LAMB CHANGING COURSE IN 2018
Justin Lamb has good news for Stock and Super Stock competitors in the NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman series.
The winner of four NHRA world championships in the past five years, including two last year, does not plan on competing for another one this year.
But his desire to dominate in competition isn’t waning, and he’ll race this weekend in the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The native and resident of Henderson, a southeast suburb of Las Vegas, is very familiar with the track. It’s where he first competed in an NHRA Jr. Dragster at age 8 and before moving in full-size racecars for bracket races when he was 16.
The last time he competed at The Strip in an NHRA event was Oct. 29, 2017, when he drove his Redback Boots COPO Camaro to winning the Wally Trophy in Stock Eliminator after clinching the world championship in the fourth of seven elimination rounds.
Then two weeks later at the season-finale in Southern California, he added the Super Stock Eliminator world title in his Silver State Plumbing Chevrolet Cobalt to become only the third driver to win two NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships in the same year, joining Scotty Richardson and Jeff Strickland.
Lamb also owns national event Wally trophies in six separate categories: Stock, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Comp Eliminator, and Top Comp, which is now Top Dragster class.
Those certainly are hall-of-fame credentials.
And he is only 30 years old.
“I can’t really say how many wins we have,” said Lamb, who prefers tuning and setting up his cars to driving them.
“It’s gotten pretty serious,” said the business analyst for the City of Henderson, which offers a four-day, 40-hour week that enables him to travel nearly 25 weekends a year for big-money bracket races and NHRA events.
“It’s been nonstop. People think it’s fun racing all the time, going all the time. Even when we’re not racing, we’re working on the racecars, motorhome and rigs.”
Justin met his wife, Jeanine, when she worked as the safety manager for The Strip’s safety crew. They married in 2012 and now are joined at races by son Jayce, 4½, and daughter Jovi, 8 months.
A Jr. Dragster will be delivered by longtime friend Antron Brown to the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals in late July and be ready when Jayce turns 5.
Family is one reason why he plans to compete in very few NHRA divisional races that would eliminate him from world championship contention as participation is required in at least eight divisionals to contend for championships.
“As of right now, we don’t plan on chasing points again. We want to try to run a few more national events and big money brackets. That gets our sponsors more exposure than they do at a regional (division) race.”
His young family also is a factor in altering his race schedule.
“I’ll probably race as much this year, but more races will be closer to home. I’m not going to miss a soccer game to maybe win $2,500 at a divisional. It makes a little more sense to miss one of my son’s games if I can win $10,000 or $15,000 at a national event.
Family is one reason why he plans to compete in very few NHRA divisional races that would eliminate him from world championship contention.
His parents created the racing titan when he became old enough to drive a Jr. Dragster. They were involved in drag boat racing but came ashore to focus on their son’s driving.
“It started as something for the family to do together, but now it’s a business,” said Chris Lamb, one of the top-producing Matco Tools distributors in the country.
“I worked long days on my (Matco) truck, and when Justin turned 16 he would have towed the racecars to the (Las Vegas) track and have everything set up by the time I got there. I didn’t know anything about (land) drag racing or setting up cars for bracket racing. Fortunately, Justin was a fast learner.”
Justin inherited his father’s work ethic. He raced throughout college and graduated from the University Nevada Las Vegas in 2008 with an accounting degree that led to a full-time position with Henderson.
His early racing mentors include Kyle Seipel, Peter Biondo and Pro Stock veteran V Gaines, whose Madcap Engines continues to support Lamb Motorsports.
Lamb has no desire to leave the Sportsman ranks.
“It wouldn’t do much for me to be in Top Fuel or Funny Car,” he said of NHRA’s top professional categories. “Whoever drives a Top Fuel dragster or Funny Car that is tuned by Alan Johnson is going to eventually win a world championship. Our racing is more technical.
“In my racing, the drivers mean a lot more. Our races are down to thousandths of a second, week in and week out.
“I like that I’m involved.”
Also in the Lamb Motorsports stable are drivers Seipel and occasionally Justin’s younger sister Ryen Lamb.
Ryen, 23, also started racing Jr. Dragsters when she was 8. She graduated to drive her family’s Super Comp dragster when it didn’t interfere with her elite gymnastics competitions and education. She graduated at the top of her class at the University Nevada Las Vegas and has one year remaining in law school at the University of Tennessee.