On March 29, Mechanical Engineering major Joel Warren won the Stock Eliminator category at the Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Being the third generation in a family of drag racers, Warren states that it adds some mental pressure which he welcomes as he feels it “brings out a racer’s true colors.”
“There’s nearly 200 years of combined racing experience in my family tree and countless trophies to go with it,” said Warren. “Something many people don’t know is that I have drag racing in my blood from both sides of my family. My mom’s dad (Phil Hardee) and his son (Michael Hardee) have been largely successful on the drag racing circuit since long before I was born.”
He cites his father, Joey Warren as his biggest source of influence, who he says watches him at the drag way every weekend, being there at both at his best and worst times.
“He doesn’t tolerate me getting down on myself, but instead he pushes me to be better and better,” said Warren. “And that’s what great coaches do.”
According to fayobserver, Joey Warren is responsible for winning the super stock at the 1993 NHRA Southern Nationals and Bobby Warren, Joel Warren’s grandfather is a three-time NHRA world champion.
“He (Bobby Warren) called me up last minute and asked if I wanted to race his car in this one, of course I didn’t turn down that offer! So happy it paid off,” said Warren.
Warren has participated in drag racing to some form since he was 7-years-old, but he said his interest in the sport predates that.
In the Stock Eliminator category, Warren explains that winning isn’t as simple as crossing the finish line, rather it involves two key elements: a “dial-in” and the driver’s reaction time.
“A ‘dial-in’ is your personal prediction of the amount of time it will take for your car to cover the quarter-mile,” said Warren. “This prediction is based on practice/qualifying runs prior to the start of elimination rounds, so you’re not completely in the dark on your estimate.”
Warren states that the aim is to stay as close to the dial-in without going faster, otherwise it’s considered a break-out, an automatic loss.
“In the final round of the race, my opponent beat me off the line but we both broke-out,” said Warren. “As it turned out, he broke-out by a greater margin than me (I was closer to my dial-in) yielding my first ever national event win.”
With drag racing in general, he explains that it goes beyond driving cars, requiring a hefty amount of dedication.
“Probably only about 10 percent of the time is spent at the race track. If you want to have the fastest car out there, it takes an insane amount of testing, building, tinkering, tuning, preparing, cleaning, etc. off the track,” said Warren. “Huge sacrifices have to be made to participate in this sport; you have to be fully immersed.”
Part of why Warren relishes the sport so much is the challenge that it brings.
“I’ve always said drag racing is 80 percent psychological, 15 percent race car performance, and five percent skill. That 80 percent mental means it requires every ounce of focus you have,” said Warren. “To win, I need to have near-perfect reaction times and go dead on my dial-in. But I can’t do that without pushing myself to the limit on every single run. It’s wild and it’s addicting, I can’t get enough.”
Warren describes the feeling of his victory in one word, “Unbelievable” and it only raises his eagerness to get back on the drag way again.
“With a handful of event wins within smaller sanctioning bodies, I had tasted victory before this win. But to win an event of such magnitude at only 21-years-old was something special,” said Warren. “Few feelings compare to hoisting that Wally (trophy) in the winner’s circle.”