered the Countdown with three Pro Stock victories in four final-round appearances. He clinched a repeat of his FSS championship in September and continued to dominate the Division 4 Top Dragster standings.
What might be more significant is that Stanfield, who made his professional debut in 2014 at age 19, has ushered in a wave of younger Pro Stock drivers who have changed the conversation about the class. As late as two or three years ago, the category teetered on the brink of collapse, many thought.
Today, as multi-time champion Greg Anderson affirmed, it’s healthy and growing: “We all say we need young blood in the class and we absolutely have it. It used to be all old people like me and now I’m probably one of one or two guys that are older. So the class switched and that’s what it has to do to continue.”
Stanfield said, “I think that is really good. And you can walk through the Pro Stock pits and you wouldn’t hear one person say a bad thing about that.”
Stanfield is 26 — “but people ask me if I have a driver’s license,” he said — and he’s kind of a midpacker among the younger set. Mason McGaha is 19. Cristian Cuadra is 22 and his brother, Fernando Cuadra Jr., is 25. Robert River is 28. In their early 30s are Vincent Nobile (30), Dallas Glenn (31), Troy Coughlin Jr. (31) and Kyle Koretsky (32).
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