‘I do it because I love it’

Published 1:37 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

Niles’ Alan Connors has had a passion for drag racing for 26 years. He has his eyes set on a World Championship. (Daily Star Photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

For Niles resident, Alan Connors, drag racing isn’t just a “hobby” that he likes to do, it’s his passion, it’s his way of life, and it’s that “thing” that has consumed most of his free time over the last 26 years.

“I saw my first nitro methane funny car at Martin, Michigan and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” said Connors on how he first got into drag racing. While he has yet to drive a nitro-burning car, he has made a living racing his 1966 Chevelle, and 2004 Miller dragster in the sportsman ranks. Connors has garnered more than 25 victories in his racing career and when asked, “What’s the hardest part of drag racing?” his response was simple “winning.”

Like every other racer, Connors has his eyes set on a World Championship and this season he currently sits in seventh place and is only a mere four rounds out of first. In the world of drag racing, four rounds isn’t a lot. But in the world of bracket racing, where races are decided by thousandths of a second four rounds can be hard to come by.

Connors has worked extremely hard, and has invested a lot of his own money into his racing career to get where he is today. He is at the racetrack every weekend, but during the summer months there isn’t a place he would rather be. “I don’t take vacations,” he said. “Racing is our vacation.”

Drag racing, like every other sport, is about competition and about getting better. Whether it’s getting your car to run faster, or working on your reaction time for starting the race, drag racing takes work.

“You have to travel. You can’t race at the same place every week because just like basketball if you want to get better you have to play against better people, and drag racing is the same way,” Connors explained.

For anyone looking to get into drag racing Connors offers this advice: “Don’t give up. You won’t make any money at it, but it is fun. You just have to work hard, but it is worth it. I do it because I love it, and I’m very passionate about it.”

Drag racing is a sport that requires a lot of focus. When you are covering a quarter of a mile in eight seconds at speeds of 160 mph, focus is not something you can afford to lose.  Despite the miles traveled, the money spent, the races won, the races lost, the friends made and the friends lost, focus is something that Alan has never lost.

“The highlight of my career has been raising my three kids,” he said proudly when asked about best moment of his career.

Connors will be looking to compete in the bracket finals in Martin, Michigan later this year, hoping to earn himself a trip to Memphis, Tennessee to compete for that elusive World Championship.

Grass Roots Racing is a new weekly feature for Leader Publications. If you know of a local racer that you would like to see featured, please send his name and contact information to scott.novak@leaderpub.com.