Drag racing’s most historic and prestigious drag race, the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, is a little more than two weeks away, and it’s about this time that some interesting storylines develop as racers, teams, and sponsors put together last-minute efforts to enter the world’s biggest drag race.
If you browse the Pro Stock entry list for “The Big Go”, you’ll notice a name that was added just today that hasn’t been on an official NHRA entry list in 15 years.
700 PS Jerry Eckman Newark OH ’12 Camaro Chev 500 KENT TRUCKING & SERVICES
Jerry Eckman, one of the most successful, revered, and well-liked competitors in Pro Stock during the 1980′s and 90′s, was suspended from competition and fined following a pit incident at the National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Oh. in 1997 involving the use of nitrous oxide while driving for longtime car owner Bill Orndorff. In the years that followed, Eckman lived under the cloud of that dark day, unfairly labeled by many in the racing community as a cheater and wishing only for a chance to clear his name and return to the driver’s seat that he so loved. Following the incident, he returned to the sport in the only capacity that he could — as a crew chief and assistant to a number of Pro Stock operations.
In July, NHRA officials made the decision to reinstate Eckman’s driving privileges 15 years after the Columbus incident, which would allow him to apply for an NHRA professional license once again. Eckman completed the licensing procedures during a recent test session in St. Louis driving a car for his employer, Steve Kent, and this week, was informed by Kent that he would get the opportunity to drive at a national event. Not just any national event however, but at the U.S. Nationals — a race he defeated Larry Morgan at in 1990 for the biggest win of his driving career.