In July of 2022, Pro Stock team owner Richard Freeman admitted that his efforts were best served by staying in his own lane. This statement meant Freeman felt it best to stick to doorslammer competition instead of moving into fuel racing. 

Now that he's had some time as a part of the Professional Racers Organization [PRO] leadership, the man credited with reinvigorating Pro Stock is apparently ready to try out another lane. 

The blinker is now on, as Freeman revealed on an episode of the WFO Radio podcast with Joe Castello. He's looking to try out the ultimate in speed. 

"I don't think there's any secret," Freeman said. "First of all, my passion is Pro Stock. I love it. I have no interest in leaving that, but we are looking to possibly expand again into Top Fuel." 

Freeman revealed that he has two Top Fuel haulers and two dragsters from PDRC to ensure the infrastructure is in place while he and his team work on the most crucial part of a fuel team, that being the funding. If and when the proper funding is in place to field a competitive team, that will be the time he moves forward. 

"I will make clear that we absolutely will not make that move until the proper funding is in place and the proper alignment with someone to make that program come to realization," Freeman explained. "Yes, we would like to expand into the fuel ranks. We believe that some of the things that we've done in Pro Stock with some of the mindset is needed in those two classes. 

"Not that anybody over there can't do it. I believe that the landscape has changed. And in light of a lot of things in some of the people that are involved in those classes, what's next?"

Just like he did in Pro Stock, Freeman would like to increase participation in the fuel classes, which he wholly believes could lead to the sport's exponential growth. 

In 2022, Freeman told that he is intrigued by the business of fuel racing. He  wasn't necessarily looking to become a fuel-team owner and chase a championship as much as he wanted to provide that program for a potential partner. Ideally, he wants something along the lines of a Mickey Thompson-type deal from the 1970s, with an approach similar to the one Don Schumacher Racing brought a decade ago. 

Freeman believes nitro drag racing needs to embrace a different way of doing business for the sport's long-term health. 

"For so long, even in Pro Stock ... proprietary, you hear that word. Proprietary information, I believe that some of that has to go away in the sense for something to grow," Freeman said. "I believe our sport, by far as a motorsport, is the best on the planet. I say that because it is truly a family atmosphere. Where do you go where you can walk in the gate and get within five feet of not only the drivers but the cars? And I think Tony [Stewart] sees that. We've had many conversations about that, and NASCAR has changed drastically. ... If it wasn't for their TV package, they could be in a bind. I don't know that much about NASCAR, but I watch, and we all know Top Fuel and Funny Cars sell tickets. But how many tickets can you sell?"

Freeman doesn't believe that the biggest obstacle to fuel racing is its astronomical cost. The biggest issue, he said, is the personnel and know-how to race competitively. 

"Money's not a problem, and when I say that, it's very expensive to do it, but that's not the part that puts the boundary up for people," Freeman explained. "There's a lot of people with a lot of money, but money doesn't always get it done. You have to have people in order to run a fuel car or a Pro Stock car. And as a sport, we haven't done a good job of bringing some of those younger people up and helping them be the next Jimmy Prock or the next Erica Enders."

Freeman said he's used the example of promoting from within his own team to create more experienced personnel aimed at growing the sport. The knowledge of how to run the fuel cars is crucial to the long-term health of that style of racing.




"I've had these talks with many team owners in the fuel ranks," Freeman said. "Some would agree, some not agree, I don't know. Doesn't matter to me. But I believe if something doesn't change and some of the mindset doesn't change, that those classes are going to be in some of the same situations that Pro Stock was some years ago. So we are looking to do that."

When and if he's able to find the proper funding, it's a no-brainer that Erica Enders will be his driver. Freeman said she will still run Pro Stock if NHRA changes its long-term policy of limiting drivers to running only one Mission Foods Drag Racing Series category. NHRA has considered this for some years but only in a fuel and professional stock capacity. 

In addition to having the proper sponsorship funding, Freeman believes an alignment with a current fuel team is a must. 

"We have talked in length with a lot of different people about a lot of different options, and we have some things that are in the works," Freeman said. "I'm partners with Randy Groede with the SCAG organization, and we have talked. Of course, he's got his hands full with the teams that he already owns. So I don't want to just beat him down to do that, but that is a possible opportunity to align with the Justin Ashley program. 

"I've had many talks with the Torrences, who are great friends of mine, about different things. Had talks with Tony Stewart about possibly doing something with him, but he has his hands full as well. So friends with a lot of those people and believe that something can transpire with some of those folks. And, again, we got to find somebody that wants to be a part of our program and believes in what we believe in."

Whether the success of the PRO Superstar Shootout has emboldened Freeman and others remains to be seen, but one sure thing is that the aspiring fuel owner understands the complexities the NHRA faces on a regular basis. 

"I wouldn't want any of those guys' job at the NHRA. To put on a show is very, very difficult," Freeman admitted. "That PRO Superstar Shootout took us a year to put together, and we're looking to do that again. But it wasn't about sticking it to the NHRA, it wasn't nothing about that. It was about trying to help our sport, maybe with some different ideas. [NHRA] has adopted some of those. 

"You can either try different things, but if you keep doing the same thing, you just keep getting the same results. The guys at NHRA have embraced us. We have a lot of good things working with them, and I don't see any negative to our score right now. I think when it comes down to it, with [series sponsor Mission Foods], they've done a fantastic job.

"For the first time, we've got a sponsor for the NHRA that has embraced our sport, and they do a lot with it. And I couldn't be happier with that, and it's fantastic."

And, as Freeman sees it, those assets are enough to inspire him to flick on the blinker.