The NHRA sportsman ranks are home to arguably the most talented and toughest drivers in all of drag racing, and few competitors over the years have proven to have the mettle of two-time NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champion Lee Zane. Next season, the Perry Hall, Md. native will get his shot on the big stage thanks to a new partnership with forrmer and returning Super Stock racer Kevin McHugh for a new part-time Pro Stock effort to debut during the 2013 season.
Zane, a longtime sportsman racer, will continue to compete in Stock Eliminator this season while coaching McHugh during his return to Super Stock racing after a long 35-year hiatus. The return will be short-lived, however, as McHugh steps out of the seat next year to oversee the new Pro Stock venture with Zane behind the wheel. McHugh and Zane have purchased a Pontiac GXP from Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson that was previously driven by his son, Kurt.
“My wife, Mary, and I sold our Super Stock car many years ago to start a family and so that I could focus on a career, but we always spoke about getting back into racing,” said McHugh. “Last September we decided it was time, so we bought a Super Stock car from Arnie Martel Jr., and around that same time we reached out to Lee. I knew his reputation and experience, and I felt that I needed someone to coach me. I thought that he would be the perfect person.”
Zane won the Lucas Oil Stock Eliminator world championships in 2004 and 2008 and has nine national event wins and 21 division titles on his impressive resume. He licensed in a Pro Stock car in 2008 and made his professional debut at Englishtown that year in a Pontiac GXP owned by fellow Maryland racer John Gaydosh.
“As Mary and I got to know Lee, we realized that he mirrors our thinking in terms of family values, hard work and professionalism,” said McHugh. “We want to be a part of drag racing, and this is a great way for us to do that. The bonus is that we get to help Lee fulfill his dreams. The underlying foundation of NHRA drag racing is its sportsman series racers, and it is great to see many of today’s professional drivers have had their start in the sportsman ranks. We fully support Lee as he enters the professional series from what is a truly amazing and successful sportsman racer background.”
McHugh and Zane will receive backing from Coppermine Applicators for their Pro Stock effort, for which they’re currently negotiating an engine leasing program ahead of initial testing planned for later this season. Their scheduled debut is planned for Gainesville next March with 10-12 additional events planned and more pending the acquisition of more financial backing.
“I’m already enjoying working with Kevin as he gets back into Super Stock this year and as we prepare for what comes next. Pro Stock has always been a goal for me – once I had a taste of it, I wanted more, and I think I proved to myself and to others that it could be done,” said Zane, who will be tuned in the GXP by his former Comp Eliminator crew chief and brother-in-law, Brian Van Poppel. “I know we can do this, and I’m so grateful to Kevin and Mary for the opportunity.”