By Kelly Wade
Walters, Oklahoma, is a little town just 15 miles north of Wichita Falls, Texas. The city’s motto is said to be “small town, big heart,” and Tripp West is a fine example. The third-generation drag racer carried heart and skill to Ardmore Dragway over and over again in 2021, and it paid off as he was crowned the Top Bulb national champion in the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Driver Series.
“This was a really cool opportunity for a guy like me,” said West, who entered this season with momentum after scoring dual Super Pro and Super Pro Green track championships in 2020. “I don’t always get to travel and hit the big-money races, so I was real excited to find out this series was coming to Ardmore. When I first heard about it, I was like, as long as it’s within 2-3 hours for me, I’m going to do it. Luckily, it came to Ardmore so I didn’t have far to go.”
This season was the second for the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Driver Series, and it took place at 23 dragstrips in 18 states with over 400 participants vying for the big-money grand prize. Points for the series were accumulated at designated events, where racers earned 10 marks per round at their claimed home track, plus three additional points for a victory, two for a runner-up, and one for a semifinals finish. The final point tally was based on a driver’s six best races of eight.
West’s key to winning the Driver Series championship – and going back-to-back with the Ardmore Dragway Super Pro and Super Pro Green track championships – was consistently going deep into the rounds of almost every race he attended there. He garnered a runner-up and a win in the latter-half, which had him ahead of Remerton Raceway’s Kurt Gross and T&A Race Club/Sacramento driver Cooper Chun by just under 20 points as the series came to a conclusion. Both Goss and Chun earned 258 marks to West’s 275 counted points.
If it seems as though West could be armed with a secret advantage, that’s because he is – and the advantage is deep roots. West’s paternal grandfather laid the foundational bricks in a Chevy Impala that won every class from Street to Top Gas and raised plenty of eyebrows, and on the other side of the family tree, his grandfather ran the well-recognized Mr. Quick Anglia and owned the dragstrip in Faxon, Oklahoma.
West started his own racing career at 8 years old in a Jr. dragster, and on the way to his first test-and-tune, he says he was acting just like the typical kid who wanted to race and win.
“My PawPaw and Dad tell me that I kept saying, ‘Hey, when I win, can we do this and can we do that,’ ” recalled West. “They were like, ‘You know, there are a lot of grown men who have been doing this a long time and have never won.’ But Lo and behold, that night – my first night out – I won the Jr. dragster gamblers race. My dad turned to my PawPaw and said, ‘What have we done?’ ”
West won the Race of Champions more than once as a Jr. drag racer, and when he physically outgrew the half-scale rails at age 15, he turned to the Carrell family, who run Ardmore Dragway, and asked if he could run his dad’s much more reasonably sized car.
“It was an outlaw track and not NHRA sanctioned, and the Carrell family was nice enough to let me hop in dad’s big car,” he said. “I ran 5.30s in an old Undercover hard tail car for probably a year and a half before we went and bought a 4-link car. My dad really gave up his ride for me to get in the big cars, but he said he enjoys watching me race more than racing himself. I appreciate that.”
Two years ago, West bought his dream car, a 1967 Camaro that he calls his pride and joy. Since then, he’s been racing both the Camaro and a 2012 M&M Race Cars dragster.
Looking ahead, he would like to dip into Super Comp and Super Street early in the new year with his proven race machines. West plans to make the Spring Fling Million bracket race in Las Vegas and venture to a couple more big-money bracket races.
“I really want to try the Super Comp stuff,” he said. “I love the quarter-mile and the Camaro in Super Street, so I feel like I’m going to enjoy that just as much. And I’m sure I’ll end up at Ardmore Dragway again, using my gold cards. The Carrell family has done a lot with this track, and it’s awesome.
“Winning this championship there ranks as one of the top things I’ve gotten to accomplish. I don’t know if it’s set in, really, but it’s a darn cool experience to have the national recognition. It’s pretty hard to wrap my head around it.”
West thanked BRODIX Cylinder Heads and Jeff Brotherton, Pro 1 Racing and Safety Products and Jeff and Charlotte Hefler, Vic Penrod and Kingpen Power, the Carrel family and Ardmore Dragway, as well as his own family, including his father Garvin Lee West and Uncle Charlie.
This story is the final chapter in a three-part feature pertaining to the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Driver Series. See more:
1. Tripp West, Ardmore Dragway, 275
2t. Kurt Gross, Bremerton Raceway, 258
2t. Cooper Chun, T&A Race Club / Sacramento, 258
4. Scott Hessler, National Trail Raceway, 214
5. Dalton Roles, Numidia Dragway, 206
6. Brandon Davis, Virginia Motorsports Park, 200
7. Charles Wier, Ardmore Dragway, 193
8. Angelo Belosi, World Wide Technology Raceway, 183
9. Robert Lutzke, Mid-Michigan Motorplex, 181
10. Rod Taylor, Lost Creek Raceway, 178