CONCORD, N.C. — It’s been a minute since Spencer Massey has competed in the NHRA Top Fuel division.
The last time he made a pass in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series was 2019 when he raced in the Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. Prior to that it had been four years since Massey last raced a Top Fuel dragster with the NHRA.
This weekend during the DeWalt Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, Massey is knocking the rust off as he competes in the Top Fuel class aboard Pat Dakin’s Commercial Metal Fabricators dragster. When he last raced in 2019, it was also aboard a car owned by Dakin.
“It’s a pleasure to be back out here and obviously hanging out with (Pat) Dakin and the crew guys,” said Massey, an 18-time Top Fuel winner in NHRA competition. “That’s why I’m here. These guys are the best of the best. It’s a great team, everybody is great friends, gets along.
“Dakin is a very good friend of mine. We’ve known each other for since I think 2008, whenever I won the championship in IHRA in Mitch King’s car.”
Massey enjoyed a strong tenure in the NHRA Top Fuel division that saw him claim rookie-of-the-year honors while driving for Don Prudhomme before transitioning to Don Schumacher Racing. He eventually departed Schumacher’s team during the 2015 season and never returned to full-time NHRA competition.
However, that doesn’t mean Massey has sat around doing nothing. He’s remained active as a bracket racer, competing in big money shows across the United States while making sure he keeps his Top Fuel license current in case he decides he wants to show up and run an NHRA show.
“You can run for very big money,” Massey said of bracket racing. “I hit up all the Spring Fling and SFG races, the $1 million races. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last five years and having fun at it.
“This year has been kind of hit or miss. I’ve been doing well. I’ve been making it down to sixth, seventh or eighth round because these are 10-round events. But I haven’t sealed the deal this year.”
Massey made it clear he has no dreams of returning to the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Hunting down sponsors to go Top Fuel racing is not something that interests Massey. Instead, he wants to go out and have fun, which is exactly what he’s been doing while bracket racing.
“I don’t really have any ambition to get out here full time and try to find a sponsor to do this because I have more fun bracket racing,” Massey said. “It’s just amazing. A very good friend of mine just yesterday, Jeff Serra, won $175,000 in one day of racing in a bracket car. How do you go wrong doing that?
“We come out here, and we love doing this, obviously, to burn nitro and have fun going 300 mph, but we spend a lot of money doing this and don’t really get that kind of return like in bracket racing.”
Massey’s return to the Top Fuel class comes thanks to his long friendship with Dakin, himself a veteran Top Fuel competitor who makes occasional appearances with the NHRA.
Massey turned in the fifth fastest qualifying effort on Friday night at zMAX Dragway to comfortably qualify for the Top Fuel field with a 3.769-second run. The team opted to skip Saturday’s action rather than put the car at risk. Massey and Dakin are focused on Sunday’s eliminations.
“The only thing I care about is my light and my light was good, I was a .046,” Massey said of his Friday night qualifying effort. “This car is very capable of running and it’s because of these guys that put it together.
“This car, this is like the third pass ever on it. We made some practice runs in Martins, Mich., about a month ago and did a match race and went two 3.81s. We tuned it up a little bit and .76 it goes. It did kick the rods in the shutdown area. We weren’t happy about that, but that’s just part of it. You’ve got nitro in the tank. You never know when it’s going to blow up.”
Regardless of what happens Sunday, Massey is having fun. For him, that’s the most important part.
“It’s wonderful to be back out here and have fun with everybody,” Massey said. “Yes, we want to win, but we’re to have fun and play with our race car.”