ALPHARETTA, Ga. — official release — NHRA photo —
Bob Vandergriff Jr. will step away from driving in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2015 and will transition solely into the owner’s seat with a pair of dragsters driven by three-time Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon and 25-time NHRA Pro Stock winner Dave Connolly.
The two Bob Vandergriff Racing dragsters will be sponsored by C&J Energy Services. Crew chiefs will remain Kurt Elliott and Mike Guger.
“It’s no secret that I’ve been planning on exiting the driver seat,” Vandergriff said. “With the increasing demands of running the business, that time has come. I’m excited about my new role and it’s actually recharged my batteries. I’m thrilled about the new direction for BVR. We have a three-time world champion in Larry Dixon and I’ve been able to hire someone who I consider one of the best natural drivers in the sport, Dave Connolly, to take over for me.”
Vandergriff began driving a Top Fuel dragster in 1994 and was voted Rookie of Year in his first season in the NHRA. While making the final round several times, Vandergriff’s first NHRA win eluded him until 2011 at the Texas Fall Nationals in Dallas. He now has three wins and 17 final round appearances under his belt.
“I want to thank Josh Comstock and the entire C&J Energy Services Team for all their support of BVR over the years and their continued sponsorship as Dave and Larry begin a new era for our racing program,” said Vandergriff.
C&J Energy Services’ founder, chairman, and chief executive officer Josh Comstock said, “I am proud of our long relationship with Bob Vandergriff and his racing team. Bob’s integrity and selfless approach has been obvious throughout his career. When we first started our sponsorship with BVR, we were a small company with around 130 employees. We will soon have over 11,000 employees and Bob has been with us every step of the way. He always puts his team and C&J ahead of himself and has made several introductions—literally making the connection between C&J and key vendors—that have enhanced our supply chain and resulted in substantial savings for C&J. He also made the initial introduction to key industry leaders in The Middle East, which resulted in our establishing a strong presence for growth in the region. On the track, Bob captured all his career championship wins while driving the C&J Energy Services Top Fuel dragster, which is an achievement I am personally very proud of. Although I will miss watching him drive, I look forward to working with him in this new phase of his career where he will continue to support our growth and enhance the racing and sponsorship programs. I also want to welcome Larry Dixon, who will be racing for us full time, and Dave Connolly, who is new to the BVR and C&J team for 2015. Both are great talents and together I’m confident we will have much success.”
Connolly makes the jump from Pro Stock where he is currently third in the standings, only 51 points behind leader Jason Line. Connolly has had a very successful career in racing. He has 25 wins in Pro Stock and four as a sportsman competitor. He became only the fourth driver in drag racing history who has won five consecutive NHRA Pro Stock events. He has been to the final round 47 times. Besides Pro Stock, he also drives the GMPartsNow.com COPO Camaro in Stock eliminator at selected races.
“It’s kind of crazy. I’ve never really thought about driving Top Fuel, mainly because the opportunity wasn’t there. When Bob approached me, it really sparked my interest,” said Connolly. “Top Fuel is the fastest car on the planet. I’ve driven everything else, so I’m up to the challenge.
“I’ve been driving a Pro Stock car or working on one since 2003; it’s what I have lived. It’s going be hard to step aside from all that and the people I’ve worked with but at the same time, it’s a great opportunity for my future in drag racing. Dixon came to BVR earlier this season where he has been driving a second Top Fuel dragster on a part-time basis. After getting his top fuel license in 1994, Dixon went on to win 62 NHRA races and capture three NHRA Championships. He has competed in 108 final rounds.
“As I’ve said before, I am thrilled Bob gave me the opportunity to drive his car and I am happy we have been able to qualify consistently in the top ten and contend for round wins and race wins. Being part of Bob’s team has made racing fun again,” said Dixon. “It’ll be great to have Dave as a teammate. He is such an accomplished racer I would expect him to take to fuel racing like a duck to water.”
As for looking ahead to 2015, Dixon added, “It’s been a few years since I’ve competed for a Mello Yello Championship and I’m looking forward to the full tour with Bob’s team. He has great equipment and has assembled a talented group of guys and I feel honored he wants me to be a part of it.”