BRAINERD, Minn. -- The last time the Doc's Holiday drag racing team visited Brainerd International Raceway, back in May, driver Roger Bateman took a leisurely stroll into the winner's circle.
Well, perhaps leisurely is the wrong word, as Bateman did still blast down the quarter-mile in eight seconds and change. But the Winnipeg-based Friesen Motorsports entry was uncontested in the top alcohol funny car final of the National Hot Rod Association divisional meet, with fellow Winnipegger Scott McVey unable to answer the bell after damaging his engine in the semifinal.
Now, as they motor back to Minnesota, members of the unsponsored Friesen Motorsports crew, owned by Winnipeg dentist Dr. Brian Friesen, are hoping for that kind of luck - if necessary - on the NHRA's national stage. Heading into the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which run from Thursday, Aug. 13 through Sunday, Aug. 16 at BIR, Bateman and the Doc's Holiday team are zero-for-six in NHRA national-event finals, including their last action at the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle on July 19.
"We've obviously got no talent, so we need to be lucky," jokes Bateman with a healthy chuckle. "Seriously, I don't know what it is with (national) finals. We always seem to lose the same way . . . we just don't make the run. We're always smoking the tires, or something."
Call it what you will - the law of averages, racer's luck, just plain dumb luck -the Doc's Holiday team will take it, once that national-event Wally is on the line.
"We just need a break," says the Calgary-based Bateman, who pilots the outfit's 2009 Ford Mustang. "I don't know how long we can do what we do, without the other guy having a problem that's worse than ours . . . or us just making a decent run and winning.
"It's not the sort of thing that gets to me. If it's your time to do well, you will," adds Bateman. "Once you get to a final, you kind of go up there and think, 'Well, no matter what happens, it could have been a lot worse this weekend.' "
The Friesen Motorsports team has had plenty of practice in final rounds this season, which has been the team's most successful to date since Bateman started piloting the car in 2006. Through four NHRA national events, five divisional Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series dates and one International Hot Rod Association national meet in Edmonton this summer, they've been to six finals, emerging as top eliminator in three.
The '09 tour de force has propelled the Doc's Holiday team into fifth place on the NHRA's overall TAFC standings, and a sizeable points lead in its quest to repeat as the NHRA's West Central Division, or Division 5, champion.
The Winnipeggers skipped last weekend's event at Cordova Dragway Park in Cordova, Ill., their lone no-show on this year's six-race Division 5 calendar. And their nearest competitor for the divisional title, Vern Moats of Des Moines, Iowa, bowed out in the second round of eliminations, leaving him about 95 points back of Bateman.
"I've talked to a few guys who say, 'Oh, it's over with already.' And I tell them, 'No, it isn't. It's never over until it's over,' " remarks Bateman. "I'm going to go race like it's dead even, not like we have an advantage."
After launching at one meet in five weekends, the Doc's Holiday team now faces a challenging stretch of four in five - Brainerd this weekend, a Division 5 event at Topeka, Ks., on Aug. 28-29, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis from Sept. 2-7, and the Division 5 finale at Earlville, Iowa, from Sept. 11-13.
"You prefer to keep racing when the car is good, rather than taking some time off," notes Bateman. "We've had a great start. We've run 5.50s in a lot of places, and we've gone exceptionally fast in places where nobody had before, like Great Bend, Kansas.
"But when you've got volunteer crew guys who all work, and the doc's running it out of his pocket with no support, you've got to have these breaks," he adds. "After these next four, (the team's schedule) depends on whether we can improve (in national standings) or not."
For sponsorship opportunities, or for more information on Friesen Motorsports, please visit http://www.docsholiday.com
ABOUT FRIESEN MOTORSPORTS: