30th Annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals
October 15-18, 2015
The prayers of a boy and spirit of a man, combined with the efforts of a great team drove Team Litton Racing and driver Bill Litton to the top of the Top Alcohol Dragster Division in Dallas, Texas at the 30th Annual NHRA Texas FallNationals in the fastest qualifying field in history!
Moving into the weekend there was a great sense of excitement as the team ventured into the unknown, driving a new dragster with a new team. Although this was uncharted territory, Team Litton‘s faith in the renowned McPhillips Racing gave the team the confidence and courage they needed. Rich McPhillips, a veteran of the sport and owner of the injected nitro dragster Litton piloted, has numerous national wins and divisional championships over his 40 plus years in drag racing.
It was a beautiful 80 degrees at the Texas Motorplex for qualifying round one. The Top Alcohol Division was a full field with the best cars in the world, 24 cars gunning for 16 qualifying spots. Crew Chief Rich McPhillips’, along with his son and Co-Crew Chief “Richie” McPhillips, game plan for Q1 was to qualify deep in the field and fine-tune in later rounds. The car ran on all eight cylinders down the track with a 5.39 at 266.21 mph. A solid first run and a confidence boost for the team to open their weekend in Dallas.
The team built momentum on their first run and made some adjustments to step up the car a bit for Q2. Chief Rich detailed, “The NHRA did an exceptional job preparing the track which gave it spectacular traction.” The modifications were well received by the fine-tuned machine and gave Bill Litton his new career best speed at 270.92 mph! Bill and team would go into Saturday in the 12 spot hoping to get into the top half of qualified cars. Saturday’s Q3 didn’t bring any improvement in qualifying position, but did set another career best speed at 272.67 mph. Driver Litton and the crew were all ecstatic to learn that they not only would continue to race into eliminations, but that they qualified in the fastest field in NHRA history! Driver Litton optimistically pointed out after qualifying in the #12 spot, “We can win from here!”
Saturday’s elimination round 1 wouldn’t be an easy task as the team prepared to go face to face with the points leader in the division. Going into Saturday evening’s eliminations Driver Bill said, “All we can do, is all we can do… We are going to go up there and give it our best shot!” Both cars launched hard, surprisingly the points leader red lit and Litton streaked to the finish line with a 5.36 and tied his personal best speed of 272.67 mph to drive the team to the round win. Chief Rich reflected on the run, “The car was setup to run fast…and we got by a very tough opponent.” The team celebrated that they would be returning to the track to continue to flex their “consistency” muscle on Sunday.
In elimination round 2, the McPhillips’ crew continued to fine tune the fire breathing monster which led to yet another career best speed for Driver Litton with a 5.37 at 273.55 mph. This run earned Team Litton the round win which would advance them to the semi-finals. Bill commended his crew by saying, “The crew is scrapping hard for this with precision work in the pits and quick turnarounds!”
Sunday’s semi-finals brought Bill’s quickest run with a 5.29 at 275.84 mph (another personal best speed). Driver Litton took the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win.
Glimpses of David and Goliath were surrounding Sunday’s final round as the team learned that they would be competing against the reigning world champion, Chris Demke. Bill and team were confident having stepped up the car with each round and continued to make progress in power and speed. Then, going into the final round, the unexpected happened…Demke exploded the blower when his team attempted to start his car. Team Litton would go on to win the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals with a 5.318 at 275.17 mph and head to the winner’s circle for the first time!
Chief Rich had this to say about the weekend, “Although we never really felt that we ‘conquered’ the track, we were able to continue to give the car more and more power, giving it 3-4 degrees of ignition, more fuel, and some clutch. The car was probably the most consistent car on the premises which was the catalyst for us getting to the final.”
Litton, a Texas native, was able to hold up his first Wally at The Texas Motorplex track in front of his family and friends. “Wild Bill” went on to say, “I prayed for this goal since I was 8 years old… a lot of people told me what a long shot it would be to drive one of these cars much less win and nothing happened for a long time. Today, I am blessed and thankful.”
Dreams can come true – if we find the courage and strength to pursue them. Sunday, October 18th, 2015, they did for this boy from a small town in West Texas.