MASSEY FOCUSED ON BRACKET, ALCOHOL DRAGSTER RACING
Former Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey still is at the dragstrips. He still gets his nitro fix. And the Fort Worth native, who’s competing in the Top Alcohol Dragster class at the NHRA FalolNationals, said he’s having a lot more fun than he ever had as a pro.
“I have a bracket-racing program. I have a ’71 Nova that I’ve had forever, my street car that I turned into a bracket car. And I have a 2007 Super Comp dragster that I bought from Megan Meyer. Since she went to an alcohol dragster, she stopped running Super Comp. So I bought her bracket dragster. I’ve been running that and my Nova every weekend and having fun,” Massey said.
“The bracket-racing program with all the sportsman racers around the country is the best family and the best people out here in drag racing. I can go anywhere in the country every weekend and find a great bracket race to go to with great money and have fun doing it.
“Drag racing and the racing family have been my life since I was 12 years old. And being able to go back to the roots of it and bracket race has been so much fun,” he said. “Right now, doing the alcohol dragster has been so much fun, but at the same time, I tell everybody, I have more fun bracket racing. I have more fun getting in my Nova, putting the battery charger on it, making a run, coming back, going rounds, having fun and actually having a chance to make some real good cash.
“The races that I do are races that generally pay real good money. For instance, this next week, I’m going to run three $10,000 races in Huntsville [Ala.], then go to the Million Dollar Race in Montgomery, Ala., which is three $25,000 races then the Million on Saturday. Basically, that’s what I do every weekend: travel around the country, racing big-money races,” he said.
Massey did race in the NHRA events at Baytown, Texas, near Houston, for the past two years. (“At Houston this year, they took away the Top Alcohol Dragster program. So we didn’t go to the Houston national event,” he said.) And this is his third straight appearance as a sportsman racer again at the Texas Motorplex.
This year, his plan has been to immerse himself in Division 4 competition and “stick close to Texas and Louisiana and Oklahoma.” But his class has seen a decline in Div. 4, he said, “but we still get to have fun and burn nitro.”
The million-dollar question is whether he misses the Top Fuel class.
“I miss driving it. I don’t really miss the whole program and everything that’s involved with it, all the drama and the people involved with it,” Massey said. “Trust me, there’s a lot of good people out there in this world. But there’s also at the same time a lot people who are not so good. I’d rather stay at a place and be around people who are friendly and want to enjoy racing. That’s what I’m doing now, just enjoying racing.
“Especially with the alcohol dragster class, it’s for the fun, to burn nitro. Obviously, people make money with big sponsors, but the majority of our class we have here, we have fun: we get to burn nitro, hang out with our friends. We don’t have 10 crew guys and two 18-wheelers like in Top Fuel like I’ve done for many years. But with this deal,” he said, “I can have fun with four crew guys. We can unload the car, burn nitro, go 270-280 mph, run 5.20s, and have fun. That’s what it’s really all about, because if you’re not having fun out here in racing, why in the world are you doing it? You get to the point: What are you doing? We’re here to race and smile and love life. That’s what I try to have my life be as part of racing. And you have to love life doing it.
“That’s why I’m doing what I do now – which is a lot better than what I’ve done for the last eight years. I get to actually do what I want, be around my friends and family when I want, and go racing and actually make a little cash.”
Massey has kept his skills at driving an 11,000-horsepower dragster sharp, thanks to his friendship with drag-racing veteran Pat Dakin.
“Pat Dakin, I’ve driven his car for the past three years, to keep my license current. He calls me every week. He’s a great guy. Pat has the same mindset as myself. He wants to have fun. He wants to come out here with his group of guys and run his race car and enjoy life, smelling nitro. That’s why we get along and always hang out,” Massey said. “When I first started driving Top Fuel with Mitch King, he got his license back about the same year, about two weeks before I did in Mitch King’s Top Fuel car. We have a good connection.
“The past few months, I drove his car in Martin, Mich. I went 3.80 at 325 miles an hour. We were trying to go to the quarter-mile, but the belt broke. We were trying to beat Dom’s [Dom Lagana’s] record, because he went 338 last year. We went the exact same E.T., 4.485. But I only had 305 miles an hour. But on the computer, it was running 340 miles an hour when the belt broke. If that belt would have stayed on, it would have been 342-343,” he said. “It would have been awesome. But that just shows you what kind of a car Pat has. Pat Dakin has a great team and a great car.”
Don’t be surprised if Massey, a former Don Schumacher Racing and Don Prudhomme Racing hire in the NHRA after earning an IHRA Top Fuel championship, returns in Dakin’s dragster. Or don’t be surprised if he doesn’t.
“He wants me to drive the car,” Massey said. “At the same time, I’m like, ‘No, Pat. It’s your car. You need to have fun. I’m having too much fun driving my bracket car.’ I told him maybe next year there might be a race or two I’ll drive it. At the same time, it’s not something that I’m really striving to do. I’m not saying, ‘I’ve been there, done that, and never want to do it again.’ Yeah, I can do it again one day. But right now, I don’t have the itch to do it. I’m having way too much fun living my life the way I’m doing it, driving my bracket cars, and being at the office.”
The office for Massey is at former racer Gene Snow’s 38-year-old Snow Operating Company that’s in the oil and gas extraction sector of the crude petroleum production business. It’s in the Tarrant County community of Haltom City.
“I’m helping with operations of the company,” Massey said. “Racing every weekend, I’m out of the office from Thursday on. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, it’s make sure everything is straight and take care of business.
“We’re building a new shop right next door, so we have a 12,000-square-foot shop that we’ve been building for the past six months. We’ll move into that in the next couple of months. It’s going to be a big operation,” he said. “We’re building a mini-museum for all of Snow’s cars. I have a car from 1988 that Snow went the first 4.99 in. The chassis is put together. I’m going to put the rear end in it and put it together as a show car. I have his Rambunctious car. I have all his firesuits. We’ll make it a drag-racing museum in North Texas. There’s not too many spots in North Texas that have a background for the NHRA and for all of drag racing. So that’s why we built it. Also, I can pull the rig in. It’s going to be a modern museum. I have a 2018-2019 alcohol dragster . . . also a ’66 Funny Car and an ’81 dragster, ’87 dragster, ’88 four-second dragster. So it’s going to be pretty cool.
“So that’s what has been taking all my time up. It’s actually nice after eight years of being on the road – actually since 2003, racing with Scott Palmer – it’s been pretty nice the last couple of years being able to have a real life, take my time, and do what I want, have a chance to make big money, and do it all on my own,” he said.
“I just race and work in the office,” he said. “It’s kind of weird – everyone else is sitting at a beach or at a lake somewhere on the holidays. And we’re sitting in the middle of Oklahoma in 110-degree weather and wondering, ‘Why are we here?’ and getting in my Nova and putting on my helmet 20 times a day. I’ll make 27-30 runs a weekend. Every weekend you might make 7-10 runs a day. We’ll run till 2 or 3 in the morning, then get up at 8 or 9 the next morning and do it all over again. It’s true racing, right there, all day long. You race all day long and do it all over again.”
And right now, Spencer Massey wouldn’t have it any other way.