As members of the media, we’re expected to have a purely impartial voice and set of views. Journalists can be (and are) fans, too, but it’s a sort of unwritten rule to not allow favorable views of one party — or in this case, driver — to influence your content.
That all being said, we’re here to tell you that if you aren’t a fan of Top Fuel racer Scott Palmer, then you’re wrong.
The Missouri native, whose zeal for the sport of drag racing has allowed him to ascend the ladder and achieve the dream of every drag racer is, in our opinion, the last and only true showman left in big-time nitro racing. And with close friend and primary backer, Tommy Thompson — who has an equal level of enthusiasm for the sport — in his corner, he’s been granted the opportunity to race the way he chooses to. And that’s as the drag racers’ drag racer.
Once standard operating procedure and a long-lost crowd favorite, Palmer is the only remaining NHRA regular to “whack” the throttle during his pre-run warmup in the pit area. That alone has earned the quiet Midwesterner a legion of fans who flock to his pit area when the fire hits the pipes. But Palmer is, simply put, a legend in backyard.
When Palmer failed to make this year’s Countdown to the Championship, he and his team opted to take a break from the NHRA Mello Yello tour to have some fun. Palmer noted after the U.S. Nationals: “We will be skipping a few races since we missed getting in the Countdown so watch your ‘local’ track! We will be popping in some ‘local’ tracks showing off.”
While his Top Fuel peers were back home re-stocking parts and preparing for the upcoming NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis, Palmer and company rolled into the Ozark Raceway Park, an 1/8-mile strip in Rogersville, Missouri. Palmer has made an annual habit of returning to Ozark to put on a show for the fans — for them, this is akin to a major leaguer playing at their neighborhood little-league diamond. While other teams are frugal with their resources and only run on off-weekends explicitly to test and gather data, Palmer bucks the trend.
On the first of two nights, he clocked a track record 3.16 at a slowing 241 mph, but promised to go even quicker the following day. Backing up his words, he reeled off a 3.10 at 266.90 mph and then a 3.22 at 252.38 on the final lap under the lights. And on each and every run, he threw modern-day wisdom to the wayside and burned-out to nearly half track to give the crowd their money’s worth and then some. Clutch heat be damned! For the sake of comparison, a 3.10 to the 1/8-mile is indicative of a mid-3.80 run to 1,000-feet and a 1/4-mile run in the 4.50s, so Ozark Raceway Park is certainly no joke.
We’re not getting paid a nickel to say this, but go buy some MagicDry and a Scott Palmer t-shirt so this guy can keep doing what he does, because drag racing needs guys like he and Tommy Thompson.