Brad Plourd Recalls Successful 2011 Season & Looks Ahead to 2012
2011 passed by quickly for Brad Plourd. That’s bound to happen given the way that Plourd, 29, earns his living. As a touring professional competitor within the sportsman categories of NHRA Lucas Oil competition, Plourd finds himself on the road much of the calendar year, with stops spanning the country from Washington to Florida, and California to Pennsylvania. Once he hits the race track, Plourd is at home in a variety of competition vehicles; most notably the Lucas Oil backed Super Comp dragster of Charlotte Lucas. He also routinely drives a pair of his own vehicles: a Lucas Oil backed ‘68 Camaro Stock Eliminator machine and a gorgeous ‘66 Chevy II bracket car.
Plourd earned the Super Comp victory at the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle behind the wheel of the Lucas Family dragster.
On the track, Plourd is no stranger to success. Regarded as one of the most versatile drivers in the sportsman ranks, Plourd has driven in every NHRA sportsman category. He’s won 11 NHRA national events and is a 4-time NHRA Lucas Oil Division Champion. He is one of an elite group of drivers to have earned division crowns in 3 separate categories, having won the Division 6 title in Super Stock and Stock (twice), and a Division 3 championship in Super Comp.
Originally from Covington, WA, Brad recently purchased a condo in Avon, IN to enjoy a central location near the Morgan Lucas Racing shop. His girlfriend, Katie resides in Cullman, AL; so even on his “off” weeks, Plourd is constantly criss-crossing the country from Alabama to Indiana to Washington! Last summer, he happened to be in Alabama when a series of tornadoes ripped through the central portion of the state. While Katie’s home was unaffected by the storms, the Lucas Oil trailer along with the Super Comp dragster of Charlotte Lucas didn’t fair as well.
The trailer, which was being stored at good friend Todd Ewing’s house was turned on it’s side by the high winds. Although the dragster suffered minor damage, the trailer was essentially destroyed, creating a major hiccup in the mid-season plans for Plourd and the Lucas Oil team.
“That was crazy,” said Brad. “Where I grew up in Washington, I’d never seen anything like that. We didn’t have power, so we didn’t realize how much damage was done by the tornadoes. Then Todd’s wife Leanne called and said we needed to come over. When I saw the trailer I couldn’t believe it. The wind just took a 15,000 lb. trailer and set it on it’s side!”
Despite the setback, he persevered and enjoyed a strong season on the NHRA Lucas Oil and big dollar bracket tours. In NHRA Super Comp, Plourd earned an emotional victory at his “home” event, the Northwest Nationals in Seattle. Prior to Sunday eliminations, he attended the funeral of his grandmother, and after hoisting the trophy at event’s end he dedicated the victory to his lost loved one.
He attended just two NHRA national open events in 2011, and appeared in the Super Comp final at both races. He earned a victory at the annual Sportsnational Open at Beech Bend Raceway Park (Bowling Green, KY) and was runner-up at Lucas Oil Raceway Park (Indianapolis, IN).
Stock Eliminator brought a number of new challenges for Plourd in 2011, and ended with some notable success. Following a string of “Heads-Up” defeats early in the season, he purchased a Jerico 4-speed transmission for his Camaro and began competing in the D/S category to avoid the overwhelming number of D/SA combinations. Although Plourd enjoyed the challenge, he eventually went back to the conventional TH-350 automatic combination.
Plourd finished the season strong, with a runner-up in Stock Eliminator at the NHRA Finals in Pomona.
“Racing with the stick was a lot of fun, I’d never really done that before,” he said. “With the clutch, I found that I was focusing on physically driving of the car a lot more, which took away from racing fundamentals. My driving suffered as a result, so I ended up switching back to the automatic.”
With the Camaro in D/SA trim once again, Plourd and the Lucas Oil machine enjoyed success late in the season. Brad’s close friend Kyle Rizzoli drove the Lucas Oil Camaro to a Stock eliminator victory at the Division 2 Lucas Oil Series Event in Reynolds, GA. The win put Rizzoli atop the Division 7 Stock Eliminator standings, and he went on to claim the Division Championship thanks in part to Plourd. At the final LODRS event of the season, Brad defeated Chad Loge, one of Rizzoli’s closest pursuers.
At the season closing NHRA Finals in Pomona, CA, Brad capped his 2011 season with some positive momentum when he advanced to the final round in Stock Eliminator before falling to Michael Iacono.
In between stops on the NHRA tour, Plourd picked up a big bracket win in Woodburn, OR.
Away from the NHRA tour, Plourd also enjoyed success on the big buck bracket scene, mainly behind the wheel of his beautiful ‘66 Chevy II. In limited action, he drove that car to a runner-up finish at the Ohio Crankshaft No Box Nationals in Muncie, IN, and advanced to the semi-final round of the $20,000-to-win event at the World Footbrake Challenge in Bristol, TN. Following an early exit from the NHRA Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, Brad made his way to Woodburn, OR and promptly earned a $3,000 victory behind the wheel of the Lucas dragster. He capped his season with an impressive showing at the 16th annual Million Dollar Race in Montgomery, AL. There, in a field full of 4-second purpose-built dragsters, Plourd drove his 7-second Chevy II (A legal street car) deep into competition before falling with just 17 entrants remaining in the Million.
Plourd's slick Chevy II
“I can’t believe how quickly the season went by. It seems like we just got started,” said Plourd. “Despite the setbacks, I had a blast out on the road this year. That wouldn’t be possible without the staff at Lucas Oil. I want to especially thank the Lucas family, Tom Bogner, Kristene Hayden, and all the guys at the shop. And of course I want to thank my girlfriend Katie Yeager for putting up with my schedule and for her support!” Plourd also credited John Coughlin at JEGS; Farron and John at Hoosier Racing Tire; Todd, Andy and the boys at Huntsville Engine & Performance; Adam Davis and his family; Richard Yeager; Jerry Emmons; his parents, Bernie and Ronna and his sister Nicolette.