NHRA: Rick Santos and the Oakwood Homes Team Have Success Through Teamwork
27 May 1999SUN VALLEY, Calif. --- It never fails during an interview with Rick Santos. He almost always has the response, "we're just having fun." It is a philosophy the team has adopted, and that philosophy has led them to two consecutive NHRA Federal-Mogul National championships and two consecutive Division Seven championships.
"Sometimes when the schedule starts getting hectic, it is easy to forget that this is just a hobby for this team," said Rick Santos, driver of the Oakwood Homes Federal-Mogul Dragster. "We all have full-time jobs and for most of us, this is just something we do for fun in our spare time. It doesn't leave time for many other outside interests. We all know when it's not fun anymore, we'll stop doing it."
Racing 18 events in 1999 in the NHRA Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series is a hectic and very expensive hobby.
"Having Oakwood Homes on board as primary sponsor has been very instrumental in our success this year," adds Santos. "It has allowed us to acquire a lot of new parts and it gives us that something extra to strive for. We know that the people from Oakwood are watching."
Santos' year has been very similar to the 1998 season. Santos and his Oakwood Homes team finished the 1998 season with nine wins in 14 starts. This year, they have already accumulated six wins in only seven starts, including three national event wins at Pomona, Atlanta and Englishtown. At Atlanta, they also made their first official run in the 5.3-second range when they had an elapsed time of 5.396 seconds during qualifying. In Englishtown, they became the fastest blown alcohol dragster in the world with a 260 mph speed.
"One of the keys to the team's success this year has been the new car that Rick built," said Jack O'Bannon, owner of the Oakwood Homes dragster. "The weight transfer has been better with the car being longer, which brings additional performance. The key change in the motor is that we went from a dual mag to a single mag like the top fuel cars run. We had to bolt extra weight to make up for the difference. Last year, especially during the second half of the season, we started having sporadic failures. Some other changes this year included upgrading to a PSI blower with a new PSI injector."
The team has all the elements of a championship team. In four national event starts in 1999, the team has three wins including victories at the AutoZone Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., the Southern Nationals in Atlanta, Ga., and the Mopar Parts Nationals in Englishtown, N.J. Their other wins this year have come at the Division Seven races in Wittman, Ariz., and Bakersfield, Calif. Santos also has a Division Six win in Boise, Idaho.
"The team is successful because of preparation, thought and teamwork," said crew member Alan Russell. "Crew chief Norm Grimes is focused 24 hours a day. The crew has good communication and in my opinion, Rick Santos is the best driver in the class. The car is simply built well, monitored well, serviced well and driven well."
"It amazes me how we all get along so well and have such a good time," said Santos. "It seems like everything goes so easy with this team. When we have a problem, we put our heads together and get it solved. We all have the attitude to never give up. That is the reason this team has been so successful."
Oakwood Homes Corporation, founded in 1946, is a fully integrated housing company that manufactures, retails, finances and insures factory-built homes in a 28-state region stretching from coast to coast. Headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., Oakwood Homes sells more homes than any other retailer and is the third largest manufacturer in the industry.
Oakwood Homes has more that 360 retail sales centers, 32 plants and more than 12,000 employees nationwide. Oakwood Homes is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol OH.