ENDERS DECLINES SPONSORSHIP
In a show of loyalty to the NHRA and series sponsor POWERade, Pro Stock drag racer Erica Enders has chosen to enter the 2007 season without the support of Revive-USA by electing not to renew with the Dallas-based food, nutrition, and beverage company, which sponsored her for the last four races in 2006.
Citing a potential conflict of interest with POWERade and Coca-Cola's Full Throttle Energy Drink, Enders and her father Gregg Enders, the general manager of the race team, decided to pass on the three-year option that was part of Enders Racing's initial agreement with Revive-USA.
The announcement leaves the 23-year-old rising star in search of a major sponsor for 2007 and beyond. However, the team is confident the favorable return on investment they produced for Revive-USA and former sponsor Bravo! Foods and its' Slammer's Ultimate Milk brand will help them procure another corporate backer to compliment associate sponsors Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants, Snap-on Tools, Aeromotive, Mach 1 Air Services, Impact Race Products, and Mopar.
"This was a difficult decision to make," said Erica Enders, a native Houstonian, "but after talking with all the parties involved, it didn't feel right promoting a line of products that directly conflicts with the products Coca-Cola is highlighting through its drag racing program.
"We have all seen the great things Coca-Cola and POWERade have done for the sport and we just weren't comfortable showcasing a head-to-head competitor. Although this might hurt us momentarily, we firmly believe it's the right thing to do.”
"I do want to thank Bruce Badgett and Alan Litvak at Revive-USA for their support and understanding of our decision. I'm sure their company will grow and prosper and we sincerely wish them the very best."
"It is rare in this day and age to associate with people who put the best interest of others ahead of their own," said Litvak, Revive-USA's vice president of marketing. "The integrity and loyalty Erica and her father demonstrated in making this decision is fully respected throughout our organization. We applaud the spirit of their decision and we will all remain personal and professional friends."
Enders and her teammates have already cleared plenty of hurdles in 2006 to keep her career moving forward. She left Cagnazzi Racing mid-season and spent seven races in partnership with Don Schumacher's team before she and her father exercised an option to purchase the assets of their race team from Schumacher to start their own operation in September, fulfilling a lifelong family goal.
Despite the distractions, Enders was solid on the racetrack, racing to finals of the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., and recording her first career low qualifier honor at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan. In just 27 race-day starts, Enders is already the most prolific female racer in Pro Stock history.
"Starting a business is always difficult but we're ecstatic with where we are and we're very excited about the future," Enders said. "When you grow up dreaming about doing something you find a way to get it done. We have the components and personnel in place to be successful. There's no doubt in this camp."
Although they lack a major sponsor at the moment, the team plans to race full-time in 2007. They have recently taken delivery of a new Jerry Haas-built Dodge Stratus R/T and engine builder David Nickens has been working tirelessly on new Hemi motors and other facets of the racing operation he heads from his Conroe, Texas-based race shop.
"We'll be very competitive right out of the gate and I have all the confidence in the world that Gregg and his side of the business have made a series of excellent decisions that will have us in the thick of things for many years to come," Nickens said. "They've given me all the resources I need to succeed with this engine program and now that we've had the time to build our motors our way, we feel very confident about what we can do."
The team has test sessions scheduled for newly resurfaced Houston Raceway Park in early January and will move forward accordingly from there.